Friday, 24 March 2017

Chocolate French Macarons

The response for my previous culinary arts session for Matcha Azuki bean macarons was overwhelming and I was told to prepare for another session perhaps later this year. I thought, why not try another simple and yummy flavour -- chocolate!

Chocolate macaron shells with whipped dark chocolate ganache

I have provided a detailed explanation in my Matcha Azuki bean macaron post so I will not repeat some of the details like why I chose to demo French method instead of Italian and explaining the basic ingredients. What's different here is of course the addition of cocoa powder to make the shells chocolate flavour. If you are new to making macarons, I strongly suggest that you read my Matcha Azuki bean post to have a better understanding of the basics.

Choice of cocoa powder
A quick Google search will show you that you may use either natural or Dutch processed (alkalized) cocoa powder for making macarons. I have chosen the latter as it has a more mellow flavour and because of something I observed​ in my bakes. I have always used Dutch processed cocoa powder for baking chiffon cakes and macarons (both use meringues as leavening method) as I find that the natural ones tend to deflate the batter/ meringue. In the case of macarons, it will cause the batter to be runnier and the baked shell denser.

Recipe for chocolate macaron shells
Ingredients (makes 12-13 macarons, 24-26 shells):
40g egg whites, aged (about one large egg)
36g caster sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
43g superfine ground almond
49g icing sugar
1 tbs (8g) Dutch processed or natural cocoa powder
1/8 tsp fine sea salt (optional)

1. Prepare a baking tray with an array of 4cm-circle template. This template is optional if you are able to pipe shells of roughly the same size. Line the tray with baking paper.

2. Sift almond, icing sugar, cocoa powder and salt (if using) together into a bowl.

3. Place egg whites in a clean, grease-free metal bowl with cream of tartar (if using). Use an elextric mixer and beat on medium speed until frothy. Gradually add caster sugar while beating. Continue to beat until stiff peaks are formed. When stiff peaks just start to form, you will be able to turn the bowl upside down without the meringue slipping out. You may be tempted to stop beating at this point for fear of over-beating the egg whites. Don't be shy, continue to beat for about several seconds more until the meringue is really stiff.

Stiff glossy peaks!

4. Scatter about 2tbs of almond mixture over the meringue and fold in gently with a spatula in one direction.

5. Continue by repeating step 4 until all the almond mixture is incorporated. As more and more almond mix is added in, you may fold a little less gently to make sure everything is homogeneous.

6. Test the consistency of the batter at this point by scooping up a generous amount of batter and letting it fall back into the bowl. If the batter flows smoothly and slowly in a continuous ribbon, it is ready. But if it breaks off at a few points or doesn't flow well, continue to fold a couple of times and check again. This is perhaps the trickiest part of macaron making as newbies may find it hard to gauge when is the batter ready. You may refer to my video tutorials for macaron basics over here to have an idea of the consistency. Do not overfold the batter. If it is very runny (like thick sauce or some cake batter), chances are you have overfolded and you have to start over. The French method is less forgiving than Italian method when it comes to overfolded batter.

7. Transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a 6-7mm diameter round piping tip. If you don't bake often and don't have such baking supplies lying around, simply use a ziplock bag with a hole cut at one corner. Your macarons won't turn out nice and round but will still taste the same.

8. Stick the 4 corners of the baking sheet to the tray with a little batter. Pipe circles on the prepared baking tray. To do so, place piping tip at the center of the circle, perpendicular to the tray and about 5mm away from the surface. Squeeze the bag and release pressure when the edge of the batter is about 3mm away from the edge of the circle. Give the tip a little twirl as you lift off.

9. Bang the tray on the table to release trapped air bubbles as well as flatten the peaks in the middle.

10. Preheat oven to 160°C. Set oven rack to lowest position. Note: use top and bottom heating elements only. Do not use the fan mode in the oven. Some people get good results with the oven fan on but I see more cases of uneven feet, warped shells, cracked shells and browning when the fan is on. Always use an oven thermometer! Actual oven temperature may be 10-20°C off from the temperature you set.

11. Dry the shells by leaving them under the fan or in an air-conditioned room until the surface is dry to touch. The shells must not feel sticky at all before going into the oven or they will crack. This may take 1-2h. I found that using the hairdryer works really well to speed up the drying.

12. Put tray of macaron shells in oven. Turn the temperature down to 140°C. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until the feet no longer appear wet. Let the shells cool completely on the tray before gently peeling the baking sheet away from the shells. Do not peel the macaron away from the sheet as parts of the shells may remain stuck on the sheet. If the shells are really stuck, chances are they are underbaked. Dry them out in the oven for another 5 minutes and try again. Repeat if necessary.

