Sweet Talk: 9 Celebrities on the Best Dessert They Ever Had and More

Sweet Talk: 9 Celebrities on the Best Dessert They Ever Had and More

Plus, let baking goddess Anna Olson show you how to make a pink and jammy strawberry rhubarb pie that's perfect for sharing. Find out too, which restaurant makes the best kueh salat in Singapore and let Manila-based cookbook author Angelo Comsti tell you all about his love for kakanin, or Filipino sweet cakes.

What comes to mind when you think of dessert? Some say, "Celebration!", and for others, it has become an essential need - quite like air or water. Well, we asked 9 celebrities, from baking pro Anna Olson (which by the way, her favourite pie recipe's down below), to a Keto advocate that owns a bakery of sweet, addictive Keto-safe treats, mums, singers and cookbook authors from Paris to the Philippines

1. What’s your first word or phrase that comes to mind when we say “dessert”?

1- Erica Paredes, Paris-based chef. Photo: Erica Paredas. 2- Ming Bridges, Singapore-based singer-songwriter. Photo: Ming Bridges. 3- Anna Olson, Celebrity Chef. Photo: Anna Olson.

Ming Bridges: Celebration!

Anna Olson“Expression” – I have made a career out of making and serving dessert, and it is how I express myself creatively. My father is an artist and growing up, I struggled to find a creative outlet through painting and drawing only to find out that baking and desserts were a way I could express myself.

Janti Brasali: Sugar.

Erica Paredes: The only right way to end an already fantastic meal. It's never complete without a touch of sweetness in the end! 

Adam Liaw: I’m not sure why, but it was “crème caramel”. Crème caramel was my favourite dessert when I was a kid, and it’s so easy to make it’s probably the one sweet I make most often these days. 

Brie BenfellA glorious treat that I will eat with zero regrets!

Angelo ComstiHappy pill. It gets me up whenever I'm down. Actually, even when I'm having just a regular day, desserts don't fail to perk me up. I must confess, I have a real sweet tooth.

2. What dessert are you missing right now?

1- Laduree's 2020 12-macaron collection with Tokidoki. Photo: Laduree. 2- German cafe Winkel 43's signature apple pie. Photo: Winkel 43. 3- Adam Liaw, celebrity chef. Photo: Adam Liaw. 4- Straits Clan's kueh salat, a glutinous rice cake with kaya, coconut milk flavours. Photo: Straits Clan. 

AO: I am missing Macarons from France right now. Sure, I could make my own or buy some at a patisserie in Toronto,  but I normally visit France at least once a year and because that is not happening, I have to rely on photos, memories and the empty boxes that I save from visiting places like Laduree, Fauchon, Lenotre and Pierre Herme.

EP: I live in Paris where you can find the best desserts in the world. But I am missing the sweet snacks I used to eat as a kid especially fried suman with butter and sugar and most especially puto bumbong during Christmas! (Ed's note: Deep-fried desserts are some of our most addictive recipes, check out our list of 10 best ones here)  

MB: I’m actually really craving this apple pie my sister introduced me to from Winkel 43 in Amsterdam. She flew from Amsterdam to London with a few slices in her carry on just so we could try it! During this no-travel time, I’ve been thinking about going back to try it again!

Haneri: Honestly, cronuts.

AL: As the weather gets warmer here in Australia I’m really missing shaved iced desserts, particularly the Japanese ones that are shaved so finely they’re almost like clouds. (Ed's note: We love treats from the fridge too, especially a cool and chewy Japanese sweet mochi)

BB: Fall is coming, so I am missing the pumpkin pie made by my mom!

AC: A lot. Among them are the kueh salat from the Straits Clan in Singapore, mango sticky rice from Mae Varee in Bangkok, and Pink Guava Cake from Maridel's in Iloilo.

3. What’s the one dessert you cannot live without? 

1- Anna Olson's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. Photo: Anna Olson. Cream & jam donuts, Bungalow Cafe. Photo: Bungalow Cafe. 2- French pastry Kouign-amann, Tiong Bahru Bakery. Photo: Tiong Bahru Bakery. 3 & 4 - Classic Filipino cakes of maja blanca, sapin-sapin, Angelo Comsti's Minatamis sweet shop. Photo: Minatamis. 

AO: Fruit Pie! I love making a buttery, flaky pie pastry and then filling it with fruits of the season. It wouldn’t be autumn without an apple pie, and I think strawberry rhubarb pie is my ultimate favourite, colourfully celebrating spring with its vivid pink ccolour. (Ed's note: You can make that jammy pie here

JB: Chocolate Cheesecake, which is a perfect marriage between cream cheese and chocolate. At the moment, I’ve been baking this a lot at home, but it will soon be available at Seriously Keto.

EP: Ice Cream! I make my own ice cream and sorbets depending on what's in season but Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough has a special place in my heart. Currently though, I have been making this pandan flavored Basque Burnt Cheesecake that I am loving so much. (Ed's note: If you're feeling adventurous, try our recipe for a creamy Durian Basque Burnt Cheesecake

Sabrina Cristobal Go: I like desserts that are light and fruity. So I enjoy a good strawberry chiffon cake, donuts filled with berries and cream but I also love indulgent, chocolate-y desserts like churros con chocolate. The strawberry chiffon cake or a strawberry tres leches, I can make but the donuts I buy from Bungalow Cafe and the churros from Dulcinea or La Lola Churreria.

H: I love getting the Kouign-amann from Tiong Bahru Bakery. I get it probably once a week. 

