Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Chocolate Stump Cake with Meringue Mushrooms

I don't usually accept last minute requests but this one I couldn't refuse. My mum asked for a logcake I can make at my convenience, so I decided to let this request ride on a planned bake that involves making my ultimate chocolate cake. I usually bake chocolate chiffon sponge for log cakes as the sponge is soft and flexible enough to roll into swiss roll. Since the sponge I use for my ultimate chocolate cake isn't suitable for making swiss rolls, I make a stump cake instead ๐Ÿ˜Š

Mushroom meringues as deco! 

I followed my original recipe closely, except that I tweaked the chocolate ganache to make a firmer one for the bark patterns, and I made chocolate whipped cream for the rings on the stump.

When I shared the photo of the mushroom meringues on social media, some were interested how I made them crisp and non sticky in humid Singapore. I will share the detailed recipe and tips in this blog post. I applied what I learnt from macaron making to create a meringue that remains crisp for a longer time.

Recipe for mushroom meringues
Ingredients (makes about 25 mushrooms) :
40g egg whites (about 1 large egg)
70g icing sugar (with cornflour added)
1 tsp cornflour
1/8 tsp fine salt
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
Cocoa powder (for dusting)

Traditional meringues are made using caster sugar insted of icing sugar. I chose to use icing sugar as it is much finer in texture and therefore more easily dissolved in the egg whites. Any undissolved sugar grains in the meringue will cause meringues to collapse a little during baking. Traditional recipes don't call for the addition of more cornflour but I recommend adding a little to help the baked cookies remain crisp and dry longer. Salt is optional but I included to balance the taste. Cream of tartar may be substituted with lemon juice if you prefer. The ratio of egg whites:sugar is traditionally about 1:2. I reduced it a little. Don't reduce by too much as it will affect the stability. Some people make swiss or italian meringues for better stability but what I am sharing here is the simplest method.

1. In a small bowl, mix icing sugar, fine salt and cornflour. Set aside. Preheat oven to 100-110°C as read by the thermometer (no higher than that). Line baking tray with parchment paper.

2. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add sugar mixture and beat at medium high speed until firm peaks form like below. This should take about 10 minutes.

3. Transfer meringue into piping bag fitted with a wilton #12 tip (about 8mm diameter). To pipe the mushroom caps, gently squeeze the bag with the tip placed 1cm away from baking tray surface until a mound forms. Release pressure and twirl the tip horizontally to try to release the tip from meringue without forming a peak. Dont worry if a peak forms. Just use a damp finger (not dripping wet) to tap down the peak gently. To pipe the mushroom stems, pipe a vertical column about 2cm tall by slowly moving the tip away from baking tray surface as you pipe. Tap down the peak gently with damp finger. You may pipe mushrooms of varying sizes for some variety.

4. Lightly dust the mushroom caps with a little sifted cocoa powder if you wish.

Piped and dusted with cocoa powder

5. Bake at middle rack without the fan on for 2 hours. Make sure the oven temperature doesn't exceed 110°C or the meringues may crack. If you don't mind a little cracking happening to make the mushrooms look a little more rustic, you may increase the temperature to 120°C. Open the oven every half an hour to release the steam build up in the oven. Traditional baking temperature is 90°C but I find that this may not dry the meringues out sufficiently and the surfaces may remain sticky.

To assemble the mushrooms, cool completely inside the oven. Dig a little hole at the base of the mushroom caps such that the stems can sit inside comfortably.  You may attach the caps onto the stems using melted chocolate or in my case, I used royal icing but dried the assembled mushrooms  in the oven for half an hour at 100°C.

Cute meringue mushrooms! 

Store the meringues in airtight container at room temperature.

You may refer to this post for the chocolate sponge and chocolate custard recipe. The portion is suitable for 7 to 8 inch sponge cake. I used only three-quarters of it as I used the rest of the batter for another bake. This stump cake that I made has three 6" sponge layers. The other bake I did concurrently had a small amount of homemade raspberry jam which I used to brush the sponge layers during assembly. This is optional but I used it since I have it. You may bake the cake layers in square pans if you dont have round ones and just cut to the desired shape and size using a clean cakeboard as your template. I actually baked the 3 sponge cakes in three 7x7" square trays, and then used a 6inch cakeboard as my template to cut to size.