Freshly baked shells!

Perfectly baked shells should have no hollows, not stuck to baking sheet, have crisp outer shell and soft chewy interior. It's ok if the freshly baked shells are a little more on the crispy side. Simply store assembled macarons for a couple more days before consuming.

Don't be discouraged if you don't get it right the first time. Practice makes perfect!

The dark chocolate ganache recipe that I am sharing doesn't have to be followed to the letter as it depends on your personal preference. I am catering to Singapore's hot climate and prefer something that won't turn too runny when being stored at aircon temperature for 2-3 days. Some prefer to use ganache as it is but I prefer to whip it for a lighter texture so the whipping step is optional. A basic ganache recipe just includes two ingredients -- chocolate and heavy cream. I include things like a little salt and vanilla bean paste (and sometimes coffee and liqueur) to enhance the flavour. A typical ratio of 2:1 for dark chocolate : cream is usually used but I find this ratio too runny for Singapore's climate. I use 3:1 with some addition of unsalted butter for a firmer ganache.

Recipe for dark chocolate ganache
90g dark chocolate, chopped
9g unsalted butter
30g heavy cream
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

1. Place chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat at medium power for 20 seconds. Use a spatula to mix well. Repeat until mixture is smooth and melted.

2. Place cream in small saucepan. Heat until it starts to bubble. Pour over melted chocolate mixture and stir in one direction with a spatula until smooth.

3. Add fine sea salt and vanilla paste. Mix well.

4. I like to whip up my ganache so it's lighter in texture but this is optional. You may let the mixture stand at room temperature until it firms up to toothpaste consistency. Alternatively, refrigerate for several minutes before beating mixture with spatula. Return to fridge for another 3-4 min and beat the mixture again. If it's not as light and fluffy as you prefer it to be, return to the fridge one last time for another 3-4 min and beat again.

5. Transfer to piping bag and fill the shells.

Refrigerate the assembled macarons for at least 24h in airtight container before serving. Let the macarons sit out at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before eating. If you are patient enough, let the macarons mature in the fridge for 3-5 days before consuming. The taste and texture will be way more awesome than when freshly assembled.

Here's hubby's critique of the macaron and mind you, he has a golden palate!

"The richness of the chocolate was a party in my mouth. Bitter yet not too bitter, a touch of sweetness, no cloying stickiness that ganache sometimes has, and offset by a slightly chewy, crunchy shell."


with love,
Phay Shing

Read More »

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Giraffe Vanilla-Pandan Chiffon Cake

This cake has been sitting in my computer for the longest time. I made this chiffon giraffe I think during mid-autumn last year. We had an epic miscommunication for this cake LOL. My friend wanted a giraffe chiffon cake, referring to my giraffe-patterned chiffon cake, but I made a chiffon giraffe instead! Thankful it was all ok in the end =)

The giraffe is orange-chocolate in flavour, made from chiffon baked in egg shell (for head), in bowl (for body), and swissrolls for the neck and limbs, requiring dowel support. It was modelled after a cute giraffe stuffed toy we have! The base cake is two tone, made from pandan and vanilla chiffon cake.

Hope this cute giraffe brings a smile to your face!

With lots of love,

Read More »

Monday, 20 March 2017

Rilakkuma & Kiiroitori Earl Grey Lavender Macaron Carousel

My dear friend who has been a loving sister in Christ and have always so encouraging requested this for her daughter's birthday. Presenting my sweet girly Rilakkuma and Kiiroitori macaron carousel!

I filled the carousel with Earl Grey lavender filling as requested. I added both dried lavender and Earl Grey together in the mix.

I used the reduced-sugar macaron shell recipe. Both regular and reduced sugar recipes can be found here. You may refer to my Creative Baking: Macarons book for a systematic presentation of the basics and complex shaped macarons, as well as the template for the bears. You may refer to my video tutorials for macaron basics and piping of complex shapes on the blog too. You may refer to this post for the dimensions of the shells required to make the carousel and the respective baking times. I piped a scalloped roof like the one similar to the sheep macaron carousel as I think it's really pretty and it is very helpful for positioning the paper straws during the assembly. Checkout the sheep carousel post for detailed steps of assembly.

Just to share some photos of the process...

Piping Kiiroitori

Piping Rilakkuma

I had extra batter so I made some Rilakkuma heads

Shells were decorated with edible marker

Partially assembled carousel. Don't they look like they are pole-dancing? :p

So glad that the overall girly and sweet effect was carried across :)

With love,
Phay Shing

Read More »

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Mermaid, Seashell & Starfish Cookies N Cream Macarons

This is a very girly set of sea themed macarons, complete with sweet girly colours and a pretty mermaids :).

