Magnolia Bakery – Hawaiian series

I squealed when I saw the sign for Magnolia Bakery in the Ala Moana Center because I didn’t think it existed outside of New York City. I’ve wanted to eat a cupcake from there ever since the cupcake craze of the early 2000s when I used to bake them all the time.

There was a casual store in the open-air shopping center but because we were so hot, we didn’t mind paying the tip etc in the cafe for air-con and a decent seat while we indulged in our sweets (I’m using the prices from the menu which do not include gratuity or taxes).Classic vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream rich, buttery, old-fashioned cake with a light crumb. Our most popular cupcake! ($3.50). I was a bit skeptical that this would be too sweet because Americans have a notorious sweet tooth and there was a generous swirl of icing on top, but it was perfect. The cupcake was light without being dry and the icing provided the right amount of sweetness. All in all, the perfect cupcake. It made me want to start baking again!It really did have a ‘light crumb’, this had the perfect cake and icing texture.Classic vanilla cupcake with chocolate buttercream rich, buttery, old-fashioned cake with a light crumb. Our most popular cupcake! ($3.50). TimmyC preferred the chocolate buttercream but I preferred vanilla. I guess it comes down to personal preference, but you should eat both too to find out what you like. 😉Red Velvet cupcake whipped vanilla icing ($3.50). I didn’t think this was as nice as the other cupcakes because of the icing, maybe if I chose the cream cheese frosting it would  have been better.Magnolia Bakery’s famous banana pudding layers of OREO® wafers, fresh bananas, creamy chocolate pudding, and chocolate shavings ($6.50). For something that sounded like it would be ridiculously sweet and OTT, it was actually really delicious and not overwhelming. Another side note is that my friend and I aren’t particularly big fans of banana but we both really enjoyed this. It was very light and reminded me of the texture of mousse.Honeydew melon cooler honeydew puree, honey dew juice, lime soda ($7.00). This was fantastic, it tasted more like honeydew more than some actual melons that I’ve tasted. It was a perfect sweet refreshing beverage.The staff was very efficient and friendly. It is definitely worth sitting in the cafe to enjoy the service and air conditioning, while enjoying the delicious delights. I wish I was hungry enough to try more cupcake flavours.

Venue: Magnolia bakery cafe

Address: Ala Moana Center, Mall Level 2, Ewa Wing 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96814

Phone: 808-942-4132

 

The Cheesecake Factory – Hawaiian series 

When you enter a restaurant that has over 35 types of cheesecake, you try to decide what you want for dessert and work your way backwards. It was after 9:30pm and the wait for a table for four was still 20 minutes, The Cheesecake Factory is a very popular place to be!There is a takeaway counter for all those who choose to take a cheesecake to go.Don’t be tempted by their complimentary bread, it was unusually sweet but it takes up important cheesecake stomach space.Fried macaroni and cheese crispy crumbed coated macaroni and cheese balls, served over a creamy marinara sauce ($12.50). This was rather quite underwhelming and was rather bland, I wouldn’t bother ordering this again.Old fashioned burger charbroiled on a toasted brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and mayonnaise served with french fries or green salad ($12.95). It is interesting that they add their salad separately because that is exactly how I prefer it. The thick beef patty was super juicy, the bread was just sweet enough and fries were served hot- all in all, a fabulous burger.Spicy chicken chipotle pasta honey glazed chicken, asparagus, red and yellow peppers, peas, garlic and onion in a spicy chipotle parmesan cream sauce. This was delicious! The perfect amount of spiciness and generous serve of ingredients but man, it was huge portion! Between the four of us we could not finish this.Quesadilla grilled flour tortilla filled with melted cheese, green onions and chillies, garnished with guacamole, salsa and sour cream with chicken. A tasty appetizer that we was nice and light, a good choice if you want dessert afterwards.The menu was HUGE, it contained an extensive list of everything from glamburgers to pasta to tacos and seafood. We all got a bit excited with ordering our mains and instead of getting four cheesecakes for dessert like we intended, we could only fit in a few mouthfuls of one slice that we all shared.

We weren’t going to be defeated again, so our subsequent visits resulted in just getting take away cheesecake. We were able to try 9 flavours in total, which included the fresh pineapple cheesecake that is only available in Hawaii.