Dark choc ganache (for bark) 
150g bitter dark chocolate couverture 74%*
150g dark chocolate couverture 56%*
200g whipping cream

* you may use one type of couverture

1. Place all ingredients in a heatproof bowl and set it over a pot of freshly boiled water without the water touching base of bowl. Let it sit for a few minutes. Use a spatula to stir the mixture until all the chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth.

2. Set aside to firm up at room temperature

Chocolate cake filling
200g chocolate custard
150g dark chocolate ganache

Steps :
1. Portion out 150g of dark chocolate ganache above and chill it briefly in the freezer for 2 min. Use an electric mixer to whip the ganache until it is lightened in texture but smooth and creamy.

2. Fold the whipped ganache into the chocolate custard.

3. Transfer filling into piping bag fitted with a round piping tip of your choice.

Chocolate whipped cream (for rings on stump) 
50g whip topping (or double cream/ heavy cream)
40g dark chocolate ganache
10g chocolate custard

1. Beat chilled whipping cream until firm peaks form. Be careful not to overwhip if you are using full dairy cream.

2. Fold in chocolate custard and chocolate ganache in a few additions until mixture is smooth.

3. Transfer into piping bag fitted with a wilton #12 tip (or any round piping tip of your choice)

1. Apply a little ganache on cakeboard. Place first layer of sponge on top. Brush with syrup or jam if desired.

2. Apply a thin layer of custard with a spatula

3. Pipe the filling as shown below (3rd picture). Place the second sponge on top and press down gently. Repeat with the next layer.

4. Coat the top sponge with some chocolate whipped cream and use a spatula to smooth it out.

5. Coat the sides of the cake with dark chocolate ganache. Don't worry about being neat as you don't have to be!

6. Pipe rings of the stump on top using chocolate whipped cream. Use a fork to draw out the bark patterns by running the tines upwards.  Chill the cake in fridge until ready to serve. This chocolate cake tastes the best after 3 or 4 days of storage when the flavours have matured!

Unadorned cake! Still looks good! 

Decorate the cake with meringue mushrooms as you wish. You can add on other plastic christmas cake deco as well!

With love,
Phay Shing
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Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Gingerbread man Chiffon Cake

Help! My yummy Gingerbread man ran out of my oven!

Anyone can help me catch?? =p

Made this cute cake for my dear niece's birthday! The kids had such fun imagining this was a real Gingerbread man who could jump out, cutting the cake and sticking candles!

Gingerbread man blazing.. with too many candles..

The aftermath.. poor Gingerbread man!

The cake was gone is seconds! Thankful it was well received.

Blessed Christmas in advance!

With lots of love,

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Monday, 9 December 2019

Chinese New Year Macaron Teacup Class

I finally mustered enough courage to conduct a class for creating something with hemispherical macaron shells!

Auspicious looking teacup macarons filled with dark chocolate ganache, yuzu mandarin orange curd and yuzu mandarin orange Swiss meringue buttercream!

It will be the first time I am teaching at ArtZ Baking and  Culinary studio so I am excited about this collaboration! Please click on this link to register and for more class details. Not only will I cover the basics of making macarons using the Swiss meringue method, I will teach you how to work with royal icing in decorating and assembling macaron structures, and you will also have hands on experience making 3 different delectable fillings! You will also get to bring home the silicone mould required to make the hemispherical macaron shells. This mould is multi-purpose and not just for making hemispherical macaron shells. You can use it for no-bake desserts like jellies, puddings, mousses and chocolates, as well as for baked goods like chiffon cakes and other cakes!

So hurry and register as spaces are limited!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Sumikko Gurashi Chocolate Choux Pastries

I made some Sumikko Gurashi choux au craquelin for hubby's birthday as well as for my friend. Both of them love dark chocolate so the pastries are filled with dark chocolate pastry cream ๐Ÿ˜Š.

Tonkatsu is hubby's favourite because he has such a cute and sad back story, and looks really cute too. And of course I had to include Tonkatsu's favourite pal, Ebi.

