Chinese New Year is coming early this year (25 January 2020 instead of the usual February timeframe). With just a week before the first day of the Lunae New Year, I thought I’d better get some of the traditional celebration food items ready.
Now traditionally these steamed cakes are made in round pans, then cut into thin slices before the last bit of pan frying. I thought, since the end game is to have relatively similar sized pieces for ease of cooking, why don’t I use a rectangular loaf pan? That way I can cut pieces of the same size throughout, easily. Unconventional I know, with the use of a sharp-edged loaf pan, as the Chinese uses the round shape for its auspicious meaning of fulfillment, completeness and unity. I made a little round one to satisfy tradition but am not afraid to break from it.
These are sticky when it first comes out of the steamer; allow it to cool for a good few hours in the fridge to firm up. This will make it much easier to cut. It will look opaque when it is cold. Don’t fret: once pan fried, the cake softens, turns slightly transculent and is so moreish and lovely to eat. It’s not overly sweet either, and is the perfect sweet dish to serve any guests who come to wish you well/ “bai nin” 拜年.
I’ve shown the Chinese translation of some of the ingredients below, just in case you need it to find the right kind.
These cakes symbolizes a pay rise or promotion in the coming year. Happy New Year!
- 320g Glutinous flour 糯米粉
- 115g Wheat starch 澄麵粉
- 400ml water
- 400g Chinese brown cane sugar (rectangular pieces) 片糖
- 130ml coconut cream
- 30g Rice Bran oil
- Egg, beaten, for frying
Makes 1 large 6 inch cake or
1 small 4 inch and a bread loaf pan
- Sieve flours into a bowl and set aside.
- In a deep saucepan, add water and bring to a boil. Add sugar and dissolve. Add coconut cream and rice bran oil. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Add flours in small portions to the sugar syrup, all the while stiring. Ensure mixture is homogenous and lump free. If required, push mixture through a sieve to remove all lumps.
- Oil your choice of cake pan(s) and line with baking paper. Pour the cake mixture in and steam over a high heat till fully cooked, 65 to 75 minutes. I place a round steaming rack on the bottom of my wok, add hot water right up to the bottom of the pan and cover it with the lid to steam. Remember to check often and add hot water to the wok from time to time, to maintain the water level – be careful not to let the water run dry. Test with a skewer to ensure the centre isn’t watery.
- Remove from the steaming station to cool. Leave in the fridge to harden for a few hours. This will make it easier to slice.
- Slice into 1 cm thick pieces. Beat an egg in a bowl and dip each piece of steamed cake in the egg to coat.
- Pan fry both sides till golden and the cake has softened.
What happens when you mix chocolate ganache into cream cheese?
That’s the question I asked J and she said “let’s pour and find out!” That’s how we roll, forever in search of the (next) perfect dessert.
The result: A buttery crumb base; super silky chocolate cream cheese filling, further topped with more chocolate ganache.
This is made in the same way as my Vanilla cheesecake and can be prepared quickly with some shortcuts – you can use premade crust trays which will save you one step of this dessert.
For the cream cheese filling, I added a third of the prepared chocolate ganache to the cream cheese mixture. This helps set the cream cheese without the need of gelatine.
The result is a silky smooth cheesecake with a deep cocoa flavour. The tanginess is still there but with the addition of chocolate and use of mascarpone, this is more mousse like.
I really like this experimental version – lighter and quite suitable for the summer season we are heading into. Just imagine further adorning the cheesecake with Tatua Chocolate Mousse straight from the can.
Ps J reminded me to pair the cheesecakes with a chocolate glaze aka mirror glaze! I’ve made them in my Chocolate Mousse Dome Entremet recipe but can totally be used on cheesecakes too!
Graham Crackers crust
- 250g Graham Crackers or digestive biscuits
- 100g unsalted butter, melted
- Or a premade crust
- 250g cream cheese, room temperature
- 250g mascarpone
- 120g (1 cup) icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate soft ganache
- 175g dark chocolate (70% or above cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces
- 200g cream (35% fat)
Graham cracker crust
- If using a ready made crust shell, you can skip this crust step and move to making the ganache.
- Otherwise, crush crackers or biscuits to fine crumbs. You can do this in a food processor, or in a sealed zip lock bag, and crushing them with a heavy rolling pin.
- Add melted butter and mix till mixture binds together.
- Pour crumbs into a lined springfoam baking pan, pressing the mix down with a tall straight glass. Make sure the layer is even, and press crumbs up against the sides as well.
- Chill in the fridge to firm up.
