Category Archives: Desserts/Sweets Recipes

Orange & Cardamom Custard Tart

Photo by Jun Pang

Custards are probably the first things you learn to make in trade school when it comes to sweets.

Trick here is temperature control and the best way around this is usually a double boiler.  A double boiler is a bowl above simmering water.  This allows for gentle, even heat on what ever you are cooking.  When you are making custards especially for the first time, you must use a double boiler, it is user friendly for the novice pastry cook.

I won’t lie, you might want to try this recipe a few times.  The custard has to be “totally” cooked correctly and with the correct consistency otherwise it won’t set then you can’t brulee it.  It is such a fine line between the right amount of doneness and being over cooked and coming up with scrambled eggs.

Keep stirring the custard and make sure you “never” leave it, other wise it will over cook, trust me, even the best chefs muck this one up but stick with it, try it over and over again because getting the ingredients together is easy, the hardest bit is the correct doneness and it will only be through practice that you will recognize what that is.  After that, you will be doing it with your eyes shut!

So get cracking, if first you fail, try again!!

Baked Orange and Cardamom Custard Tart

Makes about 12

720ml Cream

1tblspn Grand Marnier

5cm Piece of Ginger                          finely sliced

5 Cardamom Pod                              crushed

1 Cinnamon Stick

14 Small Egg Yolks

80gr Caster Sugar

1 Orange Zest

½ the Short Crust Pastry Recipe     previous article



  1. Place the cream, Grand Marnier, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan and bring to boil
  2. Once boiled, place it in jug and refrigerate
  3. Next day, reheat the cream in the sauce pan to boil, once boiled, add the orange zest and set aside for about 5 minutes
  4. After 5 minutes, strain the cream mixture
  5. Put the egg yolks in a large mix bowl and whisk together then add the sugar and whisk until combined thoroughly
  6. Pour the cream mix into the egg mix and whisk through
  7. Put a pot of water on to simmer large enough to hold ¾ of the bowl on top of the pot
  8. Place the bowl on top of the pot and using a temperature resistant rubber spatula, mix the egg and cream mixture
  9. Cook on this double boiler for about 12-15 minutes or until the mixture is thick, with no lumps.  Use the spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl.  Do not at any time allow the bowl to touch the water, it will over cook the egg

10. Remove from the heat once you have the correct thickness and whisk for a couple of minutes to cool (over ice water if necessary)

11. Refrigerate over night

12. Place the custard into a piping bag

13. Pipe into the tart shells

14. Sprinkle evenly with caster sugar then brule with a torch gun until golden



Photo by Jun Pang

Alright then – DESSERTS!!

Do I really need to say anymore?

It always makes me laugh; the fascination with sweet stuff.  I guess it is because I have absolutely no interest in eating sweets, it simply does not even register with me.  For me, the perfect sweet or dessert would be a banana split with vanilla ice cream, caramel banana wrapped in bacon.  You read it right, BACON!  In my head, for me to eat sugar, it would have to be masked with something totally salty.

Chocolate is another thing I do not understand.  To me it is an art.  Art in how people temper chocolate and there are some very creative people out there who come up with some pretty incredible things with chocolate, but eating it or in some extreme cases (usually in females!?) an addiction with it; that I cannot make sense with in my head.  I am trying, I am trying to eat more sweets but I fear it will be a long process.

I do how ever, feel comfortable making sweets.  Don’t really enjoy the sticky fingers and the patience that desserts or pastry chefs must have but I try nevertheless to get through and learn.  I find that if I take my time by choice, I get to really enjoy it but if I had to be a pastry chef and produce pastries on a deadline, I think I would shoot myself, simply because I do not have the patience that pastry chefs must have.

Pastries are delicate, so precise in methods, cooking time, temperature and the list goes on and on.  Females, I find make good pastry chefs.  They are patient and they tend to get the chemistry and thinking behind what happens when preparing pastries.  Also, I think it is because they want to be near their weakness, makes it easier to get their fix!!