I have to admit that this set wasn't entirely the easiest to work with due to the shape. It would have been easier if everyone was just a round choux bun lol. Creating them oval shaped requires me to make my own template for cutting out the cookie dough for craquelin instead of using regular round cookie cutters. Piping the choux pastry batter and baking was also a challenge as I had to balance between retaining the colour while at the same time not have the pastry case collapse in the oven. It helps to keep the size of the piped batter less than 3.5cm to fulfil both criteria.

Please refer to this post for the detailed recipe for the craquelin and choux pastry batter, and guide for baking conditions. I didn't take many photos while working on this project. But here is the photo for the craquelin I cut out using homemade templates. As a rule of thumb, I usually cut the craquelin about 5 to 6mm larger than the area of piped batter.

I used my default chocolate pastry cream recipe as it is not too sweet, not too cloying but nice and chocolatey. I lighten the pastry cream with whipped cream to lighten the texture.

Top picture shows the rich chocolate pastry cream and whipped cream. Bottom picture shows the two combined 

Hubby loved his present and savoured the pastries over a few days ๐Ÿ˜Š.

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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Monday, 2 December 2019

3D Olaf Chiffon Cake

"Do you want to build a Snowman?" <3

Have you watched Frozen 2?

I loved it so much, so here's my first full 3D chiffon cake Olaf!

He made me laugh so much in the show =D. So this is my humble work of love.

The last time I made Olaf was 5 years ago when Frozen just came out. It is a much simpler semi-2D version. I had forgotten how to make it though, for this cake, I actually redid the eyes for this cake 2 times! It is not easy to capture the look of characters really.

Do you like Olaf in summer or in winter?

Hope this adorable Olaf cake made you smile too!

With lots of love,

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Friday, 29 November 2019

Toy Story Alien Chiffon Cake

Who likes Toy Story Alien?

This Toy Story Alien is made from pandan chiffon cake (top) and blue pea flower chiffon cake (bottom), and the cake is 12-inches tall!

Thank God it was well-received! Hope this made you smile =).

With love,

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Thursday, 28 November 2019

Pikachu and Torchic Lychee Choux Pastry on Pandan Kaya Cake

My friend wanted me to do a Pokemon themed bake for her nephew's birthday but with pandan kaya cake as the cake base. She also wanted choux pastries for the characters and I told her some of the Pokemons are very good candidates as deco choux creations. Here it is ๐Ÿ˜Š

I will focus on the choux pastry part as the recipe for the pandan kaya cake can be found in this post. I just replaced Stevia with caster sugar for the pandan chiffon and the pandan gula melaka pudding.

Detailed recipe for choux pastry batter and the craquelin (cookie dough) can be found in this post. As a rule of thumb, I try to colour the batter as close as possible to the same shade as the craquelin for creating various characters.

Craquelin on top of piped batter for Pokeball and the heads and bodies of Torchic and Pikachu 

The rest of the small body parts are made from piped choux pastry batter without the use of craquelin.

I love the look of this rainbow choux!

Freshly baked pastry cases

I used royal icing to decorate as well as join the parts together.

I had fun giving Pikachu various expressions! 

I provided lychee pastry cream lightened with non-dairy whipped cream in piping bags for my friend to fill just before the pastries are consumed at the party. The recipe can be found here.

"Are you also surprised that choux pastries can be made into someone like me? "

According to my friend, everyone at the party, the neighbouring tables of diners and the service staff at the restaurant had the same expression as the Pikachu above ๐Ÿคฃ. I hope this bake brings a smile to your face too! After the initial surprise.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Thursday, 21 November 2019

Precious Moments-inspired Gymnast on a Piano Chiffon Cake

Precious Moments-inspired Gymnast on top of a Piano, made from chiffon cake! Does she look like a cute little champion gymnast? <3

Inspired by my friend's daughter who is a very talented pianist and gymnast, I was also inspired to try my best and challenge the boundaries!

What is it that you are passionate about?

This is one of the most challenging cakes I made tried so far. And also a lot of work.

Initially I had told me friend I couldn't do it. Thank God for the inspiration that I suddenly thought I could use a heart pan as a base to create the shape of the grand piano! I had to carve out the rest of the piano details.

