Hot Chocolate Denso

28 Jun 2013

I am frozen! We're deep into winter down here in little old New Zealand and it doesn't look like the cold, wet weather is going to leave anytime soon. If you're feeling cold and blue like me then this recipe may cheer you up!

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Confession, long before I was a coffee addict, I had been a long-time hot chocolate addict. The smell of rich cocoa blended with creamy, frothy milk was something I could have every day (until I stopped growing vertically and started growing horizontally). 

It's no problem finding hot chocolates out there. Good cafes will usually use the best hot chocolate powder there is. But the type of hot chocolate I really love but is hard to find is the Hot Chocolate Denso. The "Denso" has its roots in Italy. South America has their version as well. It is a thick, creamy hot chocolate, some say it's almost pudding-like. 

I've studied and searched for coffee and hot chocolate products far and wide and I can say I still have not found a hot chocolate mix that could satisfy my fussy taste buds! Most of the thick hot chocolate powders contain a thickener to thicken the drink but I wanted better! So I created this recipe out of desperation and it's easy peasey!

My recipe calls for the Lindt chocolate range (as its relatively easy to find all around the world). In creating the recipe in my beverage lab I found that the Lindt excellence 70% dark chocolate didn't produce such a thick Denso so my suggestion is to use the Lindt Lindor dark chocolate bar. Try using the dark Lindor bar first even if you don't like dark chocolate (just trust me?!)

Miss Chopinholic's Hot chocolate Denso


40grams Lindt Lindor dark chocolate bar
1 heaped teaspoon of good hot chocolate powder (I use evil child hot chocolate powder)
50gm Thickened Cream
160gm Milk 
(Optional: 1 teaspoon of tapioca starch/arrowroot)

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1. Melt the chocolate, chocolate powder and the thickened cream in the microwave (10-20 secs at a time to avoid burning the chocolate). Stir until chocolate is melted and combined with the cream.

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2. Froth milk with the steaming wand of an expresso machine, or heat in a pan until it reaches 75 degrees. If you want your denso to be really thick, you may add a teaspoon of tapioca flour with the cold milk. I personally don't add any thickener. You may also want to froth the milk manually with a frother to achieve maximum creaminess!

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3. Pour half the milk with the chocolate mixture until combined. Then fill the cup with the rest of the milk.

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Yum! I sometimes like to have mine as a mocha and add a shot of coffee in there. I also love serving my Denso in my large D-cup! Hope this hot chocolate recipe works for you just as well as it does for me. Let me know how you go and have a great weekend!


26 Jun 2013

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Situated at the swanky new area of Britomart, Auckland, is the dessert-only restaurant, Milse. Hidden in the alley just beside the sister (or brother) restaurant Ortolana and shoe boutique Kathryn Wilson, Milse's popularity is soaring despite being open for only a couple of months.

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The entrance leads to a narrow corridor of delectable sweets - cabinets full of tarts, verrines, gelati, macarons, gateaux and chocolates. The interior is interesting, with lattice patterned panels lined throughout. It felt like I had entered a cave of forbidden treats.

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Honestly they all were so good it was hard to choose a favourite but if I had to, I probably would choose the raspberry, rose, chocolate and vanilla gateaux just because its pink. 

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Raspberry, Rose, Chocolate & Vanilla
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Chocolate, Orange & Macadamia
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Valrhona Chocolate, Armagnac & Salted Caramel

Ordering from the cabinet and taking your treats to enjoy in the comfort of your own space is the easy way to go as Milse has a no reservation policy which means the wait for a table can be up to 2 hours. The restaurant is teeny-weeny and seats about 15 people. The a-la-carte menu is only available for dining in in the evenings and the desserts are around $20NZD. A great place to go for a fine dine if you can actually get a table.  You will also definately need the waitress to explain the menu as the descriptions of the desserts are very abstract and vague.  I managed to FINALLY make it in on the third attempt and this is what I tried: 
The "267% Valrhona", which has beetroot, honeycomb and mint, two of the ingredients I dislike very much (don't know why I chose it) but I loved it.
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"Apple", plus salted caramel, feijoa and thyme. 
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The desserts look and taste incredible - quite different to any dessert I've sampled before.  From the crowds which are always at the entrance, this top Auckland restaurant is definitely here to stay so if you can't get on the table waiting list the first dozen times, try a few more!

A Good Bargain or an Absolute Steal

23 Jun 2013

bargain hunt, deal, cheap shoes

I haven't been able to shop much lately since I've been setting up the blog, baking red velvet cupcakes and making cronuts (my wallet is smiling at me right now) but I did manage to go for a quick look around.

Besides looking at designer fashion I also love to bargain hunt, buying pieces at prices my friends often don't believe. Earlier this year I went to Hong Kong for my Model S' wedding (she's featured here) and shopped up a storm! Even though my suitcases were stuffed and exploding at the seams I still had to get these metallic toe cap ballet flats from Zara cos they were just too fun!

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I live in ballet flats most of the time as they're easy to slip on and off as well as looking tidy and still a little bit girly.

In the southern hemisphere, Zara is not easy to come by and even if you can get to the store, by my standards I wouldn't call the prices a bargain. So I went looking around to see if I could find some good, cheaper alternatives since I'm sure all of us appreciate good deals and shopping tips.

While walking past Novo these shoes caught my eye. Pretty similar to the Zara ones and they were heaps cheaper! (mind you they are on sale) Made from micro suede, they're pretty cute and if you hurry you may still be able to get some instore or online.

My fave cheapie store is Kmart and I love to go in there to buy stickers and sweets (yes, I am like a 5-year-old). While browsing the store I found these almost identical shoes to Novo's but also offered in this leopard print. But wait, there's more! The price? $15nzd! I'm actually eyeing up the leopard print pair...

