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May 1, 2009 06:10 PM

*May 2009* COTM Cradle of Flavor: Sweets and Beverages

**May 2009 Cookbook of the Month is Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore by James Oseland.

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes here for sweets and beverages from Chapter 14, page 336 - 357. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating!

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  1. Singapore Slings (p. 357)

    This can be an expensive drink with all the ingredients, but we had everything (except the Heering cherry brandy, a bottle of which cost $21.99). This was GREAT though - a nice beginning to the meal on a hot summer night. We sipped these while the Javanese Chicken was grilling. I can't remember if I've ever had one before, and we both thought with the list of ingredients that it would be too sweet, but there was a nice balance of flavors. Ingredients are gin, cherry brandy, Benedictine, Cointreau or kirsch (I used kirsch, we were out of Cointreau from margaritas on Cinco de Mayo!), unsweetened pineapple juice, fresh lime, grenadine, and Angostura bitters. Shaken in a cocktail shaker, it was refreshing over ice (which I forgot to add when I took the picture). We plan on a couple more tonight. Now that we have a full bottle of the cherry brandy, this is going to be great cocktail to enjoy during the summer.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Rubee

      Rubee - I love that you photograph the ingredients for each dish you make. Many thanks to you!

      I've had a Singapore Sling sometime ago in my shady past - in Palm Beach - when the legal drinking age was 18. Talk about dating oneself. Nothing to add because it was so long ago I don't remember what it tasted like. But I do remember that I felt very "grown up." I haven't looked at this chapter yet. Now I Must.

      1. re: Rubee

        Too funny! The ingredients photo. We need to add 'em to the chart of Indonesian ingredients!

        The drink looks mighty tasty too!

        1. re: Rubee

          I have all of those ingredients apart from the Benedictine - do you think it would make a huge difference if I missed that out?

          1. re: greedygirl

            Recipes for the SS I have read refer to Cointreau in place of DOM Benedictine, but I think Benedictine is in the original recipe from the Raffles Hotel.

            1. re: Gio

              This particular recipe actually calls for both Benedictine and Cointreau (or kirsch).

              GG, as Benedictine has such a distinct herbal flavor, I think it helps to balance this version out. But if you try it with just the cointreau, be sure to report back!

              I actually made a double batch last night to keep in the refrigerator. Okay, and I drank one too. Would have quadrupled the batch, but ran out of limes ; )

        2. Warm Spiced Limeade (pg 355)

          Absolutely delicious, and so easy to make. Boil 3 stalks lemongrass (I only had 2 left by this point), 2 cinnamon sticks, 3 cloves, and a piece of smashed ginger in 4 1/2 cups water. Add 4 tbsp palm sugar (I cut it down to 3) & stir to dissolve. Add 3 tbsp lime juice. Voila! Since it was a hot day I iced it instead of serving warm (a variation suggested in the intro), and it was just excellent. I'll definitely be adding this to my repertoire.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Emmmily

            Now that I think of it, this would probably be delicious with a splash of tequila (like an Indonesian margherita) on a hot summer evening or warm rum on a winter night.

            1. re: Emmmily

              Made it again for my birthday barbecue last night, same recipe with a few green cardamom pods added. It was a big hit, and I can now confirm it goes great with a splash of rum.

            2. re: Emmmily

              We made simple syrup with the herbs and spice in this recipe, and thought it tasted like...dentyne. The chewing gum. Didn't love it, was a little intrigued, but didn't love it. Maybe our lemongrass was old....

              1. re: pitu

                Hmmm, odd. Mine wasn't medicinal at all, mainly tasted of cinnamon & lime. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience with it!

                1. re: Emmmily

                  Not medicinal - Dentyne is a chewing gum with a distinctive flavor that includes cinnamon . . . and now that I've had this, I guess ginger and clove.

                  1. re: pitu

                    Guess I need to chew more gum :-P

            3. Plantains with Coconut Milk and Palm Sugar (kolak or pengat pisang), p. 348

              Fresh coconut milk would of course make this even better (I used Mae Ploy), but this was a simple tasty dessert of ripe plantains simmered in coconut milk , palm sugar and a little salt. The pandan leaves, especially, contributed to the distinct floral/Asian flavor I associate with many Southeast Asian desserts. I made it for breakfast this morning, and also had it for dessert after dinner.

              1. Indonesian Spice Cake p.342
                This is a keeper.

                Dense, fine, beautifully spiced pound cake with a slightly crunch top. Four eggs plus three xxtra egg yolks and 3 sticks of butter are involved, so . . . yum. It's very straightforward in prep.

                Variations to as-written recipe: made in a 9' cake pan, not a tube or bundt pan -- it took 15 mins more to bake. Didn't have 2c cake flour, so used 1 3/4 c AP flour and 1/4 c cornstarch.

                The text gives a variation where thin layers of spiced and not spiced batter are baked successively - bake 10 minutes, add more batter to the same pan, bake, add more batter, alternating layers - interesting and funny and *not* what we did but could be a fun project.

                10 Replies
                1. re: pitu

                  I need to make a cake tomorrow - maybe I'll try this one. What is cake flour - is it the same as self-raising flour or should I just use plain flour?

                  1. re: greedygirl

                    DO it - fabulous.

                    cake flour is a lower gluten flour -- which is why we subbed corn starch in with the all purpose flour -- I don't know UK equiv language, sorry.

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Definitely not self-raising flour. I would follow pitu's sub, as it's a standard one cited for using regular flour (in US, all-purpose flour) in place of cake flour. Our cornstarch is your cornflour, in case that hasn't been covered elsewhere.

                    2. re: pitu

                      I made this in a bundt pan over last week- only variation was inadvertant - I left out about 1/2 C of the weighed out sugar by mistake - the cake is indeed finegrained. but we werent thrilled by it - have had much better pound type cakes from other recipes. LIked the dough much better than the cake, which was not as moist or special in flavor as I had hoped.. My advice - add salt!! and pull it out on the moist side of done to avoid a tendency to dryness.

                      1. re: pitu

                        I've made this cake probably three times now - it is a great coffee/tea cake. I don't use the optional powdered sugar. I think it is sweet enough without it.

                        1. re: mirage

                          Just at the last piece last night., trying to figure out why I was underwhelmed. I am willing to try it again and see if a little less time in the oven helps, but it was hardly wonderful - strangely, it tastes neither particularly sweet or rich to me.

                          1. re: jen kalb

                            I *did* dust it with powdered sugar, although I tend to the unsweet in terms of personal taste in baked goods and whatnot. This is not a particularly sweet cake.
                            What I liked was the spice and texture (I really like pound cake)

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              I am not a "sweets" person, but love pound cake and coffee cake sorts of desserts. Probably a stupid question, but are your spices fresh? I used the full amount of freshly grated nutmeg and powdered cinnamon.

                              1. re: mirage

                                absolutely. I didnt powder my own cinnamon and cloves but they are fresh, and I grated the nutmeg as well. I didnt feel that flavor came through individually, however. I had problems with both the flavor (It needs more salt than he called for) and I will test again with fresher eggs and butter) and the texture which was smooth and elegantly fine grained but lacked the perceptible richness and moistness I like in pound cakes. I will try to cook it for 10 min less when I cook again.

                                1. re: mirage

                                  you know, I had *new* spices, and freshly grated everything, including cinnamon for once