I will start my sweet stuff with tarts.  I find it’s a good middle ground to start, you get to learn a little about pastries and learn a little about sweets with the fillings.  This is a short crust pastry.  Simply put, this pastry crumbles when cooked because we do not work the gluten at all.  When gluten is worked or kneaded it stretches the gluten, like in breads giving allowing the final product be structurally stronger.

Keep this recipe, I will refer to it at times when I blog about different types of fillings.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Makes 21-22 tart cases

400gr Butter – cut into 2cm cubes, kept chilled

670 Plain Flour – chilled

5gr Salt

20ml Lemon Juice/Vinegar  chilled

100gr Caster Sugar – chilled

170ml Water – chilled


  1. Take the butter 15-20 minutes out of the fridge prior to working with it
  2. Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix well
  3. Place the butter in with the flour and rub the flour into the butter cubes.  Make sure you work in a cool place, you want to avoid the butter from melting
  4. Once the flour is semi rubbed, start to prepare your water mixture
  5. Mix the lemon juice (vinegar), sugar and water in a jug with a fork until the sugar is dissolved
  6. Sprinkle the sugar water onto the butter/flour mix and smooth it into the flour using the palms of your hands.  Do not over work the pastry just enough to incorporate all ingredients into one smooth dough
  7. Clump the pastry all together, you can use the pastry to pick up all the other bits off the bowl
  8. Break the dough into two and wrap with cling film, refrigerate for 30 minutes
  9. Flour a bench down well and place the dough on top

10. Flour the dough well.  Initially press down with the palm of your hand until you get a flat surface, try to shape it in a long rectangular shape

11. Using a rolling pin, pin the dough evenly, lifting it off the surface every now and again to loosen it so as it gets pinned the dough doesn’t break up as much or rip and allows it to “relax”

12. From here, you can flour the surface of the dough and freeze with baking sheets in between or you can use it straight away

13. If you are making tart shells, pre heat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius and cut out discs using 10cm round cutters

14. Butter the inside of an 8cm tart tin and press the pastry in gently, leaving about 2mm above each tin for shrinkage

15. Ball up any left over dough and use it to press the edges and corners tighter into the tin. Refrigerate for 10 minutes

16. Place two pieces of foil totally covering the all the surface of the dough

17. Place baking beads or dried chick peas in the tart, level to edges

18. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown

Rice Pudding

Photo by Jun Pang

Growing up, my grandma, Lola Luz, made rice pudding on very special mornings.  They were a little different though!

Lola used to make a Filipino chocolate rice called champorado.  A thick, glutenous rice pudding made with sticky rice and chocolate  with condensed milk swirled on top.  I remember those days like it was yesterday, a moment in time that I will always cherish.  I have never had champorado since Lola passed away and I really look forward to once again reliving those food memories.
The Asians are fans of the rice pudding.  It comes in many different versions.  Some use short grain rice, others glutenous rice and some even use the red or black sticky rice.  The flavours are much the same though, rich, thick and sweet using the flavours of pandan in most occasions then lavishly garnished with tropical fruit.

In Europe, I learned how to cook rice pudding using short grain rice.  Cooked with milk and cream and flavoured with vanilla then sugared and caramelized much like a brulee.  We usually baked it in the oven until warm served it with raspberry sorbet, unbelievable flavours and I loved the contrast of hot and cold on the same plate.

This recipe is a mixture of all the things I have learned.  I wrote this recipe for a children’s cooking class and it was great to see how many kids love rice pudding.  I love creating memories especially with food involved because when they taste them again in the future, they will always remember where, when and with whom they were with when they first learned of these flavours.

