Tuesday, 29 January 2013

I went healthy food shopping

There's a tiny little corner shop next to the rail station near my place which sells whole foods – shelves and shelves of them – and I was curious. It was a lazy Sunday (I think) evening, and I was wandering around the area after doing my Tesco shopping for the week's lunch.

I always had the impression that "organic" and "whole foods" translates to "expensive", and I was right, so I went for a few items by the door which were under a pound.

Sea salt flavoured Cofresh Hummus Chips

This intrigued me, but they had too mild of a taste for my liking. They're made of chickpea flour, and the sea salt was minimal, but they were still edible, good for filling the tummy without feeling unhealthy, as there was barely any oil present.
Sunita sesame bar with honey

I'm not a huge nut-bar worshipper, but I know that nothing goes too wrong when coated with honey, and sesame seeds were familiar ground to me.

As you can see, there is no mid-bite photograph available. (ps: I just realized that I have run out of these, and am desperate to get some first thing tomorrow morning.)

Aside from the addictive sweet and nutty taste, it provides loads of energy and is healthy too!

Yes, nuts are high in calories and fat, but they are healthy, and good for you. At least that's what I keep reminding myself when I gorge down a giant mixed nut bar before bedtime. Furthermore, honey is good for your skin, anti-bacterial, and can actually reduce the risk of cancer. In fact, some mornings, I have two spoonfuls of honey with hot water, as a drink – so delicious, and it looks like cancer isn't coming my way anytime soon.

Next up are these things I got from Tesco. First is a belVita breakfast biscuit, sandwiched with yogurt.

It was pretty normal, nothing special about it.

Resembles an Oreo. No? Okay.

And then this baby takes belVita breakfast biscuits to a whole new level.

They sat on the counter of the Cs' kitchen for a few mornings, unopened, because: why have biscuits when you can have toast with chocolate spread, or cereal with yogurt?

There is no question once you have eaten a belVita breakfast biscuit with honey and nuts and little chocolate chips. The biscuit is crisp, sweet and tasty, and as addictive as chocolate digestives, (and anyone who has had those know what I'm talking about) or probably even more. The little chocolate chips are a real treat, and the nuts are just right, neither overstuffed nor scarce. They come in packets of four, which in my opinion is a dangerous quantity, as one can never successfully persuade oneself to eat two and keep the rest for later. They are currently on offer for half-price at Tesco, which makes me very happy.

These 'go ahead!' apple fruit bakes were on offer as well, (I think they still are) and after recently converting from a baked-apple skeptic to a lover of apple pies and cakes, these seemed appealing.

I'm not too sure what the 'bake' is. The closest thing I can compare it to is a shortcrust pastry. The shell is smooth and soft, and it isn't a crunchy biscuit. The apple filling is delicious. It's kind of sticky and paste-y, which makes the whole snack very easy to eat. It's a great bar, I really like it.

The last victim is 'go ahead!' 's strawberry yogurt break, which is a thin, cracker-sandwich filled with strawberry paste, with yogurt spread on top.

The cracker and yogurt combination of textures is slightly strange, but the overall taste is good, except for two things – the sultanas and currants. I absolutely detest raisins and their dehydrated cousins, so the biscuit is alright up to the point when I find myself chewing on something un-strawberry in the filling.

But several of my friends love this snack, so you can ignore my judgement on this one.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Maple and Pecan cupcakes

Recipe from abakedcreation

Get some pretty cupcake liners and place them in a patterned order for no particular reason.

Chop up some pecan nuts, then realize that crushing them in a plastic bag would've been easier, quicker and less messy.

Add some maple syrup to cupcake batter and take a big sniff.

Put in more stuff, as well as the pecan nuts, and wonder why the batter looks like a puddle of sick.

Make a cool-ass caramel and pecan card and hold it up in wonder.

Wonder why caramel is so magical.

Like, magic.

Take more pictures because you can't believe it.

Think that it looks like a nut army swimming in beer.

Take a deep breath and try to crack the card evenly.

Tell yourself that you succeeded,

sort of.

Eat some bits of caramel.

(I'm running out of instructions)


Stop playing with the caramel and fetch your cupcakes from the oven.

Slab maple buttercream on the cupcakes and stick the caramel and pecan chunks on them.

Feel proud.

Very proud.

Take pictures from all sorts of angles.

(adapted from abakingcreation)

To make the [12] cupcakes:


60g of pecan nuts
110g unsalted butter, room temperature
40g brown sugar
160 ml pure maple syrup
2 eggs
115g self-raising flour


  1. Put the pecan nuts in a plastic bag and crush them with your fingers or a rolling pin, but not too finely (see photo above). If you want to look more like a professional and less like an angsty madman, you can use a knife to chop them up.
  2. Preheat your oven to 180°C and line your tray with cupcake liners.
  3. Using a mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until smooth.
  4. Pour in the maple syrup and mix well.
  5. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated.
  6. Gently fold the sifted self-raising flour into the batter until well incorporated.
  7. Fold in the chopped pecans.
  8. Use an ice cream scoop to evenly distribute your batter into the liners, filling them about 2/3 full. (I just poured them, it will come up to the right amount for 12 cupcakes if you have functional estimation skills)
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester (i.e. toothpick or a stray fork) comes out clean.
  10. Let the cupcakes cool while you make icing and toppings.

