Asian Persuasion Cocktail with Ungava Gin

April 01st every year is the kick-off of cocktail season for me. You see between April 01st and Father’s day my parents and I all have our birthdays, maybe Easter, then there is Mother’s and Father’s Day. So for the exception of my birthday, I am expected to contribute an exotic cocktail. I discovered a bunch of great ones when I was recently on vacation in New Orleans (post coming soon, promise!). But the one I made for Easter was a completely new discovery, starting with the alcohol.

I bet you do not know a whole lot about the Canadian Arctic. I am from Canada and I do not know a lot about that part of my country. But I did recently make one fabulous discovery: Ungava Gin. I was just as shocked as you are right now, there is a fabulous gin being made from hand-picked ingredients found in the far north reaches of Quebec. And with it I made for Easter the Asian Persuasion Cocktail.

Asian Persuasion 3

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes

Happy Easter and Happy Chocolate Day

I am not one to join the bandwagon of crazy popular food recipes sometimes. And that would explain why this is my first ever attempt at cupcakes. Got nothing against them, cute cakes in a muffin cups. Just did not bother making any. Until this week  as I had to bring a small dessert for 2 at a friend’s place for dinner. It seemed like the perfect thing to bring.

I also had no more milk and not much butter left so I had searched for a recipe that omitted these ingredients. Well surprisingly I found one quick enough and it is actually a vegan cupcake recipe. No eggs, no milk, no butter. And yes they are awesome and moist. The secret! The chemical interaction between the baking soda and vinegar which bubbles up and creates air pockets. Brilliant!

Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes

Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes adapted from Diana Rattray


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons matcha powder
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • your favorite white icing recipe
  • 2 teaspoons matcha powder
  • green food coloring

I made half the recipe for 6 cupcakes


1. Grease a muffin pan or line with cupcake papers. Heat oven to 350°F.

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Combine all wet ingredients in a small bowl.

3. Mix in the wet ingredients to the dry ones and beat on medium speed of an electric mixer until smooth and well blended.

4. Fill the prepared cupcake cups about half full. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden pick comes out clean when inserted into the center of a cupcake.

5. Mix your icing with the matcha powder and green food coloring. Ice, decorate and serve. Makes 12 cupcakes

By the way the matcha flavor is quite subtle but it works with the overall taste. And no need to be fancy with the icing. I had leftover store bought icing from the Cake Pops challenge so just used that.

Daring Bakers: Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies

Ah two of my favorite desserts! I only recently made panna cotta when I did a gorgeous layer verrine treat but I have never made florentine cookies before.I am however familiar with them as it was my favorite treat to purchase when we would go through St-Sauveur, a popular ski resort area 45min outside of Montreal. There is this amazing bakery there and they have the best florentine cookies.

Now you would assume this challenge is all 100% pure Italian, but you would be wrong. Yes the panna cotta is of Italian origin, specifically from Piedmonte in the north. But the Florentine, as much as it inspires an Italian origin, it is actually French…or of Austrian bakers. Yep there are 2 dueling stories to the origin. One story claims the cookies where invented by Austrian bakers in the city of Florence, the other story claims that the cookie was created in Versailles under Louis XIV for the Medici family of Florence.

Well we have a great cookie in the end anyways! And just to complicate things and make it that much more international my panna cotta will be of Asian inspiration with matcha and lychees! Mandatory in this challenge was to make a panna cotta and a florentine cookie….not necessarily the specified recipes. So I chose a different Florentine cookie recipe, a more traditional one, that I found on the Food Network. This time I again had a wonderful assistant with me in the kitchen, Stef’s 13 year old daughter, some pictures are to her credit.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies. You can download the complete printable .pdf of the challenge HERE!

Preparation time:
• 20-25 minutes to prepare the Panna Cotta – at least 6 hours to chill
• 20-25 minutes to prepare the cookies 10 minutes to bake

Giada’s Vanilla Matcha Panna Cotta

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons(10 ml) (10 gm)  matcha powder
pinch of salt


  1. Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
  2. Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).
  3. Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn’t boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
  5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve. Makes 8 servings

Note: when you sprinkle your gelatin over your milk, be sure that it’s a thin even layer of gelatin, no clumps. When you heat it up after it’s soaked a bit, you’ll be less likely to get any lumps of gelatin in the finished product.


Lychee Gelée

1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) lychee
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin


  1. Sprinkle gelatin over water.
  2. Purée lychees
  3. Place fruit and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Now mix the gelatin into the strawberry mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool (close to room temp, again, if you’re planning on layering on pouring on top of your Panna Cotta, a hot mixture will also heat up your chilled Panna Cotta).

Florentine Cookies


1 cup sliced, blanched almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Finely grated zest of 1/2 orange (about 1 tablespoon)
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
150 g (5 oz) dark chocolate


  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  2. Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pasty. Stir together the nuts, flour, zest and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Put the sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, then pour mixture into almond mixture and stir just to combine. Set aside until cool enough to handle, 30 minutes.
  4. Scoop rounded teaspoons of batter and roll into balls. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 3 to 4 inches between each cookie since they spread.
  5. Bake 1 pan at a time, until the cookies are thin and an even golden brown color throughout, rotating pans halfway through baking time, about 10 to 11 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.
  6. While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl). Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie.

This recipe will make about 16 cookies.



Rice Flour Cake

Are you ready for a another gluten and dairy free recipe? One that actually worked this time! I was suppose to do this dessert when Melanie came over for her birthday dinner but things came up. She is gluten and dairy intolerant and I was trying to play with rice flour, a first ever. My rice flour gnocchi were not a perfect success and need to be reworked. But I found a rice four sponge cake recipe that was perfect for her. Alas she does not get to taste my first attempt but I had to try is asap. I am giving you the basic recipe below but I added 1/2 tbsp of Matcha powder for flavor.

Rice Flour Sponge Cake

2 eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup sifted rice flour
Dash Salt
1 tsp lemon juice

Beat egg whites until frothy. Add 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Sift together twice rice flour, remaining sugar, and salt. Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. Add lemon juice and flour mixture. Beat only until smooth. Add a small amount of beaten egg whites to yolk mixture and stir until blended. Fold in remaining egg whites with a rubber spatula. Pour into a small loaf pan (7×3.5×2.5 inches) or a small round pan (inches) which has been lined with wax paper. Cut gently through batter to remove any air bubbles. Bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes. If using glass baking dish, reduce temperature to 325F. Invert onto cake rack and let cool before removing from pan.

I decided to do a glace icing, following the dietary restrictions imposed. But now having tasted it I would do half the glace recipe only, it was too much quantity wise for this cake.

Glace Icing

4oz icing sugar
1tbsp water
food coloring, optional

Mix water and icing sugar, add food coloring to desired color, rectify consistency with a tad more water or sugar if need be. It needs to be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Spread very gently with a spoon over the entire surface. Be gentle pushing the icing but work fast as it will crust pretty fast. Let in set before serving so icing can solidify.

It is perfect if you want a small dessert for 2 instead of making a huge cake for 10. OK 2 good pieces or 3 small pieces. Wow this rice flour cake was a huge success. It was both light and consistent. If you want to experiment with a different type of flour this is a great intro recipe.  Yum-my! Next visit Mel!