Christmas Celebration

Christmas evening was spent at a relative's wedding dinner. Therefore, my family decided to have our usual Christmas celebration on Boxing Day instead. What made the dinner worth waiting for was the Black Truffles. After our White Truffles dinner last month, we decided to have Black Truffles for our Christmas celebration since it was in season. The truffles were sponsored by my younger sister, while my elder sister prepared the food for us. My elder sister is very resourceful. She managed to source for reasonably good black truffles for our dinner.
As usual, I will prepare the dessert. For this special dinner, I made Concorde Dessert. The recipe was extracted from Daily Delicious. My younger sister also ordered some ice-cream from the same source. Therefore, we had two desserts!
After trying both the white truffles and black truffles, I can understand why white truffles cost more. The smell and flavour is more intense for white truffles, compared to black. A small amount of white is enough to provide the taste and flavouring. Black truffles cost about a third of white truffles. Personally, I prefer white truffles!

Here's recollecting what we had.
Salad
Black Truffle Pasta with Scallops (the most classic way to have truffles!)
Concorde Dessert
Classic Truffle - Sabayon semifreddo and gianduja ice cream coated with crushed hazelnuts and cocoa beans
Kids' Bomb - Gianduja ice cream with a cream core (for the kids of course!)
The Concorde cake was very nice. I made 14 cups (thanks to Grace for giving me the lovely cups), just enough for my whole family. I made the meringue smaller, even though I doubled the recipe. There were leftovers for my chocolate meringues. This recipe used raw eggs for the mousse. The mousse was very stable, ie. it was very easy to manage and wasn't the runny type.
Recipe for Concorde Dessert, extracted from Daily Delicious
(Makes 14 cups)

Chocolate meringue
240g Egg whites
200g Icing sugar
60g Cocoa powder
200g Fine sugar

Chocolate mousse
250g Dark chocolate (70%)
150g Unsalted butter (soft)
4 Egg yolks
80g Icing sugar
180g Egg whites
20g Fine sugar

Icing sugar for sprinkle over the top of the Concordes

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 120°C
2. Line the baking trays with silicone baking mat.
3. Sift the cocoa powder with the icing sugar, set aside.
4. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks formed, gradually add the granulated sugar and whip until stiff peaks formed.
5. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into the meringue, fold lightly until fully combined.
6. Put the batter into the piping bag fitted with 1 cm piping nozzle.
7. Pipe the meringue into approximately 45 disks (3 inches in diameter), then pipe the rest of the meringue into long strips.
8. Bake for 2 hours, or until the meringue dry, turn off the oven and rest the meringue in the oven for 1 hour. (After 30mins, leave the oven door ajar for 5mins to release the steam. Repeat this once again after one hour)
9. After taking the meringue out of the oven, let cool completely before proceeding to the next step.
(Note from dailydelicious: you can bake the meringue and keep it in the airtight container for 2-3 days at room temperature. For me, I baked the day before.)

Making the chocolate mousse:
1. Melt the chocolate and the butter in the microwave. Be careful not to overheat the chocolates. Stir together to combine.
2. Pour the egg yolks (one at a time) into the chocolate mixture, stir to combine after each addition. Sift the icing sugar into the chocolate mixture, stir to combine.
3. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks formed, gradually add the granulated sugar and whip until stiff peaks formed.
4. Fold the meringue into the chocolate mixture, 1/3 of the meringue at a time, fold lightly until combined.

Assemble:
1. Trim the sides of the meringue to ensure that it can fit into the cups.
2. Scoop the chocolate mousse to fill the meringue.
3. Then repeat #1 and 2.
4. Cut the meringue strips into small pieces, and decorate the top with the strips.
5. Sprinkle the icing sugar over the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Ensure that they are stored in air-tight container in the refrigerate as chocolates absorb surrounding odours.
This is my entry for the Christmas Giveaway hosted by Swee San of The Sweet Spot and I'm submitting this post to the Aspiring Bakers #2 too!

