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Really Good Chocolate Cake

3 Jul

Carrément Chocolat

Serves 8
Adapted from Pierre Hermé “Pastries”

Chocolate cake:

  • 4 ounces (125 g) Valrhona 72% cacao Araguani dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 stick (125 g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (110 g) superfine granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs (100 g)
  • 1/3 cup (35 g) all-purpose flour, sifted

Smooth chocolate cream:

  • 2 1/2 ounces (70 g) Valrhona 72% cacao Araguani dark chocolate, chopped
  • 7 tbsp (100 g) whole milk
  • 7 tbsp (100 g) heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 egg yolks (50 g)
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) superfine granulated sugar

Chocolate mousse:

  • 6 ounces (170 g) Valrhona 72% cacao Araguani dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) whole milk
  • 1 egg yolk (20 g)
  • 4 egg whites (120 g)
  • 4 tsp (20 g) superfine granulated sugar


Thin chocolate sheet:

  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 g) Valrhona 72% cacao Araguani dark chocolate, chopped


Chocolate sauce:

  • 1 1/2 ounces (50 g) Valrhona 72% cacao Araguani dark chocolate, chopped
  • 6 1/2 tbsp (95 g) still water
  • 2 1/2 tbsp (35 g) superfine granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp (50 g) heavy cream


Chocolate glaze:

  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 g) Valrhona 72% cacao Araguani dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) heavy cream
  • 4 tsp (20 g) French butter
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) Chocolate Sauce, recipe above
    • For the chocolate cake:

    • Preheat a convection oven to 340’F (170’C) or a regular oven to 350’F. Butter an 8-inch square mold (or a round one), 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep. Sprinkle it with flour.
    • Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water to melt. Remove from the bain-marie. Cut the butter into pieces and add it to the chocolate in the bowl, along with the sugar, eggs and sifted flour. Pour the batter into the prepared mold. Place it in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. The cake should look underdone. Unmold the cake on a rack and let cool. Clean, rinse, and dry the mold, then wrap it in plastic wrap. Place the cooled cake at the bottom of the mold.
    • For the smooth chocolate cream:

    • In a saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a boil. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar. Off the heat, combine the two mixtures, then pour them back into a saucepan, and stir over gentle heat until the mixture reaches 185’F (85’C). Pour one-third of the mixture over the chopped chocolate, stirring well. Repeat two more times, stirring after each addition, then process the mixture with a handheld immersion blender (or whisk it vigorously). Pour the cream over the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then place in the freezer for 1 hour.
    • For the chocolate mousse:

    • Melt the chopped chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove the bowl from the bain-marie. In a saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Pour the milk over the chocolate in the bowl, beating until the chocolate is smooth. Add the egg yolk and incorporate well. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whisk, beat the egg whites until stiff with a dash of the sugar, then, as the mixture begins to stiffen, add the remaining sugar. Incorporate one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then carefully fold in the remaining beaten egg whites.
    • Pour the chocolate mousse over the smooth chocolate cream in the mold. Smooth the surface with a spatula. Freeze for 2 hours.
    • For the thin chocolate sheet:

    • Melt the chopped chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove the bowl from the bain-marie and cool at room temperature until the chocolate thickens, then reheat it slightly for a few seconds in the bain marie until it reaches a temperature between 88’F and 90’F. Pour the chocolate over a sheet of acetate (or wax paper) and spread it out. Before it can set, cut out a square the same size as the cake. Place another acetate sheet on top and add  a weight to prevent the chocolate from warping as it dries. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
    • For the chocolate sauce:

    • Place the chopped chocolate  in a small saucepan and bring to a boil with the still mineral water, sugar, and cream. Stir continuously until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spatula.
    • For the chocolate glaze:

    • In a saucepan bring the cream to a boil, then remove it from the heat. Gradually beat in the chopped chocolate, beating it from the center outward. Set aside to cool to 140’F before adding the butter, then add the 1/2 cup (100g) of the chocolate sauce.
    • To finish the cake:

    • Remove the cake from the mold and discard the plastic wrap. Using a small ladle, pour the chocolate glaze (it should be warm, between 95’F and 105’F around the sides of the cake, then over the center. Using a cake spatula, evenly coat the sides and edges. Leave to set for a few minutes then transfer it to a cake plate. Remove the acetate from the thin chocolate sheet, and place it on the cake. Set the cake in the refrigerator to defrost for 2 hours before eating. Cut with a knife dipped in hot water for 30 seconds.

Top 10 Secrets From The Skin Experts

24 Aug

Top 10 Secrets From The Skin Experts

Posted using ShareThis

Nars Makeover

5 Apr

So I had a makeover with Wendy at the Nars counter at the Bay Oakridge. She’s a fantastic, warm, bubbly person and very experimental with her makeup. She gave me a fresh spring look that I was at first cautious about, but surprisingly liked a lot! Hey, it’s just makeup, right? If you don’t like it, wipe it off and start again.

