Recipe: Koko Kabana chocolate dessert

Today our corporate chef Bruno le Gac pays tribute to the executive pastry chef of Constance Ephelia Resort, Seychelles Mr Shahine Mohamad. Shahine is a man of talent, a man of passion… and a true gentleman. He is also an artist.

Shahine Mohamad (left) and Bruno le Gac

Shahine Mohamad (left) and Bruno le Gac

Here, he shares with us his latest creation: ‘Koko Kabana’, a Seychellois-inspired name for a truly delicious dessert.

It’s a complex recipe but if you’re an experienced cook looking for a delightful dessert to make for Christmas, this could be it.

And for everyone else, trying it is only a flight away… to the gorgeous island of Mahé!

The recipe

Banana Maple Compote

  • 300g fresh banana
  • 130g maple syrup
  • 30g freshly grated coconut
  • 1 piece orange zest  

1. Heat up the maple syrup in a sauté pan and let reduce to half. Then add the sliced banana, the freshly grated coconut and caramelise them until soft. Remove from heat and add the freshly grated orange zest. Let cool.

Koko Kabana

Koko Kabana

2. Chocolate Mousse

  • 240g egg yolk                                 
  • 100g whole eggs
  • 200g sugar
  • 100g water
  • 800g fresh cream
  • 800g chocolate 55 %  Valrhona Equatorial Noir
  • 8g gelatin leaves

1. Soak the gelatin in very cold water for 20 minutes. Boil the sugar and the water in a sauce pan and bring to 121˚C, meanwhile beat the eggs and the egg yolk with an electric mixer.
2. Pour the sugar syrup over the eggs slowly and keep mixing until it thickens and cools down.
3. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler at 50˚C (water temperature)
4. Strain the gelatin from the cold water and melt in a sauce pan. Then fold in the egg/sugar mixture. Finally fold in the melted chocolate.
5. Whip the cream to a semi-whipped level then divide it into three portions. Mix the first portion vigorously into the mixture then slowly fold in the second portion. The third portion should be folded very carefully to keep the light texture.

Coconut Milk Jelly

  • 500g coconut milk
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 10g gelatin leaves

1. Soak the gelatin leaves in very cold water for 20 minutes then strain.
2. Boil 20% of the coconut milk with the sugar then add in the strained gelatin and mix until completely dissolved.
3. Pour in the rest of the coconut milk, then place in very small molds of 0.5 cm height and 3 cm diameter. Cool down in fridge.

Biscuit Breton

  • 300g butter
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 10g inverted sugar
  • 4g salt
  • 100g egg yolk
  • 250g flour T55
  • 10g baking powder
  • 50g almond powder

1. Beat in a mixer the butter, icing sugar, and inverted sugar until fluffy.
2. Gradually add in the egg yolk while continuously mixing.
3. Sift together the flour, salt and almond powder then fold them into the butter mixture.
4. Spread into a small tray of 0.5 cm height and bake at 170˚C for 25 minutes.Take out from oven and cut into cubes while still hot.

Coconut Milk Custard

  • 250g coconut milk
  • 50g egg yolk
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 piece vanilla bean

1. Mix the coconut milk, sugar and egg yolk together then strain and place them in a double boiler. Add in the vanilla bean and stir until the temperature reaches 85˚C. Remove from heat, strain and cool down as quickly as possible.

Chocolate glaze

  • 140g water
  • 360g sugar
  • 240g cream
  • 120g cocoa powder 22/24
  • 12.5g gelatin leaves

1. Boil together the water, sugar and cream, then pour in the cocoa powder and bring to 107˚C. Remove from heat.
2. Soak the gelatin leaves in very cold water, then strain and fold them into the mixture.

Salted milk chocolate flakes

  • 200g milk chocolate Jivara 40%
  • 5g Fleur de Sel

1. Temper the chocolate. Stir in the fleur de sel then spread thinly on an acetate sheet.
2. Once it starts to thicken cut discs of 7cm diameter.

Assembly
1. Mask in a flexi pan mould dome of 7cm diameter with a layer of chocolate mousse to cover the surrounding, and leave a hole in the middle.
2. Place the caramelised banana in the centre and top with the coconut milk jelly. Then cover with another layer of chocolate mousse. Place the milk chocolate disc on top and shock in the freezer for 20 min.
3. Take out of the freezer, and remove from dome. Glaze with the chocolate glaze,and  decorate with pieces of salted milk chocolate flakes and isomalt if desired.
4. Place on a plate and surround with coconut milk custard, freshly grated orange zest and biscuit breton.

Constance Christmas Log Cake Competition

Bruno le Gac, our executive corporate chef, reveals the winner of the Constance Christmas log cake.