Rice Pudding

3 ½ Cups Milk
2 Cups Coconut Milk
1 Pandan Leaf
1 Tspn Vanilla Essence
¼ Cup Maple Syrup
½ Cup Arborio Rice
½ Cup Sugar
1 Cinnamon Stick
4 Cups Water
200gr Longan (or any fruit you want)
200gr Raspberries (or any berry you want)
5 Mint Leaves

For the Pudding
Place the milk, coconut milk, pandan leaf, vanilla essence and maple syrup on a sauce pan and simmer for tens minutes
Add the Arborio rice and cook on low heat for 18 minutes, stirring continuously
Test the doneness by tasting the rice,  You want it soft in texture.
When it is done, allow it to sit and cool
For the Syrup
Place the sugar, cinnamon and water in a separate sauce pan and turn on medium heat
Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the flavours to develope, then allow to cool
Place the fruit in the syrup and allow to sit for at least 1 hour (overnight is preferred)
To Finish
Spoon the rice pudding into a glass tumbler, almost filling it to the top
Spoon some of the marinated fruits on top along with the syrup and garnish with mint leaves

Photo by Jun Pang

Apple Tart Tatin

Photo by Jun Pang

Two simple things I love, warm apple pies and warm apple tart tatins, both served with vanilla ice cream.

I grew up eating Granny Smith apples straight from a tree my mate’s dad grew.  I love the tartness of these apples, the crunch and the floury texture on the inside.  I remember eating them right to the core.

There are certain ingredients that are meant to be together, destined to make a fabulous dish.  In this case it is Granny Smith apples and cinnamon.  These two ingredients combined with sugar is a match in flavour that I bet any one who have tasted it or will taste it, it will always leave a memory stamp in your mind.  I bet from the first time you taste it, you always remember that moment for the rest of your life.

This is easy desserts, perfect after a roast pork meal, something you and your guests can slowly cut into with nice coffee and apple schnapps.  Serve it with vanilla ice cream or double cream.  Serve it straight out of the oven for that ever lasting memory of a great and simple dessert.

Apple Tart Tatin

Serves 8

1Kg Granny Smith Apples

500gr Castor Sugar

1 Tbslpn Water

500 Puff Pastry

¼ Cup Sugar

1tspn Cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven at 220 degrees Celsius
  2. Peel the apples and cut them into quarters.  Cut the core out and slice them about 1mm thick.  Try to be as neat as possible to get a nice pattern.  If you are a bit slow in slicing, best to keep the sliced apple in a bowl of water with some lemon juice, to keep them from turning brown.
  3. Place the sugar in a small pot along with the sugar.  Make s “slurry” by mixing the sugar and water together, try to be as neat as possible, keeping the slurry from the pot edges.
  4. Place the pot on the heat on low heat.  With a wet pastry brush, brush the sides of the pot so the sugar does not burn the edges.  Continue to cook until the slurry turns in colour.  Do not stir the pot until, it will crystalize.  The colour you want to achieve is a nice, golden colour.  Once achieved and even in colour, take off the heat.
  5. Using a heavy based frying pan or tart tin, cut around the edge to get puff pastry lid and set aside.
  6. Pour a little of the caramel into the pan, spreading it evenly.  Best to work with a slightly warm caramel, then once spread allow to cool a little.
  7. Drain the apples (if in water) and layer the apples, making sure the first layer has a nice pattern so when it’s turned over you have a nice presentation.
  8. Continue to layer until all the apples are used up.
  9. Place the puff pastry lid on top.
  10. Mix the remaining sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle mixture evenly on top of the pastry lid.
  11. Bake at 220 degrees Celcius for 10 minutes and turn down to 180 and continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes until the pastry is golden in colour.
  12. Once cooked, allow to cool slightly, place a plate on toip of the tin and turn it over.  You may have to pry the edges with a palette knife but again be gentle.
  13. Serve with dollops of vanilla ice cream.

Photo by Jun Pang

Chocolate Fondant

Photo by Jun Pang

When I was in Oxford, England I worked in a restaurant run and owned by Raymond Blanc, great French born chef cooking traditional French cuisine in England.  I learnt a lot at this place.  It taught me to be calm under pressure (eventually).  It taught me that to survive in such a high pressure kitchen, you must be organised, determined, resilient  and passionate.  The culture in this kitchen was nothing I had ever been a part of before or now.  It was an intense little place with such huge turn over of numbers on a daily basis, the pressure for perfection and the pressure of not letting your chef down or your team mates was huge.  The camaraderie was also amazing.  We were a tight team that seemed to function like a well oiled machine and with very little words being said to each other.  We worked hard together and played hard together.  I learnt so much about my trade in Oxford, about my self and of course, cooking.