I have been wanting to try Precious Moments for a while but didn't have the courage to try. Thank God it turned out pretty ok!

School holidays are here. Wish everyone a blessed restful holidays!

With love,

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'McDull in Animal Suit' Pandan Kaya Cake

I first came across McDull about a little more than 10 years ago, watching the original cartoon in Cantonese. It is not as widely known to younger kids nowadays probably because of the origin of this character, which epitomises how some kids grow up in Hong Kong. But anyway, I am glad to have a chance to make this lesser known character ๐Ÿ˜Š

McDull donning various animal suits! 

My university classmate was the one who requested for this bake. Although peppermint dark chocolate was requested for the filling, the cake requested was pandan kaya cake.

I used this french method recipe for making the macaron shells as this is a small quantity bake and the batter is stable enough for dividing into so many colours. Just to share some photos of the process...

Piping McDull. Be sure to use piping tips that are of the right size for better shape retention. For really small parts like the eye patch and black panda parts, you may just cut a small hole in the piping bag 

Freshly baked shells. Check out the feet! 

I filled the macarons with firm peppermint dark chocolate ganache as some of tbem are going on a mini tower

Recipe for firm peppermint dark chocolate ganache
90g 73.5% bitter dark chocolate couverture
10g unsalted butter
24g heavy cream
1/8tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 tsp Kahlua coffee liqueur (optional)
1 tbs peppermint extract

Steps :
1. Place all ingredients except extracts and liqueur in a microwave safe bowl. Melt on mdium low power for 20 seconds and stir. Repeat as necessary until smooth and melted.

2. I like to whip my ganache to lighter consistency so I chill the ganache in freezer for 1 to 2 min and then whip with spatula. I repeat chilling and whipping until texture resembles buttercream.

3. Gradually add extracts and liqueur and mix well after each addition. Transfer into piping bag and fill the shells. Store assembled macarons in airtight container in the fridge for at least 24 h before consuming. This type of stiff ganache filled macarons can keep in fridge for two weeks.

I assembled the mini tower with extra pieces of round macaron shells and stiff royal icing 

The recipe I use for the pandan kaya cake is same as the one I used for my mum's birthday except that I used regular caster sugar instead of Stevia. I also used a 6 inch pan without the central tube to bake the 6 inch chiffon cake. The pandan kaya cake recipe can be found here.

Freshly baked 6" pandan chiffon cake slightly more earthy hue due to the gula melaka used. 

I added the words "Happy Birthday" using a separate gula melaka chiffon sponge with some cocoa powder added for a deeper brown colour.

Remember always store macaron cake toppers separately from the cake to prevent the cake from turning the macarons soggy.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Thursday, 14 November 2019

Safari Animal Cookies n Cream Choux Pastries

My first attempt at making a variety of animals for a single choux pastry request. Safari themed this time!

On hindsight there are things I would do differently to improve the looks of things but I didn't have time to rebake and it is honestly yummy enough. Just the perfectionist in me talking ๐Ÿ˜‚. If I had a next time, I would make all the heads slightly smaller such that the pastry cases need higher temperature baking only for a shorter time, and add white food colouring to the light brown part of the monkey's face as well as to the yellow face of the lion for better colour contrast. These colours tend to brown more.

You may refer to this post for the detailed recipe for the choux pastry case. I will share the detailed filling recipe later in this post that is different from the 5-minute version I shared in this blog post as it is made with proper pastry cream for a yummier taste. What might be of interest to you is how I made the craquelin for the monkey face and the various small parts of the face of the animals. I made use of round and heart shaped cookie cutters to get the shape of the monkey's face.

Cut out rounds and hearts on separate trays. Use the heart cutter to cut out part of the brown circle and fit the heart shape in. Gently press the seams of the different coloured dough together. Use round cutter to cut off excess portion from the uncoloured heart dough

Use coloured choux pastry batter to pipe out the various body parts. Pipe similar sized parts on the same tray. Here is a tray of monkey, lion and leopard ears

I use perforated mat for baking the main body (or head in this case) for a more even expansion in the oven. Try to match the colour of batter to craquelin. 

