I suck at buying presents, so usually I just make something edible (which means I get to eat the “present” as well). But when I asked my sister what she wanted for her birthday, she replied with warabi mochi, a traditional Japanese confectionery which required loads of specialty ingredients. Of course she did.
I didn’t have a small enough container so I had to shove the mochi into a corner of my brownie tin and balance everything with a measuring jug. That’s lateral thinking.
Warabi mochi is a soft, jelly-like dessert that’s quite different from normal mochi, in that it has more of a gelatinous texture rather than a chewy one. I personally prefer warabi mochi, especially the more traditional ones actually made out of bracken instead of the corn starch that I use.
Warabi mochi is usually served with kinako (roasted soybean flour) and kuromitsu (something like molasses?). And this trinity is a w i n n i n g combination, especially in the summertime. The warabi mochi itself doesn’t have much of a flavour, it just serves as a refreshing vehicle to deliver the earthy flavour of the kinako and the sweetness of the kuromitsu.
It’s best to eat the warabi mochi right after making as the texture deteriorates over time. I got the recipe from here and watched this to get a better idea of what to do.
- 50g corn starch (or わらび餅粉 warabimochiko if you can get it)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 300ml water (see notes)
- Kinako (きな粉, enough to coat the warabi mochi)
- 50g unrefined brown sugar (黒糖, kokutou, looks like this)
- 50g white sugar
- 50ml water
- Mix the starch and the sugar in a pot. Then add in the water and mix well.
- Heat over medium heat until the mixture thickens, stirring constantly.
- When the mixture is translucent, remove from heat.
- Pour the mixture into a rectangle container of a suitable size, such that the mixture is 1 inch thick. Place the container in an ice bath for 10 minutes, or until the warabi mochi is about room temperature.
- Unmould the warabi mochi onto a wet surface and cut into cubes using a wet knife. Place the cubes into room temperature water after cutting for easier handling.
- Mix the sugars and water in a saucepan and heat until the mixture is boiling and all the sugar is dissolved.
- Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- Sprinkle the warabi mochi pieces with kinako and drizzle with kuromitsu.
- Serve immediately.
- If you’re using corn starch instead of warabimochiko, the warabi mochi is going to have a bit of a unpleasant aftertaste to it. You don’t really taste it with the kinako and the kuromitsu masking it, but it’s still best to use the warabimochiko. The recipe source suggests making the warabi mochi with green tea instead of water to mask this aftertaste, but I didn’t try that so I don’t know if that works.
- I got all the ingredients from Daiso, basically a Japanese dollar store, so if you have one around your area yay.
- For storage, store the warabi mochi separate from the kinako and the kuromitsu. Don’t store in the fridge or the warabi mochi will lose its soft texture.
- Some people say that dark muscovado sugar can be substituted for kokutou, but they don’t look alike to me so I can’t vouch for this substitution.
You know how in science class you learn that matter has 3 states, and then you go into higher education and you learn that there are more states like plasma and Bose-Einstein condensates? Yeah this is the fourth state of chocolate.
Don’t mind that crummy looking bowl. Apparently also known as the “toffee of milk”, caramelised white chocolate has an additional dimension of depth compared to regular white chocolate. It’s sweeter, creamier, and as the name suggests, it has caramel notes to it as well.
I first heard about caramelised white chocolate when I went to Copenhagen, and the Summerbird chocolate store was giving out free samples (the way to my heart). And their most popular product was amber chocolate, which was basically caramelised white chocolate, but they managed to temper it to perfection. Perfectly snappy at room temperature, but melts in your mouth to coat your tongue with a layer of creamy caramel chocolate.
And then adding in the ground cardamom gives a little more aroma to the ice cream. Also I suck at scooping ice cream so here’s a lovely picture of some half-melted ice cream drowning in sauce:
The salt is not optional. Helps cut through the sweetness and makes the whole thing a little more interesting.
I used David Lebovitz’s recipes for caramelised white chocolate ice cream and caramelised white chocolate, and just added cardamom.
Caramelised white chocolate
- 120g white chocolate (see notes)
- Pinch of sea salt
- 3 medium egg yolks
- 50g sugar
- Pinch of sea salt
- 125ml heavy cream
- 250ml whole milk
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Caramelised white chocolate
- Chop the white chocolate into coarse pieces, and place on a lined baking sheet and bake at 130°C for 10 mins.
- Take the baking sheet out and spread the white chocolate with a spatula until the chocolate is smoothed out.
- Put the white chocolate back in the oven and bake for another 10 mins, stirring the chocolate at 10 min intervals. Repeat until the white chocolate is a deep golden-brown colour.
- Stir in a pinch of sea salt and set the chocolate aside.
- In a large bowl, stir together the yolks, sugar, and salt until well combined.
- In a saucepan, heat the cream, milk, and cardamom until warm.
- Add half of the cream and milk into the egg yolks and whisk. Then add the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.