Mermaids, seashells and starfish!

The starfish and seashell macarons can be found in my Creative Baking: Macarons book so you may refer to it if you need the templates and piping instructions. I was given a picture of the mermaid and made a template out of it.

I used the reduced sugar recipe for the macaron shells here. Both regular and reduced sugar recipes can be found here. You may refer to my Creative Baking: Macarons book for a systematic presentation of the basics and complex shaped macarons. You may refer to my video tutorials for macaron basics and piping of complex shapes on the blog too.

Piping the mermaids

Freshly baked shells. I baked this batch together with the pirate themed batch

Just to share some photos of the decorated shells. I decorated the shells with royal icing and edible marker. The rosy cheeks on the mermaids were added on using peach coloured lustre dust and a small soft brush.

I had a hard time trying to source for candy/chocolate balls that are just the right size for the pearls in the shells so I made my own instead. I followed the recipe for modelling white chocolate from here, using a ratio of 2:1 for white chocolate : light corn syrup.

Homemade modelling white chocolate

Let the balls of "pearls" dry and harden in the open a little before adding on a coat of pearlescent lustre dust.

Brushing on pearlescent lustre dust

I filled the shells with cookies n cream swiss meringue buttercream. The recipe can be found here.

Thank God these were very well received at the party both looks and taste wise :).

With love,
Phay Shing

Read More »

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Shopkins Orange-Strawberry yoghurt Chiffon Cake

I think most of you know I love making cute things by now! So I was very happy when I got this request to make a Shopkins-inspired cake! To be honest, I'm not really familiar with Shopkins (other than buying it for my friend's girls) but I think the characters are really cute! So here's my humble attempt. As with my normal style, all decor is made from chiffon sponge, even the ice cream!

The flavour orange-strawberry yoghurt was requested by my friend, and the two fruity flavours go really well together. The cake was very well-received too! So here goes my sharing of the recipe I used. The recipe is for a 9-inch pan and I prepared the two flavour batter separately. You can also use either one of the flavours for a 7-inch tube pan.

Orange-Strawberry yoghurt Chiffon Cake (9-inch chiffon tube pan)

Strawberry yoghurt chiffon (reduced egg yolk) - recipe by itself can also be used for 7-inch pan
1 egg yolk (13g)
20g caster sugar
40g vegetable/corn oil
48g strawberry yoghurt drink
60g cake flour, sifted (Prima)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp strawberry emulco/paste

4 egg whites (160g)
45g caster sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar

Orange chiffon cake (reduced egg yolk) - recipe by itself can also be used for 7-inch pan
1 egg yolk (13g)
20 g castor sugar
40 ml vegetable/corn oil
48 ml orange juice (freshly squeezed)
Zest from 1.5 orange
60 g cake flour, sifted (Prima)
Few drops orange emulco/paste

4 egg whites (160g)
45 g sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Prepare a tray of water at the bottom of the oven (I used the lowest rack to bake the cake). *You may omit steam baking; I like to use it to control my oven temperature rise and for moister ogura-like texture.

2. Prepare orange chiffon and strawberry yoghurt chiffon batter separately.

- Whisk egg yolks with castor sugar until dissolved and light.

- Add in oil, strawberry yoghurt and strawberry emulco/paste and mix well for pink batter. Add oil, orange juice, zest and orange emulco/paste (few drops, optional) and mix well for orange batter.

- Add in sieved flour and whisk swiftly till no trace of flour found (make sure no lumps are formed).

3. Meringue: Beat the egg whites with ¼ tsp cream of tartar till foamy, add in caster sugar in 2 additions and beat till firm peaks form (firm peaks give a finer texture).

4. Divide the meringue into two. Gently fold in the meringue into the respective batter 1/3 at a time.

5. Spoon orange batter into base of the tin, followed with strawberry batter. To make neat waves like this, deposit orange batter in mounds, then fill spaces with strawberry batter (picture tutorials in Creative Baking: Chiffon Cakes). But it’s also ok to be random.

6. Bake the chiffon cake for 160°C for 15 min, then 150°C for 10 min, 140°C for 20 min, then 130°C for 15 min, or until skewer comes clean.
*Temperature control helps to reduce browning.

7. Invert the chiffon cake immediately once out of the oven to cool

8. Unmould by hand after the cake is cool. (see 'Hand Unmoulding Chiffon Cakes for a Smooth Finishing' video tutorial).

Freshly unmoulded Orange-Strawberry yoghurt chiffon cake! Nice and tall!

