2012年6月5日星期二

Macaron Fantasia I - Earl Grey Macarons

Recently I have been so in love with making little sweets with tea. The aroma of tea filled inside cookies and macarons makes me excited and truly delighted.


So - with two left over egg whites I saved up from making creme brulee last time, I decided to make earl grey macarons. And, to add a little bit of excitement and challenge for myself, I tried using the french meringue method instead of the italian meringue method which I used to.  The Italian meringue method yields a very high chance of success yet the texture has not always been right.  The French method usually gives the perfect texture but the chance of failure is high.  


I was still a bit uncertain whether I would succeed by the time I was pipping... (I constantly tested the meringue and the batter to see if the consistency was right...) and I was indeed quite worried when, after thirty minutes of resting, my macarons shells still appeared a bit sticky and not completely dry.  So, I used a fan to blow onto the tray and I went to bath.  In the end, the macarons rested for approximately one hour before I put it in oven.  But I was so excited and amazed when I saw those little feets coming out from the macaron shells while baking!!!


The smell of earl grey filled the kitchen.  I sandwiched the macarons with honey buttercream and hazelnut paste.  They matched well with the tea flavour and I was totally satisfied with the texture of the shells.  I love making macarons :)




Earl Grey Macarons (makes about 25 paired macarons)


Ingredients:
2 egg whites
1 cup of icing sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp of superfine almond powder/flour
5 tbsp caster sugar
1 high quality earl grey tea bag (or other flavour of tea as you wish)


Method:
1. Sieve the icing sugar and almond powder together into a bowl and mix well. Sieve in the earl grey tea bag as well. Set aside.
2. Place the two egg whites into a clean deep bowl and mix with egg mixer on high speed until froth.  Add one tablespoon of caster sugar at a time and mix well before adding another.  Beat on high speed for 8-10 minutes until egg white becomes shiny and reveals stiff peaks. Keep testing for the stiff peaks (stiff peak is peaks that do not curl).  You may add some cream of tartar to stabilize the egg white.
3. Mix in 1/2 of the dry ingredients (mixed in step 1) and use a spatula to wipe it in the bowl.  Try to force out the air inside the egg whites.  Mix well before you add the other half of the dry ingredients.  After all of the dry ingredients are mixed, keep mixing until you reach the right consistency.  The right consistency of a macaron batter should flow like magma after you spoon it and let it fall, and then the fallen batter should incorporate with the rest of the batter slowly.  If it fall in lumps that means your batter isn't quite ready.  Mix and scrap again and test it again.  The best consistency should be - batter falling down from your spatula in slow motion, perhaps a bit lumpy, but will icnorporate with the rest of the batter in like 20 seconds.  
4. After you havd reached the right consistency, put the batter into a pipping with a round pipping tip.  
5. Prepare a silicone baking paper in a baking tray and pipe the batter onto the baking paper.  It is best to use silicone baking paper as it is re-useable i.e. environmentally friendly and the macarons get off easily.  If you are worried about the different sizes of macarons resulting from inconsistent pipping, you may draw the circles on your parchment paper/ baking paper before you do the pipping.  
6. Remember to tap the baking tray after you are done with the pipping.  Tap each side a few times. Then, set aside in a dry and cool place in order for the macaron shells to dry. As I live in Hong Kong ( a rather humid area), you will need around 1 hour to dry, provided that you put the tray in an air-conditioning room or beside a fan. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150-160c.
7.  Test the macaron shells with your fingertip.  If nothing sticks onto your finger tip, the macaron is ready for baking.  Put it inside the oven on the lower rack and turn off any fans if your oven is fan-heated. But I guess even with a fan-heated oven, if your macaron shells are dried well, they will turn out equally well.
8. You will notice the little foot coming out after around 4-5 minutes of baking.  Keep on baking for around 17-18 minutes until the macarons get off from the baking paper easily.  If not, bake for 1-2 more minutes. 
9.  After the macarons are cooled, stuff it with your desired filling.  From my experience, honey buttercream do work well, but if you would like a sweeter taste, you can try using hazelnut paste.
10. Chill the macarons in the fridge for 24 hours in order for the macaron shells to incorporate with the filling before serving. Then, enjoy :)


