Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream – Kowloon, Hong Kong

Today I visited Lab Made, Asia’s first liquid nitrogen ice cream shop. Look at the queue!

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Well, actually… because I live close by, I visit the store everyday.

Ice-cream made with liquid nitrogen is the smoothest you’ll ever taste. At -196°C , it freezes so fast that there is no time for large ice crystals to form. Liquid nitrogen ice cream takes only 60 seconds to make while commercial ice cream takes at least 10 minutes.

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Since liquid nitrogen is so cold, you can pretty much pick any flavour or use any ingredients you like. It will just freeze everything.

Lab Made offers new ice cream flavours each week. Check out the latest flavours:

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Notice the special Flavour A –  black ice cream with the question mark? Lab Made is fundraising for a social enterprise called Dialogue in the Dark. According to the group’s description:

Dialogue in the Dark is a very successful social enterprise originated in 1988 in Germany by Andreas Heinecke, PhD. It harnesses the talents and skills of people who are visually impaired to inspire the physically capable.

Dialogue in the Dark sparks thoughts that dissolve old mindsets, exposing you to new people and a new world. You begin to question your assumptions as you experience new limits. Meeting ambassadors of a little-known subculture initiates a dialogue, which endures beyond your time inside the exhibition.”

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Anyway, the point is that the ice cream is black so you won’t know the flavour until you try it.

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The scoop on the top is taro flavour. The scoop at the bottom is blueberry.

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This one is Tong But Lut flavour, one of my favourite. Tong But Lut is a famous Chinese dessert made from peanut, coconut, sesame and glutinous rice.

Location: Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

*Warning, please note that liquid nitrogen is very dangerous. Read about it here:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-19870668

I’ve heard along the grapevine that if liquid nitrogen is poured on a person’s head, that person will be killed instantly as his/her brain will literally freeze. You gotta be worried for the workers in the ice cream shop since none of them were wearing any protective gear!

Three Berry Pie with Vanilla Cream

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For quite a long time I’ve resisted baking pies, mainly because I don’t particularly enjoy things like apple pies (i.e. using actual fruits in baking). Not sure what changed my mind, but I decided to give berries + pie a try, given that it’s summer over here in the Southern Hemisphere!

True to the reviews, the Three-Berry Pie with Vanilla Cream is very deliscious. The recipe seems fairly easy to do, with a few things to watch out for.

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  • The recipe calls for a pan that has 4 cups capacity. Measure your pan size and depth carefully to adjust your pie dough and fillings. In my case, I have a same size pan but deeper (6 cups) so I had to adjust both.
  • Try not to use frozen berries, but if you do – definitely defrost and drain the excess juice out. I tried making this pie twice. First time I did it with 70% fresh and 30% frozen (but defrost and drained) – the fillings came out beautifully. Second time I used the reverse and didn’t defrost. Fillings were VERY watery.
  • Put some cornstarch and sanding sugar at bottom of pie, before you put in the fillings.
  • I used Arrowroot instead of Quick-cooking tapioca (couldn’t find that at local supermarket)
  • Trim your pie dough around the edges well, so when the top crust meets the bottom it’s not too thick.
  • I think I prefer a thicker bottom pastry, so that when you line the pastry into the pan, it will not tear so easily around the pan edges.
  • Trim the pastry overhang ASAP. Excess will cause the pastry to start to rip around the pan edges. I’ve trimmed it and then make the overhang ‘stand vertical’ instead of still hanging over the pie pan. Put that into the fridge to chill while working on rolling out top crust.
  • Crimp the dough on the side however you like
  • Definitely use a baking tray or sheet below your pie pan, to catch those butter drips as the pie bakes
  • This pie is heavy – you might be tempted to rotate the pie to get it browning more even. I would say do so, but with caution (that’s how I lost 1/3 of my first pie!)
  • I would make the pie the day before serving – to let the fillings thicken even more

Charity Bake for Typhoon Haiyan Victims

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

A week ago, a friend suddenly contacted me to help donate some baked goods as part of her office’s Typhoon Haiyan Phillipines fundraiser. I like baking so naturally, it’s a yes!

Summer time is approaching in New Zealand so I’ve opted to bake things that are fruity and refreshing – something light, in other words. At the same time I’ve been consciously avoiding baking anything too complicated (aiming for simple and deliscious in the last 6 months)

Ta-da! So here we have some Lemon Meringue Cupcakes, and Coconut & Passionfruit Slices.

