rose water

A Taste Of Roses

When I first came across Samira’s recipe for Almond Biscuits at Sam’s Kitchen blog I knew I had to make the rose water ones. And I did! Wow, what a recipe. These macaroon-like delicacies are so easy to make. I loved the delicate rose water flavour and the pretty pink colour.

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The only changes I made to the recipe were to make half the amount and I didn’t dust them with extra icing sugar. Other than that, this is a recipe that I will make again and again.

I even made my own variation inspired by a Bounty – a coconut chocolate bar 🙂

Coconut and Chocolate Almond Cookies

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Ingredients
125g almond meal
100g icing sugar
1 egg white
1 teaspoon coconut essence, or to taste
75g milk chocolate
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Method
Preheat oven to 160C / 320F.
Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Mix together the icing sugar and egg white.
Add the coconut essence and almond meal.
Mix to a soft cookie dough.
Form into 9 crescent shapes.
Place on prepared tray.
Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
Place on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Once cool, melt the chocolate and smooth a dollop on the top of each cookie.
Sprinkle shredded coconut over the chocolate.
You can eat them warm or allow chocolate to set.

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Deathly Delights For Friday the 13th

It’s Friday the 13th again and for some the day is seen as unlucky, for others it means nothing, and for people like me it’s a time to dip into mythology and try out a few recipes!

13 is sometimes considered the Devil’s number, but in a tarot deck the Devil card is actually 15. It is the Death card that is number 13. Ancient Egyptians believed there were 12 stages of life and the 13th stage was death and transformation in the afterlife. For them, 13 was a lucky number. The number 12 is often associated with completion, so it makes sense that the number 13 can symbolise death and rebirth into a new cycle. This is part of the Death card’s meaning – transformation and renewal.

Death

The Dracula Tarot

One of the key symbols in the Death card is the white rose. White roses epitomise purity, humility, reverence and innocence. They symbolise new beginnings and are therefore popular at both weddings and funerals.

For this Friday the 13th, I thought I would play around with the rose from the tarot Death card and the dessert called Death by Chocolate. There are so many ways this could have gone, but I really felt like a nurturing milk drink. I concocted two Death by Chocolate Delights – because I really couldn’t choose between them 🙂

Rose Water Iced Chocolate

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Ingredients
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon rose water (or to taste)
1 scoop chocolate ice cream

Instructions
Place the milk and rose water in a glass and stir until combined. Add the chocolate ice cream.

Chocolate and Rose Water Milkshake

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Ingredients
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon rose water (or to taste)
3 scoops chocolate ice cream

Instructions
Add the milk, rose water and ice cream to a blender or milkshake maker. Blend until smooth.

An Unexpected Delight

On the weekend, I went to one of my favourite places to buy gin – Nicks Wine Merchants. The staff are very knowledgable, friendly and helpful. As I wandered excitedly down the aisles perusing the offerings, a beautifully painted bottle caught my eye. Then I saw the name – Turkish Delight. Intrigued, I read the label. It was made in Tamborine Mountain, Queensland, Australia. I recognised the place immediately! A few years ago my partner and I went to Tambourine Mountain in search of this distillery and much to our disappointment discovered that it was closed on Sundays. I had really wanted to try their Turkish Delight liqueur. Well now I could 🙂 I grabbed the bottle and made my way quickly to the counter, almost forgetting about my gin. But as I passed the gin section I stopped, lured by the promise of piquant juniper libations. The staff were happy to help me choose a very unusual gin, which I’ll be sharing with you soon.

When I got home I didn’t know what to drink first. After much consideration I went for the Turkish Delight liqueur.

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It is a really grown-up liqueur, not sickly sweet, very fragrant and tasty, with a good kick of alcohol. Its light rose colour matches the sophistication of the drink. To accompany it I thought I would whip up a batch of my Turkish Delight Truffles – a fragrant blend of milk chocolate, cream and rose water.

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Ingredients
200g milk chocolate, broken into small pieces
1/4 cup double cream
1 teaspoon rose water (or to taste)
cocoa for rolling

Instructions
Fill a saucepan about one-third full with water and bring to a gentle simmer. Set a heatproof-bowl over the saucepan, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Add the chocolate and cream to the bowl. Occasionally stir with a metal spoon until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Remove from heat and stir in the rose water.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm enough to roll into balls.
Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place some cocoa into a small bowl.
Use a melon-baller to scoop chocolate into a rough ball and, working with one ball at a time, roll ball in the cocoa until covered then place onto prepared tray.
Continue until all the chocolate is rolled, topping up with cocoa as needed.
Refrigerate until firm.
Bring to room temperature before serving.

A Very Sweet Equinox

It’s Equinox time – a time of balance and renewal when day and night are as equal as can be. In the Northern Hemisphere, the nights will now be longer than the days. In the Southern Hemisphere, the days will now be longer than the nights.

