Happy 2014! I hope you all had a great holiday and are staying warm and cozy wherever you are. Now that the business of 2013 is done, I’m looking ahead to this year and a fresh set of to-dos.
First, though, I’d love to share a few memories of my trip to Hong Kong. I always come back overstuffed on good food and re-inspired to bake new things in my kitchen. This visit was no exception, although it did take on a different flavor due to the new (little) member of our party!
Isabelle on her first plane ride – 15 hours from San Francisco to Hong Kong! I was so worried about the flight that I barely slept in the days leading up to our departure, but she did amazingly well. She played with her toys, slept on our shoulders, and befriended the (very kind) lady sitting next to us. I’m super proud of her.
Since I haven’t shared too many photos of her here since her 6 month post, I’m sure she looks very different! We traveled to Hong Kong right around the time she turned 10 months old, and right when she seemed to hit a big developmental spurt. She arrived in Hong Kong able to cruise around on furniture and left just about ready to brave her first wobbly steps. I think all the new experiences of traveling to a new place and meeting new people were good for her too; she’s become much more social since we’ve come home. I’ll give a longer update in an upcoming post for her first birthday!
Hong Kong, early morning light, through the terminal.
As you can probably imagine this trip to Hong Kong was dominated by family time, so we didn’t do as much exploring and sightseeing as we normally do (at least nothing that involved all day shopping sessions or late night eats- sigh). However, a new baby did give us an excuse to visit some places we normally wouldn’t go, like Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland. Below, a few snaps from our theme park visits:
An absolutely gorgeous ball of fur – a little arctic fox.
Isabelle loved the aquarium – she could have stayed for hours.
On the gondola ride going down the hill/mountainside at the park. Beautiful views of the South China Sea.
We saw the pandas at Ocean Park! They were delightfully roly-poly and lazy as pandas should be.
Hong Kong Disneyland is pretty small as Disneylands go, but on the plus side the lines were ridiculously short for most rides. And it was beautiful weather the day we went – probably some of the best weather I’ve experienced in Hong Kong: sunny, dry, and just a little breeze to keep things comfortable.
They have the Mickey bars at Hong Kong Disneyland, but did you know they have a whole bunch of other unique frozen treats as well? Sesame chocolate bar!
The Dumbo ride – one of the few rides that actually had a wait longer than a few minutes. Since Isabelle wasn’t up for waiting a half hour in line, we just went for the stationary Dumbo.
Although I perhaps didn’t get to eat all the things I wanted to in Hong Kong (who does, really?) I never pass up the chance to consume as much mango-ey items as possible. Hui Lau Shan reliably has numerous mango drinks and desserts year-round and I always stop when I see one. This long-standing chain has become such shorthand for fresh, fruity desserts that at one family lunch where we were debating the merits of the dessert menu, someone declared, “If you want something with fruit why don’t you just go to Hui Lau Shan?”
Back in the states and in the midst of winter, I always try to cheer myself up by making something with mango, to remind me of sunny Hong Kong. Mango mousse cakes are practically de rigueur at most Hong Kong bakeries; instead of the usual light sponge cake layers I made a coconut dacquoise base instead, to give it textural contrast and more of a tropical feel. The molds I used are simple 3″ round rings, about 4″ high. The mango rose is a common decoration I see on those mango cakes as well, and makes me smile on these grey, overcast days. Close my eyes and I can almost imagine I’m back in Hong Kong.
I didn’t share too much about the sweets I indulged in while in Hong Kong, but I’ll make up for it in my next post about my visit to my favorite macaron shop in the world…yes!!
- 35 g flaked coconut
- 35 g ground almond meal
- 70 g confectioners' sugar
- 100 g large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 25 g sugar
- 4 teaspoons (10 g) powdered gelatin
- 60 g water
- 400 g mango puree
- 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (360 g) heavy cream
- 1/2 cup(120 g) heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons (22 g) confectioners sugar
- 3 medium ripe mangoes
For the dacquoise
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Take a 3" ring mold (or whatever size mold you want to use) and trace several circles on the parchment sheets to help guide you when you pipe the meringues. Flip the parchment sheets over (so you don't get ink on your meringues).
- Combine coconut, almond meal, and confectioners' sugar in a food processor. Process until fully combined and very fine. Turn out into a large bowl and set aside.
- Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whip on medium speed until soft peaks form.
- With mixer running, pour in sugar in a slow stream. Continue whipping until meringue becomes stiff and glossy.
- Add about a quarter of the meringue to the almond meal mixture and carefully fold in with a large rubber spatula. Add in the rest of the meringue and fold in, being careful not to deflate the meringue too much.
- Scrape the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" plain round tip. Pipe meringue out onto prepared sheets by piping a spiral to fill each of the traced circles.
- Bake for about 30-40 minutes, rotating halfway through, until meringues are light brown and dry to the touch. It may take longer depending on the humidity in your kitchen. Let cool on wire racks.
For the mango mousse:
- Place water in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over it. Let bloom for about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine mango puree and sugar in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir until is dissolved. Remove from heat.
- Add in gelatin and stir until it is dissolved. Note: the mango mixture should be warm enough to melt the gelatin. If you are unsure, you can always microwave the gelatin mixture to ensure it is liquid before adding it to the mango.
- Refrigerate mixture for about 10 minutes to let it cool down.
- Whip cream to soft peaks. Fold about a third into the mango mixture. Add the rest of the cream and carefully fold until incorporated.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper. Place 3" ring mold on sheet. Line each ring with an acetate strip (they can be found in cake supply shops in rolls, or you can cut a piece to fit).
- Place a dacquoise round at the bottom of each ring. Fill each mold halfway with the mango mousse. Place a second dacquoise round on top of the mousse in each ring. Finish filling with the rest of the mango mousse. Refrigerate overnight until mousse has set.
For the topping:
- Combine cream and confectioner's sugar together in stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whip on medium speed to soft peaks. Top each cake (still in the molds) with some of the whipped cream and refrigerate again while you slice up the mangoes.
- Cut mangoes in half, discarding the pit, and cut away the peel. Slice mango halves into thin 1/8" thick slices.
- Arrange slices on top of cakes in a rose formation, starting at the center and working out. You might have to trim some of the pieces down to fit.
- Push cakes out from the molds and peel away acetate strips. Serve immediately (if you don't want to serve yet, do not unmold until you are ready to serve).