  1. Key lime cheesecake
  2. Dutch apple caramel streusel cheesecake
  3. Fresh pineapple cheesecake
  4. Snickers bar chunks and cheesecake
  5. Ultimate red velvet cake cheesecake
  6. Mango key lime cheesecake
  7. Toasted marshmallow s’m0res galore
  8. Chocolate tuxedo cream cheesecake
  9. Chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake

Out of all the cheesecakes I had the pleasure of tasting, I really enjoyed the fresh pineapple and Dutch apple caramel streusel. I found that the less sweet flavours work best as it wasn’t OTT.This is a very busy restaurant all the time (there was a 45 minute wait at 10:30pm one time we stopped by) but it didn’t stop the service being friendly, efficient and attentive. For a place called ‘The Cheesecake Factory’ I was surprised that the main meals were rather good and that there were so many choices. If you do come here for a meal, remember to leave room for cheesecake.

Venue– The Cheesecake Factory

Address– Royal Hawaiian Center, 2301 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA

The Cheesecake Factory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Godiva Chocolatier – Hawaiian series

One of the many franchises that I researched to see if it was in Hawaii before my arrival was Godiva Chocolatier. I had to specify that they sold soft serve and not just their delicious chocolate biscuits because that’s what we had craved since we tried it in Japan several years ago. Luckily for us there were multiple franchises around Honolulu and we happened to visit all of them.

Mixed soft serve ($6.00 excl tax). On a warm day in Hawaii, this is exactly what we wanted. There are extras you can get on the cone etc. but you don’t need the bells and whistles, just this delicious soft serve.Salted caramel chocolate shake ($6.00 excl tax). It was okay, it had a very thick texture which made it hard work to suck up the straw, but we much preferred the creamy soft serve.All three locations didn’t have any seating which is a little annoying but the high calibre of product is consistent.

Venue: Godiva Chocolatier

Locations:

Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814, USA
International Marketplace, 2330 Kalakaua Ave Honolulu, HI 96815
Waikele center outlet, 94-790 Lumiaina St Waipahu, HI 96797

Chocolate fondant deal at Mövenpick Kingston Foreshore

Today marks The Swiss National day and to celebrate all things Swiss during our cold Canberra winter, Mövenpick – Kingston Foreshore have kindly offered readers a special deal on their amazing chocolate fondant cake with a hot drink for only $14.95 when you show them this post and like either their Instagram or Facebook page! That is a sweet (get it?) deal! See the details below.

Chocolate fondant deal at Movenpick Kingston foreshore

Dates: Monday – Thursday during the month of August 2016
Deal: chocolate fondant cake (which comes with a scoop of ice cream) + hot drink
Price: $14.95 (rrp $19.95) 
Redemption: ‘follow’ Mövenpick – Kingston Foreshore’s  Instagram or ‘like’ their Facebook page and show them this post when paying.

 

Chocolate fondant rich, molten chocolate fondant served with decadent hot fudge sauce and a scoop of Mövenpick ice cream and finished with a fresh strawberryimg_7232-3
I chose the chocolate fondant as my pick of their winter dessert range as it was indulgent but not overly sweet and the perfect winter warmer.So if you’re in the area and you want to warm up with a gooey chocolate fondant cake and hot drink, don’t forget about this deal!

Venue: Mövenpick Kingston Foreshore

Address: Element, Kingston Foreshore, 154/43 Eastlake parade, Kingston ACT 2601

Phone(02) 6112 8725

Opening times: 11:00am–10:00pm 7 day a week

Mövenpick Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sabor in the Hunter Lovedale

So it turns out that the dessert cafe Sabor has two locations: one that the locals know about (and now you), which is away from all the hustle and bustle of the vineyards and one located within a winery in the gorgeous Pokolbin area. Both venues have beautiful cakes and chocolates to tempt the young and old.

As you step in you can smell the sweetness in the air. We walked past the chocolate truffles and locally made cookies to be met with two large glass cabinets filled with eye catching desserts. ‘You can only choose one’ I thought to myself as much as I wanted one of everything and chocolates to go. I was tempted with the tasting plate which seemed to be the indecisive person’s easy way out as it had a range of five minature desserts.