Ice cream and details

This is made by baking orange chiffon cake (above) in a small glass bowl, and then joining it to chocolate chiffon baked in a paper cone (from SKP). The shapes below will help explain how the ice cream is formed.

My ice cream chiffon cake pops with picture tutorials on how to unmould are also in my 1st book Creative baking: Chiffon Cakes. Here, I further used a knife to make cuts on the cone to mimic the real biscuit cone.

The arms and feet are from chiffon cake pops (baked from cake pop molds). Details were cut from charcoal and plain chiffon sheet cakes, i.e. by baking chiffon cakes as sheets in pans-lined with baking paper, and then using circle cutters to cut out the eyes. Alternatively you can pipe on with melted chocolate.

The ice cream is supported by marshmallows which I used to fill the tube hole for a fun surprise when you cut the cake, and held together using melted marshmallows and cake pop stick.

Have a blessed sweet week!

With lots of love,

2nd chiffon book

Read More »

Friday, 10 March 2017

Pirate & Sea Creatures Mango and Strawberry Macarons (New filling recipe!)

I have a request for some cute pirates along with some sea creatures for a birthday party. If you think they look familiar, that's because I have made these designs before and all of them (except the pirates) are featured in my Creative Baking: Macarons book.

What I am excited about sharing in this post is the new recipe for strawberry white chocolate ganache that is stable at Singapore's room temperature and is able to keep in air-conditioned room temperature for 2-3 days, making it perfect as door gifts. I used to flavour the strawberry ganache with strawberry paste only but this new and improved version contains high percentage of fresh fruit puree.

After my discovery of making a creamy mango ganache with high fresh fruit content but yet stable at Singapore's room temperature, someone asked if the same can be done for strawberry. I took this chance to test it out. So glad that it works well for strawberries too! I can now safely say that this recipe/method will work for all types of fruit. Simply adjust the fruit flavouring/essence according to taste.

I used the reduced sugar recipe for the macaron shells here. Both regular and reduced sugar recipes can be found here. You may refer to my Creative Baking: Macarons book for a systematic presentation of the basics and complex shaped macarons. You may refer to my video tutorials for macaron basics and piping of complex shapes on the blog too. Templates and steps for making the sea creatures can be found in Creative Baking: Macarons.

The freshly baked shells were decorated with edible black marker and royal icing. I used silver dragees for the pirate's earings

For the fillings, begin by blending 1-1.5 cups of coarsely chopped fresh fruit with 1/2-1tsp of lemon juice (to prevent browning). Sieve the puree to remove the lumps.

I love the natural vibrant colours of fresh strawberry and mango puree!

Recipe for whipped strawberry white chocolate ganache
Ingredients (fills about 16-20 macarons):
55g white chocolate, chopped
10g vegetable shortening
10g unsalted butter
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
25g strawberry puree
1/2 tsp strawberry emulco/paste

1. Place white chocolate, vegetable shortening and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat at medium power for 20 seconds. Mix well with a spatula. Repeat until mixture is smooth. Add salt and mix well.

2. Freeze the bowl for 1-2 minutes and mix well with spatula. Repeat freezing and mixing. As the mixture thickens, start to beat it with the spatula. You will notice that the texture will lighten up and become creamy.

3. Add a teaspoon of puree and whip the mixture with the spatula until well combined. Repeat until all the puree has been added. Add strawberry puree and mix well. The texture should be like buttercream

Adding strawberry puree to plain whipped ganache. Look at how smooth and creamy the whipped ganache is!

Fresh strawberry puree added only. Forgot to take a photo after adding strawberry emulco.

4. Transfer whipped strawberry ganache into piping bag and pipe onto the shells. Store assembled macarons in the fridge in an airtight container for at least 24h before serving. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before consuming.

Filling some with mango ganache!

With love,
Phay Shing

Read More »

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Pink Turtle Seawaves Chiffon Cake (Vanilla-Pandan with Blue pea flowers)

This very sweet-looking chiffon cake was made for my mummy friend's lovely daughter Victoria!

This is my 4th chiffon turtle cake! I made it for a close friend last year, and for my nephew, and the cake ended up in my 2nd chiffon cookbook Deco Chiffon Cakes, and even made the book cover! Something about the big adorable goggly eyes I think!

This will be a short post, as I have shared the full recipe in Deco Chiffon Cakes (below), including picture tutorials on how to pipe and bake the 3D turtle.

Here, I was happy to make a pink turtle finally as it was the original cartoon version I had envisioned (and pink is my favorite colour! =p).

