Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mandarin Orchard Singapore's Mooncakes 2012

Enjoy this Mid-Autumn Festival with a selection of exquisite mooncakes from award- winning Mandarin Court Chinese Restaurant of the Mandarin Orchard, one of the last remaining hotels in Singapore that still lovingly handcrafts all its mooncakes - from making the dough to wrapping the filling and baking these traditional pastries.

Mandarin Court's baked mooncakes left an impression among the mooncakes we tried last year and we are sure glad that the Baked Mooncake with Mixed Nuts and Jamón Ibérico made a comeback for this is a chockfull of crunchy goodness. Well-marbled and infused with a rich nutty flavor. For those who love to do wine pairing, this mooncake tastes better when eaten together with a nice bottle of Port wine.

Baked Mooncake with Macadamia Nuts and Low Sugar White Lotus Paste continues to impress for the not-so-sweet lotus paste which does not stick to your teeth.

Mandarin Orchard adopts a red and black theme for their packaging and instead of the regular magnetic design, the box is opened from the top and secured with an elastic band tied to a colorful paperweight with the hotel's logo. The hotel designs their mooncake boxes in such a way there there is something small to keep with the hotel's logo. It was a magnet last year and this year is a paperweight.

This is the first time we tried the hotel's Baked Mooncake with Double Yolk and White Lotus Paste and we were surprised that the moon cake is not as moist compared to other double yolk mooncakes which we tried. Overall, Macademia Nut remains our all time favorite.


For snowskin lovers, the hotel, this year, brings along some refreshing flavors such as the Raspberry and Citrus with cheese. Based on their press release, the Mini Snow Skin Raspberry will get health junkies to indulge without much addition to their waistlines while the Mini Snow Skin Cheese with Citrus will attract cheesecake lovers and dessert connoisseurs. Other flavors includes Mini Snow Skin Green Tea with Melon Seeds and Mini Snow Skin Lychee Martini which are back by popular demand.
Screen Shot 2012-07-29 at 11.52.18 AM

Mooncakes are available for sale at Mandarin Court Chinese Restaurant, Level 35, Orchard Wing and Deli Counter, hotel entrance, Level 1, from 10 August to 30 September 2012.

Mandarin Orchard Mooncake Order Form 2012

Special Thanks to Ms Ruth Soh, Director of Marketing Communications and Ms Crystal Lim, Assistant Manager of Marketing Communications for the opportunity to sample this year's moon cake before its release.

Mandarin Orchard Singapore, by Meritus
333 Orchard Road
Singapore 238867

For orders or enquiries, please call 6831 6320/6262 or email
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Smoulder - Softcore Bakers

As mentioned in our previous post, there are two establishments we would like to introduce if you like small, dainty desserts which is getting popular these days as wedding favors and gifts for birthdays and baby showers. The second invitation we have received is located at Raffles Place (former China Square Food Court) and lava cake lovers would love to check this place out.


Set up by three guys with a common passion, to provide lava cakes at an affordable price, smaller serving portion to stir cravings for one and convenience for take-aways.

In general, lava cakes have always been something that needed to be dined in and often at a decent restaurant or patisserie. Having been in London for quite a while, the trio has an inspiration to set up a take-away outlet for lava cakes with various flavors and this dream comes true as Smoulder this year in May.

Through their experience in baking, they felt that lava cakes provide more satisfaction for its intense flavor as it contains significantly lower amount of flour, butter and sugar when compared to traditional cakes. They also felt that the "molten-ness" at the centre of the cake amplifies the intensity of the flavor they want to bring out in each and every of their lava cake.

Bite-sized lava cakes

Inspired by the various pairing of chocolates in existing chocolate products such as matcha and mocha in frappuccino, fruity flavors in chocolate bars and liquor ice-cream, Smoulder brings about 9 flavors and instead of merely changing the ganache in the core of their lava cakes, Smoulder decides to underbake their cakes to ensure that the flavors is the same throughout the entire lava cake.

Intense Dark Chocolate

Apart from the various flavor they have come up with, we also have to give it to them to strike a balance between the ratio of molten content versus the cake content of each cake. As what one of their partners, Peida has pointed out, if the cake is too "molten", the cake is not structurally stable. On the other hand, if there is too much cake, then it will not have an oozing out effect.

We have tried their lava cakes on 3 different occasions and as what their shop aims to achieve, all the lava cakes we had so far has an oozing lava core and we thought that it is impressive given that the cakes are already ready for take-away and not bake a-la-minute.

