I just love love strawberry! Especially when it is in season in the summer and nothing can get better than a classic British strawberry and cream dessert! 😋
When I visited the Silver Darling in Aberdeen earlier in the week, I was very inspired by its strawberry tasting platter, so I decided to do my take on it last night. This strawberry dessert platter was composed of a strawberry & mint sorbet, eggless meringue (made from aquafaba), strawberry shortbread (coloured and filled with dried strawberries), strawberry jelly cubes, fresh strawberry coulis, whipped cream, and last but not least, a strawberry-mint vodka cocktail shot! 🍸😉
We might have gotten a little carried away on the alcohol! 😂
Happy birthday to my dear friend @wellnessbyyana! We were truly blessed with glorious weather ☀️ ☀️ this weekend in the U.K., which made it perfect for a birthday picnic in the park! 😉🙌🙌
At the request of my dear friend, this trifle is dairy-free, refined sugar-free and loaded with extra shots of rum ready for the party! 💃 💃 🎉🎉🎉🎊🎊🎊 The trifle consists of a rum and berries jelly at the bottom, layered with a banana sponge cake (soaked with more rum!), strawberries, blueberries and raspberries- all covered with a soya milk custard with a plant-based whipped cream. What a perfect day to celebrate the end of lockdown! 🥳🥳
Dairy-free refined sugar-free rum and berries trifle
For the jelly:
250g mixed berries (e.g. raspberries and blueberries)
2 tsp lemon juice
3 shots of rum
2 1/2 gelatine leaves
For the banana cake:
190g self-raising flour
1 1/2 bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
2 ripen bananas, mashed
20g honey, plus extra to drizzle on the sponge
90ml vegetable/sunflower oil
60ml plant-based milk (e.g. soya/almond)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 shots of rum
For the custard:
350ml plant-based milk (e.g. soya/almond)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp elderflower/lemon extract (optional)
4 egg yolks
15g plain flour
For the whipped cream:
Any dairy free double or whipping cream
For the fruits:
Mixed berries (e.g. raspberries and blueberries) to your likening
For the decorations:
Toasted almond flakes (optional)
Goji berries (optional)
1. Start with the jelly by making a fruit purée. Heat the berries, honey, water and lemon juice in a saucepan. Crush/blend the fruits as you are cooking.
2. Pass the purée through a sieve to get a smooth purée and place it back into a clean saucepan.
3. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water.
3. Add the rum and heat the purée gently.
4. Squeeze the water out of the soaked gelatine and add it to the purée. Stir under heat until the gelatine is fully dissolved.
5. Pour the purée into a clean glass bowl. Let it cool before putting it in the fridge for several hours, or until the jelly is fully set.
6. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
7. Make the banana sponge cake by passing the flour through a sieve. Mix in bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon.
7. Mix the mashed bananas, honey, milk, oil and vanilla extract together until well-combined. Then fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture until well-combined.
8. Pour the mixture into a parchment-lined cake tray and bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
9. Remove the cake from the tray and cool on a wire rack.
10. For the custard, heat the milk and extracts gently in a saucepan without it boiling.
11. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg yolks by hand with the honey until pale. Sieve the flours in and mix until well-combined.
12. Slowly pour about half of the heated milk into the yolk mixture, whisking vigorously as you pour. Then, pour the mixture back into the remaining milk in the saucepan.
13. Cook the custard gently over heat, whisking continuously as it cooks until you have a smooth, thickened mixture. (If it doesn’t thicken, add about a tablespoon of cornflour.) Set aside and let the custard cool.
14. Slice the strawberries in halves to prepare for assembling.
15. Cut and layer the banana sponge over the set jelly in the bowl. Drizzle the sponge with more honey and soak with shots of rum.
16. Place the sliced strawberries over the sponge to surround the bowl. Add the remaining fruits in the centre. (You can add more rum at this stage if you want!)
