Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Mr Men & Little Miss Macarons (new salted caramel cream cheese ermine buttercream recipe!)

My younger kid loves reading Mr Men and Little Miss books when we park ourselves at Kinokuniya although he reads longer novels at home. These whimsical characters have a sort of charm that he can't resist! That is why I made characters of his choice for his birthday to share with his classmates.

Mr Strong, Mr Happy, Little Miss Shy and Little Miss Naughty!

I made these during a really busy period when it was more convenient to break a long complex bake into a few shorter, more manageable bakes. These characters were baked over three separate days, decorated one day, and filled and packed on another day. That was why I used my stabilized French method recipe for the characters.

You may refer to either of my macaron books for piping and baking tips -- Creative Baking: Macarons and Creative Baking: Macaron Basics.

Baked shells without decoration

I must admit that piping the hands with those little fingers was a challenge.

Here's the side view!

I decorated the macaron shells with black edible marker and a little pink royal icing for Little Miss Shy's rosy cheeks.

What I really want to share in this post is another ermine buttercream recipe that is stable at Singapore's tropical climate and it's not too sweet. The kids love it! That's the feedback I got from my kid. I decided on salted caramel as the flavour as it's more exciting than vanilla but not as heaty as dark chocolate (some kids can't take chocolate well) and not all kids like fruity flavours like strawberry. I used ermine buttercream as the filling base for my Children's Day bake this year, which was also very well received by both my kids' classes. What I did differently this time is to use cream cheese as well to add that extra tangy dimension to the filling. Cream cheese is also rather firm so it's a good base to use.

For your convenience I will post the salted caramel recipe here as well.

Recipe for salted caramel
100g caster sugar
2tbs water
60g whipping cream
15g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp sea salt (use coarse or fine according to preference)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

1. Place sugar and water in a light coloured heavy base saucepan. Light coloured because it is easier to see the colour of the caramel. Heat over medium heat without stirring. Swirl the saucepan to help the sugar dissolve.

2. In the meantime, heat cream in another small saucepan until it just starts to bubble.

3. Monitor the sugar syrup as it boils, swirling the pan now and then to distribute the heat evenly. Once the colour of the syrup changes to light amber colour, keep a close watch. You want the caramel to have a deep flavour without being burnt. Once the colour is a deep amber colour, remove from heat and pour a little warm cream in and then stir quickly with a long wooden spoon. The mixture will bubble violently so be careful. Continue gradually pouring the cream and stirring the mixture until the bubbling stops.

4. Add butter and mix well. Add salt and vanilla until well combined. Transfer to a container or bowl and let it cool before using or storing. Salted caramel cam be kept frozen for several months or in the fridge for a month.

I forgot to take a proper photo of the salted caramel. This was what was left after adding some to the ermine buttercream. It's salty, sweet and a smoky, slightly bitter but not burnt flavour

Salted caramel cream cheese ermine buttercream
60g whipping cream
60g milk
20g plain flour
80g salted caramel*
60g unsalted butter, cool but slightly softened
60g cream cheese, room temperature
20g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

*you may adjust amount according to taste

1. Make the roux. Whisk together milk, cream and plain flour. Sieve the mixture into a saucepan. Cook over low heat while whisking constantly. Once the mixture starts to thicken, remove from heat and whisk vigorously. Return to heat and continue whisking. Most recipes just recommend cooking till it thickens. I cook the mixture until it is firm enough to hold a peak like this:

I switch to using a spatula to cook the roux once it gets really thick, removing the saucepan from heat now and then so that I can cook the roux more evenly, making sure I scrape the sides and bottom of the pan. Transfer the roux into a bowl and press cling wrap on the surface. Chill in fridge for at least half an hour. You may prepare this the day before.

2. Beat butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer. Add icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy. This should take a couple of minutes. Add salted caramel (bring to room temperature if you have stored in fridge or freezer) one tablespoon at a time and beat until well combined after each addition. Continue beating for a couple of minutes

3. Add the roux one tablespoon at a time, beating well with electric mixer after each addition until well combined.

Please excuse the messy roux with caramel smudge as I used a caramel stained knife to scrape it off the spoon 

4. Add vanilla if you wish. Continue beating for a couple more minutes until smooth.

Salted caramel cream cheese ermine buttercream!

To assemble the macarons, fill one piping bag with the ermine buttercream and another bag with salted caramel. Piping a ring of buttercream on the bottom shell and pipe a dollop of salted caramel in the middle.

Filling them up!

Glad that it was really well received!

