Tell me, 'cos I need to know I'm not the only one who, having ventured in, will be dreaming of very wicked dreams the few nights thereafter; very wicked dreams that entail warm, fluffy scones halved to reveal a bloom of buttery aroma, piled with a lashing of whipped cream and homemade berry jam, the sensation of sinking your teeth into it, only to feel the bite of tart sweetness melt in your mouth. Very Wicked indeed.
Dolls at the Mount, 54 Mount Street, Heidelberg. I'd suggest to go on a weekday, because really, you'd want to have the whole place to yourself - with your best girl, of course. Just so you can ooh and aah at every single thing all over the place.
You'd also want to order a serve of everything, if only stomachs are created to expand for scones. Definitely, definitely try the Devonshire Tea, with traditional plain scones, fresh out of the oven, and a pot of tea/coffee of choice. The "Fat Rascals" Fruit Scones will be good as an extra touch, with two fat scones bursting with fruit bits, also comes with a pot of tea.
While you are placed in a dilemma for choice, your girl will also be torn among a few, say, the savoury Cheese Scone, or the Chocolate Scone, or something to share perhaps? The high tea selection - two tiers of sandwiches, cakes and biscuits and an extra basket of scones - sounds perfect.
Thankfully, Vivienne Dodd, the waitress, owner and the magic hands behind those 10/10 scones, will put you out of your misery. Just get one each! I can???!
What was I thinking? Of course I can! Everything is baked fresh upon order. Sip on your delicate cup of tea and idly chat about the latest hairstyle, the 10 minutes wait is totally worth it.
Oh, and let's not forget the perfect collection of teacups, saucers, plates, teapots, cosies, the whole nine yards. Have I ever told you about my passion for mismatched crockery? Have I?
Vivienne also serves a visually tantalising lunch of creamed pumpkin soup with scones. A fact that we were fortunate enough to find out (and smell) when two aged ladies ordered exactly that. Again, served on very pretty china bowl on a platter. I can swoon endlessly..
Well, a big thank you to Vivienne, the hunt for scone has finally yield very satisfactory results. And that translates to a very happy Missy.
But of course, all this will not be possible if you haven't got a wife as great as mine. Thank you, lou por!
You can read about other equally satisfied experiences here. And here.
Mark my words, we will be back soon.
I'm sure you have all experienced days when every single thing in your life just seem to go opposite ways, leaving you with suicidal thoughts through the day.
Or maybe, it was just loneliness.
I received a call for help one morning. It was from my best chum. Now, I don't know about everyone else, but being far away from my chummies make me vulnerable. That, and lonely. Especially in times when we could really do with girly chat over a tall glass of iced milk and some chocolate chip cookies.
Being the faraway Missy that I already am, I was vulnerable to the idea of flying home and keeping my dearest and nearest as close as possible. While contemplating this very important decision, my eyes strayed and just like how miraculous signs appear out of nowhere to guide Harry Potter through his adventures, my prayers were answered in the form of a link. From the food section of New York Times, no less.
So, to my best girl, I made some chocolate chip cookies to mend your broken heart. And I made them goddamn good.
Chocolate Chip Cookies that make things right
This is mostly an experimental recipe, I must say. Very anticipated too, seeing different reviews raved about the same strategies, which I have kindly listed here to make things less scary:
- The combination of cake and bread flours.
- The resting time for the dough.
- The sprinkling of salt just before baking.
- The mega size, which really, doesn't need much convincing.
Well, now that you know the secret, it seems only polite to inform that Missy, being Missy, tweaked quite a few parts, and they still turn out incredibly fabulous. Below is the original recipe that I followed, loosely.. only because my recipe will probably drive you insane.
- 240g cake flour*
- 240g bread flour*
- a heaping tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 280g unsalted butter, softened
- 280g brown sugar
- 240g granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- few drops vanilla extract
- 500g chocolate chip/ chunk*
- sea salt
*There are plenty of explanation as to why David Leite wanted to use two different flours, mainly to achieve the spectacular texture, nice and crunchy, yet soft and chewy. I won't try to explain the long-chain protein and gluten content of the flours and the dramatic influence they have on the final cookie, but if you do so desire to know, follow this exact recipe and bake a batch to test.
