Friday 29 October 2010

Macarons 101...Peanut Butter Jelly Macarons!

Peanut Butter Jelly Macarons.... don't know how excited I was last night to "achieve" those beautiful macarons (because them macarons wear their skirts!)! But, it was already past 1 am and I really had to retire after I made those finicky gems and baked cakes for my, while running around stopping Hajar from touching my scale and thermometer and whisking my meringue...I forgot to colour the shells...and because my selimut busuk (smelly duvet) was already calling....I only smeared the shells with peanut butter jelly...Goober Grape to be exact!

And with that, and my recent purchases of a candy thermometer, heat-proof spatula, Kenwood food processor and two Silpats, I am happy to announce that I will move on with my quest to make more up will be Green Tea Macarons! I loike!!! 
The batter on my new Silpats....

I can't remember why I started attempting them, but I remember vividly that I was attracted to the myriad of colours and endless possibilities of flavours and fillings that these gems could when I stumble upon Rima's blog about French Macarons, I decided that I have to give this a go...of course that time I didn't have a candy thermometer and all, but I already had purchased this book I-Love-Macarons-Hisako-Ogita from Delicious Ingredients, and have been studying the book!

My first attempt...FAILED miserably...they cracked, they didn't have the feet, they were I know that that could be due to a hot oven, poor macaronnage (ie wrongly mixing of the meringue and almond icing sugar) and not drying the shells properly.....I was disheartened, but my spirits was high....I kept looking (googling that was!) for the answers.....I bumped into Tartelette who has a wonderful write up, a step by step guide on how to make macarons using the French Meringue method....and then, there was Aran's tips also! I made Chocolate Macarons last Sunday, but they didn't last the time for me to get any photos or filling them with any Chcocolate Ganache!
Aren't they lovely!

So, after Raya Aidil Fitri, and with the leftovers of abundance of egg whites from the Kek Lapis that I made, I gave Rima's recipe another go.....and they all!! The Swiss Meringue method requires double boiling the egg whites and sugar, but I didn't own a candy termometer yet, then! I estimated the heat...can you beat that! And, the result was the Macarons below! I filled them with Chocolate Ganache, but you can notice the oil spots under the skin, that could be due to using almond meal that has been left a long time on the shelve...the shells were also somewhat hollow, could be due improper heat during baking...and I didn't use Silpats! Haish....but I was on the road to success, I thought....NOT!

After that, I looked for a sifu to learn the techniques....there's nothing rocket science about macarons other than the technique, and  there are only FOUR ingredients in making macarons....almond meal/flour, caster sugar, egg whites and icing, one stroke extra and there goes your thing!

During the class, my Chocolate Macarons turned up well, he had already prepared the ingredients, I just whisked the egg white and mixed them all up and he baked for us...... 
My Chocolate Macarons...waiting to dry....

Mine had Buttercream and a drop of Strawberry Buttercream....will repeat this later! 

Here were the macarons that we made that day...but when I tried them at home, the exact recipe, the same technique, mine failed miserably...I didn't like his baking method, so I have decided to give his method a rest, for now........

So, after I obtained all the necessary gears, and with all the failure least 5 tries that went right into the bin....and equipped with the online tutorials (Tartelette's and Aran's) and tips (last was from Rima...tq Rima!), I knew last night everything will be fine! And I decided that I should stick to the Swiss Meringue technique that I learnt from Rima before I move on to try the French Meringue or the Italian Meringue.... and here goes: 

Swiss Meringue
80g egg white (at room temperature, I used egg whites that was aged in the fridge since last Friday)
65g caster sugar

80g ground almond (I grind this almond meal with icing sugar again, and sieved before using them)
140g icing sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice, I used a pinch of cream of tartar
colour powder....errr...I forgot!

Chocolate Ganache
100g dark chocolate
50g whipping cream
I used Goober Grape Peanut Butter....all ready to be used :p

