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Monday, May 21, 2012

Salted Caramels!

I am a savoury person – salt over sweet any day!

I don't like the idea of a sweet element on a savoury dish (although there are some exceptions, i suppose) but i totally don't mind a salty element in a sweet dish!

This lead me to borrow a book entitled 'Salty Sweets' by Christie Matheson from the National Library.
This is the very first recipe in the book and i love it!

When i was still in Sydney and was out with Yuki for lunch one day, we both bought a candy thermometer and this is the first time it has been used and with great success too!

Making candy may seem daunting since one is dealing with super hot caramel and it kinda gets a little fiddly. but it is worth persevering on. This is my first attempt and it is a great success so please do try!

Makes 40-50 pieces

1 cup heavy cream
5 tbsp unsalted butter
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
¼ cup water
1 tsp coarse sea salt – whatever you have on hand really.. use all kinds of fanciful salts


Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, then lightly butter the parchment.
Combine the cream, butter, vanilla and sea salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for about 4 minutes, then remove it from the heat and set aside.

In a heavy medium size saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring till the sugar completely dissolves. Once they have dissolved, boil without stirring – swirling the pan occasionally until it’s a light amber colour and the candy thermometer registers 340 Fahrenheit, about 7 minutes.

** I had great trouble with this. If possible, choose a heavy bottom pan with high sides but not too wide in diameter. The mixture will foam up later, which is why we need the high sides, but if your bottom diameter is too wide, your sugar syrup mixture is so low that the candy thermometer doesn't come into contact with the liquid. So i had to keep on tilting the hot pan on its side in order to get a reading on the thermometer. It did work though but it made it more troublesome then it really is. This constant tilting/swirling helped though, as i didn't get any burnt bits at the bottom at all.

Turn the heat down to medium-low, carefully stir in the cream mixture (it will foam up) and simmer, stirring often, until the liquid is at 246 Fahrenheit on the candy thermometer, 6-8 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Stir in the *fanciful salt*, then pour the caramel into the prepared baking dish; let cool for at least 3 hours. I really couldn't wait 3 hours, i think i only waited about 2, but it was fine..

Cut in a sawing motion. I tried slicing it like one normally would and it didn't work, it stuck to my knife. So it is very important to slice this in a sawing motion and maybe even oil/butter the knife.

Wrap each in parchment paper. This, i must say is the most tedious step of making candies. It took me a few tries before figuring out how best to wrap it. Since, as you can see, this is quite a wet candy and the liquid seeps out from the ends.

Store in an airtight container and in the fridge to keep them fresh and avoid them getting eaten up by ants!
You can also dip the cooled caramels into melted chocolate and let harden before wrapping.

Since i used coarse sea salt at the end, some pieces of caramel candy had bits of salt in them. I really really liked those, but of course, if you're not as crazy about this as i am, use fine sea salt in place and even reduce the amount of salt to make it more sweet than savoury.


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Black Sesame (Goma) Ice Cream

I love black sesame ice cream and it has always been one of the flavours that i really want to try making myself since commercial ones tend to always be too bland, too milky and just really lacking the fragrance of black sesame.


However, one of the major problems i encountered was finding black sesame paste. I have black sesame powder but black sesame paste is an absolute must in getting that beautiful charcoal colour and for the wonderful depth of flavour that only black sesame paste can bring.

So i searched online for other recipes that used black sesame paste and see if they mentioned where they got theirs in Singapore. and i came across a blogger who swears by the black sesame paste (pictured below) and it can be found at Sun Lik located at 33 Seah Street. It is a small baking supplies store and each bottle is 100g and cost SGD$6.80. It isn't cheap but definitely worth it!



It also says to not put in the fridge. It's a very thick and difficult to stir paste so putting it in the fridge will make it even more difficult to work with if it's cold.


50g Black Sesame Paste + 1 tbsp sugar
180ml milk
2 egg yolks
60gsugar (i used raw caster sugar)
120ml cream
1 tbsp Black Sesame Powder (remember to sieve!)


In a bowl, whisk together the black sesame paste and 1 tbsp sugar.
*Well.. if you noticed in the picture, i actually made a mistake and mixed the 60g of sugar into the black sesame paste instead. No worries, no harm done! :)


Heat the milk in a saucepan while whisking the egg yolks and sugar in another bowl.

Slowly, add the warmed milk to the egg yolk mixture and whisk/stir continuously to prevent scrambling the eggs.

Place the mixture back into the saucepan and heat over a low low heat, stirring constantly. When the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, take it off the heat and add it slowly into the black sesame paste sugar mixture while whisking continuously.

Let the mixture cool while stirring occasionally
*This is the lazy method. The proper one should be to sieve it then place it over a bowl of iced water to reduce the temperature.

Now we sieve the mixture, cover the bowl with cling wrap and place in the fridge for as long as you possibly can, but definitely at least until the mixture is completely cold.

In a separate bowl, combine the cream with the sieved ground black sesame seeds.
*I didn't think of sieving it and it had many many clumps so i went through the mixture slowly and mashed the lumps!

Add in the cream mixture to the cold custard from before and pour into the ice cream machine to churn for 20 minutes.