Constance Christmas Couture Handbag Cake

Constance Christmas Couture Handbag Cake

The whole process started more than 6 months ago, when I launched an internal competition amongst the pastry chefs of the company.

Inspired by what the top pastry chefs in Paris have been doing lately, we wanted to create a unique Christmas log cake that would be presented and served in all our resorts on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day.

The Christmas Log challenge

The rules were quite simple: the mandatory ingredients for the cake were chocolate and tea (any kind). The chefs could choose the rest.

Our pastry chefs had to come up with something elegant, original and representative of the group. The use of pre-casted moulds, chocolate decors and commercial decorative features was not encouraged, as we wanted the chefs to express their creativity freely and to think out of the box. Finally, all components needed to be edible, even decorative ones.

Each pastry chef had the same amount of time to create, elaborate and present their own version of what the 2011 Constance Hotels Experience signature Christmas log cake should be.

And the winner is…

Chrystel Germain, pastry chef at Constance Le Prince Maurice

Chrystel Germain, pastry chef at Constance Le Prince Maurice

I had the very difficult task of choosing the winning team, based on design, originality and taste. All projects were very interesting and I was thrilled to see how well this project had been received by the teams in our different resorts.

And the winner is…. Constance Le Prince Maurice, and pastry chef Chrystel Germain, who created the Constance Christmas Couture Handbag Cake.

Constance Christmas Couture Handbag Cake

The cake is made out of a coconut ‘success’ biscuit, a body of milk chocolate with coconut tea and cardamom mousse, and a heart of Malibu mousse. It is decorated with laced milk chocolate that symbolizes woven leather.

The sides of the cake are decorated with a paste made out of icing sugar, cocoa butter and glucose syrup. This represents soft leather, and it takes the signature orange colour of Constance Le Prince Maurice.

 Chef Chrystel got his inspiration by passing by the beautiful Anya Hindmarch shop located in the lobby of the resort. Naturally, this is where we chose to take the photos of the winning cake.

Last minute deals for Christmas and New Year at Constance Ephelia

Senior Suite at Constance Ephelia Resort, Seychelles

Senior Suite at Constance Ephelia Resort, Seychelles

Pack your bags and jet off to Constance Ephelia, Seychelles this Christmas and New Year.

Our last minute deal means you could be lounging by the pool and sipping cocktails on Christmas Eve.

  • Offer applicable to junior and senior suites.
  • Valid from 23 December 2011 to 3 January 2012, minimum of 7 nights stay.
  • Last departure date from hotel is 4 January 2012.

Don’t miss out on this great deal – find out more, including rates and terms & conditions -on the Constance Ephelia website.

Interview: The Guittet family – on holiday with Constance

Guittet family on holiday at Constance Hotels Experience
Guittet family on holiday at Constance Hotels Experience

Aurélien Guittet is a Captain for a European flagcarrier. He is married to Anouk, a lawyer, who is currently a full time mum. They have 2  children – Alexandre, 4 years old and Chloé, 2 years old. They live in Luxembourg, Europe.

Here they share their experience of family holidays with Constance Hotels.

1. Tell us what your family loves most about going on holiday with Constance Hotels Experience.

We discovered Constance 11 years ago. The first resort we went to was Le Prince Maurice in Mauritius. That was such a great time!

The resort itself was like a little paradise. The restaurants were great and on top of it all, the staff make you feel at home, giving very personalised service and a lot of attention. Since that first experience, we only stay at Constance Hotels when we travel to the Indian Ocean.

2. What do your children look forward to the most about the holidays? And you and your wife?

Guittet family out kayaking in Seychelles
Guittet family out kayaking in Seychelles

Our kids are still very young but we agreed early on that we wanted to share our holidays with them.

Our friends and family thought we were crazy to take such small kids so far away from their home. But one of our favourite quotes from Mark Twain says it all:

‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’

So every time we have the opportunity, we take our kids along for the holidays. What they look forward to is to spend time with us, discover new things, enjoy sunny weather, and the beach and pools.

For us it’s about the same. But our main goal when we come to Constance is to enjoy wonderful places, have the feeling of living something exclusive and let ourselves be pampered by the very professional staff.

3. How do you and your wife get the opportunity to relax and enjoy the wonderful surroundings, when you’re travelling with two young children?

Children playing at the kids club, Halaveli

Children playing at the kids club, Halaveli

Well, it’s a question of organisation. Most of the time, when we go to the beach or to the pool, we take them along. But when we want to enjoy a special moment like relaxing at the spa, snorkelling or sailing, we take them to the kids club.

4. Tell us about the different resorts you’ve visited. Do you have a favourite, and why?

As said, our first visit to Constance was at Le Prince Maurice. The second visit was at Constance Lemuria. That stay proved to us that Constance was really the kind of resort we wanted for our holidays because of the location in a small paradise, because of the great service, food, and the impression that every guest is treated like an individual person.