Swiss Meringue Macarons:
1.Line 3 or 4 baking trays with silicon sheet, I used 2 Silpats and 2 baking trays.
2.Sift icing sugar and almond meal, sieve and set aside.
3.Pour sugar and egg white into a heat proof bowl, place on a simmering water over medium fire (double boiling method).
4.Slowly dissolve the sugar, until the mixture gets to 50C, or warm to touch.
5.Remove the egg white from fire, add in the lemon juice, and whisk on medium speed until soft peaks (buih buih gitu), add in the colour powder. I used my humble hand mixer from Tesco you all!
6.Continue to beat until the egg white cools down and it look smooth and shiny (yes, Rima, I know what you mean...medium peak but not dry!).
7.Fold in the sifted mixture (almond meal and icing sugar) in 4 portions...I just dumped the meringue into the sifted mixture and started mixing them, not gently, to incorporate them, and to break the air in the meringue...and stop to check the consistency... I thought this is the tricky part, you either get it here or not! The consistency should be like a flowing ribbon ripples but not runny....
8.Pour the batter into a piping bag, and pipe into a 50 cents size circles. Once done, tap the baking tray gently on your work-top, this will help the shells to develop their feet, skirt.
9.Let dry for about half and hour....err I don't have any air conditioned room at home, so, it took about 40 minutes to dry in the humid weather last night. The batter should be dry when you touch them.
10.Preheat oven at 150C, and I turned my oven to 130C when I put the trays in, so there were no cracks, and the feet/skirt came after about 15 minutes of baking. I baked mine for 25 minutes.
11.Remove macarons from the oven to cool. I placed a damp tea towel under my Silpat, and the gems lifted from Silpat very easily!

Chocolate Ganache
1.Heat up whipping cream.
2.Pour into dark chocolate that you have finely chopped.
3.Leave it aside to set for about 10 minutes before smearing on the macaron shells, or you can pipe them!

....the end of my Macaron 101...see you soon!

Thursday 28 October 2010

Kasihnya Ibu... part of the training that I had to go through to be called to the Bar during my intership was to do free legal services and we worked closely with the Bar Council...I chose to do Dock Brief, that was going to the Lower Courts to do "Mentions" as in mentioning or intoducing cases before the Magistrate or Judge or "Mitigations", you plead for forgiveness and in return plead for a lower sentence, so to put in the lay man's terms!

The mood in the courts....they were always sombre, sad to be exact, dark with that damp smell...those days the courts were in in the buildings along Jalan Masjid Jamek and opposite Dataran Merdeka....and I usually dread the days that I had to do my Dock Brief duties......

...once, after I obtained my case numbers and details from the Interpreter, while waiting for my cases to be called, I looked behind and saw  a few bald headed pot bellied men...."Siapa dia?" I asked the Police Constable...."Bapak Ayam!"....errr "Bapak Ayam!"....I uttered....they were supposed to bail out the pretty young innocent ladies (usually) who most of them hailed from China....hish....tak suka tak suka...I thought to myself.....  

...the other I stand next to bars separating us the Court Officers from the offender, one of the young offenders asked..." Puan dah kahwin, anak berapa? Puan cantiklah....."...and the smell of them not having bathed and the heinous prison smell....I hated that too! There were once, one of the offenders tried to grab my hand...for whatever reason...I didn't know....

....and of course my duties being at the Lower Courts meant in terms of the seriousness of the crime and penalty meant that most of the offenders were those petty crimes like stealing, drug offenders (but small scale, for drugs the seriousness depend on the weight of the drugs) or the business "anak ayam".... day I had to interview this young chap....he had stolen some stuff.....all the details I couldn't remember, I could only remember the cries of his mom...."tolonglah Puan, anak saya ni baik, dia tak buat..." Tolonglah Puan, lepaskan dia...saya datang dari Ipoh, ambillah gelang ni kalau Magistret mintak duit.......", while tears rolled down her cheeks..........I managed to get a lower sentence, and the mother hugged me..."Terimakasih Puan, anak saya baik, dia tak buat Puan".......

...I finished my duties that day and vowed that I would never return to do such job anymore, I just couldn't handle the cries of such mothers.......


Monday 25 October 2010

Selamat Pengantin Baru Aida!

I have known Aida since Shila came back from the UK...and since then we have been looking (well, sort of) for a spouse for Aida! And after all this years, the big day came last Friday! Earlier Aida requested me to make a hantaran cake (gift) for the groom during their engagement...and after waiting for months, last month Aida shared with me the photo of her wedding cake! I was all so excited doing this cake, even though I had to run off to PD for a Workshop on Friday, only to come back late on Saturday, hence missing her reception! I tell you, her father was most excited when he came to collect the cake, and I heard it was tearfiul event when she was "given" away during the Akad was tears of joy as I think everybody was anxiously waiting for this special day for Aida!