Recipe for lightened cookies n cream pastry cream
Do note that you may adjust the amount of crushed oreo cookies, as well as the whipped cream according to personal preference. This recipe is for a fairly strong chocolatey oreo flavour with slightly heavier texture so I provided extra whipped cream for those who prefer a lighter texture and less intense chocolate cookie flavour in separate piping bags. I always recommend filling the pastry cases just before or shortly before eating.

Lightened cookies n cream pastry cream and plain non dairy whipped cream

3 egg yolks
30g cornflour, sifted
35g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
300g fresh milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
25g butter, softened
160g Whip topping (non dairy whipping cream. You may use double cream or heavy cream. You may increase amount of cream for lighter texture, up to 1:1 ratio with plain pastry cream)
200g crushed oreo cookies without the cream (use less if you prefer less chocolatey)

1. In a heavy mixing bowl, whisk together cornflour and sugar. Add egg yolks and whisk until a smooth paste forms.

2. Place milk, vanilla and salt in a saucepan and heat over medium low heat until steaming or just starting to bubble at the edges.

3. Slowly pour hot milk in a thin stream into egg mixture while whisking the egg mixture continuously. Pour the contents back into saucepan.

4. Heat the egg mixture over medium low heat while whisking continuosly. Keep an eye on the consistency. Once it starts to thicken, remove from heat and whisk vigorously until smooth. Place saucepan back on stove and whisk until pastry cream is cooked to your preferred consistency.

5. Remove saucepan from heat and add butter. Whisk until well combined.

Nice and smooth plain pastry cream! 

6. Transfer pastry cream into a bowl and press cling wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cool.

7. Whip the whipping cream until firm peaks form. If using full dairy whipping cream, be careful not to overwhip. Adding whipping cream lightens the texture of pastry cream.

8. Loosen the chilled pastry cream with spatula. Fold in the whipped cream in a few batches.

9. Fold in crushed oreo cookies. Transfer into piping bag and keep chilled until ready to fill the cases. Pastry cream can keep in the fridge for a few days. Do not freeze.

Do check out my Deco Choux Pastries book for more techniques and designs of creating cute choux pastries!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Sesame Street Elmo, Abby and Cookie Monster Chiffon Cake

Which is your favorite character?๐Ÿ’– Elmo, Abby and Cookie Monster? Hope this happy creation made you smile! =))

With love,

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Thursday, 7 November 2019

Brawl Stars Cookies N Cream Macarons

This is an unprecedented project due to the amount of details and quantity involved. Because it is for my younger kid and my friend's nephew's birthdays. I baked and decorated more than 70 of these!

Nita, Spike and Tick cookies n cream macarons! 

Now that I am teaching at two studios, I have to plan my time more carefully. Due to the scale of this project, I baked two characters in advance and froze the undecorated shells, planning to defrost them only when I was ready decorate nearer the date.

I used the Swiss meringue method for these and baked one character at a time, spreading the baking over 3 separate days.

Just to share some photos of the process...

Piping Nita

Piping Spike

Piping Tick

I layered the baked shells between pieces of parchment paper in an airtight container and froze it. To defrost, leave the container at room temperature overnight without opening. 

Freshly baked Tick! I didn't freeze these as I baked them closer to the date. 

Decorating the shells with edible marker, homemade paint* and royal icing is not a job for the faint hearted. It took me one and a half days of intensive work to finish all 70 plus pieces. This was just day 1 of work. 

*I made edible paint in dark green colour for Spike by dissolving some gel food colouring in vodka.

All that hard work was worth it when you see the fruits of your labour ๐Ÿ˜Š.

This is only about a third of the decorated macaron shells! 

I made a Swiss meringue buttercream based cookies n cream filling.

Recipe for cookies n cream filling (fills about 30-35 macarons) 
50g egg whites
1/8tsp salt
35g caster sugar
80g unsalted butter, cut to small pieces and slightly softened
1 tsp vanilla extract/ bean paste
70g oreo cookies without cream, crushed

1. Place egg whites, salt and sugar in mixing bowl set over a pot of simmering water without the water touching base of the bowl. Whisk continuously while monitoring the temperature with a candy thermometer.