BB: Gelato. No matter where I am in the world, you can always find a spot that makes the most scrumptious and unforgettable gelato. My husband and I go on hunts to find different flavours and cute spots to alleviate our sweet tooth.

AC: I have a deep affinity for Filipino rice cakes. And this pandemic downtime allowed my friend and I to start a business selling our traditional versions of local specialties aka kakanin. We started with the all-time favorites like maja blanca and sapin-sapin and are about to introduce regional items. (Ed's note: Check out Angelo's Minatamis Filipino sweet shop)

4. How often do you have dessert?

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JB: I have dessert once a day. This used to be a really toxic relationship until I figured out how to bake sugar-free and low-carb desserts. I love to share my healthier creations with all my friends and family, and even started a business out of it!  (Ed's note: Watch Janti's keto Raspberry Chocolate Bread Pudding above, and check out all of her keto cook-a-longs here

AO: Since baking and desserts are at the heart of my career, I make and eat desserts daily! But I do have a healthy relationship with my sweets. Being “work” for me, I treat tastings clinically, analyzing taste, texture, colour, etc and I only have small portions. Any leftover dessert test recipes aren’t wasted, though – I give extras to family and friends, and even to my local food bank and hospice, when I am really busy such as creating for a cookbook or TV series.

1- Our recipe for gooey Brown Butter Miso Brownie squares. 2- Sabrina Cristobal Go's Kit-Kat Cookies. Photo: Sabrina Cristobal Go/sinfullysabrina.com

MB: I’m currently on a brownie bender where I have a brownie as a mid-afternoon snack most days, and if there’s ice cream in the freezer I’ll have some every night after dinner! (Ed's note: Are you a brownie or blondie fan? Well, these chocolately, caramel squares are for both!) 

SCG: I have it often, almost after every meal. So it is definitely a love-hate relationship. I’m trying to lose a bit of the baby weight (I gave birth 6 months ago) but I also don’t want to deprive myself of something that makes me happy. These days, it’s all about balance. It’s stressful enough to cope with this pandemic, if having a slice of cake brings a pocket of happiness, why not have it right?

H: I love dessert. I try not to have it every single day, but I go through days at a time where I will want to. Sometimes I give in. Sometimes I don’t. It depends on how much I’m working or how I’ve been eating.

AL: I’m definitely not a dessert sharer. These days desserts aren’t very big and they’re designed to balance multiple elements so really sharing them is a shame. Everyone has a separate dessert stomach anyway! (Ed's note: Join Adam Liaw in Japan, where he makes a delightfully pink Sakura Mochi for the spring.)

5. What is the best dessert you ever had?

1- Janti's Seriously Keto assortment of cupcakes. Photo: Seriously Keto. 2- Janti Brasali. Photo: Janti Brasali. 3- Anna Olson's Gateau St. Honore. Photo: Anna Olson.

JB: Overseas, my favorite guilty pleasure is from Sprinkles Ice Cream. I always get salted caramel ice cream with a red velvet cone. Locally, my favorite bakery is Seriously Keto (obviously), because I can enjoy everything there without the guilt that comes with eating sugar. 

AO: I think my favourite dessert that I’ve made is Gateau St. Honore. It is so decadent and beautiful: buttery puff pastry topped with vanilla pastry cream and caramelized sugar-dipped profiteroles and whipped cream. It takes a big effort to make it, so I think I love it so much because it is a rare treat. (Ed's note: If you're thinking of a simpler dessert, start with the basics of baking with Anna Olson

SCG: In Singapore, Bungalow Cafe makes great pastries but what I always get from them (at least once, every other week) are their donuts. It doesn’t even matter what flavor you get, it’s all good! I know Basque Burnt Cheesecake is a thing these days, but I thoroughly enjoyed the slice I had from La Viña in San Sebastián, Spain when I went there last year. 

MB: What a question! One of the best desserts I’ve ever had is called a Knickerbocker Glory. It has all my favourites - vanilla ice cream, short bread, strawberry (sauce and fruit), clotted cream in one! It’s amazing. 

EP: There have been a few but one that comes to mind is the Salted Caramel Riz au Lait at L'ami Jean here in Paris! 

Kueh Salat from Candlenut. Photo: Candlenut

AL: I saw a friend of mine making kueh salat on Instagram yesterday and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. Malcolm Lee’s restaurant Candlenut in Singapore makes the best version I’ve ever had. I still dream about it. 

AC: Because it is nostalgic and personally special to me, it has to be my mom's leche flan. It is something I grew up with and to this day, still enjoy occasionally. No other dessert holds so much memories for me.

6. It’s Dessert Month this October on Asian Food Network – something to say to our fans?

1- Singapore-based singer-songwriter Haneri, formerly known as Daphne Khoo. Photo: Haneri. 2- Wellness-influencer Brie Benfell with her newborn. Photo: Brie Benfell.

AC: Life is short. Make it sweet.

AO: Dessert is about treating yourself to something special, so indulge!  Tomorrow is for salad. (:     

H: Dessert is best enjoyed with some music! :D (Ed's note: Ask Haneri what playlist she recommends with an after-dinner dessert @itshaneri

AL: If there was ever a year that needed a bit of sweetness and kindness, 2020 would be it. If you’re baking a cake in 2020 drop half of it over to a friend’s house.

BB: I have just given birth and so many mums have messaged me talking about how they feel guilty for eating dessert, etc. I say, treat yourself! Do not feel guilty, instead enjoy every single bite. If your body is craving a sweet treat, enjoy it and move on! (Ed's note: Find out how she keeps it all sweet @briebenfell)

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

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