Just for fun, I took a video of the seawaves cake spinning. Warning: may cause sea sickness =p

Thankful it was well-received!

With lots of love,

First chiffon cookbook

Read More »

Monday, 6 March 2017

Unicorn & Rainbow Hearts Vanilla Caramel Chiffon Cupcakes

Unicorns are the trendy, in thing now and rainbows and hearts never go out of fashion. Here are some chiffon cupcakes with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream and trendy macarons!

I won't go into the details of macaron making, but instead share the recipe of this fragrant vanilla flavoured chiffon cupcake that has an undertone of caramel flavour and fragrance.

I used the reduced sugar recipe for the macaron shells here. Both regular and reduced sugar recipes can be found here. You may refer to my Creative Baking: Macarons book for a systematic presentation of the basics and complex shaped macarons. You may refer to my video tutorials for macaron basics and piping of complex shapes on the blog too.

Just to share some pictures of the process...

Piping unicorn macaron shells

Freshly baked and in the midst of decorating heart shells with royal icing.

Decorated shells. Checkout the feet!

I filled the shells with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream (smbc) that has caramel flavouring added and a bit of lemon juice to counter the sweetness. My buttercream recipe is considered pretty low in sugar so it's not too sweet.

Recipe for vanilla smbc
4 egg whites (about 140g)
1/8 tsp salt
100g caster sugar
255g unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp caramel flavouring (optional if unavailable)
1.5 tsp lemon juice

1. Heat about 1" of water in a deep saucepan with low heat. Place egg whites, salt and sugar in a heatproof bowl that can fit over the mouth of the saucepan without the base touching the water. Place the bowl on top of the saucepan. Use a hand whisk or a hand held electric mixer to whisk the egg whites until foamy and temperature reaches 71.1°C and all sugar has dissolved. Be careful to keep moving the egg whites. About 5-6 minutes.

2. Remove bowl from heat. Use an electric mixer and beat the egg whites at high speed until stiff, glossy and cooled to room temperature. About 10 minutes. I place a damp towel under the bowl with a standing fan blowing at the bowl to speed up the cooling process. Use a spatula to scrape off the sides of the bowl now and then to ensure even beating of the egg whites.

Stiff and glossy meringue

3. When the meringue has cooled (I use the candy thermometer to check temperature of meringue deep within the pile), add butter one cube at a time and beat at medium speed. Don't worry if it appears to curdle. Just keep beating and gradually adding each piece of butter until it is well incorporated. Increase speed when all butter has been added and beat for another minute or two until fluffy.

Freshly made basic smbc!

4. Add in lemon juice, vanilla extract and caramel flavouring in a couple of additions, beating well after each addition until well incorporated.

You may store the smbc in freezer bags if not using immediately. Just thaw and rewhip before using.

Filling unicorns!

Filling rainbow hearts!

The same buttercream is used to attach the macarons to the cupcakes too. I coloured the smbc pink naturally with PME's natural rose coloured food colouring.

Recipe for vanilla caramel chiffon cupcakes
Ingredients (makes about thirty-two 44x35mm cupcakes):
6 egg yolks
30g Masarang Arenga forest brown sugar*
84g Vegetable oil/canola oil
96g Fresh milk
120g Cake flour
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Caramel flavouring (optional if unavailable)

8 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
90g caster sugar

*You may replace with dark muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar. The sugar I use is a natural sourced lower glycemic index brown sugar. If you don't have brown sugar, caster sugar will do too but it will be less caramel-y. Here's a photo of the sugar I use.

1. Set oven rack to second lowest position. Preheat oven to 140°C. Place a tray of water at bottom of oven (optional).

2. Prepare egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolks and brown sugar until pale and thick. Add oil and whisk until combined. Add milk, vanilla and caramel flavouring and mix well. Whisk in sifted flour and salt gradually until no trace of flour is seen.

3. Prepare the meringue. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until firm peaks form, adding in the caster sugar gradually once the egg whites are foamy.

4. Fold the meringue into the egg yolk batter quickly but gently in three additions. Spoon the batter into cupcake cases until about 1cm from the top of the rim. Gently tap the cases on the table to release air bubbles.

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

I made some thin white layer cakes to cover the cupcakes before piping on buttercream using a Wilton 1M tip. Recipe for the layer cake can be found here. Omit the use of Pandan leaves to flavour the water.

Cupcakes with pink coloured cream!

Gently place the macarons on the piped cream. Refrigerate for a day before serving.

Here's a peek at the cross section of the cupcake!

Soft and fluffy!

I made a few cupcakes without cream for the words to display along with the rest of the cupcakes :).

With love,
Phay Shing

Read More »