Here's a peek at the insides. Pardon the lack of oozing salted caramel. I was close to running out of caramel towards the end and didn't want to make another batch just to fill a few more extra macarons that my kids had. Nonetheless, it's still yummy!

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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Sunday, 11 November 2018

Cookie Monster Chiffon Cake

"C is for Cookie Monster!"

Who grew up with Sesame Street like me? =p

Cookie Monster made entirely from Chiffon Cake! Another very challenging cake, thank God it worked out! The arms and hands were particularly difficult as it was entirely carved from chiffon cake. The hat was also fun! I piped polka dots in the paper cone and baked chiffon cake in it.

A bit busy on the family front, especially with kids, so posting a little less (sorry about it). Been really tired... but thank God for sustaining us daily.

Hope you have a blessed week ahead! =)

With lots of love,

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Thursday, 8 November 2018

Pandan Coconut Christmas Tree Macarons (class for kids!)

If you are thinking of learning how to make macarons together with your child, why not join me for a class to learn how to make these Christmas trees :)

I finally found the courage to conduct a macaron class for kids because finally there is a design that is simple but cute enough for that to happen 😆. You will learn how to make the basic round macaron shells using the French method, learn how to make pandan coconut whipped ganache and I am sure the kids will have lots of fun assembling and decorating the trees! The macaron shells are flavoured too. My kids taste tested the macaron shells without filling independently and both gave me the same verdict "Ma, it tastes like kaya!"

Although I try to keep the recipe as simple as possible so that kids can do quite a fair share of the hands-on, this class will benefit kids ages 8 and above more than younger ones as macarons afterall is still a fairly technical bake and instructions should be followed closely. That doesn't mean that those of you with younger ones are banned from the class, it just means that the accompanying adult will have to do more of the work. If you are interested in this class, please click on this link for more details and to register.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Monday, 5 November 2018

My Little Pony Rainbow Chiffon Cake

Unicorns and rainbows are always loved by little girls! I have made several versions of unicorns with rainbows. This is a My Little Pony-inspired Rainbow Chiffon Cake which I have always wanted to try =).

For top tier, you can refer to my previous creation, ‘Unicorn’ Soy Milk Chiffon Cake. It is similar except the eyes here are big and dewy!

The bottom tier is my signature Rainbow Chiffon Cake that is on the cover of my first cookbook Creative baking, Chiffon Cakes (bottom right). The detailed recipe is inside.

Have a blessed week! I was on staycation, so not really very functional yet =p. Glad the exams are over!

With lots of love,

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Sunday, 4 November 2018

Reindeer Chocolate Cream Puff Class

Want to learn how to make a delectable dessert that is cute but not loaded with lots of sugar? Come and join me for a class to learn how to make this light and crispy reindeer choux pastry filled with rich and smooth chocolate pastry cream!

You will learn how to make use of cookie dough to create nicely rounded choux buns, how to use choux pastry batter to create small features such as the ears and antlers, how to make the chocolate pastry cream and how to put everything together to make this design without the use of fondant. Please click on this link for more details and to register.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Tuesday, 30 October 2018

'Characters in Tea Set' Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons

This is what happens when the requester gives me free reign of design, specifying only the required characters and flavour of filling 😁. Presenting my tea set macaron cake!

R2D2, Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Marie and Darth Vader sitting in teacups (or hiding in teapot in Piglet's case)

Everything in the setup is made of macarons! The wooden serving tray, teacups, saucer and teapot (handle, spout, body and lid!) are macarons! Needless to say, so are all the characters. I must admit that the teapot was particularly challenging but I am glad that at least it is recognisable 😆.

I used a stabilized French method recipe that I have been using recently as the colours are many but quantity is few. My schedule lately is also more manageable if I break down a complex bake into shorter separate sessions, instead of having a long full day of baking many different coloured and complex-shaped shells. I had to coach my kids as it was exam period.

The hemispherical shells for the teacups and teapot were made by piping the batter over silicone cake pop moulds. You can find the details of this in my Creative Baking: Macaron Basics book.

Just to share some photos of the process...

Piping the characters. I usually prepare an extra set in case one set turns out ugly.

Piping the wooden serving tray. The wood grain pattern was a challenge to pipe with batter!

I forgot to take photos of the piped batter for the teacup set. But you may refer to my first attempt  for some photos of piped batter for making hemispherical macaron shells.

