Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil}

Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil} Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil}

I’ve been drinking heaps of tea lately. It used to be a daily essential for me, but there was a cessation of the habit at one stage and as a result, I was left with a large stash of assorted teas sitting abandoned in the pantry. Thankfully, in the last week or so, I’ve gone through that stash pretty quickly. I’ve found that green tea is still my favourite, and while I’ve lost my penchant for oolong and rooibos, I’ve also gained a new love for white tea. Now that we’ve got a new herb garden growing strong and healthy, I’ve been adding lots of fresh mint leaves to my cups of tea (we also have thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, curry and chocolate mint growing in the garden — yes, chocolate mint actually exists).

Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffin Batter Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffin Batter Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffin Batter

Sprinkle the tops with some sugar crystals for an extra sweet & crunchy surprise.

Anyway, these are the green tea muffins we made over the weekend (they’re not mint-flavoured, as one might initially mistake them for). Studded with chocolate chips and sprinkled with sugar crystals, they rose beautifully in the oven and turned out surprisingly soft and moist. For a recipe that doesn’t include eggs or butter, this was definitely an impressive result. Fragrant coconut oil replaces the butter in this case, and you can make these muffins entirely vegan by using your favourite non-dairy milk (like almond or soy), and investing in some dairy-free chocolate chips.

Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil} Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil} Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil}

Sprinkling large sugar crystals on top of each muffin was an idea that stemmed from my favourite banana bread recipe. I can’t seem to remember where I put that recipe (should probably remember to look for it), but I know that it called for a generous dusting of brown sugar all over the top of the pre-baked loaf. The bread came out with a gorgeously caramalised and tantalisingly crunchy top. The concept worked very well with these matcha-infused muffins. As the muffins themselves weren’t overly sweet or overpowering in flavour, they gave the sugary tops and delicious chocolate morsels a chance to truly shine.

Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil} Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil} Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil} Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil}

I think the green tea and chocolate chip combination had everyone swooning and clamouring for more. If you haven’t yet had the chance to indulge in any sort of matcha-flavoured sweets or desserts, introducing yourself to these simple mini cakes would be a good way to start. The recipe is straightforward and, with light hands, the preparation and baking process is incredibly easy. If you’re looking to cut down on your chocolate intake, you can replace the chocolate chips with some dried fruit or nuts.

Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil} Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil}

Love using matcha powder in baked goods? Have a look at our other matcha recipes: [one] Chinese Wolfberry (Goji Berry) Matcha Cake, [two] Matcha Mushipan (Green Tea Japanese Steamed Cup Bread), [three] Heavenly Matcha Cookies, [four] Dark Chocolate Swirl Matcha Cheesecake.

Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil} Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil} Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil} Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil}

Soft and moist little green cakes. Just look at that ooey gooey chocolate mess! Mmm.

Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil}
an eggless & butterless muffin recipe ; yield: ~12 regular muffins.

Ingredients:

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons matcha (green tea) powder*
a pinch of sea salt
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 1/3 cups milk, warm
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup chocolate chips**
2 tablespoons large sugar crystals, for sprinkling

* Maeda-en’s “Culinary Quality” Matcha Green Tea Powder works extremely well in baked goods.
** We used Sweet William’s Dairy Free Chocolate Chips, a delicious alternative to regular chocolate chips. You can also substitute the milk in this recipe with a non-dairy alternative such as almond or soy to make vegan muffins.

Matcha Powder and Chocolate Chips Matcha Powder and Chocolate Chips

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cups.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, baking soda, matcha powder and sea salt. Mix well, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the sugar, milk, coconut oil and vinegar.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Using a wooden spoon, gently fold the mixture a few times, then add the chocolate chips and continue to fold lightly until everything just comes together.
  5. Spoon equal amounts of the batter into each paper cup. Fill each one to the brim and use the back of your spoon to evenly spread and flatten the tops. Then, generously sprinkle the tops with large sugar crystals.
  6. Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes, or until they have risen and browned slightly.
  7. Remove from oven and let muffins stand in tray for 10 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  8. Best eaten slightly warm, while the chocolate chips are still melty and gooey!

Sugar-Dusted Green Tea Chocolate Chip Muffins {with coconut oil}

Soft & Fluffy Spring Onion Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt

Spring Onion Soft Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt Spring Onion Soft Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt

Life was a little knotty and convoluted at one stage in my life just a handful of years ago. Before I met James, a little ways before even that, I was a very different person. Drinking was a very common pastime, smoking made for a wanton distraction, and the so-called friends I hung out with weren’t always the most decent nor trustworthy of people. At one stage, my grades started to fall sharply at university and I was very much living ‘in the moment’ more than ‘living for the future’.

