Butterfly explorer

Butterfly explorer at the Natural History Museum? This is an event for families with children. Well, we are two grown up kids! =) It was pure fun but a sweaty one. Just as you enter, the simulated warm and humid tropical weather hits you. But everything became fine and lovely when the butterflies fly around you and above your head. How beautiful! Although I expected it to be bigger and with more butterflies, it is still nice to see a few different species of butterflies and caterpillars in one roof. It was definitely a good visit.

Caterpillars

This red / black butterfly can’t stop flapping her wings

Some tropical plants. Oh, new fact: oregano plant attracts butterflies =)

Owl butterfly landed on a girl’s shoulder. Lucky her.

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Abundance of strawberries

The abundance of strawberries calls for strawberry sorbet! Or anything refreshing with strawberries in them. Even my nails are painted red, strawberry red! The first strawberry treat I made this season is the strawberry sorbet. It’s definitely refreshing for such warm days. Cool you down to your ends. If you do not have time to make sorbet, have the strawberries with some champagne. That’ll do the trick! And if alcohol isn’t your cup of tea, have them with cream! Enjoy the strawberry filled summer!
STRAWBERRY SORBET
  • 450g hulled strawberries
  • 4 tbsp sugar syrup
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Method:
  1. Make some sugar syrup with 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Heat until sugar melts and thicken. Leave to cool and then chill in the fridge.
  2. Blend the strawberries, sieve and put them in a countainer to chill in the fridge.
  3. When both sugar syrup and strawberries are chilled, take them out of the refrigerator.
  4. Add 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar into the chilled blended strawberries.
  5. Add in 4 tbsp of sugar syrup into the mixture and mix well. (The amount of syrup depends on your sweetness preference. Make sure it’s slightly sweeter than the optimum as it reduces sweetness once frozen)
  6. Pour the mixture into a container and leave it in the freezer for 3 hours.
  7. Then take them out and blend it well to get rid of the ice crystals for a smooth sorbet.
  8. Put it back into the freezer until it’s well frozen.

Chocolate cupcake surprise with rose chantilly

This cupcake was initially made as a surprise birthday treat for a dear friend but I ended up being ill. So it wasn’t much of a surprise anymore when we had it. But it was still as yummy as ever. I’ve named it a cupcake surprise not because it was made as a surprise gesture. There is actually lychee in the middle of the cupcake, well hidden for a surprise bite. This was inspired by my favourite Ispahan from Ladurée. The heavenly Ispahan was initially created by Pierre Hermé for Ladurée. It is a perfect combination of rose, raspberries and lychee. I have yet to taste the Ispahan from Pierre Hermé so you would have guessed where my first stop will be when I am in Paris next.

These are the photos I’ve got for this batch. I forgot to cut up the cupcake for a picture revealing that hidden surprise, but will definitely add on that missing picture the next time I make this again.

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE SURPRISE WITH ROSE CHANTILLY

adapated from Béa’s Cupcakes au chocolat, à la lavande

For the rose chantilly

  • 2 tbsp rose flavouring (i used..)
  • 240ml (1 cup) double cream
  • a tiny drop of red colouring (optional to give it a light pink colour)
  • icing sugar (added to your sweetness preference)

Method:

  1. Add the rose flavouring and colouring into the double cream
  2. Whip the double cream while slowly adding some icing sugar to your sweetness preference until it reaches soft peak

For the cupcakes

(makes 12 medium sizes)

  • 57g (2oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 82g (6tbp) butter
  • 98g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 30g (1/4 cup) flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 large lychees cut into quarters
  • 12 raspberries to decorate

Method:

  1. Preheat oven at 180°C (350°F)
  2. Cut the butter in small pieces and chop the chocolates coarsely. Place them in a bowl and melt them in a bain marie
  3. Put the bowl away from heat once melted. Add sugar and mix gently until dissolve. Let rest for few minutes
  4. Continue to mix for about 5 minutes
  5. Add one egg at a time and mix until well blended
  6. Sift flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and add them into the mixture with the salt
  7. Mix well but not too much
  8. Take cupcake moulds (paper or silicone) and fill them 3/4 to the top.
  9. Add a quarter of lycee and push it in to the centre, making sure the mixture covers the lychee.
  10. Cook for about 25 minutes (the cupcakes are cooked when the blade of a sharp knife comes out clean)
  11. Remove from the oven and let cool down.
  12. Decorate cupcakes with the rose chantilly. Use a piping bag. If you don’t have one, just carefully scoop them onto the cupcakes.
  13. Finally, top the chantilly with raspberries.

NOTE:

Keep these cupcakes well hidden as one will not be enough. I had my friend bring some home and he finished all three of them in one go. For that reason, I was accused of making him fat! =)

Cupcakes au chocolat, chantilly à la lavande