Spiced hot chocolate

Thursday, December 15, 2016


On a recent trip to Seattle, I was introduced to Intrigue Chocolate Company where I had the best hot chocolate ever. I initially picked the Jamaican hot chocolate because of the interesting name but was completely blown away by the flavor when I had my first sip. No ingredients were listed on the menu but I could taste the richness of dark chocolate spiced with cardamom and cinnamon, a slight note of vanilla, and a touch of rum. Since coming back from Seattle, I have been obsessed with recreating that Jamaican hot chocolate. While this cup of hot chocolate won’t be the exact replica of Intrigue Chocolate’s, it’s pretty darn good and perfect for sipping on these chilly fall days.  If you're serving it to the kids, don't forget to skip the rum.




Spiced hot chocolate

1 ¾ cup of milk
1 cup of heavy cream
¾ cup of semi sweet chocolate, chopped
7 cardamom pods, crushed with a pestle and mortar
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp rum
1 vanilla bean, splitted
½ tbsp sugar (to taste)
Marshmallow and cocoa for serving


1. In a small saucepan, heat milk and heavy cream over medium-low heat.

2. Add the crushed cardamom, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean. Let it simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.

3. Add in the chopped chocolate and whisk until dissolved.  Whisk in the sugar.

4.Remove from heat and strain the hot chocolate.5.When ready to serve, stir in the rum, garnish with marshmallow and cocoa powder.

Hidden Rose Apple Tart

Sunday, December 4, 2016


I could hardly believe that December is here and in a blink of an eye the new year will be upon us. I’m not ready for fall to be over let alone for 2017 to arrive. So many fall dishes still on my list to cook and bake. Another squash and apple soup. A pear and chocolate tart. Chicken stewed in apple cider. A savory fig and goat cheese tart. Butternut squash and ricotta ravioli. And many more apple cakes and tarts. I'm like that little girl that kept on asking for one more song at the end of the party. One dessert that I was really happy to cross off my list was this hidden rose apple tart. These hidden rose apples came all the way from Oregon and are famous for their deep red fresh and crisp with balanced flavor of tart and sweet. I was lucky enough to get my hands on them soon after they arrived at Specialty Produce.


When it comes to desserts, I kept things simple to enhance the flavor of these delicious apples. Paired with puff pastry for a shell and flavored with a touch of cinnamon were all they required.




Not too long after the tart came out of the oven, my little guy caught sight of it and demanded to try it. So there we sat in the kitchen, just the two of us, and polished off this tart. He picked off the best part, the apples and crunchy crust, but I didn’t mind one bit. He liked it so much that I made it again the next day. And hopefully again next year when these apples are in season.



Hidden Rose Apple Tart

½ pound of puff pastry
2 hidden rose apples, sliced thinly
Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
2 tbsps granulated sugar
2 tbsps almond meal
1 small egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp turbinado sugar
¼ tsp Saigon cinnamon
powdered sugar for dusting
vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche for serving


1. Place the lemon juice in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

2. Peel, core, and slice apples into ⅛ inch with a mandoline. Gently toss with the lemon juice to prevent the apples from discoloring.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

5. On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to about 5mm thick and trim it into a 10 inch circle.

6. Sprinkle the sugar and almond meal over the top, leaving a 1 inch border.

7. Arrange the apple slices on top of the dough with slight overlap, leaving a 1 inch border around the edges.

8. Fold the edges of the puff pastry over the apple slices and press gently to seal. Pop the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze for 15 minutes or until the dough is firm.

9. Mix the the turbinado and cinnamon until combined.

10. Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the apple slices and edges.

11. Bake the tart for 30-40 minute on the middle rack, turning halfway through to ensure even baking.

12. Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.

13. When ready to serve, dust with powdered sugar.  Slice the apple tart and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche.

14.The tart will keep for another day in an airtight container.

Cookbook Review: French Country Cooking

Saturday, December 3, 2016


I was really looking forward to the release of Mimi Thorisson’s French Country Cooking given how wonderful her first book is.  French Country Cooking is as gorgeous as her first book and similar in term of style but it delves deeper into how her family bought their chateau in Medoc and turned into a restaurant/workshop space.  

From the sweet recipes I really enjoyed Plantia’s tarte tatin, fig and pistachio cake, beignets with apricot filling, and strawberry tart.  The beignets were so good warm and tasted similar to the beignet mix we got from Cafe du Monde but we skipped the apricot filling since it wasn’t apricot season.  For the savory recipes, chanterelle and garlic tartlets, roast duck with cherries, and lobster bisque. There were other recipes that looked really interesting but ingredients were hard to find like the guinea hen ravioli, quail stuffed with foie gras, and turbot with vin jaune sauce.  

Even though I really enjoyed the recipes from French Country Cooking, they do require a lot of planning and prep work.  These recipes aren’t meant for a beginner cook.  Overall French Country Cooking is a beautiful book full of delicious recipes and perfect for anyone who wants to delve deeper into French country cooking or entertain family and friends.          

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher