Éclairs are the favourite pastry of many French children.
- Éclairs are a sweet pastry bakery item, particularly popular in French cuisine, and they are shaped somewhat like a hot dog bun.
- Éclairs are made of a light dough stuffed with cream or a flavoured custard, and then glazed or iced on top.
- The fillings of an éclair come in a variety of flavours, such as chocolate, vanilla, fruit, nut, coffee and rum.
- The literal translation of ‘éclair’ from French, is ‘lightning’, which is thought to refer to the speed of which it is eaten, or the shine of the glaze.
- Éclair dough is typically made by partially cooking a mixture of butter, flour and water in a saucepan and eggs are added soon after; and then they dough is piped onto a tray and baked in an oven, and is later filled with filling.
- The invention of éclairs is often attributed to Marie-Antoine Carême, a popular chef of the royals of the time, in the early 1800s in France.
- In the United States, the 22nd of June is recognised as the National Day of the Chocolate Éclair each year.
- The term ‘éclair’ was first documented in the English language in reference to a bread-based item, in an 1861 edition of the Vanity Fair magazine.
- Traditionally, most éclairs are sweet, though savoury variants have been made in more recent times, while the recipe for the dough has remained relatively unchanged since its creation.
- ‘Éclairs’ were first known as ‘pain à la duchesse’ or ‘petite duchesse’, French terms meaning ‘bread duchess’ and ‘little duchess’ respectively.
Chocolate mousse is simple but effective.
- Chocolate mousse is an edible foam, originating from France and most commonly eaten as a dessert.
- Chocolate mousse usually consists of eggs, sugar and chocolate, and often also butter or cream, and perhaps other flavourings.
- Chocolate mousse is most commonly used as a dessert itself, or as a filling, side or decoration in a dessert; however mousse purposed for savoury use can be made, though it usually excludes chocolate and sugar, and is flavoured differently.
- Mousses, including those chocolate-flavoured, originated in the 1700s, with the first known recipe for chocolate mousse documented by Menon, a French writer, in 1750, in his book La science du maître d’hôtel confiseur (loosely translated as ‘The science of a master confectioner’).
- Chocolate mousse is generally made by whipping egg whites or cream, until they become light and airy, which is then usually combined with a mixture of melted chocolate and sometimes butter, egg yolks, and sugar, and then set in a refrigerator.
- ‘Mousse’ is a French word which has the literal translation ‘foam’; while chocolate mousse is known as ‘mousse au chocolat’ in French.
- Recipes similar to that of chocolate mousse became more abundant in the 1890s and 1900s, including one from the French Post-Impressionist artist, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who named his a ‘mayonnaise’.
- Chocolate mousse is typically a brown colour with a light fluffy texture, although its density may vary according to the ingredients and cooking method.
- Chocolate mousse is a good source of calcium, vitamin A and vitamin B12, though it has significant quantities of fat and sugar.
- Recipes for chocolate mousse range from simple to complex or exotic, however many agree that simplicity is key for a good mousse.
Add some butterscotch sauce to top off a pudding.
- Butterscotch is a typically a hard candy confectionery, that is also commonly referred to in modern times as a ‘flavour’.
- Butterscotch generally consists of butter and brown sugar; and sometimes water, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla or other ingredients.
- Although the appearance is similar, butterscotch and caramel are not technically the same; and while there are various opinions on the difference, traditionally, caramel uses white sugar and does not include butter.
- Butterscotch is made by boiling the sugary mixture to a temperature of roughly 132°C to 143°C (270°F to 289°F), which is the ‘soft crack’ stage.
- The method and ingredients of butterscotch are also very similar to toffee, however toffee mixture requires a longer boiling time to reach a higher temperature and consistency, and usually omits butter and includes water.
- Butterscotch is usually a golden yellow or golden tan colour, with a sweet and often creamy taste.
- A variety of desserts may use butterscotch as a base ingredient or flavour, including ice-cream, fudge, puddings, sauces, icing and cakes.
- The etymology of butterscotch is ambiguous, as ‘scotch’ may refer to ‘Scotland’, or more likely the ‘act of scotching’ – cutting an object’s surface.
- It is believed that confectioner Samuel Parkinson invented butterscotch in 1817, in Yorkshire’s Doncaster in England, and his company became famous for the product and supplied the British royal family with the confectionery.
- With the addition of cream or milk, butterscotch can be made into a sauce to top ice-cream or pour over desserts.
Although candy apples are evolving into a tradition, they are well suited anytime!
- A candy apple is a confectionery item consisting of an apple, that has been dipped in a hard sugar or toffee mixture to coat it; and includes a wooden or plastic stick pushed into the apple, which is used to hold it.
