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Oh dear! I have been neglecting the blog lately because so many things had to be taken care of this month. The success of my 7-day ‘Tour de Maurice’ required days of detailed planning, hotel bookings, phone calls, reading trip advisor reviews, browsing through several tourist brochures, making to-do and to-see checklists, scanning restaurant menus and negotiating for the best deals within my limited time frame. Travelling from home to places I had only seen on maps and meeting people from all walks of life was an exciting adventure I had always been looking forward to.
From Day1 I started this beautiful journey around the coastal roads of Mauritius, stopping to visit hotels, restaurants, shops, museums, churches, beaches and many places of interest I had never been to. My first stay was at Otentic, where I spent the night in a safari tent and got to taste delicious grilled fish and tarte banane. The next day was a relaxed one with a boat trip to Ile aux Cerfs and a leisurely drive along the Eastern coast. My second night was at the Radisson Blu where I was surprised with nice Opera cake on my Birthday eve.
On Day 3 I travelled along the Northeast coast visiting small forgotten villages, followed by an absolutely gorgeous lunch in a beautiful colonial mansion at Demeure St Antoine. After a tiring day and an evening walk on the streets of Grand Baie [bustling with nightlife], I checked in at Bleu de Toi, a charming little guesthouse in Pereybere. I woke up to a bright Saturday morning on my birthday and set off to discover the Northwest part of Mauritius.
I was struck by the imposing façade of the Historical Ruins of Balaclava which stands proudly on the banks of Riviere Citron within the grounds of Maritim resort. Birthday lunch was seafood pasta and apple flavoured mojito at La Plage in Trou aux Biches. This year I had to do without my usual homemade cake, instead I was wowed by 2 patisserie cakes: a Pear & Chocolate Mousse cake and a Genoise a la Vanille, topped with cream and fresh fruit. To end this perfect day, I got a soothing back massage at the Ispa club, the Address Boutique where I spent my 4th night away from home.
Day 5 was a long one as I had to travel all the way from Port Chambly to Black River. The weather got nasty as we hit Albion but mercifully we had clear skies as I edged towards Cascavelle. Visiting Casela Nature & Leisure Park was the highlight of the day as I had not been to the park to see recent additions including camels, giraffes and rhinos. Maybe I will try out the camel ride someday but they said they will be bringing elephants soon… hmm… so much for the adventurous me! For the night, I stopped at Vanilla House, a well equipped guest house next to La Balise Marina.
The plan for following day was to cruise along the west coast right to the tip of Le Morne peninsula where I [finally] visited the famous Slave route, part of the cultural landscape which has been proclaimed as a National Heritage since 2006. From there I drove to La Prarie beach, one of my favorite spots for a brief photo shoot and eventually reached Baie du Cap. From there starts the dangerous road to Chamarel, a rustic village where I was to spend the night.
For the last night, my accommodation was a simple yet beautifully decorated cottage at La Vieille Cheminee, a self sufficient farm in the heights of Chamarel. Driving into the village on the next day, I discovered its old church, Eglise St Anne as well as the attractions it is famous for: the Seven Coloured Earths and Chamarel Waterfalls. Not far away, the Rhumerie de Chamarel provided a comprehensive guided tour of the rum-making process, ending with a gourmet lunch and rum/fruit paste/jam tasting. The final leg of my trip was along the South coast, stopping at Chateau de Bel Ombre, Gris Gris and St Aubin to finally reach home after my exhausting yet enriching ‘Tour de Maurice’.
Back home, I baked myself a small butter cake in my mini Bundt pan to celebrate the end of my holidays. The recipe from Baker Street was a delight to my sweet tooth as I emptied a whole back of plump whole Seeberger cranberries into the batter along with freshly shaved orange zest. Though a bit late for my birthday, I did make up for the lack of a personalized homemade cake with this rich and fruity combination that got me back to blogging.
ORANGE CRANBERRY BUNDT CAKE
For The Bundt Cake
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup golden caster sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
Zest of 1 medium orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kitchen salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup dried cranberries
For The Orange Glaze
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan or coat well with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and salt. Combine thoroughly and set mixture aside.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes until fluffy.
- Add the eggs at once and continue creaming for 1 minute. Add the orange zest and vanilla extract.
- Beat until combined. Add about half the flour and mix on medium-low speed until just combined.
- Add the buttermilk and mix on medium low speed until just combined. Add in the rest of the flour.
- Mix until just combined. Gently stir in the cranberries. Spoon the batter evenly into prepared pan.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Let cake cool in the pan about 10 minutes, and then invert onto a rack.