Tetsuya's Black Truffle Salt Pretzel Dough Pretzel Dough in Mixer Chopped Spring Onions and Pretzel Dough

I wouldn’t say I didn’t enjoy myself – there were plenty of delightful, amusing, once-in-a-lifetime memories made in those few years. But I am glad to say that I’ve put all of that behind me. I met James towards the end of finishing my degree and he reintroduced some structure and meaning to my life. I would say James’ abstinent behaviour towards alcohol and cigarettes aided me in abating my desire for them once and for all. I am now a fairly health-conscious individual. I haven’t smoked in years and I only ever touch alcohol for the sole purpose of enjoyment, never to get ridiculously drunk.

Soft & Fluffy Spring Onion Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt Soft & Fluffy Spring Onion Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt Soft & Fluffy Spring Onion Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt Soft & Fluffy Spring Onion Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt

Nowadays, I only ever indulge in baking. Or photography. Or writing a good piece. Or, if you’ve read my previous post, some good ol’ retail therapy. I also enjoy savouring good food, combing the internet for healthy recipes, listening to feel-good music, sipping on exotic teas, going on scenic drives to inspiring locations, and being on the receiving end of relaxing body massages.

Maille Traditional Dijon Mustard Dijon Mustard and Honey Soft & Fluffy Spring Onion Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt Soft & Fluffy Spring Onion Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt

James and I made some pretty amazing pretzels a couple of weekends ago. Big, thick and fluffy-soft pretzels, studded with emerald specks of spring onion and lightly dusted with aromatic black truffle salt. It was a long and arduous process, and we probably could have done better with rolling out the dough and shaping them, but hey, what mattered more to us was that they tasted mega yum! Slightly crisp and chewy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside, these pretzels were absolutely gorgeous. And they were especially good when paired with some honey + dijon mustard. The hints of spring onion, salt and black truffle made the experience all the more memorable.

Soft & Fluffy Spring Onion Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt Soft & Fluffy Spring Onion Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt Soft & Fluffy Spring Onion Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt

Soft & Fluffy Spring Onion Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt

Ingredients:

4 cups all-purpose flour
6 teaspoons granulated sugar
4 teaspoons instant dried yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup full cream milk, warm
3/4 cup filtered water, warm
1 stalk spring onion, finely chopped
Black truffle salt*, for sprinkling

* We used Tetsuya’s Truffle Salt here, which is a blend of soft salt from the seas of Sicily and Italian black truffle. You may use regular sea salt or your favourite flavour-infused salt instead.

Preparation:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt together. Mix well.
  2. Stir the warm water and milk into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until everything comes together.
  3. Knead the dough until smooth and no longer sticky (about 15-25 minutes). We used a dough hook on low speed for this step, but you can knead the dough on a lightly floured surface with your hands. If the dough is too wet, add a little more flour, but don’t overdo it!
  4. In the last few minutes of kneading, add the chopped spring onion and knead through.
  5. Gather the dough into a ball and place it in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it doubles in size (about 1 hour).
  6. Punch down the risen dough and divide into 10 equal pieces.
  7. Roll each piece out into long, thin strands, approximately 18″ long by 1/2″ wide (~45cm x 1.5cm). Twist each strand into pretzel shapes.
  8. Preheat oven to 220°C and line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
  9. To make the soda bath, fill a large pot with water. For each cup of water, add roughly 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Mix, and bring to a low boil.
  10. Using a slotted spoon, gently lower a pretzel into the boiling water and let simmer for 30 seconds. Flip and let simmer for an additional 30 seconds, then scoop it out of the water and place on the prepared baking tray. Repeat this step with the rest of the pretzels.
  11. Optional: Brush the boiled pretzels with some egg wash (for a glossy finish) or some milk wash (for a deeper brown finish).
  12. Generously sprinkle the tops of the pretzels with some black truffle salt and bake them for about 15 minutes, turning the tray around about halfway through for even browning.
  13. Best served warm and eaten the day they are made.

Spring Onion Soft Pretzels with Black Truffle Salt

Retail Therapy for the Soul + ZALORA’s Great Singapore Sale

♥ NEWS FLASH ♥
ZALORA is giving you access to all of their awesome deals during their Great Singapore Sale!
(read on for more details)

Online Shopping Beauty Spoils Online Shopping Beauty Spoils

March overindulgence? My online shopping skin care haul for the month.

Okay, I’ll let you guys in on a secret. I have recently been doing far more online shopping than is probably healthy. My bathroom is now full of SK-II products, organic massage oils and plenty of other luxurious skin care elixirs. I am also more or less done with gift shopping for the next few months concerning birthdays. Aren’t I just fantastic at planning ahead? Ahh, the gift of giving. It can apparently significantly boost your health and make you live longer, according to research. But seriously speaking, I think all this spending is starting to become a habit! Do any of you purchase things online? If so, how do you handle the constant temptation of all the pretty things you can get delivered straight to your doorstep?