Honey Buttercream


Ingredients
1.5 tbsp honey
1 egg yolk
1.5 tbsp milk (full fat or skimmed)
98g butter (softened)
35g sugar


Method
1. Whisk the egg yolk and sugar until it appears creamy and has a pale yellow colour. You may use a mixer if you desire.
2. add the milk and whisk until incorporated.
3. Cook the mixture in a small saucepan on slow fire until it becomes thick and appears custard-like. It should take around 5-6 minutes.
4. Cool the egg mixture in a bowl until it reaches room temperature.
5. Add in the butter and mix well until fully incorporated.
6.  Add the honey and mix until incorporated.
7. Chill it a bit in the fridge until it is ready for pipping. 
8. Pipe !


Hope all of you enjoy making macarons! More recipes are coming!!

2012年4月27日星期五

Exquisite Red Velvet

It's been a while since I last updated my blog. I haven't been baking a lot recently, as the kitchen at home was under renovation.  Ever since its refurbishment completed last weekend, I had been so tempting to try a new recipe in my brand-new oven!! I couldn't express my gratitude more for my parents for buying the oven, and I decided to test a recipe that all girls would love - cupcakes.  Originally I was going for the lemon cupcake with lemon curd filling, however, one of my colleagues suggested that I should try red velvet, and so - I made red velvet cupcakes.  But I did make a little twist to it - I inserted lemon curd filling to balance the sweetness of the cupcake and I used mascarpone cheese to do the buttercream instead of cream cheese.  And it came out perfect - the texture of the cake was so light and fluffy, the lemon curd matched well with the cake and the mascarpone buttercream was so smooth.  It was truly exciting to see that the oven temperature was so stable that it allowed the cupcakes to rise beautifully.  I loved it, loved it and couldn't be more satisfied :)


Thanks to all the positive comments from colleagues, family and friends.  Your fulfulling expressions and happiness whilst eating the cupcake made my day!


Red Velvet Cupcakes (makes 12  portions):


1 1/4 cups (125 grams) sifted cakeflour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons (10 grams) regular or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups (150 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and line 12 muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.
2. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.
3. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
4. In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter. 
5. Working quickly, divide the batter evenly among the 12  muffin cups and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 18 -23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
6. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes and them remove from pan. Let cool completely before frosting. Pipe Frosting as desired.


Source of recipe: red velvet cupcake from Joy of Baking

For the mascarpone buttercream:
227g mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla essence
6 tsbp butter (softened)
1 cup of confectioner's sugar

Directions: use a whisk or electric mixer, mix the butter and confectioner's sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in mascarpone cheese, vanilla essence and beat until smooth.  Fill it to a pipping bag and pipe onto the cupcakes.

For the lemon curd (fills 6):

1 egg
26ml of lemon juice
50g sugar
19g butter
1tsp lemon zest


Directions: 
1. In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. 
2. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream or a hollandaise sauce) (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C). This will take approximately10 minutes
3. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. 
4. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. 
5. Add the lemon zest and let cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately (so a skin doesn't form) and refrigerate for up to a week.

Source: lemon curd from Joy of Baking










2012年3月3日星期六

Chocolate Banana Swirl

After my boyfriend has departed for Australia, there's been so much time left to myself.  As such, I have developed the habit of baking almost every weekend.  Sometimes I try new recipes, but most of the time I love to get hold to my most frequently baked besties. And this include banana cake.  I love the banana aroma filling almost every part of the house, it just makes me feel so enjoyable.

And yes, today, I made the classic soft and fluffy banana cake again.  However, this time I gave the recipe a little twist, and added a layer of chocolate to it.  It turned out great and I was quite satisfied with what came out of the oven.  The only part that I was not satisfied was that the bottom of the cake was a bit too moist. You can see it from my picture below.  Nevertheless, it was a very good cake, and it had a very nice natural cut on the top, which I believe was due to the good balance of mixing I have done. 