- Heat over low-medium heat, stirring continuously. Heat until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
- Meanwhile, ensure the caramelised white chocolate is warm (like just microwave it for 5-10s bursts, stirring well between bursts) and place a strainer over a bowl containing the white chocolate.
- When the ice cream custard is ready, pour the custard through the strainer into the white chocolate and stir until smooth.
- Refrigerate the ice cream overnight.
- The next day, churn the ice cream mixture in an ice cream machine until desired consistency.
- Freeze the ice cream until it’s a scoopable consistency. Serve with some flaky sea salt.
- Optional: I served my ice cream with some extra caramelised white chocolate mixed with cream to make a ganache.
- When caramelising the white chocolate, the chocolate may sometimes appear lumpy. But don’t worry just keep mixing the chocolate and it will eventually smooth out.
- If you’re rich and don’t want to make caramelised white chocolate, Valrhona sells some blonde chocolate which is the same thing.
- For best results, use white chocolate with at least 30% cocoa butter. And use real white chocolate (with actual cocoa butter), check the ingredients list.
Hear me out here.
It’s weirdly good. It’s like a creamy honey mustard dressing…but solid.
And it goes so well with mini pretzels! That crunch. And it goes with the general savouriness of the ice cream.
I got the original idea while watching an episode of Good Mythical Morning and they loved mustard ice cream. Next time I want to actually get some sausages and eat them with the ice cream. Gotta go all out.
And the finishing touch is a light sprinkling of salt to contrast with the mild sweetness of the ice cream.
I got the recipe from here but converted everything to grams and converted half-and-half to cream and milk since it’s kind of hard to find half-and-half in the UK.
- 25g sugar (1/8 cup)
- 43g honey (1/8 cup)
- Pinch of turmeric (optional, for colour)
- 3 egg yolks
- 90g double cream
- 268g whole milk (or you can substitute the cream and milk for 358g/1.5 cups half-and-half)
- 1-2 tbsp whole grain mustard (depending on strength of mustard and your preferences)
- About 150g salted mini pretzels, toasted
- Some flaky sea salt
- Mix the sugar, honey, turmeric, and egg yolks together in a saucepan.
- Add the cream and milk into the saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until mixture is thickened and coats the back of your spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
- Transfer to a container and chill overnight.
- Meanwhile, chop 3/4 of the pretzels into pieces (halves to quarters). Freeze the pretzel pieces.
- The next morning, before churning the ice cream, mix in the mustard to the ice cream mixture.
- Churn the ice cream mixture in an ice cream machine until desired consistency.
- When the ice cream is ready, scoop the ice cream into a container and scatter in some chopped frozen pretzel pieces.
- Top with the remaining toasted pretzels and sea salt.
- The turmeric’s just for colour. Don’t actually add enough such that you’ll be able to taste the turmeric. I wanted the ice cream to actually be yellow, there’s no need for subtlety when it comes to mustard ice cream.
- Freezing the pretzel pieces will help in stopping the pieces from getting soggy (hopefully).
The recipe that required the most amount of specialised ingredients.
Gum mastic is used in Eastern Mediterranean cooking. Honestly I have no idea how I even came across it. I opened up my folder of bookmarked ice cream flavours and there it was. My Greek friend got really excited about this, he said that there’s an old wives’ tale about mastica being the cure to everything (cue long-suffering eye-roll from said friend).
And sorry I can’t really describe its taste either. It brings more of an aromatic component to me rather than a taste. Some say that it smells like pine trees, but I’ve never smelt a pine tree before…
And cardamom also smells really good. Like a really classy scented candle. That you want to eat. Basically I kept smelling this ice cream throughout.
The ice cream is based off an eggless custard – my first recipe without eggs! This meant that I could be less careful about watching the temperature of the custard, since overheating an egg-based custard can result in a bit of a sulfurous smell and taste (ie like eating farts, yummy).
And I thought this ice cream froze pretty well! Didn’t get as icy as some of my previous ice cream attempts.
Unfortunately you do need an ice cream maker for this recipe, although I’m sure you can use one of the many ways out there to adapt the recipe.
I don’t know why one of the scoops looks more yellow than the other, but it’s okay I accept you for who you are.
I got the recipe from here and used ground cinnamon instead of a cinnamon stick.
- 1 tablespoon whole green cardamoms
- 300ml milk
- 300ml double cream
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 85g caster sugar
- 100ml rose water
- 1 teaspoon gum mastic crystals, crushed with 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 200ml evaporated milk
- Handful of toasted pistachios to top, roughly chopped
- Crush the whole cardamoms in a pestle and mortar (or get your housemate to crush it in a ziploc bag with a rolling pin, because you’re lazy like that). Take out the pods leaving the seeds then pound the seeds to a fine powder.
- Place the milk and double cream in a saucepan, and add the ground cardamom and cinnamon. Bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by about a quarter to a rich creamy colour (it takes about half an hour).
- Place the sugar and rose water in another saucepan and dissolve the sugar over a low heat until it becomes a thin syrup. Remove from the heat and cool.
