All posts tagged: Dessert

Sachertorte, a sophisticated cake for the Austrian sybarite in you

The politics of food have long being explored by historians. Food speaks the language of power, opulence and manifests the culinary exchanges that have been the consequence of commerce, migrations, conquests and alliances. Few European cities such as Vienna hold in its very same name all sorts of connections with iconic opera singers, painters, composers, writers, thinkers and of course very opulent aristocrats who for centuries financed and enjoyed Vienna’s thriving cultural life. Only in Vienna politics, power and money can acquire sophisticated and edible manifestations, the quintessentially Austrian Sachertorte is just one of them. There’s also the Esterházy torte, Linzertorte the Punschkrapferl, and the very recent  Ritz-Carlton Torte. They all have chocolate, at least two layers, almonds in some form and some have apricots or orange. They’re filled with butter cream or nougat and are topped either with a chocolate ganache or sugar icing. But let’s get to the sweet core of this article: the Sachertorte. As per usual, there’s controversy and bitter disputes around this creation. But all versions agreed that Prince Clemens …

Lavender Shortbread

Who doesn’t love a good crumbly shortbread with a nice cup of coffee in the afternoon? Like most great pleasures in life, shortbread is very simple, flour, butter, sugar and salt. This tiny biscuit has been delighting us since medieval times when it was also known as “biscuit bread”. Why is it “short”? Short is referred to a crumbly yet compact texture, opposite to that of bread which is the product of kneaded dough that has developed elastic gluten. Shortbread is a type of “Biscuit” which means twice cooked, however nowadays we only bake it twice at a low heat to dry and cook the flour without burning it. In Victorian times shortbread regained a status as a luxury product, fancy clay moulds became fashionable to shape big and small pieces for special occasions such as Christmas presents and weddings. Legend says that Mary, Queen of Scots had a sweet spot for crisp and buttery shortbread spiced with caraway seeds. Although most people prefer the classic recipe, there are many ways to spice up shortbread …

Afternoon Delights. Coffeehouse favourites: Coffee Cake, Brownies & Bars, Scones & More

 By James K McNair & Andrew Moore Chronicle Books, San Francisco (2001) It is generally assumed that women are more sweet-toothed than men. But not only that, it is almost a western cultural fact that sweet afternoon treats are almost exclusively feminine. Well this pair of male bakers not only prove that men are equally drawn to the joys of a mid afternoon dessert, they actually present a total of 25 great recipes. I can personally assure you that they work perfectly.

The Ice Cream Files: Ben, Jerry & Mr D

It is said that Marco Polo was the first European to taste ice-cream, having sampled it (often I’m sure) during his travels in Asia. He was sufficiently impressed by the sweet and sticky stuff that he brought the process home with him and introduced it to the polite members of Venetian society.  And the rest, as they say, is history, as ice cream has become a firm favourite in every country.  (It’s important to acknowledge here that while Marco Polo has the best story, the Persians also have a claim on inventing ice cream.) Of course, cold and creamy desserts have evolved immensely over the centuries and each culture has added its own twist. For example, while most use dairy products some use sheep or goat’s milk, while other variations may include the use of grains and nuts such as rice flour or almond milk. Traditionally, the Italian word “gelato” is associated with ice-cream, however there is an important distinction between the two.  Gelato has “less air” than ice cream, meaning that the base it …

Melt In Your Mouth Crème Caramel

Lately MrD and myself have opted out for having lighter dinners consisting of a main dish salad, full of green goodness, proteins and always something extra. This has been a good change in terms of logistics but also we feel satisfied without going straight into a sophoriphic state. But the Pièce de résistance is the dessert -no second helpings. They go from homemade ice creams to, crumble, poached pears or an irresistible Crème Caramel.

Gloriously Sticky Crêpes Suzette

I can’t remember the first time I had crêpes Suzette but I do remember having three crêpe parties, once with a girl from Dijon, from her I learned that the first crêpe is totally useless because the pan is too cold. The second time was with a French friend of my brother, he taught me how to flip them. The third time was with a French colleague who insisted we needed to ferment the batter to make the crêpes lighter, she was right.