To enable myself to make banana cake whenever I wanted to, I always store up very ripe bananas at home.  Nobody at homes eat them because they look a bit too ugly with all "freckles" on the skin. But they are in fact the key to a good banana cake. So remember, next time if you see ripe bananas that are abandoned, do save it up, smudge it and store it in the freezer.  It can last for a few months! If you decide to use it, simply defrost it and then you can mix it with the other ingredients :)

Here's the recipe which I have adopted from Shirley and twisted it a little - making it more healthy, and more delicious - you will find that, banana and chocolate are - very great friends, probably, the best of the best friends :)



Utensils: 
Spatula
rectanguar baking tin
parchment paper
a bowl for mixing
electric mixer
sieve

Ingredients:
100g butter ( I used margarine and it turned out great)
90g sugar (I used brown sugar to give it the darker colour and also reduced to 70g only)
120g cake flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
200g banana smudge
10g cocoa powder (I used valrhona and it makes a difference)
2 eggs
nuts (optional)

Procedures:
1. Leave the eggs to room temperature and soften the butter (it takes around 2 hours) and preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
2. Smudge the bananas if you use fresh ones. Otherwise, defrost frosted banana smudge.
3. Sieve cake flour, baking power and baking soda and set aside.
4. Use the electric mixer to mix the butter and sugar until it appear creamy white. It will take around 5 minutes on medium speed.
5. Add in the eggs one by one, and mix thoroughly before you add in the second egg. Add also the vanilla essence
6. Add in the sieved flour mixture.  Gently fold in to combine the ingredients.
7. Add in the banana smudge and gently mix until combine. Do not over-mix. You may add nuts at this stage if you wish.
8. Take out 1/3 of the batter and mix with the sieved cocoa powder.
9. line the parchment paper in the rectangular tin. Pour half of the banana batter into the tin. 
10. Pour in the chocolate batter and spread evenly.
11. Lastly, pour the remaining banana batter and spread evenly.  You may use a knife to gently carve into the batter to give the cake a "swirl". 
12. Bake for around 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and ready to serve.

Tip 1: to prevent air bubbles to form in the batter, gently tap the tin against the kitchen table a few times before you put the tin into the oven.
Tip 2: to give it a nice crack in the middle, you may use a knife to carve on the middle from left to right when the top of the cake appears solid while baking.

PS. This cake is. really. good.

2012年1月23日星期一

新年蒙福

新年總要為擁有一切感恩。
今天是年初一,整家人運同澳洲回來的親人又一起到我家玩樂, 吃開年飯。
實在有太多東西要預備了,但因為下午有很多時間,每年初一就會成為我整餅的日子。
實在做過太多太多餅了 都根本記不得自己做過什麼,但原來上年這個時候我就做了鬆餅,今年, 因為我買了椰絲,就決定做椰絲牛油曲奇。

到我開始落手落腳做的時候,才發現.. 我除了牛油和雞蛋外...我什麼都沒有..-___-
麵粉不夠,糖也不夠... 結果,我用了中筋麵粉和黃糖做這個曲奇,雖然有總統牛油... 就是覺得缺少了一份鬆脆。不過, 整體來說我都是滿意的,這個曲奇很香,為新年加了不少氣氛 :)




材料: (約60小塊)
牛油 226g
糖霜 113g
麵粉 282g
雞蛋 1隻

做法:
1. 牛油溫室放軟。
2. 把牛油與糖霜混合,用打蛋器打至牛油和糖轉奶白色並幼滑。
3. 加入雞蛋並打均。
4. 加入已篩的麵粉,混合至所有材料完全融合。
5. 放進唧袋並擠出曲奇,放入預熱至180度的焗爐內焗至金黃色 (大概10-15 分鐘)。
6. 自行裝飾,寫上福字。

祝大家新年快樂 :)

I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers # 15: Auspicious Dishes for CNY (January 2012) hosted by Wen of Wen's Delight.

2012年1月20日星期五

Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year is fun because it is a time for great family gatherings!

Each year we eat lots and tonnes of good food, and of course this would include the traditional chinese new year cakes! This year, I made my second attempt to make the turnip cake.  It was very delicious, obviously, because I put soooo many ingredients inside! My mom almost wanted to kill me because I used sooo much of her very expensive dried scallops... lol

Anyway, I was very happy with the finishing product and it was a fun experience although it was very tiring to shred all the ingredients... and it was very sweet that my boyfriend did all these with me, and tolerated my bad temper throughout cooking.. shouting at him ... haha.