As I think of the long hot days ahead I think of drinks. So I thought it would be fun to play with the concept of balance through drinks and our sense of taste. Taste has five sensations – sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. Over the coming weeks I will explore each sensation through a drink. I’m starting with sweet.

Sweet is one of the easiest to work with as it is a pleasurable flavour and there are so many delicious sweet drinks around. But that is also a problem – with so much choice how do you choose?

One of my favourite sweet flavours is rose water. I thought a rose water cordial would be lovely. I was chatting to my friend who runs a bar about my thoughts for a sweet rose water cordial. He was brought up in Malaysia and told me about a drink from his youth – bandung. It’s a rose water syrup drink sweetened with condensed milk! Can you get anything sweeter than condensed milk? Possibly, but the thought of a rose water and condensed milk drink had me running from the bar to my kitchen. Here is my version of the very sweet, very delicious and very pink bandung.

Let me know what your favourite sweet drinks are 🙂

Bandung

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Ingredients
for the syrup
2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon rose water
pink or red food colouring

for mixing
1 cup condensed milk
1 cup water

Method
Boil the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves.
Add the rose water and enough food colouring to achieve the desired pink colour.
Add the condensed milk and water and mix until combined.
Chill in refrigerator before serving.

Let Them Eat Cuppycakes!

Everyone loves celebrating with cake! And Pandas are no exception!!

Panda fans are being treated to adorable images of pandas around the world celebrating their birthdays with inventive and stunning panda cakes. Bamboo, fruit, vegetables and honey are just some of the ingredients in the cakes these fur balls are enjoying.

Birthdays are not the only time for pandas to have cake. In keeping with Chinese tradition, baby pandas don’t receive a name until they are 100 days old. This special event is also celebrated with cake.

I wonder what other important events pandas would like to celebrate and what special cakes they would like?

Anne Belov and the pandas at The Panda Chronicles are well known for their love of cupcakes, or, as they call them, cuppycakes. For the benefit of all pandas and their fans we are studiously, and with no thought or care for our waistlines, devising and taste-testing celebration cuppycakes for our upcoming book The Panda Chronicles Cuppycake Cookbook (favorite recipes from the panda kindergarten).

In honour of panda birthday season the pandas would like to share a very special cuppycake recipe for a very special panda – National Zoo’s Bao Bao aka Princess Pinky aka Leader of the Panda Kindergarten.

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Princess Pinky’s Cuppycakes

Some pandas are born Princesses, others learn along the way. Princess Pinky is happy to teach up and coming princesses “The Ways of a Princess”. Their first lesson will be to bake a batch of Princess Pinky’s favorite rose water lemonade cuppycakes with rose water icing and rose water cream, decorate them with plenty of pink princess bling and serve them to her. We’re not sure what the actual lesson is, but it sounds really tasty!

Ingredients
for the rose water cuppycakes
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (125g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup superfine granulated (caster) sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons rose water
1 + 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup almond meal
3 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
3/4 cup canned lemonade

for the rose water icing
1 + 3/4 cups powdered (icing) sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon rose water
2 tablespoons water
pink food coloring

for the rose water cream
1 cup (300ml) double cream
18oz (500g) mascarpone
4 tablespoons powdered (icing) sugar
4 tablespoons rose water
pink food coloring
pink and princess decorations of choice

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.
Line a 12-hole muffin pan with 12 paper cases.
In a medium sized bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until light and fluffy. Add the rose water and beat until combined. Add the flour, almond meal and baking powder and, using a wooden spoon, mix until combined. Add the lemonade and mix until combined.
Using an ice-cream scoop, spoon the batter evenly into paper cases.
Bake for 10 – 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cuppycake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

While cuppycakes are cooling, mix together the icing sugar, rose water and water in a bowl.  Mix in enough pink food coloring to achieve your desired shade of pink. The icing should be just thick enough to dollop so add more water or powdered sugar if needed to get this consistency. Dollop the icing on top of each cuppycake and spread with clean fingers or a spoon until covered. Leave to set.

Once cuppycakes are iced, make the rose water cream by gently whipping the cream, mascarpone, sugar and rose water together in a medium sized bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add pink food coloring a small amount at a time until you achieve your desired shade of pink. Whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form. Spoon whipped cream into a piping bag and pipe onto iced cuppycakes.

Decorate with pink and princess decorations as desired.

Notes from the pandas:
“Rose water is very aromatic and can differ in strength between brands. Add a little at a time and keep tasting until you get the amount you desire.” 

“For a gluten free version substitute the plain flour for brown rice flour and add 1/2 a teaspoon of xanthan gum.”

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What other cuppycakes have these inventive pandas created?

Stay tuned 🙂