- When the milk and cream are ready, remove from the heat and stir in the crushed gum mastic. Cool for about 15 minutes.
- Sieve the liquid. Add the evaporated milk to the sieved liquid and combine with the rose water syrup. Cool and chill.
- Churn in an ice-cream machine until desired consistency.
- If you want a scoopable consistency rather than a soft-serve consistency, chill the ice cream down in the freezer overnight.
- Top with toasted pistachios.
- I’d suggest going light on the gum mastic especially if you’re not used to the flavour because it can be quite strong.
- To me the pistachio was really crucial in bringing this recipe together. Brought some textural variation, and its nuttiness also complemented the sort of organic(?) taste of the mastic.
An entire lemon was used in the cake – peel and all. Combined with the intense flavour of the lemon curd filling, this cake is really made for a lemon lover (like me).
It all starts off with simmering some lemons.
The lemons are then blended (with the blender placed on the floor where there was actually light) and used in the sponge.
Meanwhile a super intensely lemon-y curd is prepared as a filling.
I refrigerated my cake layers as I was too lazy to make and decorate the cake on the same day. I also pointed a knife threateningly at them.
The curd was put in its place by a border of mellow, marshmallow-y swiss meringue.
The remaining meringue was then torched…
Or baked to create crispy meringue kisses which not only provided texture but also helped hide that ugly little border where cake met plate.
The end result was a very bright, refreshing cake and a very happy me.
The cake recipe was from the Queen herself, Mary Berry. I used the same lemon curd recipe I used in my Lemon Curd Ice Cream, and the same Swiss meringue frosting I used in my Sweet Potato Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting.
Ingredients (makes a 2 thick-layered 6″ cake or a normal 2-layered 8″ cake I guess)
- 1 small thin-skinned lemon (see notes)
- 275g softened butter
- 275g caster sugar
- 275g self-raising flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 4 medium eggs
Swiss meringue frosting/meringue kisses
- 3 large egg whites
- 160g granulated sugar (3/4 cup)
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 egg yolks
- 100g sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
- The zest from the lemons you used
- 57g melted butter
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- Place the lemon in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to the boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 20 mins, or until soft and tender. Drain, cut the lemons in half, and remove any pips (like with a fork or something since the lemons are still hot).
- Place the lemons (everything – including the skin) into a food processor and process until smoothish but still chunky. Set aside.
- Mix the butter with the sugar until fluffy. Then add the other ingredients in and mix. Stir in the lemon pulp until incorporated.
- Butter and line two tins. Fill the tins and bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC for 30 mins, or until golden brown and shrinking from the edge of the tins. If a knife is inserted it should come out clean or with moist crumbs.
- Leave to cool for five mins before turning the cakes out on a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Place the egg whites into a double boiler. Whisk with an electric whisk until the egg whites are foamy, then add the sugar and salt. Whisk until you cannot feel the sugar grains in the egg whites any more (should take about 3 mins).
- Remove the bowl from heat, and whisk until the meringue is cool and you achieve stiff peaks. Mix in vanilla.
- Mix the yolks with the sugar vigorously. Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix.
- Microwave on medium-high for 1.5 mins. Stir.
- Repeat on medium or medium-high at 1 mins interval, stirring every time after you heat until the curd is thick.
- Sieve the curd.
- Level the cake layers. Smear a little bit of meringue onto the plate (to stop the cake from sliding, hopefully) and place your first cake layer on top.
- Pipe a border of swiss meringue around the perimeter of the cake. Then fill in the middle with the lemon curd. Don’t go too overboard or your cake layers will slide around.
- Place your second cake layer on top. Cover the whole thing with meringue and torch it. Then place in the fridge.
- Meanwhile, place your remaining meringue into a piping bag and pipe little meringue kisses onto some baking paper.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 140ºC for about 40 mins. You should be able to lift the meringue kiss off the baking paper. When fresh out of the oven it’d still feel spongy but let it sit for a while and it’d turn crispy.
- Decorate your cake with the meringue kisses.
- The cake was a little close-textured, not sure if it was supposed to be that way or if I made it wrong. Still tasted good.
- You’d probably end up with extra lemon curd. But I served the extra lemon curd to guests for them to dollop extra onto their slice. Can’t have too much of that curd, man.
- The meringue kisses won’t survive for more than a day probably, and will become soft and spongy unless you keep them in an airtight container.
- The recipe said to boil 1 lemon but the first picture shows me boiling 2 lemons. Yeah, that’s because I only ended up using half of my lemon puree anyway.
- It’s really important to use thin-skinned lemons (when you press it the skin should give easily) or your cake layers will be bitter.
- If making your cake layers in advance, wait for them to cool completely before wrapping tightly in cling film and, if you’re feeling real paranoid, placing it in a wrapped cake in a ziplock bag. You can either store at room temperature for about a day if you live in a cool dry area or in the fridge.