Aspiring Bakers #2: Chocolate Logcake

It's time to do some baking for Christmas! I realised that I've been very lagging this year. Last year, I was enthusiastic in baking my X'mas presents. However, this year, I have no such plans. I made a chocolate logcake earlier this week as requested by my son. I'll be submitting this to the Aspiring Bakers #2, which I am also the host!!
I used the cake base from Bakertan's recipe. The frosting was made using a combination of butter and cream cheese. Then frost the cake with chocolate ganache. Here is my chocolate logcake.
Recipe for Chocolate Logcake.

Ingredients:

Sponge Cake (10" x 10" square pan)
3 Eggs, room temperature
54g Caster sugar
57g Plain flour
12g Cocoa powder
42g Unsalted butter, melted

Method:
1. Sift plain flour and cocoa powder together.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and caster sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Then turn to low speed and beat for 2 mins to stablise the bubbles.
3. Fold in the sifted flour and cocoa powder in 3 batches. (I used the whisk to fold in low speed. Then use spatula to do the final folds).
4. Scoop some batter from the mixture and add into the melted butter. Mix well.
5. Pour back the melted butter mixture into the egg batter and mix well. Do not overmix.
6. Pour into the lined 10"x10" pan and bake in the preheated oven at 190C for 8 mins.
7. Leave it in the pan to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese frosting
110g Cream cheese
70g Unsalted butter, soften at room temperature
40g Icing sugar

Method:
1. Add all into the mixer and beat well to incorporate. (It's done when it's creamy and spikes showing)

Chocolate Ganache
150g Semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
100g Whipping cream

Method:
1. In a small saucepan, heat up the whipping cream. When it starts to bubble at the sides, turn it off and pour into the chocolates.
2. Stir and mix until it's smooth.

Assembly:
1. Spread the cream cheese frosting evenly on the sponge cake.
2. Roll it up.
3. Pour the chocolate ganache all over, even it out.
4. Use a fork to create the log effect. Then decorate with X'mas props accordingly.

Here's wishing everyone, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Food on Royal Caribbean, Legend of the Seas (Part II)

One of the best lure for this cruise is the fine dining food. The "Romeo & Juliet" restaurant serves the best food. Every meal has different menus. Desserts were ordered separately after the main course. The service staff are very professional. They also took care of the children well. Being a proper fine dining place, they prioritise the ordering and serving of food to the children first, followed by females, then the males. So be prepared to be treated well damned well.

Our breakfasts were usually taken at Windjammer cafe which was buffet, except for the last day where my sisters and I decided to have a-la-carte breakfast at Romeo & Juliet. On day 2 and 3, high tea were served from 3-5pm. There were also snacks available all day at Solarium, which is in the indoor pool. The fries were very very good!

Our dinners were taken at Romeo & Juliet. Yes, they only have two proper dining venues. However, we were not complaining. Their foods were all prepared with pride. There is a paid-cafe, which we didn't bother to visit. There were two timings for dinner seating - 5.45pm and 8.00pm. We took the earlier slot. They will ensure that all are seated before being served.

Day 3 lunch was at Windjammer, as there was Poolside barbeque, which can be brought into the cafe. We didn't take much during the lunch, and opt for some light snacks from Solarium and Windjammer cafe in the afternoon. The good thing was that we were able to bring our foods to where we were, which was usually at the pool. You can imagine, seating by the pool, wearing your sunglasses, getting some light tan or with a book on your hand, with some fries, taco chips and drinks beside you. Isn't this heavenly?