Please forgive the bad photos, I took two quick photos and then had to make some very big decisions.Caramel and hazelnut cone milk chocolate and praline mousse, centered with a caramel creme, sitting on a chocolate sponge and a crushed hazelnut halo (around $14.00 dine in). After much deliberation, I had chosen the caramel hazelnut cone. It looked very glamorous and upon reading the description I thought it would be fairly light. There wasn’t much complexity to the flavours, it was like a light chocolate mousse with a nutty after taste if you got some nuts in the bite.

Red velvet and summer berry cheesecake a moist red velvet cake set upon a croquant base, doused in raspberry coulis then buried in a summer berry cheesecake, encased with a raspberry glitter glaze topped with a blueberries and blueberry crumble ($14.00 dine in). This dessert was visually stunning and even though it wasn’t mine, I instagrammed it but not without at least taking a bite to taste. I was surprised to see a cake encased in cheesecake which definitely took this to the next level. I thought the way that the glitter glistened in the light was beautiful.
Carmel cheesecake a baked cheesecake in a sweet pastry case topped with a generous swirl of caramel and sprinkled with chocolate flakes ($11.00). Karma would have it that I teased my friend for getting such a simple looking dessert and I preferred his over mine. We were disappointed that there wasn’t caramel throughout the cheesecake and just on top but the cream cheese made this dessert not as sweet as the others.On a day with beautiful weather and nothing but picturesque surroundings on one side, this would be the perfect place to catch up with friends or indulge for a special occasion.Venue: Sabor in the Hunter Lovedale

Address: 319 Wilderness Road, Lovedale / Rothbury

Phone: 1300 958 850

Opening hours:
Saturday 10am – 4.30pm
Sunday 10am – 4.30pm (unless sold out)

Websitehttps://saborinthehunter.com.au/
Sabor in the Hunter Dessert Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Petit Feast – Buvette

I tagged along to the launch of Buvette‘s Petit Feast as a guest of fellow blogger The Food Avenue (go check out her awesome site here). I had been to Buvette before and didn’t love their dinner but after reading FoodPornJournal’s blog (see her dinner experience here), I saw that within a few months there were stark differences between our visits and I was excited to give Buvette another chance.

We were quickly seated and asked what we wanted for drinks. There was complimentary rosé on arrival but the waitress said I could substitute it for a soft drink or a juice so I chose an apple juice. They also offer mimosas which are bottomless sparkling and orange juice topped up all afternoon for only $15.00 per person.

Petit Feast includes one glass of rosé on arrival ($65.00 pp). The Petit Feast is anything but petite. For me, it was essentially a unisex high tea served on slates that encourages all day grazing. The feast is served in two ‘courses’, starting off with savoury and then followed by sweets.

Chef’s selection of charcuterie, duck liver parfait, oysters, quiches, mini sandwiches, olives and cheese. I was impressed with the serving size. We each got a plate with two finger sandwiches, a vegetarian quiche, a delicious slice of marinated eggplant, a natural oyster, a medley of marinated olives, two wedges of cheese and a hot beef pie. And that was just the beginning. We then were given the most delicious bread and butter to share (even though I was full at the end, I was still tempted to order more bread and butter) as well as a charcuterie board consisting of salami, lavosh bread, prosciutto, rillettes and a duck liver parfait. Although I pretty much loved everything and finished all my cheese, my favourite shout outs would have to be: the eggplant (it looks simple but the flavours were oh so good), the cheese, the humble bread and butter, the salami, the proscuitto and I surprisingly didn’t mind the duck liver parfait. Mini tartlets, profiteroles, tiramisu, friands and macarons. Half way through our savoury, the slate of sweets arrive at our table and we are blown away. Not only was it visually stunning, it was BIG! There was one of everything for the both of us, which meant that Miss Avenue didn’t have to miss out. 😉 There was tiramisu, a profiterole, chocolate brownie, pistachio and raspberry friands, lemon meringue tartlet, a chocolate macaron and a very decadent chocolate tart topped with salted caramel popcorn (I couldn’t finish it all because it was so rich). My absolute favourites would include the tiramisu, lemon meringue tartlet and the moist friands.I loved that the sweets came out half way through the savoury course because it meant that I could flick back and forth between the two and I usually like ending on savoury. Seriously, even though it is technically not a ‘high tea’, it has got to be one of the best high tea like objects in Canberra (and I’ve eaten a wide range). This all day grazing style food in addition to fabulous company really makes for a great day. I would happily encourage everyone to go and try it out for yourselves. I know I’ll be going back.