I decorated the shells with royal icing and black edible marker 

Assembled teacups! This photo actually went a little viral when I shared it on social media and it got reposted twice in Instagram

I filled the tea set with something kid friendly, something with chocolate in there as requested. I didn't want the filling to appear extra dark so I used a mix of dark chocolate, white chocolate and hazelnut to create a filling that is still yummy despite having less dark chocolate content.

Recipe for chocolate hazelnut ganache
80g dark chocolate
80g white chocolate
40g hazelnut ganache* (or hazelnut butter)
50-70g whipping cream (use more if you prefer softer ganache)
20g unsalted butter
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

*I used store bought hazelnut ganache and didn't intend to make my own because I have it on hand from another recent bake. You may add more hazelnut butter or ganache if you prefer stronger hazelnut flavour.

Hazelnut ganache from Phoon Huat

1. Heat a saucepan filled with about 1" of water and let it simmer. Put all ingredients in a heatproof bowl that can sit on top of the saucepan without the base touching the water.

2. Use a spatula to stir the contents until everything is melted and homogeneous. Remove from heat.

3. Chill in freezer for 2 minutes. Beat mixture with spatula until smooth. Repeat chilling and beating until the whipped ganache resembles buttercream

Whipped ganache

4. Transfer into piping bag and fill the macaron shells.

Piping filling into wooden serving tray macaron shell.

Here's a photo of the tea set at the party! Someone else made the cake. I made some extra macarons too and those adorned the cake.

I hope this post has inspired you to let your imagination run wild!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Saturday, 27 October 2018

Sumikko Gurashi Neko Chiffon Cake

Sumikko Gurashi Neko, ready to have some dessert! 🤗

Do you feel like hugging her? =D

This cake is made in the same style as my previous creation, Ufufy Marie Cat Cottony Cake. You can refer to the previous creation for the recipe. As I wanted cream colour, I used 5 egg yolks instead of 1 whole egg for the egg yolk batter.

Neko means cat in Japanese, so this is another cat cake! My favorite part of this new creation is the checkered scarf! The scarf was made using the same method as patterned swissrolls =). Briefly, I piped the stripes and filled with white batter in between the spaces and baked for 16 min at 160°C. I wrapped the scarf around the Neko using marshmallow cream. The fork and spoons were also cut from chiffon sheet cakes and glued on using marshmallow cream. If you are interested, you can read more about the techniques from my cookbooks on Deco Chiffon Cakes (below). 

Hehe now the cute Neko looks ready to eat!

Very thankful my 3rd cookbook Deco Chiffon Cake Basics (left most) launched exactly one year back, is going for its 3rd print run! Thank you so much for your support. The books are available on book depository with free shipping worldwide.

Have a blessed week! With lots of love,

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Wednesday, 24 October 2018

We Bare Bears Cream Puffs (a concise guide to basic Choux pastry recipe)

I will be slowing down posting on the blog as I have to find time to write my next book on Deco Choux pastries in the midst of being the primary caregiver for my family, classes and baking for sale. Really not easy to juggle with many things 😅. I also try to carve out time to bake the designs that are going into the book so that I can determine the details with more precision (such as template dimensions). Today I was playing around with a design that is not going into the book but it has a similar concept as one of the entries in the book. My kids loved eating these chocolate coated lemon pudding filled cream puffs!

They look like they want to eat the Choux pastries too!

As far as Choux pastry recipes go, they are pretty standard and you can tweak the individual ingredients according to your preference. No matter which recipe you use, the important part is still to make sure you cook the dough thoroughly before adding the eggs, and to add just enough eggs to the batter to get the right consistency. The ratio taught at culinary schools is 2:1:1:2 (by weight) for liquid:fat:flour:eggs. If you want a richer pastry shell, use a ratio of 1:1 for milk:water for liquid portion, and butter for the fat portion. If you want a lighter shell, use water for liquid and vegetable oil for the fat portion. If you want a crispier crust, use bread flour instead of plain flour. Although the use of cake flour is discouraged due to low protein content, Korean recipes seem to use it. Most recipes add a little more flour to the ratio to give the pastry cases more stability and a little less butter to make the pastry less heavy. A little salt and sugar is usually added too. So a typical recipe would look like this:

100g water (you may replace 50g with milk)
40-50g butter (or oil)
50-65g bread or plain flour or combination
1/2-1tsp salt
1tsp sugar (optional)
100g eggs, lightly beaten (you may not need to use all. About 2 eggs)

I piped the Choux cases with a 1/2" open star tip in short Éclair shapes for the body of the bears, and small short strips for the legs (without using a tip but just cut a small hole in the piping bag). Both parts are baked separately due to the different baking times required.