To make the caramelized pecan toppings:


60g granulated sugar
12 pecan halves (what you get in packets are already halves)


  1. Pour the sugar in the middle of a heavy-based saucepan and heat it until it turns a pale golden-brown colour. Do not stir with a spoon, but you can tilt the pan to spread the caramel. Do not let the caramel burn into a dark-brown colour.
  2. Spread the pecans on a non-stick pan or a silicon baking mat, and evenly pour the sugar over the pecans immediately after removing it from the heat.
  3. Leave it to cool and harden. Once caramel is ready, remove from mat/pan and break into even pieces.

To make Maple syrup buttercream icing:


110g unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup


  1. Using a mixer, beat the butter and icing sugar until smooth.
  2. Gradually add in maple syrup and continue mixing until it becomes smooth buttercream.

And we put it all together!

If you have a piping bag, you'll have prettier cupcakes. As you can see, this isn't in the recipe's font because I trust you should know what to do with the three components which you've got. But if you have no basic common sense, what you do is you spread/pipe the buttercream on top of the cupcake, (try not to spread them all the way to the edges like I did) and stick the caramelized pecans on top of the icing, as well as remaining caramel bits.

I have reduced the amount of sugar in the cupcake recipe, to play it safe when faced with maple syrup.

These cupcakes are absolutely delicious. The combination of maple and pecan never fails to impress, and the nuts in the cupcake give a delightful crunch to it. It is so much fun to make, especially with the caramelized pecans. I'm definitely doing this again, when I have recovered from my sugar rush.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Candied weekend

There's a cute, vintage-looking little sweetshop near Covent Garden called Hardys. It sells many rare and snazzy confectionaries, ranging from posh Italian nougat to Angry Birds-endorsed candy. (Why.)

This here is the said posh Italian nougat.

It is absolutely gorgeous. I finished the whole bar before dinner, it was just that good. It was sweet, slightly soft, crunchy and creamy. There was a fragrance of white chocolate in it, and it contains a generous filling of almonds and hazelnuts. There must've been mascarpone in it somewhere as promised, but I couldn't distinctly find it, but the flavour as a whole was an A++++***+++withgoldenstars. I'm adding this nougat to my must-buy-when-in-Covent-Garden list alongside Ben's Cookies, and I will aim to add all its flavours to my palate like pokémon into a pokédex.

This looked promising. I fell in love with cookie dough while I was making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies at Chaice's house sometime last year. It was the perfect cookie dough. The kind that you wanna finish up before it even gets a chance to go into the oven.

This, however, went nowhere near cookie dough. Not the taste, nor the texture. You know the kind of cookie dough chunks you get in Ben & Jerry's tubs? This had that kind of solid, crumbly texture, coated with mediocre milk chocolate. The insides look nothing like in the picture on the box.

It's an annoying confusion of flavours, much like trying to read an essay written on confetti-sized paper, such that all I taste is artificial sweetness. The contents are as dissatisfying as a half-filled packet of crisps, especially for its price. What these kids say pretty much sums it up.

I'm still going to try the "Cinnamon Bun Bites" and the "Cookies 'N Cream Bites" if I can find them.

This isn't from Hardys, it's an impulsive purchase from ASDA in Twickenham a few days ago. I got some Daim from Tesco's just before I left London for winter break, and I really liked it, and could definitely see the reason for all the fuss over it.

Well, in retrospect, I don't see the need for these Milka people to come and try to make what looks like another type of Daim chooclate bar. It is rather yummy, but I'd much rather have the real thing.

25 New Row, Covent Garden
London WC2N 4LA
Tel: 020 7240 2341
Opening times: Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 11am-6pm


Get a big potato, bake it, cut it halfway lengthwise and widthwise so that it resembles a first-aid sign, squish it outwards to form a plateau of sorts. Then scoop some good Mexican Chilli Beef (I don't know whether this is Chilli Con Carne or not) onto that, and top it with cheese. Add some mashed-up avocado at the side and a few Pringle chips, and you've got a subpar imitation of the most memorable dinner I've ever had, cooked by the one and only Mrs C.

What you do is grab that Pringle and scoop up some avocado. I'm starting to think that Pringles were shaped for this purpose, much like the Tic Tac box has a Tic Tac holder that nobody knew about until it went on 9Gag.

Avocado is really strange. It's green and tasteless goop. Why does it exist?

Anyway, if you've completely run out of ideas for dinner, why don't you try this baked potato a la Mrs C?

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Rice pudding part 2

I did say that I was going to hunt down all the Müller rice flavours – or maybe I didn't, but it was a resolution which kept nagging at me ever since I discovered it.

It's not the back of a fork I'm using, it's a spork

Apple Strudel sounds delectable and inviting as a rice pudding flavour, and I enjoyed it, but if I had a choice I would still go for either strawberry or vanilla custard, but I don't mind seeking this one out occasionally. The flavour is great for people who are absolutely in love with apple and cinnamon combinations, which is what the 'apple strudel sauce' here really is made up of. I kind of wish they had thrown in a few pastry flakes, (just had a flashing image of pastry confetti) to make it even more apple strudel-like. Soggy pastry is better than no pastry.

The maple syrup flavoured one made more sense than... apple strudel. It is basically maple syrup at the bottom, and it doesn't taste like cheap pancake syrup, it actually has a strong maple fragrance to it. That's why the first few mouthfuls can be a bit of a shock, with the strong maple taste, but it gets really, really good as you keep on eating it. Still doesn't beat the simple and perfect marriage of rice pudding with strawberry or vanilla custard, but this is a well-done attempt by Müller.

Gosh, how I love rice pudding.
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