Venue: Buvette

Event: Petit Feast every Saturdays between 11:30am – 2:30am

$65.00 per person

Address: 18 National Circuit, Barton ACT

Phone: (02) 6163 1818
Buvette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Chocolate overload

It has been weird to see so many chocolate dessert places open up all around Canberra; Max Brenner in Belconnen, Koko Black and Oliver Brown in Civic, San Churro in Woden and not to mention all the countless cafes around Canberra serving a late night hot chocolate. Despite all these locations, it was about time that a dessert/chocolate store opened up in one of the biggest eating areas of Canberra – Dickson.

There have been so many times when I have had dinner in Dickson but wanted to go somewhere else for dessert, but not much has been on offer since Rubee’s left the scene. This location of an Oliver Brown* just might be the smartest thing they have done in the area.

*it wasn’t opened when I walked past it last week but it didn’t look like we had to wait much longerIMG_9492

This could be dangerous

I usually weave in a quintessential Haigh’s visit every time I’m in Sydney or Melbourne because it is novelty to us Canberrans (like how Krispy Kremes were back in its heyday) but now things could start to get dangerous as I received this email today.

 

2014 Christmas Collection

From our door to yours: online store now open!

Bigger and better than ever, our fresh new-look website is easy to navigate and features truly delicious chocolate imagery. And what’s more, you can now purchase online and have your favourite chocolates delivered to your door.

Chocolate D’Or – Robyn Rowe’s chocolates

I didn’t expect to head to Robyn Rowe’s straight after our brunch at Poachers pantry but then again I didn’t expect to eat two breakfasts that morning either. It is literally down the road from Poachers pantry, so it would be silly not to go to Chocolate D’Or!

Robyn serving happy customers who have driven quite a long way to visit her.IMG_4313.JPGA window into their operations and behind the scenes area.IMG_4312.JPGI wonder if the staff get paid in money or chocolate… I would choose a little from column A and a little from column B!IMG_4326.JPGThey have a nice patio to sit and enjoy their hand-made chocolates.IMG_4311.JPGMore seating out in the sun, if only it came out to play.IMG_4310.JPGDespite being full, each couple ordered an assiette to share which consists of a hot chocolate (milk or dark), three chocolate truffles, a chocolate cup filled with ice cream and complete with a chocolate spoon ($18.00). It would be hard to choose only three truffles from their large range of flavours that they had but I told myself that one day I’ll get around to trying every flavour eventually.IMG_4333.JPGSea salted caramel, butterscotch schnapps truffle and a caramel raspberry. Chocolates are made weekly to ensure freshness as they don’t have a long shelf life in comparison to store bought chocolate. I found that this batch of sea salted caramel (which had always been our favourite) to be too salty and sharply drowned out the sweetness of the caramel rather than enhance it. The butterscotch schnapps didn’t impress me that much either but the raspberry caramel- wow! One of my new favourites!

A close up of the goodies on the plate.IMG_4337.JPGWe chose a dark hot chocolate because it was just as tasty as the milk (and TimmyC never usually goes for dark!), you have to stir quickly in order to avoid lumps.IMG_4332.JPGI ❤ their caramel raspberry truffle.IMG_4340.JPGI had also come out here to grab a gift for a dear friend, selections for his truffle box included: lime coconut zing, French vanilla, caramel raspberry and orange créme truffle ($2.00 per truffle).IMG_4321.JPGHmmm, what to choose?IMG_4320.JPGA cute place to grab an afternoon tea as well as grab a lovely gift for someone. After trying their cocoa nibs and chocolate callets, I couldn’t help but buy a block of chocolate for home. Do I dare state that I liked it more than Haighs plain chocolate? I’m a big fan of Callebaut.