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You may be thinking - another shoe post? Well I always thought I should work my way up from the bottom. So stay with me while I slowly make my way up!

Cronut: A Legend in the Baking

18 Jun 2013

Cronuts have got the New Yorkers lining up at the Dominique Ansel Bakery at 5am since its launch in May this year and the craze is sweeping the rest of the world like an epidemic. With the name being trademarked to Ansel, bakers around the world are coming up with alternative names like "doissant" "cray-nut" and I just heard that Adriano Zumbo over in Australia-land has come up with "Zonut".

What is a cronut? It's a half doughnut, half croissant treat that is first fried in oil, then rolled in sugar, filled with pastry cream and then finished off with an icing glaze on top.

Of course I wanted to try the cronut, but because I'm 14185kms away, there was no way I could try the real thing. With my confidence boosted from successfully making Red Velvet Cupcakes last week, I was ready to give the cronut-inspired recipe a go.

I chose Edd Kimber's recipe from The Boy Who Bakes as it looked easier and quicker than making a proper croissant dough (you'll see what I mean below). I wanted to try to recreate the lemon and maple flavour available at Ansel's bakery this month so I made my own pastry cream. Of course I had to complicate things a little more by making some "pink" so those were flavoured with a raspberry sugar and pink icing.

5 Confessions in 5 days. Day 5: Jeremy's Red Velvet Cupcakes

14 Jun 2013

cupcake, close up, best cake, baking a, baking forYay it's Friday and to celebrate the completion of 5 Confessions in 5 days, I would like to share with you Jeremy's Red Velvet Cupcakes (thanks Jeremy!)

I haven't baked cupcakes for a while because the recipes I've used never really came out "amazing". That was until Jeremy sent me his recipe for his red velvet cupcakes - I'm so in love! (with the cupcakes)

Who is Jeremy? Jeremy Mayall is a composer, record producer, musician, multi-instrumentalist, DJ, film maker and a cupcake baker! His Symphony no.1 was the first orchestral symphony to feature a turntable as part of the ensemble. Jeremy is definitely a guy with many talents and you can check out what else he is up to at his website here.

Anyway, these cupcakes ARE amazing, and Jeremy is testimony to the fact that guy's should bake more (so their girlfriends can enjoy delicious treats like these!). 

Red Velvet Cupcakes:

1 1/4 cups (125 grams) sifted cake flour
(Cake Flour can be recreated with regular flour, take out two tablespoons of the regular flour, and put back in 2 tablespoons of cornflour. Sift this a bunch of times to combine it all properly)

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup white sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk

1 tablespoon liquid red food colouring

1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees celcius and line 12 muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

2. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.

3. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
4. In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food colouring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

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5. In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.

6. Working quickly, divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 18 - 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cupcakes comes out clean.
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7. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes and them remove from pan. Let cool completely before frosting. 

The frosting I used was a white chocolate buttercream frosting.  I had previously failed with piping the rose swirl and came pretty close to never making cupcakes again.  That is until Jeremy gave me the handy tip of swirling with a Wilton 1M tip.

Here's the recipe for the frosting I used:

150 grams unsalted butter
3/4-1 cup icing sugar
150 grams white chocolate

1.  Beat the butter, slowly adding the icing sugar until desired sweetness and consistency. Beat the buttercream until light and fluffy.

2. Melt the white chocolate and beat with the buttercream until combined.

3. Pipe onto cupcakes.

Ta-dah! I'm no pro but managed to come out with these very pretty cupcakes. To pay homage to Jeremy, I baked them in some semi-masculine cupcake liners.

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But still couldn't help myself so had to make some of them styled with pink!

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Hope you've enjoyed my first week of blogging! It's been fun even without my laptop! Sorry for all the wonkiness going on with the last two posts but I hope to fix all that up next week. Have a great weekend and see you soon!

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5 Confessions in 5 days. Day 4: EAT PAY SHOP

13 Jun 2013

It's Thursday and I'm starting to lose focus. I've temporarily misplaced my laptop (and therefore my photos) so this post comes to you from my trusty but not so blog friendly, Ipad. (I'm personally a bit gutted about the wonky layout and the possibility of lower quality photos for this post!!!)

It's no secret I like to shop. But it may not be common knowledge that I often shop alone. I like wandering into hidden shops in little alleyways and finding them in the middle of nowhere. Shopping is hard work so finding a nice and quick place to eat/snack is essential. I drive around a lot and eat where ever I go, on the go, so I can make the most of my browsing time. 

I'm also a fussy eater, coming from a family of restaurant owners I learnt to eat well from a young age. In my quest to find all the best eating places around, I would like to share with you some of my favourite eateries in this on-going series: EAT PAY SHOP. 

There aren't that many shops in the Mt Eden village in Auckland, NZ, but when I do drive by to look at the few shops there, I will often go to Olaf's for a quick bite. 

Olaf's Artisan Bakery and Cafe has the best freshly baked goods and every time I eat there, it makes me want to go back even more to try something else. I didn't even realise Olaf's was the recipient of numerous awards and supply to major restaurants until I checked out their site. (I'm patting myself on the back for picking this out as I'm typing). 

They have a great selection of breads you can take home and pretend you baked. Salads and a light menu are available and you can watch the bakers at work through the glass walls.

The things that make me salivate the most are the amazing pastries and desserts. My favourites are the apple Galettes and I've even tried to replicate my own version of it! I hope to share this recipe with you soon. 

In the meantime, here's a feast for your eyes.

Oops... I got carried away with the food so much I forgot to snap some shots of the decor! You will just have to go in to see for yourselves.