So a few holidays later, we went back to Le Prince Maurice and got engaged there one evening, having a cup of champagne close to the pool with a musician playing flute in the background…

We returned to Le Prince Maurice to celebrate our 10 years together and that was our last trip without our kids.

Aurelien, Alexandre and Chloe on the beach

Aurelien, Alexandre and Chloe in the Seychelles

The first resort we visited with the kids was Constance Ephelia. We were a bit sceptical when we booked, as this resort was much bigger than the ones we visited before, and we were wondering how our kids would behave in such a place. But the experience was just fantastic.

Our last visit was to Constance Halaveli Resort in theMaldives. There, we also had a great experience.

Our favourite remains Le Prince Maurice due to the sentimental value it holds for us, and Ephelia is in our opinion the best for kids.

But we must say that in any Constance resort, the architecture and lighting are absolutely beautiful and well designed, making it a very peaceful place.

5. Have you stayed in different types of accommodation? If so, which type has suited you the most as a family?

Children at the water villa, Constance Halaveli

Children at the water villa, Constance Halaveli

All the suites we have had were really big and it is no problem to share it with the kids. The best was the water villa at Halaveli – very spacious, state of the art equipment, very quiet, breathtaking view and again, the impression of being alone.

6. Do your children enjoy the special kids’ activities that are on offer?

Yes they do! As said before, we sometimes leave them there when we want to do activities that are not suitable for them. They like to play with other kids, use the facilities (games, swimming pools) and they get on very well with the friendly and professional staff from the kids club.

7. Is the food at Constance ‘family friendly’?

Guittet family dining at Constance Hotels Experience

Guittet family dining at Constance

For us, being French, food and wine is of great importance during our holidays.

At Constance, this is just fabulous. Eating at the restaurant is a real pleasure when you can taste high quality products prepared with passion, with the perfect matched wine.

In every Constance hotel we have been, there was always a great choice of restaurants. At the beginning with the kids, we were afraid that they would find the time at the table long and disturb the other guests, but they behaved really well, and the staff are so friendly that it really makes you feel at home.

I was so pleased to discover the wine menu at Halaveli, and to visit their great wine cellar with the chief sommelier. Amazing wine list, especially when you remember that you’re on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean!

We also love to order breakfast for delivery in our room. Being a family and having breakfast on your terrace with your kids, watching the endless ocean and observing the fish hunting is priceless.

8. Would you share some highlights from your family holidays with Constance?

Our kids are very lucky. By travelling with us, they have already seen different cultures, different people, and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.

Guittet family with giant land tortoise

Guittet family with giant land tortoise

They have fed sharks and rays, played with giant turtles, learned to swim in the nicest places and the nicest pools. They came with us deep sea fishing, tried kayaking and had a go in a paddle boat. What else can you dream of to develop their curiosity?

And when they get tired, put them on the bed – the in-room video on demand system has many cartoons that they will enjoy…

9. Do you have any tips for travelling with young children that you’d like to share with other Constance fans?

For the flights, night flights are great as the kids can sleep during travel.

The only ‘enemy’ will be the sun, never let them out without sun protection…

Round up: Top diving gear 2011

Scuba diver in sea

Diving off Madagascar

If you’re planning a diving holiday in the coming months, here are the latest dive gear recommendations from top scuba diving websites Sport Diver and Diver Net:

1. Top 10 diving equipment tips from Sport Diver

  • Sport Diver has polled hundreds of PADI dive professionals to find out their top tips for scuba equipment.

2. Top divers recommend their favourite kit

  • Meanwhile on Diver Net, top divers give their recommendations for their favourite piece of diving kit.

3. Best dive computers 2011

  • And if you’re looking for a dive computer, check out recommendations on Sport Diver for the best on the market in 2011.

4. Your recommendations

If you’ve got any recommendations for the best dive gear on the market, or tips for how to get the best use out of your gear, we’d love to hear from you.

You can leave a comment below, send a tweet to @constancehotels or post a message on our Constance Facebook page.

Competition: When travelling with children, the item I always pack for them is…

 

Girl on beach at Constance Halaveli

Girl on beach at Constance Halaveli

Win a magnum of Art de Vignes wine.

To take the stress out of packing as the festive holidays get underway, we want you to share your top tip for what to pack when travelling with children.

We’ll publish all the tips that we receive, and the best one will win a bottle of fabulous Art de Vignes wine.

How to enter

All you have to do is send us your top tip for what to pack when travelling with children - you can comment on the blog below, tweet us @constancehotels or post on our Constance Facebook page.

Competition ends on Thursday 22 December at 12 noon GMT. You can read our terms and conditions here.

Remember, either post to the comments section below, or visit our Facebook or Twitter pages to enter.

Good luck!