La Grande Damarretto Cake

Baking, Cake, Dessert, Drag Race France, Drag Race France 1, Sweets, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Drag Race France the top four were given one final hurdle before battling for the crown and oh boy, was it a doozy – making over their besties! And while there are normally more than a few questionable choices, the quartet all served it as they stayed true to themselves while looking out for their friends. While that doesn’t help a competition format reality show, Nicky solved the little deadlock with a classic lip sync lalaparuza. As such, Soa defeated Lolita and booked the first spot in the top three. She was followed by Paloma before La Grande Dame narrowly completed the top three as Lolita Banana was tragically felled.

Backstage the top three were well and truly gagged to have made it to the end, before toasting to Lolita’s epic run to the top four. Though they didn’t spend too much time thinking about it, given they had a big week ahead if they wanted to snatch the crown. The next day the top three returned excited and ready to claim their crown. But after Nicky arrived to announce their final Maxi Challenge, they were a little less excited and erring more on the side of nervous. First up they would have to learn the lyrics to RuPaul’s Catwalk, in ENGLISH, then learn extensive choreography and perform it live on the mainstage. Then stomp the runway in front of fashion icon Olivier Rousteing.

Oh and obvs they will be having a little madeleine lunch with Nicky, as the French are wont to do.

After Nicky disappeared, they split up to speculate how painful their choreography would be, with everyone hoping for some camp disco moves. While La Grande Dame was only confident in her old white man moves. Thankfully they didn’t have to wait long to find out as they quickly joined Nicolas Huchard on the mainstage to rehearse. And let’s just say, the performance is going to be very, very detailed and very, very intense. While Soa was in her element, Paloma was feeling super anxious and struggled to get it down and bring enough attitude. While Grande Dame was mildly confident, given she wasn’t the weakest. Well, unless this is a fakeout edit and Paloma is going to absolutely demolish the final performance.

Soa was first to kiki with Nicky, already feeling like a winner to have made it to the end. But hopeful to keep that fire and take the crown in honour of her dear friend Mrs Rose. La Grande Dame was next to drop by, simultaneously shocked to be there and proud of all that she has achieved. She revealed that she came to the competition because she had a difficult time growing up and wanting to show her mother another side of herself after difficult years apart, due to her queerness. Paloma meanwhile spoke about how the competition has made her feel like less of an imposter and that she has a place in the world. And ugh, I honestly love them all.

Nicky, Daphné and Kiddy were joined by Nicolas and Olivier on the judging panel as the top three took the stage for their performance of Catwalk and while Paloma looked tentative in rehearsal, she hit the stage with a fire and was so damn charming. La Grande Dame served non-stop moody glamour; ethereal and damn fierce. Soa meanwhile had all the energy, hitting every move and giving us sex from start to finish.

The Dragnifique runway was opened by our eliminated queens where La Kahena was a pretty princess in nude before stripping near nude and showing bum. So swoon. Lova gave showgirl glamour, La Briochée was a patchworked voodoo-Dorothy delight, Kam was peach-puff perfection while Elips was so gorgeous in a black, shimmering jumpsuit. Big Bertha went from red vamp, to revealing a bodysuit carving up her meat while Lolita was gorgeous in a gaudy quinceanera kinda way. When it came to the top three, Paloma was perfect in a moody red gown, complete with Bette Midler Hocus Pocus wig. Soa was sexy in a bead and leather outfit, giving structure and skin in equal measure while La Grande Dame was camp as hell in a shimmering lilac gown of frills and ruching.

Paloma received universal praise for all that she sold on the runway and for the diversity of her performances throughout the season. And for having so much fun. Paloma opened up to the judges, explaining how she wants her potential victory to inspire people to follow their dreams. Soa was praised for looking stunning on the runway, and for kicking off the season in such a strong fashion with her talent show performance. Oh and never mind her killer track record and dominating each lip sync she appeared in. She thanked the judges for their kindness and for embracing her. La Grande Dame meanwhile received praise for giving constantly evolving glamour on the runway and mixing it with such fun humour. And frankly, a whole lot of stupidity.

Nicky then wheeled out the baby pictures, with Paloma encouraging her younger self to stand firm and love herself and trust that everything will work out, despite the trauma and upheaval that is sometimes thrown her way. Soa told her baby self to use the pain that comes her way as fire to make something of herself and to fight. And again, I love her so much. La Grande Dame meanwhile told her even younger self that while life may be strange and confusing at times, to always keep hope and focus on her happiness.