- Cool at least 20 minutes before glazing. For the orange glaze, combine all the ingredients together.
- Whisk until it becomes creamy orange color. Pour glaze over cake and serve at room temperature.
Orange & Cranberries
Hello folks! Hope you’ve all had a happy and delicious Easter Sunday with loads of special dishes on your brunch table. Though Easter meals are a rather grand feast on their own with carefully planned courses including standard stuff like hot cross buns, kids and grown ups both get way more excited over the fun of Easter egg hunting. While everyone else must have been running around to collect chocolate eggs and candies hidden around their homes and gardens, I sat back to enjoy my all-time favorite Cadbury Crème which brings back fond childhood memories. Because my Cadbury egg is [definitely] not meant for sharing, I had to bake something for the rest of the family. This yummy chocolate and almond cake, from Taste.com.au, with its little nest of chocolate curls and mini Kinder Eggs was again ‘too cute to be shared’ but then I had to get over my guilt feeling of going over the top with all that chocolate.
EASTER CHOCOLATE CAKE
For the Chocolate Cake
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
125g unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup almond meal, toasted
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons coffee granules
1 tablespoon boiling hot water
For the Chocolate Icing & Topping
200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
50g unsalted butter, room temperature
100g white cooking chocolate, melted
100g milk cooking chocolate, melted
Mini Easter eggs, to decorate
- Preheat oven to 160C. Grease and line base and side of a 20cm base measurement round cake pan.
- Combine sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan over a low heat.
- Add hot melted butter to sugar mixture and stir until well combined. Stir in the eggs one at a time.
- Stir in coffee, hot water, almond meal and flour until combined. Spoon mixture into pan and level.
- Bake for 45 minutes until edges are firm to touch and centre is moist. Cool cake completely in pan.
- To make shards, spread white and milk chocolate separately over base of 2 baking trays, 1 cm thick.
- Allow to set firm. Carefully run knife at an angle down the length of chocolate to form curly shards.
- Make the icing by melting the chocolate and the butter together in a small saucepan over low heat.
- Cool in pan for 4-5 minutes then spread over top of cooled cake. Leave the icing to cool completely.
- Carefully pile the chocolate curls at centre of cake to form nest and place mini Easter eggs in nest.
Happy Easter Holidays!
Happy V-Day folks! Whether you are in love or not, you really have to make this one. If you are looking for a special last-minute homemade dessert to impress the man/woman of your life, I think you can safely bet on this molten chocolate cake from Hershey Kitchen. With its molten chocolate centre, this decadent treat oozes love with every bite.
MOLTEN CHOCOLATE CAKE
For the Frozen Chocolate
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon powdered instant coffee
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Cake
2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon kitchen salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs, room temperature
For the Mocha Cream
1 cup (1/2 pt.) whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- To make the frozen chocolate, place the dark chocolate chips and instant coffee in medium mixing bowl.
- Stir together cream and corn syrup in medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.
- Heat till mixture comes to a boil. Pour hot cream over chocolate chips and let mixture stand 30 seconds.
- Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture in shallow bowl or dish.
- Cool slightly, then freeze mixture for at least 3 to 4 hours. For the chocolate cake, preheat oven to 425°F.
- Butter sides and bottom of four (6-oz.) ramekins. Place on baking sheet. Dissolve instant coffee in water.
- Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; set aside. Beat butter in bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
- Set aside 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; gradually beat in remaining granulated sugar, vanilla and coffee.
- Separate egg yolks from whites. One at a time, add yolks to butter mixture, beat well after each addition.
- In clean bowl, beat egg whites with remaining sugar, gradually increase to high speed till stiff peaks form.
- Fold cocoa mixture and egg whites into the butter mixture. Spoon about 2/3 cup batter into each ramekin.
- Place one heaping teaspoon of frozen chocolate mixture in the center of each cake batter-filled ramekins.
- Spoon about 1/4 cup of remaining cake batter over the frozen chocolate making sure to cover completely.
- Bake 15 to 20 minutes until tops have started to crack. While they bake, reheat remaining frozen chocolate.
- To make mocha cream, Beat cream, powdered sugar, cocoa, instant coffee and vanilla in small mixer bowl.
- Beat until cream starts to thicken but is still pourable. To serve, carefully invert cakes on large dinner plate.
- Spoon mocha cream around base of cake; dust with powdered sugar. Garnish with berries/chocolate curls.
- Serve immediately with a generous drizzle of the warmed chocolate sauce. Makes 4 individual (6-oz.) cakes.