After a very long weekend of Chinese New year of festive food(aka. fried food love), I felt there was something missing amidst the happiness and throws of red pocket giving. After an hours of pondering on the heavy thought my mind finally picked it out.
My dad is missing. His love for Chinese New Year was missing.
Even though I am sounding like a broken record this is week my dad left for a better place. What makes it particularly hard is that Chinese New year was his favourite time of year; so all the fried food delights, steamed baos and sticky pulled BBQ meats he was not here to enjoy. There was no one to order two trays of mussels and scallops, a tray of roast pigeon, carb and a steamed fish for my very small family (maximum 6). He would have to eat three bowls of that sweeten Chinese dessert soup, not out of greed but my sisters and I were slightly suspicious of the oddly coloured substance. In the end, we had to get take away boxes from the restaurant because about half of the food would be left.
It has been almost a year but I am still grieving hard. The first few months I was too worried and pre occupied about other things to face the reality of the situation. I distanced myself from the topics around his death so my mind would not have the process that he was no longer in his favourite chair. Events that had “family time” as the main event, I avoided like the plague in case it broke open the flood gates to my memories. Ultimately first few months were not the hardest part because I become good at blocking out unfortunate events.
However my defence mechanism was not good enough to stop me pausing for a 10 minutes at 3:30pm on a weekday. Before I baked in the after noon or commenced a photo shoot, I prepared myself to see him walk through the door; looking at little worse for wear, in his blue-collar work uniform and carrying his grey work bag. I knew it would never come true but the situation last year was like the finale of a drama series. Bad accident to the main character, a few hospital drama scenes finally ending in funeral episode.
Of course the situation is so cliché, I have so many things I would say to him and then I will forget them all for routine. A simple greeting and ask him if he want me to cook oatmeal for his after noon snack or offer something I baked earlier in the day.
What are the right words to say to those who have passed away? What words should I said more often? The thing I regret most about that Friday is I never got to say I love you that day. Did you know what I said to him that after noon? I talked to him about my latest bread bake, ask what he wanted for dinner and told him when he finished he could come in to try the new bread creation. If I could rewind back to that day, I would give him a big hug and tell him how much I admire him over a cup a coffee and paper sponge cake.
Just like I love you, I should have made this dessert more often for him. Creme Brûlée has not made an appearance on this website for about a year. In his un traditional way he liked to eat it warm but then again who am I to argue with an eating style? I avoided making it because it was “his” dessert, the person who loved it the most in the household and would gladly eat all of them in a week.
I still have not made Creme Brûlée but this is definitely the on the same lines of creamy delicious, milky custard with a voluptuous mouthfeel. Panna cotta in the modern food is thicken with gelatine and served cold. However do you know the traditional way of a true Italian Panna cotta?
Unlike it cold relative, the first Panna cottas were made by cooking cream, sugar, honey and egg white in a bain marie ( water bath) until it set as a custard. This way the custard turns white more than an egg yellow however as the same mouth feel as Creme Brûlée; smooth, creamy and delightful end to a meal of indulgence or any time for that matter. It is really easy too! Easier than the French one in fact! Baked in a low oven for about an hour is all you need to do.
To top it off I used a marshmallow creme which I then toasted to burnished perfection. The hues of golden brown and toasty flavours pair wonderfully when you have a mouth full of the rich honey custard. My honey had notes Carmel flavour and slightly bitter-sweet, also it was very dark which why it is not pure white. I would recommend you use a good quality honey here as you taste all of it. NO FAKE BEAR HONEY HERE!!!
This entire dessert is gelatine free, egg yolks free and is “more virtuous” take on heavy custard desserts. Also it uses up a lot of egg whites from the freezer. However I do you need an excuse to create something has lovely as this?
If you do not like the cold Panna cotta try this one! You will change your mind about disliking this often abused dessert.
Toasty Marshmallow Honey Panna Cotta (Traditional style)
Sourced from Labna
- 500ml cream
- 80g golden caster sugar
- 30g good quality dark honey ( best you can afford)
- 4 egg whites ( about 100-120g)
- 5g vanilla bean paste
- 150g sugar
- 50g honey
- 30ml water
- 120g egg whites
For Panna Cotta
- Pre heat oven to 120C. Bring a pot of water to the boil ( You need this later for the water bath)
- In medium sauce pan place cream, sugar, honey, and vanilla bean over low heat. Bring just under the boil and leave to cool for a few minutes. The sugar and honey should dissolve.
- In a another heat proof bowl, whisk the egg whites to lightly foamy ( under soft peaks). Whisking at the same time pour in the cream slowly to temper the egg whites. Pour into deep ramekins leave a gap of 1.5cm for the topping.
- Set the ramekins in a large roasting tray lined with paper towel. Carefully pour hot water in to the tray so it just comes up half way up the ramekins. Place tray in oven and bake for 1 hour until just set. Cool then transfer to the fridge until needed.
For Marshmallow Cream
- In a saucepan, combine the water and caster sugar. Stir. Place in your candy thermometer.
- Set over low heat and DO NOT STIR. Shaking the pan helps gets the sugar off the sides or a wet pastry brush. Continue to cook until it reaches 115 degrees C.
- IN a stand mixer place your egg whites, and beat until soft peaks.
- Once the syrup reaches 121 degrees, remove from heat.
- Turn the mixer to high and pour syrup in a steady, thin stream until all syrup is used. Once you have incorporated the syrup, turn the medium high and beat until the meringue and bowl are cool.
- Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a round tip and pipe cream in a swirl pattern on top of the ramekins. Using blow touch toast the topping to your liking. Serve.