2. When temperature reaches about 70°C, remove the mixing bowl from heat and beat the egg whites with electric mixer at medium high speed until stiff peaks form and meringue is cooled to room temperature.

3. Add butter about a tablespoon at a time and beat with mixer until incorporated before adding more. Don't worry if mixture appears to curdle. It will come together in the end. Continue to beat at high speed after all butter is added for 2 min.

4. Add vanilla and beat until incorporated.

5. Fold in crushed oreo cookies. Transfer filling into piping bag to fill the macaron shells. Store filled macarons in airtight container in fridge for at least 24h before serving. Always leave the airtight container at room temperature for 15-20min before opening and serving the macarons because condensation will appear immediately on the shells if you expose them to the air when they are cold.

Thank God that it was really well received!

A peek at the insides of a macaron for my younger kid, which I filled with pistachio white chocolate ganache and salted caramel instead.

Nice and full shells! 

With love,
Phay Shing
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Wednesday, 6 November 2019

BT21 Chiffon Cake

Which BT21 character is your favourite?? I like BTS, so was very happy I finally had the chance to try this cake for my dear schoolmate all the way from primary school! 

Mang (horse-masked character) - J-Hope
RJ (fluffy alpaca) - Jin
Koya (sleepy koala) - RM
Chim Chim (hooded dog) - Jimin
Shooky (small cookie) - Suga
Kookie (muscular bunny) - Jungkook
Tata (heart-shaped alien) - V
Van (space robot) - ARMY

Which is your favourite?

I had a few PMs after my post on instagram on what mold I used for the base cake. Its a silicone mold from silikomart. The rest of the characters were cut from egg shells or cake pop molds.

Have a blessed week!๐Ÿ˜˜

With love,

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Thursday, 31 October 2019

Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Dinosaur Macarons (new filling recipe!)

I had a request for quite a large quantity of dinosaur macarons and I got the chance to try out a new flavour! Pistachio! I will share the recipe for this in the blog post.

Whimsical looking! 

I used the Swiss meringue method to make these dinosaurs and the recipe can be found in this post. I must admit it was a little tricky to get the shade of colour close to the reference. Here's a photo of the piped batter before baking.

Freshly baked shells! 

I used edible marker to add in the details like eyes, mouth, claws, spots and stripes. I used peach coloured lustre dust to brush on the rosy cheeks.

I filled the triceratops and stegosaurus with dark chocolate ganache and salted caramel. I filled the brontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus with pistachio white chocolate ganache. I am not familiar with working with nut based filling from scratch so it was a good learning experience for me. You may think that after baking for about six years I would know that nuts have to be roasted before you use them, otherwise the nutty flavour and aroma will not be strong. Well I only realised my mistake after making the filling because I was following a recipe that didn't make any mention about roasting or that roasted nuts were used ๐Ÿคฃ. So yes please roast the nuts first! I adapted the recipe from here. My version contains a higher percentage of pistachios and is a lot less sweet because I substitute a substantial amount of white chocolate with cocoa butter.

Recipe for pistachio white chocolate ganache
100g shelled raw pistachios (unsalted)
180g heavy cream
1 tsp Sea salt
100g cocoa butter chips or shavings
130g white chocolate, finely chopped

1. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and spread out the pistachios in a single layer on the tray. Bake in preheated oven at 180°C for about 8 min, keeping an eye on the browning. The nuts should be ready when you can smell the nutty aroma.

2. Transfer roasted pistachios into a saucepan with heavy cream. Heat on medium heat until the cream just starts to bubble at the sides.

3. Remove saucepan from heat and blend the mixture until a thick paste forms.

4. Transfer the paste into a heatproof bowl and add salt, cocoa butter and white chocolate. Set it over a saucepan with freshly boiled water and mix with a spatula until all the white chocolate and cocoa butter are melted and incorporated.

5. Press a cling wrap on the surface of the ganache and refrigerate for 1 h or until firm but not rock hard. You may fill the macarons with this ganache as it is or you may whip it up with a spatula for a lighter texture.

Filling the shells! 

Packing these took quite some time too because there are so many!

Here's a picture of the dinosaurs at the party ๐Ÿ˜Š

With love,
Phay Shing
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