Also, this recipe calls for chocolate disks (fèves) for a more even distribution of chocolate swirl in each bite, but believe me, these cookies taste perfect with your usual chocolate chips or chunks. I used dark chocolate based on personal preference, but feel free to go for milk chocolate, I've heard orgasmic results from a mix of both ;)
- Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Leave aside.
- Cream butter and sugars with a mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg, one at a time, and mix well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix again.
- Add in the dry ingredients. Mix well. I suggest to use a spatula at first to briefly incorporate all ingredients. Then beat together with a hand mixer until a soft dough forms.
- Mix in the chocolate chips with a spatula.
- Press plastic wrap against the dough and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 180deg. Take your dough out of the refrigerator and let it soften for a bit. Drop golf-ball sized dough on the baking sheet, and be sure to space them out. Sprinkle with sea salt, and bake for 15 minutes until golden.
For those with weaker determination, you can bake a small batch straightaway in the name of experimenting. For those who trust that the 24 hour and 36 hour will be worth the wait, I'm here to tell you, you are SO right. The cookies have a depth in texture and taste that teases you ceaselessly, crowding your mind and turning all your attention to the kitchen. Or, to be more specific, towards the clean, white plate on the kitchen bench on which the cookie patiently beckons.
And it's quite hard to resist, this one.
I have to pat myself on the back for this.
With minimal ingredients, which left me to resort to what I like to do best; substituting each and every ingredient that the recipe calls for, these little gems sure turned out incredibly good!
I have to admit this. As much as Missy loves her baked goods, she never seem to be able to make a really good muffin. I mean, sure, I've had my fair share of bakings before here and there, and they are alright, but they never seem to be as fluffy and to-die-for as those tempting you from behind the baker's window, you know.
And it worries me so. For someone who can die for a muffin, like literally, it really is mean fate if she can't bake a decent batch.
So, to her surprise and delight, these cupcakes came out of the oven smelling exactly like the fresh brew you would smell in the early mornings before you go to work, WITH the springy fluffiness reminiscent of melting clouds.
I now call them, my Rainy Day Coffee Cakes.
*The original recipe makes 24 cupcakes. Mine was a halved version and a mismatched array of muffins, cupcakes and ramekin-cakes, whatever I have on hand. Original recipe calls for coffee and chicory extract which I obviously don't have, but made do by stirring 3 heaped teaspoons of coffee granules and 1 teaspoon of sugar with 1 tablespoon of boiling water. Also, I've ran out of buttermilk, so I dropped a few drops of vinegar into my milk and let stand while I assemble the rest of the ingredients.
- 65g olive oil
- 65g soft brown sugar
- 1 egg
- few tsps coffee extract*
- 85g self-raising flour
- 50ml buttermilk*
- 60g icing sugar
- 40g cream cheese
- Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F. Line your cupcake/ muffin trays with patty cases.
- Beat sugar, egg and oil with an electric hand mixer until creamy. Mix in 3 teaspoons of coffee extract.
- Fold in sifted flour and a pinch of salt into creamed mixture. Gently mix in the buttermilk until combined.
- Spoon mixture into patty cases only 2/3 full and bake for 25-30 minutes. Leave in tray to cool.
- To make icing, in a small bowl, combine remaining extract with cream cheese and icing sugar. If too thick, add a teaspoon of boiling water. If too watery, you can either add more coffee granules for a more bitter aroma, or cocoa powder for a sweeter finish.
- Spread icing over cupcakes just before serving and relish the bitter sweetness of these little heaven.
Oh, and for those who can't be bothered whipping up some decadent icing, I have found peanut butter to go really well with these coffee delights.
The next time you find yourself cooped at home on a rainy day, remember to make yourself a steaming cup of tea and enjoy my Rainy Day Coffee Cakes, best served warm with melted peanut butter. Gently scoop the top of your cakes out, place a dollop of peanut butter into the valley and let the salty sweet goodness melt into the cake. SO GOOD.
Which is why it is always better to be prepared way in advance.
Although I have yet to reach mid-twenties, living in the dry and crazy Melbourne can only mean one thing to my skin - vulnerable.
Growing up in my hometown of humid Malaysia, I never needed to do anything extra for my skin. In other words, I had pretty darn good skin! Yes, with freckles splashed across my cheeks may seem unusual for a Chinese kid, but I assure you, other than cleansing my face every morning and night, my skin care regime involved only drinking plenty of water.