Coconut & Passionfruit Slices

Coconut & Passionfruit Slices

As you can see I’m hopeless at cutting anything straight, but the slices are very yummy.

I got the recipes here: Lemon Meringue CupcakesCoconut Passionfruit Slices

They are both good recipes and I’ve only had to make minor adjustments.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

  • Make the Lemon Curd (the link can be found within the cupcake’s recipes) 1 day ahead. That means it’ll set properly and one less last-minute thing to do.
  • Recipe says it makes 24 but it’s probably closer to 16-18. I was using muffin paper and a muffin pan so that’s probably why.
  • Didn’t alter anything in the recipe, but definitely taste test everything, especially the Lemon Curd and the Cupcake batter to make sure you’re happy with how it taste. Adjust by using less lemon juice and then add more to get to your preferred taste.
  • I borrowed the kitchen torch from a friend of mine and just bought a can of butane gas to fill torch back up before returning. Good way to save money!
  • I had trouble with the piping (my own inexperience) – and I think I would have chosen a different tip instead. Might look nicer.

Coconut Passionfruit Slices

  • Receipe calls for a 16x26cm pan – I don’t have it, so I had to bump up the recipe by a factor of 2.5. If you’re going to do something similar, then slightly reduce the temperature and just keep an eye out when the baking time is reached and adjust the time accordingly. I used a pyrex dish by the way.
  • These slices are quite rich. They say use 100g caster sugar, I would say probably 50g is enough. Also cut those slices smaller – perhaps like little squares.
  • Up that butter to 120 to 125g.
  • Taste test the topping part before transferring to your baking dish. Adjust by adding more lemon juice, more passionfruit pulp, or condensed milk. Probably 80% of 1 can of condensed milk would be enough.

Key Lime Pie

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So I live in a place with no Key Limes, and I really don’t know what they tasted like. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to make it.

Key Lime Pies are so easy to make, and it’s delicious (apparently), so why not?

I did, and the pie disappeared within 30 minutes, devoured by my 10 colleagues. And man, it is yum.

 

I originally followed the Epicurious recipe, but with a 9.5 inch tart pan. I got to the making the crust stage, even baked the crust. But since I was in a hurry and didn’t really do my math properly, the end result wasn’t great (it tasted great, just badly shaped) so I had to start all over again.

I also think that the amount of butter quoted in the recipe was nowhere near enough for you to get a nice crust dough to work with when shaping it into the pan.

So I opted to follow Cuisine magazine recipe instead for the crust, and I skipped the cinnamon. I wish though that they will provide a cup-ratio for the biscuit crumbs, so I could be a bit more accurate.

For the filling I followed the original Epicurious recipe.

 

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Now, what do you do if you don’t have Key Limes readily available where you live?

I’ve done some online research – some people said to use just lime. Some people said to use 50% lemon juice and 50% lime juice. Some people were lucky enough to have key lime juice available for purchase (bottled) in the local store, others like me aren’t as lucky.

So I opted for the 50:50 lemon / lime juice option. I just bought the lime juice from the baking section in my local supermarket. (Because as luck would have it, they don’t have fresh lime at my local store – I swear I saw some last week!)

i would say, adjust the pie filling according to your taste, AFTER you have whisk the juice into the condensed milk / egg yolk mixture. I personally added a dash more lime juice so reduce the tangyness (a dash being something like 1 teaspoon).

 

All in all, very delicious. Would definitely make it again – a bigger one next time (with proper pie pan)!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Salted Caramel Choclate Crinkle Cookies

Salted Caramel Choclate Crinkle Cookies

YUM is the unanimous word I got for this and also for the soft caramel used in these cookies. See recipe for soft caramel here. They also comment that the more you eat the more you want to eat them. Now that’s a compliment I think!

A few notes:

  • The cookie dough isn’t hard to make, but I had to follow the ingredient amount to the T to make it work. When they say 2 large eggs, just use 2 eggs. if you add a 3rd egg thinking the eggs you used aren’t big enough, that will make the dough too soft to roll later.
  • Because I used caramel that I made myself, I had to be fairly careful with the amount of caramel I used per cookie. Each of my cookie dough was about 3cm in diameter, and my caramel dimension is about 1cm (width) x 2cm (length) x 2cm (height) cubes. Most of my cookie came out ok without any caramel leaking out. Do be careful making sure your cookie dough are either thick enough to wrap around the caramel, or use a slightly harder caramel (but then of course when the cookies cool down you’ll get harder caramel in your cookies too). There’s definitely a trade off here.
  • I also had to put my cookie dough into the fridge for more than 45 minutes. You could put it into the freezer (it’ll be even easier to roll) or leave it int the fridge for longer. I found that if I put my dough in the freezer or fridge for a fairly long time (a few hours), my cookies will not spread as much, so you get a thicker cookie. Up to your own taste and time constraint really.