- ‘Candy apples’ are also known as ‘candied apples’, ‘toffee apples’, ‘lollipop apples’, and ‘taffy apples’.
- Candy apples are most popularly eaten as a snack during autumn months when apples are at their peak season, especially during times of celebration, or at carnivals and fairs.
- Typically, the hard coating of a candy apple is a red colour, likely due to tradition, as well as the appealing and striking nature of the colour.
- The sugary coating of candy apples is typically made from sugar, corn syrup, food colouring, and water, although the ingredients may vary, and they are sometimes flavoured with cinnamon.
- The candy apple invention is often attributed to candy maker William Kolb of New Jersey, in the United States, who is said to have placed toffee-covered apples in a display window in 1908, and he promptly sold them for five cents per apple.
- Candy apples are commonly confused with caramel apples, which are notably different in that the latter’s coating is generally made of soft caramel rather than hard toffee.
- The oldest known written recipe for a candy apple originated in 1919, found in the cookbook “Rigby’s Reliable Candy Teacher” and it was referred to as an ‘apple on a stick’.
- Apple cultivars of particular tartness, like Granny Smiths, are optimal for candy apples, as the flavour compliments the sweetness, and these apples usually have a firm texture.
- Climates with high humidity render candy apples as somewhat impractical, as excessive levels of humidity cause the hard sugar coating to become soft and runny.
Miracle fruits are marvellous game-changers.
- Miracle fruits are berries of a species of shrub-growing plant, that is native to western Africa.
- ‘Miracle fruit’ are also known as ‘sweet berries’, ‘miracle berries’, ‘taamis’, ‘miraculous berries’, and ‘agbayuns’.
- The scientific name of the miracle fruit is Synsepalum dulcificum and it is from the family Sapotaceae, a family of evergreen flowering trees and shrubs.
- Miracle fruits are small and are an ovoid shape, and they are roughly 2 to 3 centimetres (0.8 to 1.2 inches) in length.
- While the miracle fruit does not have much flavour itself, a protein named miraculin found in the fruit’s flesh, causes sour foods to taste sweet when the flesh is consumed.
- The shrubs that bear miracle fruit grow to a height of 1.8 to 4.5 metres (5.9 to 14.8 feet), and the fruit is produced throughout the year.
- The impact of the miracle fruit on one’s sense of taste lasts for around 30 minutes, or occasionally longer, and the fruit is eaten raw, typically immediately before sour tasting food.
- Miracle fruits have a bright red skin colour and they have flesh that is a translucent white colour, which includes one seed.
- To maintain the flavour alterating properties of miracle fruit, berries must be eaten promptly after picking, as their effectiveness decreases the longer they are stored.
- Miracle fruit has been designated as a food additive in its history; and while research has been undertaken to determine the possibility of the fruit being used to change the taste of food to make it sweeter, as yet, it has not been a commercially viable option.
You’ll be able to tell when some noni is in your fruit salad!
- Noni is a species of exotic tropical fruit that is native to northern Australia, Southeast Asia, and a number of the Pacific islands.
- ‘Noni’ is also known as ‘Indian mulberry’, ‘hog apple’, ‘great morinda’, ‘koonjerung’, ‘canary wood’, ‘beach mulberry’, ‘tokoonja’ and ‘cheese fruit’.
- The scientific name of the tree that produces noni is Morinda citrifolia and it is from the family Rubiaceae, the family of madder and coffee.
- Noni skin changes from green, to a pale yellow, then a creamy white colour when ripe, and is made up of many polygon shapes; while the flesh is also similar in colour.
- The irregular shape of the noni fruit ranges from 4 to 18 centimetres (1.6 to 7 inches) in length; and it contains many seeds, which can be roasted and eaten.
- Noni is edible both raw and cooked, often eaten with salt or cooked in curry, and it is commonly made into juice; while jams and pickles can also be made from the fruit.
- Generally, noni emits a strong, undesirable smell, comparable to that of smelly cheese or even vomit; and the unripe fruit is commonly cooked as a vegetable.
- Typically noni has a flavour resembling sour pineapple possibly with some sweetness, though it can be bitter and unpleasant; and the fruit has been historically used in times of famine.
- Various illnesses including asthma, arthritis and cardiovascular issues have all be treated with noni, by using traditional medicine methods.
- Noni has significant quantities of potassium and vitamin C, particularly in its juice, and has other vitamins and minerals.
Morinda citrifolia, 2016, Australian Native Plants Society (Australia), http://anpsa.org.au/m-cit.html
Noni, 2016, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, https://nccih.nih.gov/health/noni