Before they ventured to untuck, Nicky then announced that the queens had privately voted prior to the show with Elips crowned the first Miss Sympathie. Backstage the finalists reunited with their eliminated sisters, toasting to a killer season before Grande Dame shared that watching her sisters leave in tears was the hardest part of the entire competition for her.

The girls returned to the mainstage to lip sync for the crown to Dalida’s Mourir sur scène. And given the dolls are icons, none of them really tried to steal the spotlight from anyone else, calm and confident in their skills as they all turned a killer show. Soa was obviously moody and fierce, Paloma served all the emotion while Grande Dame was stunning and on every lyric. Complete with glitter. Sadly, while everyone nailed the performance (and the season more broadly), Nicky had to pick a winner. And tragically, that was not La Grande Dame who finished as one of the two runner-ups. This is going to become quite repetitive, but the top three were so damn strong that any of them could have taken out the crown and while I’m thrilled for the winner, both La Grande Dame and the as yet unmentioned here other runner-up were worthy.

As soon as La Grande Dame stepped offstage for the crowning, I pulled her in for a massive hug and marvelled how someone so young could do what she did. I then went on a rant about my own fading youth and asked her to give me hers, before I snapped out of it and congratulated her on a job well done with a glorious La Grande Damarretto Cake.

The only thing elegant or decadent enough for La Grande Dame’s aesthetic is this barely-tweaked Nigella number. Rich, dense and velvety smooth, it is essentially the perfect cake. And I’d be willing to fight anyone that disagrees.

Enjoy!

La Grande Damarretto Cake
Serves: 8-12.

Ingredients
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
100g unsalted butter, softened 
4 eggs, at room temperature
125g raw caster sugar
100g almond meal
2 tbsp cocoa powder, plus extra for dustin’
¼ cup amaretto liqueur
2 tsp vanilla extract

Method
Preheat the oven to 160C and line the base of your springform cake tin with baking paper.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler until smooth and glossy, before removing from the heat to cool.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until thick, glossy and doubled in volume. Combine the almond meal and cocoa, before folding through the sweetened eggs.

Mix the amaretto and vanilla with the melted chocolate, then fold through the batter until well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and transfer to the oven to bake for 20 minutes, or until it is coming away from the edges and is cracked on the top. It should be dense and moist, but only just cooked through with a few crumbs left on an inserted skewer.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, before unclamping the tin and gently transferring the cake to a plate. Sprinkle with a little extra cocoa before devouring, triumphantly. Despite not winning. 


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Marquise au Chocky Gilbert

Australian Survivor, Australian Survivor: All Stars, Dessert, Snack, Sweets, TV, TV Recap

Previously on Australian Survivor, 24 All Stars were abandoned on the shores of Fiji looking for revenge, redemption, a combination of the two, or simply to retain their crown in Shane and Jericho’s case. Though sadly for them, their second chance ended before it even began as the Olympian became the first boot and was followed out the door by the cookie monster. They were followed by Daisy, Michelle and Henry in quick succession before the tribes switched things up. After an attempt on her scalp, Shonee took revenge on Abbey, Lydia and John before Mat was bundled in on the deal, I assume solely because he too was an athlete. We then entered the darkest timeline and lost three OGs back-to-back-to-back with Queen Phoebe, fourth place robbed goddess Flick and Nick all just missing the merge. The latter because Jacqui hulked out in the immunity challenge and kept ruining it for the tribe.

We checked in with Mokuta the next morning where Zach was ritualistically carving Nick’s initials into a tree as Sharn reflected on turning on her close ally Nick. Even though it feels like she doesn’t have the right, though maybe I am just bitter. Completely jubilant however was David who had managed to take control of the switched tribe, had an idol that his allies know about – and more importantly, fear – and a secret idol that can keep him safe. Oh and he is going into the merge with a 7-5 advantage based on swap tribes, and an in with the OG Vakama tribe. Not wanting to rest on his laurels, David called an all tribe meeting to plot for the upcoming merge, convincing them to play up that he is on the outs so that he can try and get back in with Vakama, blindside them and fully take control. And drag Zach along for fun.

Forgoing any chatter from Vakama, the tribes joined Jonathan at the top of a hill where after Harry and Shonee processed the pain of losing their bestie Nick, the tribes were officially no more as the tribes merged. AK and Moana were thrilled to have finally been able to make the merge and become an eligible bachelor and bachelorette respectively. Moana was even more motivated to win the money for her family, while David was ready to destroy his competition.