I shall now tempt you with the foods we had.
Entrance to Windjammer Cafe.
Day 1: Buffet lunch at Windjammer
 Lunch buffet spread
 Day 1: Fine dining at Romeo & Juliet (R&J). 3-course meal. You get to choose your appetiser, main course and dessert. Actually, you can choose anything you like, two appetisers or two desserts, if you can finish them. This was my choice.
 Other selections by my family members-lobster bisque, duck drumstick, noodles, salmon etc.
 A sample of the dessert menu.
Day 2: Lunch at R&J. My choices.
 Other menu selections include cheese pasta, beef burger, spinach rolls, white chocolate cheesecake, peanut tart, almond chocolate cake etc.
 Day 2: Dinner at R&J. My choices.
Other selection include crab & egg soup, shanghai noodles, pork chop, cherry in kirsch cake, strawberry pavlova etc. 
 Day 2: Poolside supper buffet from 10.30pm till midnight. The spread was good too!
 Day 3: Dinner at R&J. These were what I had.
 Other selection include chicken breast with herbs, northern lamb shanks, chicken marsala, scallop salad, warm chocolate cake, angel cake and chocolate ice cream etc.
 Day 4: Breakfast at R&J. My sumptuous breakfast!
 I had the cheese omelette too!
 My brother-in-law's choice.
During one of the morning, there was an activity on "Make a cake challenge". I was being "volunteered" by my sister to be in the challenge. I was pretty nervous to be on the centre stage, together with two pastry chefs from the restaurants. They were actually very nice. We were to frost the Blackforest Cake within 20 mins. The compere, Paul, who is also the Cruise Programme Director was really funny. I think he purposely frosted the cake horribly and created lots of jokes in order to make the participant more at ease.

I was being guided by the chef on my left. In the end, I think I did quite alright for the frosting. Afterall, I'm just practicing what I had learnt. After we have completed the frosting, all the audience were treated to a slice of the pre-baked Blackforest Cake. It was really yummy! I had a truly wonderful time! The company I was with, made a lot of difference to this wonderful holiday!

Cruising on Royal Caribbean, Legend of the Seas (Part I)

I hadn't been baking for a while now. Has been busy with my children, and last weekend, was on a cruise on Royal Caribbean, Legend of the Seas with my parents, sisters and their family and my family (total of 14 persons). My last cruise was seven years ago on Star Cruise, Aquarius. My previous impression of Star Cruise wasn't very good as the activities were limited, and the swimming pool was small. The room we stayed in was only with porthole window. The only thing I remembered doing was eating and dining. Even so, I didn't have much impression of the foods.

However, cruising on Royal Caribbean changed all my impressions on cruises! It was truly a fantastic experience. It was almost like "Club Med" on the move, even though I've not been on one. It's like all activities included, food included and programmes all planned out. Many people I knew who went on this cruise just raved about it! I'll be too!

Itinerary for this cruise that we took was stopover at Penang and Port Klang. I'll let the pictures paint that thousand words.
Pool at Deck 9
Interior
Sunrise at sea
Docked at Penang Port
My daughter putting at the mini 9-hole golf course
Seapass - Has information on your dining time, seat number, muster station (for emergency). Access to your room, use this to pay for all your purchases onboard, and your identity card to exit and re-entry into the ship.
View from my room
Room with balcony
Moving at high speed
Sunrise
My parents and son at the other room
Docked at Port Klang
Towel making workshop - dog, elephant & tortise
Monkey!
Rock Climbing - Me & my youngest boy.
 Rock climbing - My steady & brave daughter!
 Last night dining - An appreciation to all the waiting staff at "Romeo & Juliet"
 "That's Entertainment" Theatre
 Farewell Show
 Appearance of representatives of the crews onboard
 Almost full moon
 Night view of the pool
Indoor pool
 Moving at full speed
 Midnight putting on the last night
 View of Deck 9
 View of Harbourfront/Vivo City from my room
 Zoom to X'mas tree at Vivo City
 Zoom to Pinnacle @ Duxton
 Various types of staterooms, in case you're interested!
These were just some activities and facilities that we had done. There are also shops onboard. There were also separate activities for children of different age group (free). My children were under the "Explorers" programme where it varies daily. They only joined days 2 and 3 morning session as we wanted to do other activities onboard like golfing, rock climbing and swimming. My nephew won himself a gold medal during one of the play. They are quite generous in giving out prizes and souvenirs to the children.
My sisters and I also went to the sauna and steam at the spa centre. There is also a relatively large gym. There are two seawater pools - indoor and outdoor. There is also a jogging track at the top deck.

The foods that we had will be elaborated in the next post.
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