Here's the recipe!

CNY Turnip Cake

For one 6" pan:

Ingredients:
Turnip 1200g
rice flour 125g
corn flour/ corn starch 1tbsp
dried big mushroom (花姑) 10 pieces (or less)
dried scallops 10 pieces (or less)
dried shrimps 15 pieces
oil 2tsp
oyster sauce 3tbsp
pepper 1tsp
diced shallot 1 tbsp

Procedure:
1. Shred the turnip into ribbon like pieces and save up the water that comes out from the turnip.
2. soak the mushrooms, dried shrimps and dried scallops in separate bowls of warm water to soften them and then steam them for 20 minutes.  Tear the dried scallops into little pieces.  Cut the mushrooms and dried shrimps into little pieces. Save up the water that was used to soak the dried scallops and mushrooms.
3. Heat the pan with 1tsp of oil and add in the turnips plus the water that came out from the turnip. Stir-fry until the turnip pieces become soft. Turn off the fire and add in oyster sauces and 3 tbsp of water that was used to soak the dried scallops.
4. Heat another pan with 1tsp of oil and stir-fry the mushrooms, dried shrimps and dried scallops. Add in the turnip and mix well. Add pepper to taste.  This is the turnip mixture.
5. Sieve the rice flour and corn flour/starch and add them into the turnip mixture. Mix well.
6. Put the mixture into aluminium foil bowls that are slightly scanted with oil. Steam it for approximately 40 minutes. You may pour all the water that was used to soak mushrooms, dried shrimps and scallops into the water for steaming the turnip cake. It will add to the smell of the turnip cake. :)
7. Add in the diced shallots.
8. Ready to serve or can be fried again to serve.

It can be kept for around 1 week in the refrigerator.

The original recipe can be found here.

Happy Chinese New Year to everyone! :)

I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #15: Auspicious Dishes for CNY (January 2012) hosted by Wen of Wen's Delight.



2011年12月27日星期二

Gingerbread treats

Yes. This year I made over 80 gingerbread cookies with each and everyone of them having a unique design.  It was a tough test of creativity but I really enjoyed the process although I spent more then 12 hours decorating them.. not to mention the baking time and preparation.

Yet, I was so glad that not only did the cookie taste well, the decoration were very impressive too. Everyone who got my cookie was delighted and amazed by the decoration, which gave me a lot of encouragement.

Thanks to all those who supported me and those who enjoyed the cookies. :)

The recipe is simple, same as my last post, I bought a gingerbread mix from City'super HK, (although I forgot the brand.. it was definitely not "gingerhaus" manufactured in USA - which tasted rather bad) and made the royal icing myself from the recipe here.

I got many themes for the cookies, and here it is:-

House theme

Christmas Charms theme

Christmas Tree theme

Christmas charms with santa!

Christmas tree with santa!

Gingerbread man 

Gingerbread men theme

Sheep theme

I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #14 Creative Christmas Bakes (December 2011) hosted by Hankerie.

I must try it again next year :)

Christmas Nativity Story

This year I decided to make a nativity story with gingerbread cookies.  Thanks to a friend who gifted me a set of nativity story cookie cutters on my baptism, I was able to use some imagination and complete the nativity story. It was indeed a test of decorating skills because the cookies were small and not easy to decorate at all, especially the facial expressions.

To save time, I used a gingerbread mix bought from City'super HK which required adding around 30g of water and 30 g of butter, and I made approximately 80 cookies. It tasted really good and I was quite satisfied with the outcome. I made the royal icing using the recipe from here. I liked the icing's consistency, but beware that if you use liquid food colouring, the royal icing cannot last for another day as it will turn more fluid and not good for drawing anymore.

Christmas is my favourite time of the year, because of all beautiful decorations, christmas trees, exchanging gifts and most important of all, it's the birth of Jesus.  I am so glad everyone enjoyed the cookies and I was able to spread message of "Love, Peace and Joy" in Christmas!




I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #14: Creative Christmas Bakes (December 2011) hosted by Hankerie.
Merry Christmas to everyone!