Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fabulous Holiday Treats - 3 November 2013

I'll be teaching a new holiday demo class at Shermay's Cooking School on 3 November 2013 (Sunday). For all inquiries, please call the school at +65 6479 8442 or 6479 8414, or email 

To date, I understand that class is full. To everyone attending - especially the dearly familiar faces (you know who you are) - a huge thank you, and apologies for the radio silence.

It's been quite a while since my last class (or my last post on this completely neglected blog, for that matter), so I daresay I'm really looking forward.

2013 has been a challenging year on the family front, primarily due to sickness and bereavement. As a consequence, I found myself seeking out and making the kind of things that I want to eat, that comfort me most. This menu reflects that. 

Plainly perfect and perfectly plain. Simply elegant, elegantly simple. Un-gussied, no-frills, nude and gloriously so. It's honest goodness and the gustatory equivalent of a bear hug. I think baking does not get more therapeutic, cathartic and soulful than basking in the glory of joys as elemental as, say, that of great salted butter. Or the superlativeness of toasted hazelnuts. When spice bread mellows into a thing of wonder with patience/time. How the culinary miracle known as caramelization wreaks its magic and transforms the holy triumvirate of fat, sugar and flour.

The menu is as follows, and I sincerely hope you enjoy the lineup as much as I did coming up with it:

Baci di Nocciole e Cioccolato al Latte (Hazelnut & Milk Chocolate Kisses)
Hazelnuts and milk chocolate are a match made in heaven, as these luxurious treats amply illustrate. Pairs of friable and wonderfully fragrant hazelnut cookies sandwich a plush ganache made with Amedei 35% milk chocolate – they’re so more-ish your lucky recipients will be queuing up to kiss you!

Gâteau Breton
In Brittany, local salted butter is used for absolutely everything including patisserie. Just savvy shopping for the best salted butter you can find – the resulting flavour depends on it and is well worth the extra expense and effort – is all that’s required for making the hands-down, will-make-you-weep, most butter-rich, splendidly short, shortbread. Ever. 

Kouign Amann
The literal meaning of the name in Breton is “butter cake” (kouign is “cake” and amann is “butter”). When made properly, the kouign amann’s seemingly simple and humble appearance belies sensational flavour and texture. Deeply caramelized and buttery, crisp without and tenderly flaky within, it is utterly addictive. 

Pain d’Épices (Alsace style)
There are as many styles and recipes for pain d’épices, a traditional honey and spice bread, as there are cooks. This particular style – a cross between a cookie and a bread in texture – is also known as leckerli, and hails from the Alsace region.


Pain d’Épices (Burgundy style)
Beautifully flavoured with floral honey and Christmas spices, this gingerbread is outstanding thinly sliced, toasted, and served with butter and jam, such as the Orange Pomander Conserves.

Orange Pomander Conserves
Inspired by festive pomanders, this extraordinary marmalade is perfumed with cloves. 

Crème de Marron Ice Cream
A luscious custard-based ice cream that’s flavoured with crème de marron, this is lovely served with a simple butter cookie such as the Gâteau Breton.

Chestnut Chocolate Pots de Crème 
If you have great dark chocolate (Amedei 65% dark chocolate is used here) and crème de marron lying around, this velvety dessert is an absolute cinch to pull together. Fabulous accompanied by the Baci di Nocciole.


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