On that note, Jonathan tasked them all with their first individual challenge for an advantage in the upcoming immunity challenge. All they would need to do is hold a clay pot tethered to a rope over a ledge with the last person standing taking out the prize. Almost immediately AK dropped his pot, followed closely by David who immediately started catching up with Brooke and AK. Harry soon dropped out, joining the catch-up while Shonee dropped and was all alone down the other end, silently willing her friends to return to her side. David continued to sell Mokuta’s prearranged lie before Tarzan and Brooke dropped from the challenge. After an hour, Jonathan grew tired and forced everyone down to one hand, leading to Sharn dropping out, followed by Moana, Locky and Zach, leaving Jacqui and Lee to battle it out. After another hour in the sun Jacqui showed her first sign of weakness, while David continued to reel Vakama in with his eyes. Oh and then out of nowhere Jacqui dropped, handing Lee an advantage. Which he won’t learn about until the immunity challenge.

The merge tribe arrived at their new camp – the former Mokuta – with Tarzan thrilled to finally make the merge, Shonee was thrilled to make it again – and be one step closer to some Gucci – and AK was just thrilled about the palatial digs at the new camp. Oh and the huge feast awaiting them by the shore. Locky was screaming, the tribe were grabbing at things, Moana was cracking the booze and Shonee was just thrilled to have cutlery again. After toasting to their successes, Sharn suggested the tribe name of Kalokalo which allegedly means star in Fijian. Everyone agreed, though I assume not because they cared per se and more because they were too interested in smashing the food and eyeing up the competition.

Kalokalo slowly migrated back to the shelter where everyone was mingling, with Brooke chatting to Brooke and Lee, though not that Moana has anything to worry about given she is the Godmother and is fully in control. And she was willing to paint Mokuta as a fractured tribe to stay there. She and Sharn told Brooke about Dave being on the outs, and the need to keep him happy to blindside him. Though really, her plan was to get revenge on Locky who spent the first two weeks of the game targeting her. And voted out her bestie Mat. With that, she pulled Dave aside to lock in the vote against Locky deep in the jungle, with him thrilled by the idea given getting rid of Locky is in his best interests.

Shonee meanwhile was nervous to be in the minority and as such, decided it was time to find two people that she can flip to their side and take control. She caught up with Brooke by the well, who agreed that Dave and Zach were their best hopes and as such, Shonee got to work reminding Zach how much he loves her. She told Brooke that an easy in with Zach is birds, given he has a passion for rescuing birds and has heaps of averies. With that she loves birds and Brooke too now loves birds, regaling him with tales about hand rearing birds and honestly, I can’t actually tell if she bred birds. David could see that they were desperately trying to flip him, glad that Zach too was playing along. As such, he pulled Locky aside to see how they can take control, with Locky spilling Vakama’s entire plan and assuring Dave that Shonee is confident that she will be able to flip back and keep them all safe. Later that night Vakama 2.0, Zach and David caught up to lock in their plan for the upcoming vote, eventually settling on Sharn as Locky wished for chaos, as that is where he does his best work.

Jonathan returned for the first immunity challenge of the season where they would each have to balance on see-saw and take blocks from a dish on one end and stack them on a tray on the other, with the first till nine winning immunity. Well not Lee, as his advantage was to remove a block and only go for eight. The tribe all stepped on to their platforms and while everyone struggled to find their feet, Shonee was like a statue and quickly stacked eight like it was nothing. Sadly she lost her stack though, forcing her to restart. Thankfully she also set off a chain reaction as everyone else lost their balance allowing her to start things up again and build her second tower at lightning speed before everyone followed the trend and dropped again. Ultimately Shonee quickly built her third tower like it was nothing, securing immunity like the freaking icon that she is.

Thanks pilates!

Back at camp the tribe celebrated Shonee’s athletic display of dominance, while the icon was just thrilled to know that there is no way that she is going home. Oh and she let us know that she is just great at balancing and hasn’t even done pilates in over a year. While Locky would have preferred to have won for himself, he was glad that immunity was at the very least in his alliance’s hands and as such, can target Sharn with the help of David and Zach and take control. He then got way to confident and hot damn – Locky, you in danger girl.

Almost like I manifested it, Moana pulled Sharn and Lee aside to lock in the vote for Locky and tee up Sharn to play the fool and pretend to slip that they are targeting AK. With that, she pulled AK aside to let him know that her alliance would be voting for him tonight. And given he has no reason not to trust her, took the information to David and Locky and reconfirmed that they were still on for voting out Sharn, nervous about going home himself should their plans fail. The only person more cocky than Locky at the moment was David, giddy to be in the swing vote position and safely in the majority no matter which side they select.