I also made this Dorie Greenspan's Split Level Pudding for a dozen pax for the main table's dessert. Initially I wanted to make Black Forest Trifle, but had to shelve that idea as I had to prepare the dessert early, the chocolate cake would have gone soggy by Saturday, had I made the trifle....well, now everyone is lega, Aida has  gone for her would perhaps be Baby Showers...ehem....
Enjoy this song....bought Glee's soundtrack, apparently your songs have not made it unless they are sung by Glee :p

Thursday 21 October 2010

Craving For Chocolate.....

You see, the Frenchmen has their own special ways when baking and cooking...that I learned from my first guru Saf...ever since that I have been frequenting several blogs whose writers are French cooks...David Lebovitz, Tartelette and Ms Dorie Greenspan are a few authorities in their own special areas (whether or not I follow step by step their techniques is another story to tell, ha ha!)

So, it was Friday and I was craving chocolate...chocolate cakes or brownies to be exact! No, I don't want to do that Devil's Food Chocolate Cake, I was looking for something like that chocolaty and also luxurious at the same time, but different version! And, I had this order from Zura for makan-makan at her house that Sunday...this thick library of recipes from Ms Greenspan came to my mind.......I turned the pages...and saw this recipe....

Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes by Dorie Greenspan, Baking From My Home To Yours

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (8 tbsp or 115g) butter, at room temperature
3/4 caster sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used a mixture of plain yoghurt and milk instead)
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate soda and salt.
Beat butter until soft and creamy, add sugar and beat for 2 minutes, until it is blended into the butter (of course Ms Othman did not time herself here!). Add the egg, then the yolk, beating 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl...(can't remember doing that...hmmm...). Add in vanilla and set the mixer to low, add half the dry ingredient, mixing only until they disappear. Scrape down the bowl and add the buttermilk, mixing until well incorporated, then, mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl, add the melted chocolate and mix it in with a rubber spatula........divide the batter evenly between muffin cups and bake at 15C...that is my oven! Serve with Chocolate Ganache!

see, I told you, they have all this different step by step to follow...maybe that is what make the additional flavour! So, here's the cuppies that I made for Zura, I baked mine in a casserole bowl...and hubby who doesn't really fancy chocolate cakes, asked for more of this :p   
Then, last week I made this for Puteri's daughter, thank you Puteri for this order!
I also made Congo Bars for Aida, who ordered all the way from my homestate Kedah, who is here for the big meet in PWTC...them ladies wear red or pink! Thank you Aida!

Now I'm psyching up myself for someone's big day....another recipe from Ms Greenspan's recipe library and flowers in white and red....have a brilliant weekend you all, I'm off to Avillion for a Workshop! See you!

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Ayat Seribu Dinar

Just sharing, and going back to basics what was shared by  a dear friend of mine, a good samaritan....this ayat.....when in doubt and lost......bacalah....

I have been quiet lately, have been swamped with work and other issues in the office, and also other challenges like my health, I have not been well, only cough and cold, but that is enough to sap the energy of one woman who can't sit still....nature is telling me to give myself a break, I think....nah! See you soon!

Monday 11 October 2010

The Week of 10.10.10....

A cutting cake that went all the way to Melaka for a lovely bride Elly. Thank you Elly!
Zura, my "lost and found" primary school friend ordered this for her makan-makan yesterday...
I took the honour of baking Dorie Greenspan's Chocolate Chocolate Cupcake for Zura....and for me!
Zura also ordered this Carrot Cake....and all the cakes flanked my Sugarpaste's Sifu's masterpiece cake on the dessert table.....that really made my day!
Of course what's a weekend without loads of Congo Bars...thank you Kak Zaine and Noni!
And Devil's Food Chocolate Cake...thank you Aisyah and Noni. Noni would have left for Haj by the time this entry is published. 

I have been having very stressfull days in the office ever since I returned to work from the Raya break, so baking really help soothe the ache and pain here and there...Have a productive week ahead peeps! 

Friday 1 October 2010

Bakes and cakes of the week..

Thank you Hezzie for the order and this picture!
Prune and Walnut Cake topped with Cream Cheese Icing...
Made this Cream Cheese Brownie for my niece's birthday...time was not on my side!
Hannah Montana for Nuraina!
Our Star Nuraina....thank you Puteri!
Pink and Taupe Hataran Cupcakes, thank you Rohaida!
Petit Vanilla Cuppies for Rohaida for makan-makan, thank you Rohaida!

Also thank you to Muzal for the Devil's Food Chocolate Cake order and Kak Zaine for Congo Bars orders! 
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