So, imagine how perplexed I got when my skin started behaving in ways I never knew of; dry, with occasional sensitive red blotches.
But, never one to bow down to crisis, I seeked for answers. That was when I got introduced to Shiseido's The Skincare range.
The Skincare is great for all skin types, though it may be a good idea to first test it on your skin. Go to any Shiseido booths in departmental stores and have the ladies explain and test which product is suitable for your skin type. Shiseido has Beneficiance for the more matured skin and White Lucent for those wanting to brighten up their skin. I'm sure the ladies will introduce other range for you depending on what you are looking for.
As for me, I'm currently loving the rich, yet mild nourishing night cream from The Skincare. The texture reminds me of gentle thick cream that will definitely go well with the smoothness of poached apricots. Upon application, The Skincare night essential moisturizer's velvety finish seeps deep into your skin and lasts till the moment you wake up the next morning.
I'm not one to absent-mindedly throw all my savings into beautifying myself. I am just one little woman who happens to love the great skin I'm in.
However, being the non-follower of majority, we promptly jumped in the car and headed South East for a weekend getaway. About 1 hour 45 minutes later, hellooo Mornington Peninsula ;)
I'm tempted to give you the lowdown of the place and how it looked like, but having just had two whole days of "I don't want to do anything", how about you go right here instead to get a better look, hey?
This kind of view in this kind of weather in the peak of winter, one couldn't really ask for more, can they?
Needless to say, out came the bathing suit and in we splashed into the heat of an outdoor jacuzzi. Heavenly jets of water gently thumping and massaging your back, arms, waist, butt and thighs. While we're on a roll there, we laid back and sipped some white wine and marvelled at the weather and played with our rubber duckie.
Oh, and by we on this trip, I meant 12 including Baby Hubz and I. And hot tub seats 8, so we're one of the first four couples to jump in. In a weirdly logical way, that kind of ensured the hygiene of the jacuzzi. IfyougetwhatImean ;)
And if you think getaways like this will sacrifice either your pocket or your satisfaction, you're so wrong.
We took turns to prepare meals; spicy hotpot dinner on the first night, 2 breakfasts (consisting gorgeous scrambles, bacon, baked beans, hash browns, and pancakes with ice-cream), a bbq lunch and a steak dinner with sides of potatoes and vegetables on the second day. Let's not forget alcohol, soft drinks and snacks freeflow.
The whole trip is well under $300 per couple. Pretty amazing, I'd say, considering if you decided to head out to a fancy dinner in town, you're looking to fork out at least $200 already.
So, if you're just like the Missy, looking to take a break without straining the purse strings, here's what I can suggest:
- Forget about one month overseas. Take a short break and make it count.
- Include a group of friends. The bigger the group (and of course, you will need to want to take a break with those guys to begin with), the more you save and the more fun you'll have.
- Don't take a vacation as a sign to splurge unrealistically. It's more about resting your mind and body. But, obviously, I don't mean you have to bitch about everything you eat during that two days. Loosen up! Pamper your senses, focus on the little things to be grateful for.
- Plan your trip well. It will control your budget and let you know how much exactly you're spending.
- Find places that already have facilities to cater to boredom-alert, or at least the cost is already inclusive of those facilities so you know what you're getting into and less surprise of additional costs. Alternatively, line up games and activities that you can play in the comfort of your own skin. We played Charades and totally loved it!
We absolutely savoured every moment of this well-deserved break. But, of course, you can already tell..
Tea time treats, to be precise. You know, those little scrumptious darlings that put joy into a cup of English Breakfast on a late Sunday noon?
Wifey has been such a darl, planning a high tea session fit for two princesses. It seemed like ages ago, but really, it was about half a year ago that we graced Windsor's grand ballroom for an afternoon of relaxation. This time round, it was Sofi's.
While we both weren't as impressed with Sofi's as we did Windsor, it left me craving for more. Which may not necessarily mean a good thing.
What's a Missy to do then, before she turns into a cranky female?
She decides to set out looking at the least possible and most possible places for the almighty scone, just to sate her curiosity.