He caught Zach up on the plan and returned to play mind games with Vakama 2.0 but was proving to be so convincing, that Tarzan started to panic that he had actually flipped. This made him nervous enough to call Moana over and the duo approached him to stress the importance of the upcoming vote to prove their loyalties. Moana was nervous, Locky and Brooke were confident and while it feels obvious, it is so obvious that Locky will go, that maybe I am wrong?

At tribal council Harry spoke about the intricacies of navigating the first post-merge tribal council, before Jonathan threw shade at AK for not making it before. AK spoke about his surprise at how few people approached him after the immunity challenge and truly felt like nothing had changed and everyone was locked in their alliances. David spoke about someone potentially being blindsided, given everyone is keen to make a statement and take out a big player first. Locky admitted to feeling on the bottom as the former Vakama, though was hopeful to have found enough cracks to save them. Sharn spoke about splitting cracks and honestly I get distracted by such innuendo.

Harry continued to prove how dangerous he would be if he gets the chance to plead his case at tribal council, calmly outlining the importance of not only surviving but also impressing the jury enough to win. David agreed but pointed out that you need to get there, oft by making smart decisions, to even get to plead your case. He then spoke about Mayan sacrifice and it got real dark, real quick. Zach had a slip of the tongue, alluding to the vote coming down to old tribal lines. As he desperately tried to play the fool and bumble around who could be aligned, you could see him desperately wanting to crawl back into his avery.

Harry said that they’re at the point where some people haven’t had the chance to play the game yet and as such, looks forward to them showing what they are made off. Locky urged people to step up, while Moana slyly reminded him that she has. Tarzan spoke about the importance of loyalty, while his ally Moana preached the virtues of making the safe move. Locky interjected and told her that there is no way that he will vote for her in the end then. She tried to defend playing it safe, before Locky schooled her about the pre-merge not really counting, since they aren’t around to reward the big moves and as such, she needs to step up. Moana schooled him and asserted that a quiet game doesn’t mean it isn’t a good game. Sharn was confident, Locky was confident and shock horror, David was feeling confident. With that, the tribe voted and poor Locky discovered that his was misplaced as Mokuta 2.0 stuck together to send him out of the game and over to the jury.

Likely not to vote for Moana.

Oh dear, sweet, beautiful Locky – I hate to see him go, but hot damn watching him leave truly floods my basement. He entered Loser Lodge just as it upgraded to the Jury Villa, so I took him into my arms, realised I am devoid of upper body strength and got him to take me in his arms and spin me in a circle like a rom com.

“The King of the Jury needs his queen, and I am forever yours,” I whispered into his ear.

He giggled, maybe awkwardly, maybe a little nervous, I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that Locky is straight up the most interesting player of his archetype besides Malcolm. Good strategically, charming and likeable, athletic and built like a God, he is perfect for this game and could have taken out the season, had Dave and Moana not had control.

His eyes welled up with tears as I told him all this before he started giggling again, this time at the sight of my Marquise au Chocky Gilbert.

 

 

Velvety and smooth, sweet, rich and oh so delicious, the marquise au chocolat melts in your mouth. And is the perfect thing to distract from post boot pain, in bed with your love.

Enjoy!

 

 

Marquise au Chocky Gilbert
Serves: 2 lovers that can also be friends.

Ingredients
255g dark chocolate, cut into pieces
1 tbsp espresso, cooled
1 tbsp amaretto
100g raw caster sugar
5 eggs, separated
175g unsalted butter, melted
cocoa, for dustin’

Method
Line a loaf tin with cling.

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl with the coffee and amaretto and place in the top of a double boiler – well, if you don’t have steamy, unbridled sexual tension with your mate – and cook, stirring until the chocolate has just melted and everything has come together.

Meanwhile combine the caster sugar in yolks in a bowl and whisk for a couple of minutes, or until light and fluffy. You could do this in a stand mixture, but I like to watch Locky whisk shirtless and I got him to give me a hand. Fold through the chocolate and butter until well combined. Leave to cool.

Finally whisk the egg whites in a stand mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold through the combined chocolate mixture until it forms a homogenous, shiny mixture. Transfer to the lined tin, cover with cling until airtight and place in the fridge to set for a minimum of 12 hours.

Once set, turn out, cut into slices and serve, dusted lightly with cocoa. They devour, on plates, or Locky’s chest. I went with the latter option.