Intense Dark Chocolate & White Chocolate Lemon

However, before we start to rave about it, we cannot deny the fact that we find it pricey as we needed at least 2-3 lava cakes to satisfy our cravings and that it is a take-away outlet with no dine in (Do note that "take-away" is the concept of Smoulder). Each lava cake costs $3.90, served in a cute brown box with an option of eating it with a mini scoop of ice-cream. 

Although their aim is to provide lava cakes with the same intensity as chocolate bonbons, what caught our attention were in fact the white chocolate ones. With chocolate players such as Max Brenner, Laurent Bernard Chocolatier, Jewels Artisan Chocolate and even Bakerzin, all selling chocolate lava cakes, we are definitely picky when it comes to chocolate lava cakes and in this case, we find it too small to our liking and the endorphins kick is not intense. Although the Intense Dark Chocolate is described to have 70% cocao content and that Barry Callebaut Belgian chocolate is used in their chocolate lava cakes, we personally felt that the overall and aftertaste is closer to it being bitterish unlike the fruity aftertaste we often fancy from Valrhona's Manjari and Caraibe. In addition, we prefer to savor our chocolates slowly which a take-away outlet fails to provide.

White Chocolate Lava Cakes

But don't get us wrong. We do like Smoulder and here is their niche. Their non-chocolate flavors blown us away that we made a second trip back within the same week, buying more lava cakes back home to share with our family. Our family members gave a thumbs up to the non-chocolate flavors, in particular the White Chocolate Matcha,  White Chocolate Pistachio and White Chocolate Raspberry. In general, they find the flavors novel for lava cakes and it not being overly sweet and cloying.

For those who love green tea latte or matcha-flavoured shakes, White Chocolate Matcha will be something not to missed. The rich creamy molten core makes it akin to eating Matcha Kit Kat or Matcha ice-cream.

Although lemon and raspberries are often described to be sour, the pairing of white chocolate with these fruits gives a light tanginess, making it refreshing and light on the palette.

One of their bestsellers, the White Chocolate Pistachio, caught our attention for the intense nutty flavor and one is definitely not enough.

White Chocolate Matcha and White Chocolate Raspberry

The distinctive 3 layers are more prominent when consumed at the shop itself. When brought home without warming up, the overall taste focus on the molten core, providing an intense, smooth texture on the palette with a thin layer of the moist cake but lacks the crisp exterior. Anyway, the boxes and their website have instructions to ensure that the quality of the lava cakes are as good as them being consumed on the spot. 

9 piece box set ($29.90)

Last but not least, these lava cakes are available in box of 3 pieces and 9 pieces (priced at $10.90 and $29.90 respectively) which we find it just right to be presented as gifts.


3 piece box set ($10.90)

Many thanks to Peida for the invitation and the warm hospitality.

Smoulder - Softcore Bakers  
51 Telok Ayer Street 
Singapore 048441  
Tel: 6225 6422 

Operating hours:
8am to 8pm on weekdays 
11am to 3pm on Saturday 
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Mooncakes from InterContinental Singapore

Man Fu Yuan celebrates this Mid-Autumn Festival with a delightful collection of traditional snowskin and baked moon cakes which have been handcrafted with the finest ingredients. We were previlleged to be able to sample InterContinental Singapore's creation before their official release on 10 August 2012.

 Man Fu Yuan's traditional range of lotus paste moon cakes are mainly paired with nuts for an added crunch. Among the selection, I prefer the lotus seed paste with double yolk mooncake as the lotus paste is moist and fragrant. My only complain is that the lotus paste sticks to your teeth as you savor the mooncake.


The selection of snowskin mooncakes include this year's creation, the Mao Shan Wang Durian Mooncake with coconut as well as past year's favorites such as the Green Tea Paste with Dragonball Jasmine, Sesame Paste with White Sesame Seeds and Lotus with Macadamia Nuts. While the flavors are quite well paired, I prefer the simple Lotus with Macadamia Nuts as I can enjoy the smooth lotus paste with a crunch.


Man Fu Yuan moon cakes are available at the Teahut, located at the hotel's Bugis Junction entrance, from 10 August to 30 September 2012.

Intercontinental Mooncake Order Form 2012

Special thanks to Teresa Koh, Marketing Communications &PR Executive for the opportunity to sample the hotel's Mid Autumn creations. 