ZALORA Great Singapore Sale 2014

Now, I have blogged about ZALORA before (see what I wrote about the online shopping destination here) and I am happy to let all of you know that they are holding a brilliant Great Singapore Sale campaign this year. Sign up to their newsletter today to receive frequent updates on all their latest deals from both local and international apparel and accessory brands! You certainly don’t want to miss out. Shopping does not necessarily have to be confined to physical stores – that’s boring! Take advantage of this opportunity to get in on some special online promotions today!

{ ZALORA Singapore’s official website: http://www.zalora.sg/ }

Saké Restaurant & Bar @ Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane

Saké Restaurant & Bar, Brisbane

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, James took me to the highly acclaimed Saké Restaurant & Bar, located at Eagle Street Pier in Brisbane. Eagle Street Pier, famous for its iconic waterfront precinct, was buzzing with life by the time we arrived at 6pm. The area is graced with numerous dining options and gorgeous views of the Brisbane River. This prime location is fitting for Saké’s award-winning status in the world of contemporary Japanese dining. The restaurant interior is modern yet cosy. It is surprisingly spacious and boasts a clean layout with interesting décor, soft lighting and various seating options (book early to get the best seating arrangement).

Saké Restaurant & Bar, Brisbane Saké Restaurant & Bar, Brisbane

James and I started the night by ordering a Yuzu Saké Bomb ($10)  Draught Steigl with a shot of citrusy yuzu-infused sake – and a glass of Choya Uji ($9), a Shochu-based infusion of ume plum and green tea. You can probably guess who had what. The Choya Uji was surprisingly light, with a delicate palate cleansing quality that was very refreshing in between courses.

Sashimi Appetiser Sashimi Appetiser

Our first dish, the Sashimi Appetiser ($19), consisted of eight lovely pieces of sashimi served with wasabi and soy. Beautifully arranged on ice and accompanied by large shavings of crisp daikon radish and other unusual garnishing, the sashimi slices arrived wonderfully cold and fresh. They could probably have been cut better (slices were a little uneven with noticeable discrepancies in thickness), but that minor detail did not detract from the flavour and texture of the raw fish. We noticed that the soy sauce had a distinctly smoky taste, which made the sashimi incredibly palatable.

Nasu Dengaku Nasu Dengaku

Our highly anticipated Nasu Dengaku ($12) came next. This entailed two decent portions of grilled eggplant, perfectly cooked to a creamy tenderness, slathered with caramelised light and dark miso pastes and sprinkled neatly with contrasting sesame seeds. For anyone in need of squashing that craving for salty food, this is your dream dish. For me, it was just a little too overpowering, especially the portion with the light miso where they seemed to have put way too much paste on the eggplant, drowning out the flavour of everything else. The piece with the dark miso was much better, with just the right balance of sweet and salty.

Panko Rice Balls Panko Rice Balls

Next, we had the Panko Rice Balls ($11), a magnificent concoction of young soy beans, bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms and short grain rice all rolled into mini bite-size balls, coated in coarse panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs) and deep fried to a crisp, then lightly sprinkled with sea salt flakes and served with a refreshing and subtle wasabi mayonnaise dip that impressed even James (who usually abhors the taste of wasabi). This is the ultimate in savoury comfort foods. Bite into one and the sinfully crunchy outside gives way to a soft, dense interior full of complex, mouth-watering flavour and textures. Dip them in some of that wasabi mayonnaise for an added layer of taste!

Buta No Kakuni Buta No Kakuni

Finally, we indulged in their Buta No Kakuni ($28), which featured 12-hour braised pork belly, daikon radish, onsen tamago (64°C slow-poached hens egg) and fried tofu, all stewing in a gorgeous broth infused with truffle oil and topped with scallions. With its strong umami notes, this dish was heaven in a beautiful ceramic bowl for the both of us. Deliciously aromatic and comforting, the steaming broth is one that you’ve got to savour slowly. Break the onsen tamago and swirl the runny yolk around to give the broth a thicker, heartier consistency. The melt-in-your-mouth pork belly is sumptuously rich, impressively fatty and almost too good to eat.

Saké Restaurant & Bar, Brisbane

Overall, we had an amazing time at Saké. We sat at the chef’s counter, which was actually really fun as this gave us a perfect view of the kitchen and the beautiful dishes that each chef was tasked to craft. The staff treated us very well and were all friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. The food that we ordered was definitely gorgeous. We would be more than happy to return! One thing to note though: the dark and intimate atmosphere that the restaurant provides makes this place better suited for couples than larger groups of people.

Saké Restaurant & Bar, Brisbane

SAKÉ RESTAURANT & BAR
Level 1 / 45 Eagle Street
Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane QLD 4000
Opening hours: 12 – 3pm (lunch), 6pm – late (dinner)
Official Website | Dinner Menu

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