17. Pour the cooled custard over the fruits and use a knife to spread it out evenly. Place back into the fridge to set.
18. Use an electric whisk to whip the cream until stiff.
19. Layer the cream over the set custard and again use a knife to spread it out evenly, filling to the top of the bowl.
20. Spread almond flakes and goji berries over the top to decorate the trifle before serving.
How often do you spend time reminiscing about your childhood? A few days ago, I managed to dig up my old diaries from over 10 years ago, hidden behind piles of books on my old book shelf in my family home. Reading back, I felt a wave of nostalgia. Come to think of it, so much had happened within these past 10 years with many ups and downs. Yet, I don’t feel much different from who I was back then. I always seem to have been the kind of person who strives for and wants more in life, no matter how tiring it can get. But at times I feel lost, not knowing where to go next, questioning what I am doing and feeling demotivated.
I remember when I was a child I used to get so excited over the simplest things in life. Cartoons, comics, games… But my passion in these things slowly somehow dwindled. One of the many things though that get me all hyped up back when I was a little kid was the agar jelly that my mum used to make.
Agar is a type of seaweed that can be used as a substitute for gelatine, and it is widely used in many Asian desserts. It is also suitable for vegetarians and vegans. My family often used strips of dried agar and rock sugar to make jelly as snacks since the recipe is very straightforward (see below). Most of the times we have them plain, but we also sometimes like to incorporate other things such as coconut milk into the jelly.
My mum taught me how to make them today, and the process really made me reflect about things now in my life. Why make things complicated when you can have them so simple? Perhaps simplicity really is the best policy to happiness. 🙂🙂 Do you agree? 🤗
Plain Agar Jelly
Quantity: about 30 small jellies
7g dried agar strips
80g rock sugar
1. Heat the water in a saucepan to boil.
2. Add the agar and sugar to the boiling water. Continue to heat until they have fully dissolved.
3. Pour the mixture into moulds of your choosing. Place in fridge for about 15 mins, or until set. (It should set quite quickly.)
4. Remove from moulds gently.
For the coconut agar jelly, substitute about half of the water with coconut milk.
The heat wave is finally here in London! ☀️ 🔥 🔥 Now that summer has officially begun, how many of you have planned your holiday already? Whether you’re spending time with friends, families or alone by yourself, summer is an important for one to unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature. For someone who loves exploring new places, you may be surprised to hear that I don’t actually travel abroad an awful lot during the holidays. However, I do dream about lying alone on a beach 🏖🏝 (or next to a hunky companion hehe), staring at the clear water or the bright blue sky, and snoozing under the sun with a cold, tropical drink in my hand…🍹
Meanwhile, I will imitate this tropical feeling at home by making my favourite mango mousse cake. This mango mousse cake is one of my more complicated dessert. Inside the mousses hides a layer of coconut sponge cake and strawberry clear jelly over a buttery digestive biscuit base. The cake is finished with a mango glaze and topped with a tempered chocolate nest filled with coconut white chocolate truffles. It does take a bit of time to make this but it’s well worth the effort!
Tropical Mango Mousse Cake
Quantity: 1 cake
For the clear strawberry jelly:
5g leaf gelatine
5-6 strawberries, chopped
For the digestive biscuit base:
200g digestive biscuit
70g unsalted butter, melted
For the coconut sponge cake:
2 eggs, separated
32g caster sugar
24g flavourless oil
28ml warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g self-raising flour
20g desiccated coconut
For the mango mousse:
11g leaf gelatine
450g mango purée/pulp
50g caster sugar
400ml double cream
For the coconut white chocolate truffles,
100g white chocolate, chopped
30ml double cream
1 tbsp butter
For the tempered chocolate decorations:
300g dark chocolate
For the mango glaze:
47g caster sugar
1 lemon, peels only
16g leaf gelatine
175g mango purée/pulp
Fresh mangoes, chopped
White chocolate stars
You will also need at least a small cake tin and a larger cake tin (both should have a loose base) to create the layering effect.