Mooncake Enquires
22 July to 30 September 2012, 10am to 8pm (daily) 
Tel 6820 8519/6820 8520
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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Swirls Bake Shop

*It has been awhile since our last post as our newcomer didn't like sweets while being in my uterus and we have been busy getting used to our new lifestyle since then. Lately, we received invitation to two new establishments which we would like to share with our readers.*

First, an American-Style Gourmet Cupcake Bakery has made its appearance in Robertson Quay since January this year. 

Welcome to Swirls Bake Shop, brought in specially by Danish and his wife, Alia.


Danish shared with us his road trip last summer at California where they drove thousands of miles and trying literally every cupcake shop from the largest chains to tiny independent owner run stores. Although cupcakes is not new in Singapore, Danish and Alia wants to share with the locals what they had enjoyed in their trip, particularly having been inspired by multi-million dollar company, Sprinkles in California (who claims to be the inventor of modern day cupcakes) who even have their very own cupcake venting machines, to tiny independent owner run stores.


While Danish faithfully order red velvet cupcakes on all his visits; Alia is keen to try new, or rather completely awkward flavors. This joint passion has created about 102 luscious cupcake flavors by introducing different sets of specials every month. In addition, to ensure the cupcakes are sold fresh, the shop bakes at least 3-4 times everyday.


There will be a special flavor for each day with the basic flavors such as Red Velvet, Milk Chocolate, Oh So Cocoa, Vanilla Chocolate, Nuts about You, Very Vanilla, Strawberry Burst, available everyday. For more descriptions of each cupcake. Do drop by their website. If there is a particular flavor you are keen, they do accept orders the day before with a minimum order of 6 regular cupcakes or 12 tiny ones. They also provide delivery island-wide with a delivery charge of $19.95.


(From left to right) Very Vanilla and Vanilla Chocolate

Although cupcakes are often more popular for baby showers and wedding favors, Danish and Alia prefers to handcraft their cupcake frosting using a palette knife instead of using a piping bag, in a way this is the old style of presenting a cupcake. In fact, Alia trains all her staff to frost the cupcakes proper through the use of the palette knife and with the swirl on top of each cupcake, that explains the name of their shop. This makes their cupcakes unique from those that uses fondant and piping bag.


In addition, having entering the market later than the more talk-about Twelve cupcakes opened by our local DJs, Daniel Ong and Jamie Teo and Plain Vanilla Bakery at Holland Village; Danish felt that their niche is their use of old school American recipes, where nothing artificial is used in the flavoring of each cupcake. For instance, fresh strawberries are cut and mixed into the batter and frosting or expect diced carrots and pineapple in their carrot cupcake (i.e. What's Up Doc?).  He believes that the use of fresh ingredients allow his customers to feel the texture and crunch of the real ingredients. In fact, Danish takes an extra mile to extract vanilla from Madagascar vanilla by himself to bring out the actual goodness of the bean.


Apart from her passion about baking, Alia used to be a fashion stylist for an Italian magazine, Amica. So from the shopfront to the cupcake, it is creative and fashion focus. The concept, the shop and their website uses bright colors, are all carefully selected and matched by Alia. In fact, the photos on their website is taken by a fashion photographer. Indulgence + Fashion + America = a happy product with their backend as a business. In addition, they do believe in social responsibility and this month, they liaise with Pathlight schools where they display the students' paintings and the sales goes to the students.


(From bottom left, anti-clockwise) Nuts about You, Very Vanilla, Red Velvet

Strawberry Burst caught our attention for its crunch from the vanilla beans and strawberries. Their July, Saturday special, Cookie Dough is also interesting for its chocolate chip cookie dough at the centre of the cupcake with crunchy brown sugar frosting. With the extra bit of texture and not the conventional smooth batter, it does make it different from the cupcakes we have tried previously. Think Ben and Jerry in cupcakes. Red Velvet would be highly recommended for Danish has trained his palette to perfect this one. What's Up Doc also left an impression for the moist texture, probably due to the addition of pineapple.

Personally, we are not big fans of cupcakes but if we were to pick up cupcakes for an occasion, we may swing by Swirls for not only the plentiful flavors to choose from but also the tiny bite-sized they have come up with to allow us to take several flavors in a go.

The tiny cupcakes are priced between $2.50 to $2.95 while the regular ones are priced between $3.95 to $4.10. Not extremely cheap as they are all handcrafted with love.

Last but not least, many thanks to Danish for the invitation and the warm hospitality.

Swirls Bake Shop
8 Rodyk Street
#01-08 (Off Robertson Quay)
Singapore 238216
Tel: 6634 4765

Opening hours: 11am to 7pm everyday
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