According to their website, they have chocolate flavours which include Sea Salted Caramel, Belgian Style Café Truffles, Star Anise Truffles, Orange Créme Truffle, Banana Flambé, Minty, Chilli Chocolate, Caramel Raspberry Framboise, Aramatoquie Poire, (Pear), Open Sesame, Lime Coconut Zing and Caramel Speculaas. Ooooh caramel speculaas! My next flavour to try.

 

Venue: Chocolate D’Or

Address1153 Murrumbateman Rd Nanima, NSW

Phone: (02) 6227 0550

Website: robynrowechocolates.com.au

Chocolate D'Or on Urbanspoon

from the Bean to Bar to your mouth

People say that they love chocolate, but I believe that the people who truly love chocolate are the people who lovingly prepare the simple cocoa bean to make chocolate – the chocolate makers (not to be mistaken for chocolatiers).

The ‘bean to bar’ movement means that chocolate makers control the chocolate making process from the cocoa bean all the way to the bar, creating a better chocolate that preserves the beans’ distinctive flavours and allows for sourcing beans from sustainable productions which provide better financial stead for the farmers by avoiding the middle men.

For you and I, the mere humble consumers of chocolate, to obtain some we just go to the shops but before it is lovingly wrapped in its packaging, there is a long laborious process involving roasting, cracking, winnowing, stone grinding, conching and tempering (see videos of the process here). That is just the gist of it without taking into account of all the research to source the right co-op who provide good training to their associated farmers so they can produce better sustainable organically grown cocoa beans (for higher wages) and who could forget, getting these beans through customs!

Now because cocoa beans can be sourced from all around the world, they would all differ slightly in the production process depending on the acidity levels and other factors. Coming from a Science background, I can appreciate the finicky process of optimising the roasting temperature and time for each single origin.

The ‘bean to bar’ movement has taken the US by storm and we are only now slowly feeling the ripples here down under with several ‘bean to bar’ movements being established in Australia. I was lucky enough to taste the efforts of such chocolate from the wonderful people at Matale Chocolate based in Melbourne.

I don’t often open two bars of chocolate at one time but for a direct comparison between the two products, a blogger’s gotta do what a bloggers gotta do. image I was really surprised at the colour difference and after tasting them, I was even more impressed with the flavour difference between the two. Who knew that a slight cocoa percentage change and origin of the bean made such a big difference.

I believe that the ‘thin’ bar mould helps with texture and maximises taste, both chocolate bars were very smooth and a delight to the senses. With no ‘rows’ set into the chocolate, I let fate (and strength) determine how much chocolate I get at a time, but this does allow for uneven sharing (stop bogarting the chocolate Timmy image).

72% Cocoa Malekula Plantation Vanuatu (2013 harvest). Most people’s aversion to dark chocolate is the bitter after taste that coats the tongue but I was pleasantly surprised that this is not the case with this bar of chocolate despite its very rich dark colour. It has a very full bodied flavour of cocoa but followed by a ‘light’ after taste, this would make it very easy to finish off a whole bar of dark chocolate (if you couldn’t do that already).

TimmyC’s pick of the bunch and he doesn’t usually eat dark chocolate, I had to tell him to stop munching on it so I could take photos.

68% Cocoa Somia Plantation Madagascar (2013 harvest). Even with the smallest bites (if you can restrain yourself) you can tastes the unexpected fruity undertones along with the intense richness of the dark chocolate which makes this chocolate very unique.

My pick of the bunch because it is so different to anything that I’ve ever tasted.

Being dairy, nut and gluten free and sourcing organically grown beans means that Matale chocolate make it accessible for everyone to enjoy ethically produced quality chocolate made here in Australia. So next time you get a craving for chocolate, go for the good stuff, you and your taste buds deserve it.

Thank you Thibault and Eloi for your amazing product and educating me on the delicious benefits of ethical chocolate. I was given these chocolates as a gift and to provide honest opinions (good or bad) and really highlight the points of the ‘bean to bar’ movement but I wouldn’t hesitate to promote this conscientious brand and I’m looking forward to trying more of their other chocolate range from Canberra stockists.

Venue: Matale Chocolate – Melbourne

Address: 22A Plateau Road, Reservoir, Melbourne Victoria 3073

Websitehttp://www.matalechocolate.com/

Canberra stockists:

Go Vita – Jamison

Mountain Creek Wholefoods – Griffith

Wiffens – Fyshwick markets