Piped Éclairs. Using a star tip instead of round tip helps to prevent large unpredictable cracks.

When baking the pastry cases, never open the oven door too early as you risk deflating them. Bake until they are crisp and golden brown. Depending on your oven, baking at constant temperature setting, or preheating to high temperature and then drop it during baking may be more suitable for you. Typical temperatures are 175-200℃. Baking time really depends on the size of your piped pastry and baking temperature profile you are using. Typical piped batter that is 3-4cm in size will need about 25-40 minutes to bake.

Freshly baked Choux cases

Does that mean that all Choux pastry creations are brown in colour and you can't add colour to Choux pastry creations other than using Craquelin (cookie dough) and coating the surface with a glaze? Not true! In my Deco Choux Pastries book, I shall show you how "naked" Choux pastry cases can be colourful too with simple but cute designs that will make you slap forehead and go "Why didn't I think of that?!"

These bears are simply cute variations of Choux pastries with chocolate glaze. For single coloured pastry cases, simply dip the pastry case in melted chocolate. Multiple coloured ones have to be piped on. Unlike conventional chocolate glazed choux pastries, I glaze the cases before filling them because choux pastries are just yummier freshly filled.

Chocolate coated Choux cases

As I made these bears for fun (it is still work but it's not meant for any specific request), I didn't spend too much effort with the filling. I used my “cheater’s” recipe again but my kids love it. I just used Jell-O’s instant pudding mix to create the filling. I happen to have lemon flavoured pudding mix that compliments the white chocolate or dark chocolate glaze very well. I just used the package instructions as a guideline and created the filling by stirring the powdered mix with milk.

Messy but happy eater!

I can't write in detail contents that are going into the Deco Choux Pastries book but I hope that this post has been helpful!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Monday, 22 October 2018

Polar Bear-in-Pumpkin Chiffon Cakes

These Polar bear-in-Pumpkin Chiffon Cakes are inspired by the fall season and my previous Polar Bear creations.

However, these are smaller cute kawaii versions, baked using Cooked dough method with butter (SCS butter) instead of oil.

I am thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with SCS Dairy to do a Cakes Giveaway to celebrate their 60k on FB.

Do click in to support or join in the fun if you like =).

Have a blessed week!

Best wishes,

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Friday, 19 October 2018

Penguin Family Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Macaron Cake Toppers

As the weather turns cooler in the northern hemisphere, don't you feel like wrapping yourself up nice and snugly like some of these penguins?

I made these macaron cake toppers for a family of five that is celebrating a member's birthday. As the quantity requested is small but four colours are needed to make the macaron shells, I used the French method to make these. I shared in my post earlier this week on how I tweaked the basic French method recipe to make the batter stable for a longer time and to withstand the splitting and working of the batter to accomodate multiple colours. Please refer to that post for detailed steps. I will just provide the ingredient list for an even smaller batch.

Ingredients (makes about 12-14 macarons):
Dry ingredients
45g superfine almond flour
55g icing sugar
1/8 tsp cornflour
1/8 tsp salt (optional)

40g egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
36g caster sugar
1/2 tsp cornflour

Just to share some photos of the process...

Piping out the penguins!

Filling some of the penguins with lavender Earl grey and osmanthus white chocolate ganache fillings. These were meant for my kids' teacher and my kids since the requester only wanted 5 penguins as cake toppers.

I filled the cake toppers with dark chocolate ganache and salted caramel.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Stella Lou Chiffon Cake

One of my most structurally complex Chiffon Cake Sculpture to date!

Stella Lou made into chiffon cake! Do you like it? <3

I found out Stella Lou was Japan Disneysea's new addition,  Duffy's friend. She is a sweet lavender bunny ballerina =).

I made this for a dear mummy friend, she was in the group which started me on my baking journey. It is a very special group.

When I was tasked to make this cake, I wasn't quite sure how to do it, and sat on the problem for quite a long time. Thank God for the inspiration and that the experiment to make bake chiffon cake in a bundt pan to make the tutu skirt worked out!

And even more thankful the cake was very well-received! This is my joy in making cakes for loved ones and friends =) <3 .

I am also very thankful for the news that my 3rd cookbook Deco Chiffon Cake Basics is going for its 3rd print run (within a year!)! Very very thankful to God and everyone for your love and support!!

Have a blessed week!

With lots of love,

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Monday, 15 October 2018

Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol Purple Sweet Potato and Pulut Hitam Sponge & Pudding Cake

When your little one has a variety of characters that she loves, and you would like to try a unique cake flavour, you get a cake that looks like this :)

Peppa Pig meets some representatives from the Paw Patrol squad on top of a black glutinous rice and purple sweet potato sponge and pudding cake!