Chocolate soft ganache
- Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
- Bring cream to a boil in a pan and pour over chocolate. Let it sit for a minute before stiring; stir till homogenize and slightly thick.
- Place in the fridge to chill.
- In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and mascarpone cream together, until smooth and fluffy.
- Beat in icing sugar and vanilla till smooth and no lumps.
- Using two teaspoons, Place small dollops of cream cheese in crust base. This creates some patches of white in amongst the dark brown cheesecake.
- Pour a third of the chocolate ganache into the bowl with the remaining cream cheese mixture. Mix to incorporate.
- Pour into crumb base and smooth with an offset spatula. It’s really easy to smooth if you pop the base on a spinning cake stand/wheel. Just hold the spatula with one hand, steadily on top of the cream cheese mixture and spin with your other hand.
- Pour remaining chocolate ganache over the chocolate cream cheese mix. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
- Cut with a warm but dry knife.
Inspired by a recent Valrhona workshop with Valrhona Pacific and Sabato, I set off to create a mousse dessert with all my favourites. Here I used Valrhona Manjari, a single origin dark chocolate made from rare cocoa beans from Madagascar. This has a fresh, acidic, sharp bouquet with red fruit notes and pairs perfectly with a Raspberry Jelly made with Fresh As freeze dried raspberry powder.
These were offset with a whipped mascarpone cream, tempered chocolate discs and Valrhona Chocolate pearls.
As this mousse doesn’t have any raw eggs, it’s quite suitable for children and anyone who doesn’t like uncooked eggs.
Smooth chocolate mousse with a deep rich flavour, cut through with a tart raspberry jelly, this is a delicious and sophisticated summer dessert.
Manjari chocolate mousse
- 250g dark chocolate, Valrhona Manjari
- 150g mini marshmallows
- 60g butter
- 60ml hot water
- 330ml fresh cream
Fresh As Jellies
- 35g Fresh As Raspberry Powder
- 30g caster sugar
- 300ml water
- 4 leaves gelatine (silver grade), soaked in ice cold water
Mascarpone Whipped Cream
- 250g mascarpone
- 250g cream
- 30g sugar
- 5g (1/2 tsp) vanilla bean paste
Manjari chocolate mousse
- Put the chocolate, mini marshmallows, butter and water in a heavy-based saucepan.
- Put the saucepan over gentle heat to melt the contents, stirring to make sure nothing sticks to the pan (the chocolate can stick very quickly). Remove from the heat to cool. You can put the pan in a larger vessel containing cold water to speed up the cooling process.
- Meanwhile, whisk the cream until thick, and then fold into the cooling chocolate mixture until you have a smooth, cohesive mixture.
- Pour into 12 small glasses or ramekins, and chill until set (takes only about 20 minutes for it to set).
Fresh As Jellies
- Place water into a pot and add the sugar and Fresh As freeze dried Raspberry powder in, whisking to dissolve completely.
- Bring to the boil, stirring continuously.
- Remove from the heat and add drained gelatine leaves.
- Pour into moulds and refrigerate for 3 hours till set.
Mascarpone Whipped Cream
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the mascarpone, cream, sugar, and vanilla bean paste to medium-stiff peaks, 3 minutes at the most. Fit a large French star tip to a piping bag, and transfer mascarpone whipped cream to it.
Pipe a dollop of whipped mascarpone cream on top of set chocolate mousse. Add a tempered chocolate disc, a jelly disc and scatter over several Valrhona chocolate pearls.
Who remembers the raspberry cheesecake from the freezer section? I used to have that as a treat when I was little. I have always wanted to make my own version of it, refining the flavours and texture.
Here I decided to make an ombre raspberry colour – the graduating pink colour turned out quite well I think.
The raspberry jelly layer was another pleasant surprise – it hardens after freezing and creates this absolutely amazing texture, contrasting the soft and creaminess of the cream cheese layers.
This is a no bake recipe – one based on my previous cheesecake recipes.
- 250g Nice biscuits
- 100g unsalted butter, melted
- 500g cream cheese
- 250g mascarpone cheese
- 600ml cream, whipped
- 125ml Raspberry puree (I use Pontier, alternatively you can blend up frozen fruit)
- 4 tsp gelatin powder dissolved in 75ml hot water
- 125ml Raspberry puree
- 1.5 sheets of gold strength gelatin, bloomed in ice cold water
- Smash biscuits into fine crumbs. Mix with melted butter and press onto the base of a square tin, lined with baking paper. Chill in the fridge while you prepare the cheesecake filling.
- Beat the cream cheese and mascarpone until smooth.
- In a small bowl, add the gelatin powder to the hot water, mixing vigorously. Add to the cream cheese mixture.