Yet, one of the dilemmas of city living; you can search high and low, east and west, and still, you find NOwhere with a decent scone to boast about.
So guess where did I find scone no.1??
Brumby's, your trusted local bakery. For $1.80, you got yourself a date scone plus the satisfaction of finally holding a scone in your trembling hands. How well would it satisfy your tastebuds though.. is a very different experience altogether.
And for scone no.2, I decided to venture into the highly acclaimed Laurent Patisserie despite my worn-out jeans and dirty pink sweater. Lo and behold, they had NONE. That's right, folks. You would have thought that a classy boulangerie charging premium prices for a tiny babycake that disappears into your mouth in one single bite would at least have the decency to drench the whole house in the buttery aroma of a scone, but nope, "I'm sorry, we don't sell scones here."
Well well, Missy then combed the whole street clean in search of another bakery in par of class. After what positively seemed like 45 mins of walk, her eyes literally popped out of her head when she glimpsed the sexy dark interior of Browns, and even more ecstatic to see little gems of scones sitting serenely on a beautiful cake stand. And wait, here's more. For $1.70, you get a fruit scone bursting with raisins, apricots and currants AND the satisfaction of scoring a scone in such fine bakery at a LOWER cost! That equals to a Happy Missy!
And thus began the moment of truth..
As you can see from the texture, Brumby's offers a heavier bun-like scone whereas Browns' is a more sophisticated bread-like scone.
Disappointment all around.
For less than $2, you really can't trust any bakery to sweep you off your feet.
Brumby's scone was hard, like really h a r d. Especially after lightly warmed up for 10 seconds, it came out fluffy for 2 seconds before turning rock-hard. I scooped out all the dates (which wasn't really a lot to begin with) and left a pile of flour cookie in the bag.
As for Browns, they tasted alright, and very generously flecked with juicy fruit bits, but look, if I had wanted a spongey cake, I would have gotten one. When I say I crave for scones, I CRAVE FOR SCONES. Needless to say, I left a pile, albeit a tinier pile, of soft, bread clouds.
With all the hard work I put into locating these scones, I regret to say I would be better off just sipping my cup of tea in the comfort of my home sweet home..
Better luck next time?
When one passes the 20-year mark, one doesn't really has that much to look forward to. Not as compared to the blinding innocence of a child, anyway.
I still remember when I was young, when birthdays are almost the equivalent of once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a princess. Like an annual ritual, Blueberry cake would be special ordered, and it has to come in two tiers, complete with a rim of whipped cream. I would be dressed in balloon dresses of puffed sleeves and a big lace-flower brooch on one shoulder. Birthday presents would be wrapped in the most decadent manner; those of which remind you vividly of scandalous dark chocolate mousse flecked with tiny bright green pistachios and red silk ribbon all around. Only, of course, there was no chocolate nor silk ribbon. But definitely, definitely barbie dolls.
Now, I don't look forward to birthdays anymore. Simply because I know there won't be a Blueberry birthday cake specially baked just for 25th of July. Nor would there be a barbie dressed as a bride, gently waiting in her box.
Instead, I'll be content just to have Baby Hubz by my side. And sitting in the warmth of my new home, snuggled under the ultra-comfy mink throw. And perhaps, a little bowl of Greek yoghurt with bluelerries and almonds as company.
That would very much suffice :)
So, it was with this lack of expectation that I welcomed 25th July, 2008.
I played PSP while Baby Hubz left me alone during the late noon.
I was dressed to the nines, only to be left again, drinking on my own in the bustle of Friday night in the city.
Still, I was a grateful kid. Grateful to be taken out to a perfect dinner, with the perfect companion.
And though there was no Blueberry cake, I did have a Mixed Berry Birthday muffin.
And I had a gift, too.
A little book for a word-lover. Very apt, if not for the fact that there was no title, and I had no idea who wrote it.
And then he knelt. Took my hands in his, and asked if I still want to marry him at the end of this year.
I kissed him, love flowing from the core of my heart.
Yes, baby, I still do..
So, I did not have my Blueberry cake, complete with a rim of whipped cream, and desired presents stacked like in the morning of Christmas. But, I still get to be a Princess, a little 24-year old Princess who's loved by all.
And I'm sure like all fairytales, the Princess will live happily ever after with her Hero.