 

YUM!!!

Soft Caramel

Soft caramel

Soft caramel

Caramel set over night ready to be used / eaten!

Caramel set over night ready to be used / eaten!

Wrap the individual caramel in wax paper.

Wrap the individual caramel in wax paper.

I am in the process of making some baked goodie that required caramel. Unbelievably, there is no caramel (the candy type) that can be sourced from my local supermarket / grocery store. Well they do, but the only available item is some horrible caramel bits that you can use but they will never melt even if put into oven. Who would want to use that???!

I was too lazy to take a 15 minutes bus ride to another grocery store that may or may not have caramel candy in stock, so I decided to make my own. May be I’m not that lazy after all!

I followed the recipe here: http://candy.about.com/od/caramelrecipes/r/soft_caramels.htm. They also have good photos and video on how to make it as well. I’m sure there are other recipes around on the Internet. But oh my god, home-made caramels are SO YUM.

I had to stop myself from eating all the thin, left over layer of caramel stuck to the side of my sauce pan. And I promise I didn’t dip my finger into the pans of caramel… even though the thought of doing that kept whirling around in my brain until I went to bed last night.

I will post more photos tonight when I cut that into cubes.

The effort is totally worth it, but some notes on making that:

– Safety: Wear gloves when you start boiling the sugar mixture and until you finished transferring the caramel from your saucepan into the pan(s).

– Safety: Don’t hover your face right on top or too close to the pot of boiling caramel. It was bubbling quite a bit for me, and good thing I was wearing glasses!

– Safety: Seems like for this volume, it is definitely good to get a saucepan that’s both taller and wider – if that’s possible. It just means less droplets of burning hot caramel bubbling out and hit your hands etc when the caramel is boiling.

– Variations: I didn’t have light corn syrup in local supermarket, but I did have 1.5 cup of Pure Corn Syrup (Liquid Glucose). So in the end I put that all in, add some more water (1 tbsp?), and add 1/2 a cup of golden syrup. The result seems to be ok, perhaps a bit harder than how the original recipe would be. Taste good though, not too sweet. The slightly harder texture meant it might just be perfect to use for what I’m wanting to make next.

– Variations: I was so impatient in warming the cream + condensed milk mixture, that I put it into a corningware pot and brought it almost to a boil. NOT a good idea. If you did that, and burnt the bottom, you can still rescue it. I did that by NOT stirring, taking it off the stove immediately, and when the sugar syrup mixture is ready, I pour the cream / milk mixture through a strainer into the sugar syrup mixture.

Espresso cake with raspberry & rhubarb compote & Italian meringue – Redux

Espresso cake with raspberry & rhubarb compote & Italian meringue

Espresso cake with raspberry & rhubarb compote & Italian meringue

I rarely make the same cake twice (which is not a good habit at all), but this time one of my colleague has requested this as the leaving-do cake, so here it is, again.

This time I was armed with many more tools like my 5L mixing bowl, more mixing bowls in general, and my experience from last time. I have also discovered a local nut store that sells toasted and blanched hazelnut(i.e. skins off). Bingo. A simple thing like that reduced my prep time by an hour.

All in all it was alot easier than last time. I would half the Italian Meringue portion, and also half the rhubarb compote (which I did this time). Should yield just enough for the cake.

For the candied hazelnut, definitely wait for that 3 minutes after taking the caramel off the heat. Not sure the ice water is needed – During my first batch I had the iced water and at the end the caramel hardened too much. Second batch without iced water gave me more time to muck around with taping the skewers to the kitchen bench.

Note to self – next time, take that pot of boiling sugar syrup off the stove when there’s an earthquake (can’t believe I ran around the house while I left it boiling)!

And to get rid of hardened caramel / sugar syrup? Add quite a bit of water, and bring it to boil with high heat. No mess no fuss cleanup.

Refer to my previous post for recipe (off Cuisine Magazine) and other comments.