Saturday, December 20, 2014

The season for delicious - Chocolate Almond Sables

It's 6 days to the birth of Christ (the mankind date, at least), and it doesn't just look like Christmas, but sounds and smells a lot like it too.

There are 2 camps of Christmast-ers.

The Gifters - natural-born Martha Stewarts who adore the shopping and wrapping. And then there are the Diss-ers - people who scorn gifting as the commercial witchcraft of the season.

I actually appreciate the act of Christmas gifting, as long as we don't get too carried away.

Giving someone a gift is telling the person they matter to us, and we've put in effort to think about them in the tizzy of festivities.

Of course there are many gift nightmares, things you have no idea what to do with, things that shouldn't have been invented in the first place. But take it in the right spirit - someone thought of you,  and you're lucky enough for someone to care.

I love food gifts.

And when I say Christmas smells, it's really kitchen baking that I'm thinking of.

Make some amazing kitchen gifts of your own:
> Gula Melaka Granola

One of my favorite bakes this Christmas is Bon Appetit's Chocolate-Pistachio Sables - so scrummy.

I've adapted it into Chocolate-Almond Sables because I love a good crunch, and the almonds give a much stronger crackle.

Other cookie recipes to try:
> Double Chocolate Fudgy Cookies
Ombré Swirl Cookies
> Chocolate Chip Shortbread
> Lemon Poppy Cookies

Strictly speaking, these are not your traditional French-style sables (shortbread cookies). But they carry the butter-cookie base that makes them so sabley rich and tender, generously enveloped with rich dark chocolate.

It screams of Christmas!

I've made mine into jumbo logs and sliced them thickly for extra festive indulgence.

So gorgeous for gifting.

They bake into a lovely semi-crunchy exterior, with a mottled crumbly interior that makes them quite addictive.

You can use any sort of nuts you like, just remember to chop them up coarsely so they mix easily into the dough.

Chilling the logs is also essential for a crunchy bake, and when you make jumbos like mine (about 7-8cm), use a big sturdy knife to slice your cold dough - or a big ol' cleaver, much better grip!

Remember friends, think of family and even strangers this Christmas season. Remember to show some love.
> Remembering Robbie Williams

Everyone deserves to be happy at Christmas.

More Christmas goodies for the season:
> Edible Christmas Wreaths
> Red Santa Hats
> Christmas Cake Pops

Friday, November 28, 2014

Tummy break - make some Gula Melaka Granola


Happy post-Thanksgiving!

The wonderful year-end festivities have unofficially started, now that Thanksgiving is well and truly in the bag.

We've got some pretty scrumptious Christmas desserts that are perfect for parties and make adorable gifts (check them out here), mm mmm good!

You're in this for the long haul though, so you've gotta pace yourself.


December hasn't even hit yet, and the road to grateful eating and welcoming Christmas with family and friends will be paved with happy moments and less-than-svelte bellies.

   More desserts for Christmas:
   > Strawberry Santa hats
   > Edible Christmas wreaths
   > Salted Bailey's mint chocolate pie

In this brief respite window, be good to your tummies.

I believe in balance. You don't have to go postal and swear off desserts, but you can still snack well and healthy with the right kind.

For this little window week at least ;)

Load up on good-for-you granola - full of fiber, good oils, vitamins and minerals.

This scrummy recipe for Salted Gula Melaka & Coconut Granola is full of tropical flavors.

The palm sugar lends an earthiness to the grains, and the toasted coconut adds extra crunch and a very familiar South-Asian fragrance.

Granola is super versatile, you can ramp up sweetness or tone down the savoriness as you like it.

If you only have quick-cooking or instant oats on hand, you could use them in a pinch here. They are rolled thinner than old-fashioned oats, and will just have less of a crunch and texture. 

You can really go nuts and make up your own grain/nut mixture for the recipe - almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, cashew nuts - anything! 

I love adding linola seeds or flax seeds; they may seem insubstantial, but add quite a remarkable crunchy undertone to the mix.

And if you like a bigger coconut taste, use flakes instead of finer desiccated grains.

Salted Gula Melaka & Coconut Granola
Yields about 650g

6 cups rolled/old-fashioned oats (not instant oats)
2.5 tbspn brown sugar
0.5 tspn fine sea salt
1.5 cups raw nuts & grains
2 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut
2 egg whites, lightly beaten till foamy
1 cup canola or coconut oil (or any light nuetral tasting oil)
0.75 cup salted gula melaka syrup (see below on how to make your own)
Handfuls of raisins or dried cranberries - optional

To make gula melaka syrup:
Dissolve 500g of roughly chopped or grated dark palm sugar in 600ml water. Simmer over low heat till mixture reduces a little to consistency of runny honey. Season with a pinch of sea salt and strain syrup through a sieve. Store leftover in fridge.

1) Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celcius.

2) Mix al the ingredients in a large bowl and stir to mix throughly.

3) Spread mixture evenly onto two baking trays lined with parchment paper. Spread it out thin if you like your granola fine, or packed the mixture tightly if you like yours chunky.

4) Bake for 45min - 1 hour, or until golden brown. Keep an eye from the 30min mark to make sure it doesn't burn.

5) Stir in raisins or dried cranberries, let cool in trays. Break up straight away with wooden spoon when it comes out of the oven (you might have to do this twice or thrice), if you want finer grained granola. For chunkier clumps, break up with fingers when completely cool.

6) The granola will turn wonderfully crunchy as it cools, store what you have left (that survived the 'taste testing') in an airtight container. It'll keep well for a week or two.

The granola goes superbly with fragrant chai latte, make some of your own - enjoy!

More healthy (sorta!) desserts:
> Sweet strawberries
Summer fruits to beat the heat
> Eat well for little ones, it's Food Revolution Day

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Aian't gonna let Christmas sneak away!

Christmas has a way of sneaking up on us.

When the lights and sparkles go up in the streets, we're suddenly startled into the realization that we're almost at the end of another year.

Sudden panic sets in for some of us - where did all that time go??
Are we really done for the year?

Others are a bit more sanguine, resigned to the next month or so of scrambling and racing to accomplish the ambitious tower of job tasks and personal errands we crazily set ourselves.

Whichever the case, let's remember to take a breath and absorb a bit of that Christmas happiness.

Don't let that Christmas spirit sneak away without us paying any attention to it.
Such a waste of the most wonderful time of the year.

Looking to ease a bit of that Christmas shopping crunch?

Chocolate-Almond Sables with Sea Salt, Gula Melaka Christmas Granola or Toasted Herb and Sesame Shortbread make for some pretty nifty scrumptious gifts.

Or bring a Tipsy Bailey's Tart or Rocky Road Christmas Wreath to a party.
Spread the Christmas yum!
> details in image above

More Christmas desserts:
> Death by Chocolate Cake
> Salted Bailey's Mint Chocolate Pie
> Decadent Chocolate Pistachio Torte
> Guinness Beer Chocolate Cake
> Deep Chocolate Ganache Cake with Summer Fruits
> Rich Red Velvet Cake