 

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Willa Hazelnut & Chocolate Cake

12 Days of Chrismukkah, Baking, Cake, Dessert, Snack, Sweets

Good news – we finally have a cast member that doesn’t link into my torrid love life. I mean sure, I did sleep with Willa Holland’s current co-star Stephen Amell years ago … but I didn’t meet her through him, so technically I’m home free.

You see I met Willa through my dear friend Lisa Kudrow – who I am so overdue to see that it scares me – when Willa guested on an episode of the majestic and underrated series The Comeback.

It would shock nobody to know that my attitude inspired her characterisation of Valerie Cherish.

I was taken by her talent and she was the only person I could think of to replace my cousin-in-law Shailene when they wanted to beef up the role of Caitlin. I also put her forward for the role of Thea Queen on Arrow … not that I’m saying she should be grateful to me for her career.

But she probably should be … a little, at least.

As she has been super – get it? – busy with her role in the Arrow-verse shows, I haven’t been able to spend much meaningful time with Wills in the last few years but thankfully our friendship is so beautiful that our bond never changes.

Plus, if it did, I’d just withhold my Willa Hazelnut & Chocolate Cake until she loves me again … because that is what you do with your family during the holiday!

 

img_7342willa-hazelnut-chocolate-cake-1

 

Combining the velvety sweet charm of one Caitlin Cooper and the brooding darkness and depth of Thea Queen, this cake is the perfect hybrid of my dear friend’s roles.

Enjoy!

 

willa-hazelnut-chocolate-cake-2

 

Willa Hazelnut & Chocolate Cake
Serves: 10-12.

Ingredients
200g hazelnuts, peeled and roasted
250g good dark chocolate, chopped
185g unsalted butter, cubed
40g cocoa powder, sifted
30ml strong, freshly brewed coffee
30ml amaretto
6 eggs, at room temperature
275g caster sugar
ice cream, cream or fresh berries, to serve
Nutella, to drizzle on top

Method
Preheat oven to 160ºC and grease/line a springform tin.

Chuck the hazelnuts in a food processor and blitz until it it is finely ground and just starting to turn to a paste. Set aside.

Combine the chocolate, butter and cocoa in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until just melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the coffee and amaretto. Set aside.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs and sugar in a stand mixer until just combined. Fold through the chocolate, followed by the hazelnuts and pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until just set. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Once cooled, serve with a dollop of ice cream and drizzled with nutella … because we can’t get enough hazelnut!

 

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Adamaretto Klein Sour

Drink, Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, TV Recap

Previously on Survivor, seventeen castaways got the chop leaving Hannah and Ken to face the jury with Adam who managed to snag all ten votes and snatch the crown – sorry, wrong show – claim the title of sole survivor.

While I am very defensive and proud of Hannah’s game, Adam’s was better and he joined the ranks of the Sandra Diaz-Twine Winner’s Circle – aside, how fucking amazing is it that Sandra is coming back for her third title? – after playing an adaptable game, ensuring he was never the biggest threat and that he stepped back from being in control when necessary.

It was a low-key dominant game and like Kristie in Australian Survivor, shows that 16 years watching the – at the risk of sounding like Fishbach and his echo, Zeke – evolution of the game prepared him to expect the unexpected and keep open to anything.

My only real criticism is his propensity to scream his confessionals, which scared me. But I mean, that should have only cost him three jury votes max.

As we are such close friends – we met when he was Regional Director for the Students for Barack Obama campaign in 2008 … as I was working in the Obama campaign, as you know – I told him that, he apologise profusely and I deemed that he was still worthy for his celebratory Adamaretto Klein Sour.

 

adamaretto-sour-klein-1

 

As a fuctioning alcoholic – probably – I believe that there is no better way to celebrate victory and life than with booze. And there is no better booze than a sweet and – obviously – sour, amaretto sour.

Sadly for Adam his victory ended on a bittersweet note with his dear mother, and fellow Survivor super-fan, passing away an hour after his return. If you’d like to hear more about her story and support Adam’s efforts to raise money for cancer research visit Stand Up to Cancer … or if you like a reward for your good deeds, Planet Buff.

Then toast to a game well won and life well lived – enjoy!

 

adamaretto-sour-klein-2

 

Adamaretto Sour Klein
Makes: 1.

Ingredients
60ml amaretto
30ml lemon juice
dash of bitters
dash of soda water (as I’m scared of egg whites)
maraschino cherry and slice of lemon, to garnish

Method
Combine the liquids in a glass over ice. Drizzle. Garnish. Down.

And repeat. Always repeat.

 

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