1. Start the jelly first by soaking the leaf gelatine in cold water. Line the small cake tin with cling film.
2. Bring the lemonade to boil in a saucepan. Squeeze off any excess water from the soaked gelatine and stir it into the saucepan until fully dissolved. Take it off the heat, and add in the strawberries. Pour it into the tin and place it into a fridge for about 2-3 hours to set. Once the jelly is set, remove it from the cake tin with the cling film and continue to chill it in the fridge until use.
3. Prepare the digestive biscuit base by blitzing or grinding down the digestive biscuits to fine crumbs. Mix in the melted butter. Line the bottom of the larger cake tin with a cling film, and spread the biscuit mixture evenly at the base of the cake tin. Chill the biscuit base in the fridge for about 30 minutes so it can firm up.
4. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. For the sponge cake, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl with half of the sugar until stiff.
5. In a different bowl, mix the yolk, oil, water, vanilla extract and the remaining sugar together until smooth. Sieve in the flour and add the desiccated coconut into it, and mix until well-combined. Fold this mixture into the whipped egg whites.
4. Grease the small cake tin and pour in the cake batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove the cake from the mould and cool on a wire rack.
5. To make the mango mousse, soak the leaf gelatine in cold water and whip the double cream to soft peaks.
6. Warm the mango purée/pulp with the sugar in a saucepan. Squeeze excess water off from the gelatine and stir it in until fully dissolved. Pass the purée mixture through the sieve. Pour and fold it into the whipped cream until smooth.
7. To assemble the mousse cake, pour in some of the mousse into the larger cake tin with the digestive biscuit base. Place the coconut sponge at the centre and flip the strawberry jelly on top of the sponge using the cling film. Fill up the sides with the mango mousse (ensure they are completely filled up, or else you will see gaps later on), and pour the remaining mousse on top and spread evenly. Place the mousse cake into the fridge to set for about 4 hours.
8. To make the truffles, place the white chocolate, cream and butter in a bowl and heat it a microwave in 20-seconds intervals until melted. (Take care as white chocolate is easy to get overheated and burnt.) Cover the bowl and chill the chocolate in the fridge until firm. Grease your hand with a bit of oil. Scoop and roll the cooled white chocolate in your hand to shape into balls. Roll the truffle balls in desiccated coconut to cover them.
9. For the tempered chocolate decorations, warm two thirds of the dark chocolate in a double boiler to 45-50C/113-122F until melted. Stir in the remaining chocolate to cool it to 31-32C/87-89F.
10. For the chocolate palm trees, pipe the tempered chocolate into shapes on baking parchment. For the chocolate sticks, cut out a rectangular strip of baking parchment and pipe diagonally across it to create a net effect, then carefully roll the paper into a tube shape and secure with tape. For the chocolate nest, flip a bowl upside down and covered with baking parchment, then similarly pipe the chocolate in a net pattern around the bowl. Leave the chocolate decorations to cool and set in room temperature before removing and use.
11. Once the mousse cake is set, remove it from the cake tin and pull out the cling film underneath. Keep the cake cooled in the fridge while preparing the glaze.
12. To make the mango glaze, first make a syrup by heating the water, sugar and lemon peels in a saucepan for 2-3 minutes. Remove the lemon peels.
13. Soak the leaf gelatine in cold water. Add the mango purée/pulp to the syrup and heat. Squeeze the excess water off the soaked gelatine and stir it in until fully dissolved. Pass the glaze through a sieve and let it cool slightly before use.
14. Place the cake on a wire rack over a tray. Pour the glaze over in a swirl motion to cover the cake evenly. Dust the sides with desiccated coconut.
15. While the glaze is still setting, decorate the cake with fresh mangos, truffles and the chocolate decorations. (Use a knife to cut open a small gap to insert the palm trees into the cake). Move the cake to a stand and keep in the fridge until serving.
Now, excuse me as I continue to stare upon the bright blue sky. 😉