I have shared the recipe for the black glutinous rice chiffon with purple sweet potato pudding in detail in another blog post. It is a more diabetic friendly cake without compromising flavours and aroma. I didn't use any white sugar in the black glutinous rice chiffon cake, but used coconut palm sugar (Gula melaka) instead. The pretty purple sweet potato pudding contains only a fraction of white sugar as compared to the reference recipe I adapted from. There isn't a need to use a lot of white sugar in the pudding as the coconut milk, fresh milk and sweet potato imparts some natural sweetness to the dessert. The harmonious mix of coconut milk, Gula melaka, pandan, black glutinous rice and purple sweet potato is really nice if you love all these.

What I would really like to share here is the recipe for the macaron shells. As all macaron bakers know, it is a pain to work with many colours within a single batch of batter, and even more so when the quantity of macarons required is so few. That makes it not economical to use Italian method although it is my preferred method for multiple colours of batter within a single batch. I prefer the Italian method when working with multiple colours as it is easier to adjust the colour of the batter without risking overfolding as much as French and Swiss methods because you add the colouring to the batter base before the meringue is added. If you split a single batch of macaron batter into many colours made from French or Swiss method, you have less folds to make before you risk overfolding, because the colouring is added to the batter after the meringue is folded in. The French method also has a less stable meringue than Italian or Swiss meringues as the egg whites are not cooked at all. This means you have to try to work really quickly with the French method if you want to make designs with multiple colours, or resort to using a lot of sugar in the meringue. You could choose to use the Swiss method to make the meringue more stable but you still have to be careful not to overfold the batter while adjusting the colours to the desired shade.

How do I overcome this dilemma? I decided to stick with the French method as it is the simplest logistically and suitable for small batches. But I tweaked the regular recipe to make the meringue stable for a longer time. The key ingredient I added here is cornflour. Much as cornflour helps the macaron shells to dry faster, be less prone to cracking during baking and slows down the breaking down of meringue, adding too much of it will make the batter very thick and the texture a lot more chewy. The slightly higher icing sugar to almond flour proportion used also helps with the stability. Care still needs to be exercised when colouring the batter to prevent overfolding.

Here is the French method recipe for making a more stable macaron batter. Feel free to halve the recipe for an even smaller batch.

Ingredients (makes about 24-28 macarons):
Dry ingredients
90g superfine almond meal
110g icing sugar
1/4 tsp cornflour
1/4 tsp salt (optional)

80g egg whites
75g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Gel food colouring as needed

1. Sift all the powdered ingredients together. Set aside. Prepare baking tray with template and parchment paper. Set oven rack to lowest or second lowest position.

2. Make the meringue. In a small bowl mix cornflour together with caster sugar. Set aside. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form, gradually adding caster sugar and cornflour mixture once the egg whites are foamy. Make sure the meringue is really stiff, like whipped cream consistency.

3. Make the batter. Scatter half of dry ingredients into meringue. Gently fold in with a spatula until just combined. Scatter the rest of the dry ingredients. Gently fold in until just combined. Divide the batter to to the number of desired colours. Carefully add as much gel colouring as is needed and gently fold in until the batter is homogeneous. If the batter consistency is still too thick at this point, continue folding until it is able to flow like slow-moving lava.

4. Transfer into piping bag and pipe away! Dry the shells before baking. You may find the details of the basics of making the batter, piping and baking in my Creative Baking: Macaron Basics and Creative Baking: Macarons books.

Just to share some photos of the process...

Freshly baked macaron shells. Checkout the awesome feet!

I made only 9 characters in total with a little leftover batter to spare. But it was tedious! Fine details were added in using edible marker and royal icing.

I filled the macarons with dark chocolate ganache and homemade salted caramel as requested.

I mounted the macarons on cake pop sticks so it is easier to display on top of the cake.

I have a few photos to share for the sponge and pudding cake too. Some people are hesitant to replace all the white sugar with coconut palm sugar in the meringue as they are afraid that the meringue will not whip as well. This is to prove that it can!

Egg whites beaten to firm peak with only coconut palm sugar added

Folding in the egg yolk batter and meringue. The black bits are black glutinous rice grains that I didn't process until superfine to provide some bite to the cake.

Nice and tall pulut hitam chiffon!

Layering the sponge and pudding layers. I love the natural colours!

I added on simple deco with white chiffon sheet cake

With love,
Phay Shing

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