- Whip cream till soft peaks form and add to the mixture.
- To create the ombre effect, take out half of the cream cheese-gelatin-whipped cream mixture and save as the white colour layer.
- To the remaining mixture, add in the raspberry puree. Mix till the puree is evenly distributed in the cream cheese. This will be your pink layer.
- Pour the white cream cheese mixture on top of the biscuit base. Smooth with an angled spatula.
- Carefully pour the pink cream cheese mixture on top to ensure the two layers remain separate. Place in the fridge to set.
- For the top raspberry jelly layer: Soak gelatin sheets in ice cold water for at least 5 mins. Heat the raspberry puree till it begins to boil. Take it off the heat. Squeeze water from gelatin sheets and add to the puree. Stir to melt gelatin thoroughly and pour on top of the set cheesecake.
- Let it set in the fridge for a further 4 hours (or overnight) and transfer to the freezer.
- One hour before serving, remove from the freezer. Let the cheesecake defrost for 30 minutes and cut into squares with a warm knife. Leave to defrost a further 30 minutes before serving.
Ps. It’s totally fine to serve after setting the cheesecake in the fridge without freezing it! That gives you a normal textured cheesecake.
As I nibbled and drank my way around the Auckland Food Show preview day, one thought hrough my head the entire time: what was I going to cook for dinner that night? I knew it would be something from the show and there were plenty of ideas and options: Venison burger, kumara hash brown, falafel wraps, pizzas, roast chicken and lamb medallions. What should I make? I wanted something warm and comforting, and easy to do with minimal stove time as I will need to pack away my purchases as well.
The idea came after I picked up some organic whole chickens from Bostocks Brothers and Good Chow first brew soy sauce – Hainanese Chicken Rice made in the Thermomix.
Bostock Brothers is based in Hawke’s Bay, and they are the only commercial organic chicken producer in the country. Their chickens live on their spacious apple orchard and you should go watch their videos – I call them the “happy chickens”- with ample roaming range. Bostock Brothers’ process also doesn’t involve any chemicals, antibiotics, hormones nor genetic modification. We think their chickens taste superior. #notanad #justliketheproduct
I also used Simon Gaults’ chicken stock and managed to cook the chicken, rice and soup together, without needing to supervise the cooking much.
It is almost as easy without using the Thermomix. Just poach the chicken in a gentle simmer for 60 minutes in a large pot of chicken stock along with all the ingredients, and cook the rice in a large saucepan separately.
Serve with hot soup, fragrant rice and a touch of coriander.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
- 1 whole chicken, about 1.5kg
- 2 tsp Chinese wine
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 4 spring onion
- 8 large slices of ginger
- 2 shallots, peeled
- 1 tbsp neutral oil, rice bran or grapeseed
- 400g jasmine rice
- Salt to taste
- 1-1.5 L chicken or vegetable stock
- 1-2 pandan leaves (optional)
- Mix Chinese wine, salt, pepper and sesame oil in a small bowl. Rub this all over the chicken and inside cavity. Stuff 2 cloves of the garlic, 2 of the spring onions and 3 slices of the ginger inside the chicken’s cavity and place into the Varoma dish lined with 3 slices of the ginger and 2 spring onions to help with flavour and steam circulation. Set aside.
- Place remaining garlic, ginger, shallots and neutral oil into mixing bowl (chop on speed 8 for 8 seconds if you haven’t pre-chopped everything) and sauté for 2 min/Varoma/Reverse/speed 2.
- Add rice and sauté for 2 min/100ºC/Reverse/speed 2.
- Add about a tsp of salt or to taste. Remove from mixing bowl and set aside in the steaming basket.
- Place 1L of chicken or vegetable stock into the mixing bowl. Set Varoma into position and steam for 45 min/Varoma/speed 3 (longer if your chicken is larger than 1.5kg).
- Remove Varoma and set aside. Top up chicken stock to 1L. Insert basket of rice with pandan leaves. Return Varoma dish with chicken to position and cook for a further 15 min/Varoma/speed 3.
- Once done, carefully lift chicken out and deconstruct on a large plate. Serve with rice and chilli sauce, Good Chow soy sauce and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce).
- Taste the soup, and add enough hot water to taste (as it will be concentrated). Ladle soup into bowls and serve.
- To make a quick sauce to pour over chopped chicken, mix 3 tsp Good Chow first brew soy sauce with 2 tbsp hot water, ½ tsp sesame oil and ¼ tsp sugar and mix well.
- You can add some vegetables to steam in the last 5-10 minutes of the steaming, if desired.