She started with basic skincare, and then proceed to eyes and makeup. Some highlights, standout products, and tips and tricks below:

  • Hydrating Freshening Lotion – gel to water formula toner. Saturate cotton pad and apply in gentle circular motions, concentrating on enlarged pore areas (cheeks for me)
  • Nourishing Eye Cream -Gel to cream formula. Apply in gentle circular motions around eye area, patting in inner corners. At night, can also be applied around sides of nose, laugh lines and lips.
  • She then applied the Hydrating Moisture Cream, but I think it was too heavy as my face felt like a heavy oil slick a few hours later. I’ve had success with the Balancing Moisture Lotion. That one I will probably buy.
  • As a side note, the Nars Mud Mask is the BEST I’ve ever tried. Though it’s mud, it does not dry hard and for red and irritated blemishes, spot treat and 10 minutes later it’s smaller and the redness is gone. Definitely a lifesaver.
  • Brightening Serum – this one is quite pricey, but it’s a serum that improves skin’s texture and can also me used to brighten and highlight. I usually use this mixed with foundation to create a dewy look, but it should be applied to face by itself premakeup as a base, or if you’re looking dull at the end of the day, apply all over. This one is a must have.
  • I can’t say that I like any of their current foundations, but I’m looking forward to the NARS Sheer Glow Foundation coming out later this year. It was used for a few of the Autumn/Winter 2009 Collections.
  • Finish off with Beach loose powder, a light dusting of Laguna Bronzer, contour cheekbone underside with Madly Blush (take a flat brush, sweep inward towards nose, lift up like a checkmark at the apple), tap Desire Blush from outer cheekbones in, gradually lighter towards centre. Highlight cheekbones, browbone and centre of nose with Highlighting Blush Duo in Hungry Heart. This creates the inverted triangle effect that makes your face glow.

Now onto the eyes.

  • Pat Bali Single Eyeshadow (or any grey shadow) in the outer corners to create depth. Do not extend beyond corner of eye and do not extend up into contour of eye.
  • Apply the yellow green shimmer of the Dream Lover Duo all over eye. Pat Iceland duo’s very light iridescent green shimmer in the centre of eye to create a sparkling effect. The shadow adapts and changes colour depending on the other colours used. I received lots of compliments on the “magical” effect. Sweep either Goldfinger or Night Sun single eyeshadow (yellow/gold shadow) from the inner corner up to browbone.
  • Use Lola Lola eyeshadow as liner. To create a gradual effect, line upper lashline from inner corner to outer, thickening the line at the end. At the end, don’t follow the lashline (almost a straight line) and flip ends up, but not extending past eye. Use Black Moon eyeliner to fill in lashline gaps. Use Lola Lola and Black Moon on lower lashes. Use Dream Lover’s yellow/green on inner lower corners.
  • Finish off lips with by using Jilted Love lip pencil all over lips (this can also be worn with just a gloss on top), dabbing Niagara lipstick (pink/peachy/coral) in middle of lower lip, and finally a layer of Baby Doll lip laquer. This lip look garnered lots of compliments.  Fresh is the only way to describe it.

Bottling Your Own Personal Smell

22 May

Bottling Your Own Personal Smell

Luxury perfumers create singular scents—for a price.

Famed French perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain once said, “To imagine a scent is to imagine the woman who wears it.” He probably didn’t mean it quite as literally as today’s perfumers are taking it. With the top end of the fragrance market booming, it’s no surprise that luxury brands—titans like Guerlain, Cartier and Jean Patou, as well as smaller specialized houses—are investing in the rapid-growth niche sector of bespoke perfumery. And Paris, with its concentration of the fragrance world’s most highly trained noses, remains its capital.

The process of creating one’s own personal fragrance is not unlike building a house or designing a couture ball gown. Clients at Cartier, which launched its bespoke scent creation in 2005, meet with in-house nose and industry leader Mathilde Laurent for a preliminary three-hour “conversation,” in which she gently asks questions designed to reveal their intimate tastes and subliminal desires. Laurent, who works on about eight perfumes a year, interprets the information to imagine fragrance ideas, which she then presents to the client. The process can take up to 10 meetings, resulting in the creation of a final perfume over several months. Ingredients such as jasmine from Grasse can cost up to $55,000 a kilo, but Laurent has complete freedom to use the resources she wants. “The sky is the limit,” says Mary-Ethel Siméonidès of Cartier. “When our clients acquire a lavish piece of jewelry or a watch, they want to distinguish themselves and wear a unique scent. It’s about subtly reflecting the nuances of their personality.”

Similarly, Sylvaine Delacourte at Guerlain invites clients to meet her in the company’s 1914 Champs-Elysées boutique. Delacourte seeks to uncover her clients’ “olfactory heritage” by discussing their memories of smell, using visual triggers and materials. “We have all been marked by certain olfactory memories,” she says. “I seek to uncover their personal history of smell.” After several months of concocting, the client receives three liters of the final product in specially commissioned Baccarat crystal bottles.

Luxury heavyweights such as Cartier and Guerlain charge from $45,000 to more than $90,000, drawing an international repeat clientele that includes Russian oligarchs, financial gurus and some Middle Eastern royal families. But while these companies capitalize on the romance, history and quality associated with their brands, smaller houses are moving in on the less expensive end of the luxury market. L’Artisan Parfumeur has branches around the world, but offers bespoke perfumery at its Paris flagship store. Lyn Harris, who trained in France, was the pioneer in the British market with Miller Harris in London, where she offers a custom service for about $16,000—and has a waiting list of a year and a half. For a fee in the region of $12,000, Francis Kurkdjian, the nose behind several Jean Paul Gaultier fragrances, will travel the world to meet his customers for multiple “fittings.” He calls his work “haute couture for the soul,” and has seen his client base grow to 40 clients since 2001. “Bespoke perfume is the x factor of one’s own personal brand,” he says. In the world of perfumery, luxury lies in the sweet smell of excess.