One thing I will always remember were the little rivalries!  With me, it was with the pastry chefs.  You see, they had very little room for burners and the closest burners to them were mine.

You must understand first, that all hot section chefs had to detail their stoves, benches, pass, ovens and services fridges before and after service. Seeing that the pastry chefs didn’t have huge flat top burners that they had to scrub back to shiney metal every night after a huge night of service and after being there since 7 in the morning, I thought it would only be fair if they helped out with the scrubbing every now and again, but they never did.  They always used to do their sugar work on my flat top burner and it would splatter all over my well kept hot plate, leaving burnt sugar all over it and since they did their sugar work in the morning, it would keep burning all fricken day, leaving it caked on at the end of the night which meant more scrubbing for me.

So as a peace offering, they would cook extra petit four fondants before service so I can get my sugar fix.  I don’t eat sweets, very rarely but these things were just wonderful!  Warm gooey chocolate balls that would explode with a huge hit of chocolate when you placed it your mouth.  It’s hard to stop eating them and when matched with ice cream it’s heaven on a stick baby or in this case, in a petit four!

Try this recipe out, courtesy of those annoying pastry chefs!

Photo by Jun Pang

Chocolate Fondant

Serves 15

Wet Ingredients

600 gr Chocolate (%66)

650 gr Butter

11 Whole Eggs

5 Egg Yolks

500 gr Icing Sugar

Dry Ingredients

75 gr Cocoa (Powder) (%70)

340 gr All Purpose Flour

20 gr Baking Powder


  1. Melt Chocolate and Butter
  2. Whisk eggs, icing sugar and yolks to foam stage
  3. Fold in melted chocolate and butter to foamed eggs, this forms the wet ingredients
  4. Fold in dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until smooth, well incorporated mixture.  Do Not whisk, fold ingredients together with a rubber spatula
  5. Butter 8cm diameter Ramekins
  6. Spoon the mix almost up to the top of the rim and bang the bottom of the ramekin on top of the bench to remove air bubbles
  7. Bake at 190C until it slightly pulls away from the edges about 14 minutes if it is in an 8cm diameter ramekin.  It must be left a little gooey in the middle, so press on the top, it must be a little soft with the edges firm.

Photo by Jun Pang

Things you can do with old bananas!

Loan’s Banana Bread Pudding

Serves 6

1 kg Banana

1 Loaf of sandwich Bread                               Crust cut off

1 cup Sugar

1 Tin of Coconut Milk (400ml)

4 tblspn Melted Butter (unsalted)

3 Eggs

1 tspn Vanilla

4 tblspn Dark Rum

2 tblspn Plain Flour


  1. Pre heat oven at 170 degrees Celcius
  2. Slice bananas diagonally, 2mm thick then sprinkle with half of the sugar and half of the rum.  After its been soaked for about half an hours, divide the total amount of bananas in half.
  3. In a bowl, beat the eggs and mix in the flour, coconut milk and remaining half of the sugar and rum, vanilla and half the butter.
  4. Soak the bread in the coconut mixture then mix half of the rum soaked banana through.
  5. Butter a baking dish with the remaining melted butter.  Layer coconut soaked bread in the dish, followed by rum soaked bananas then bread and so on, finishing with a banana layer evenly across the top.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for one hour.
  7. Check for doneness using a wooden skewer. Poke the pudding with the skewer and if the skewer is dry, it means it’s done.
  8. Best served warm with vanilla ice cream.

There are not a lot of desserts that I like to eat, I’m not a sweet tooth at all but one of my chefs, who has become like a second mother to me, taught me how to make this very simple and tasty banana bread pudding.  This recipe is so clever and extremely easy and the result is a steamy, moist pudding.  You can use up seconds really, day old bread and bananas that are close to being tossed in the bin.  It’s similar to the French bread and butter pudding but with a twist; in essence it’s using the same theory.  Give it a try and I’ll bet you that it won’t be the last time you cook this little gem of a dessert.  Serve it warm with vanilla ice cream or pack it in your lunch box for the next day, it makes a great substitute for banana bread.

Photo by Jun Pan