Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Hollow Macaron Shells ---the Science, the Solution and why I don't get Stressed about it


Of all the "macawrongs" that bakers experience, hollow shells is perhaps one that many tear their hair out over. While I don't obsess over hollows because I understand why it is fairly difficult although not impossible to achieve full macaron shells consistently (see the happy red shell below), many bakers do. I have typed my response too many times over in the macaron group so I have decided to once and for all, pen it down properly so I don't have to repeat myself 😂.


The blue and green hollow shells looking at the full red shells with envy! 


Before I begin explaining how to overcome hollows, let me explain the fundamentals and science of things. Macarons are meringue based cookies and meringues are UNSTABLE structures that will breakdown over time. Even when you use Swiss or Italian meringues where the egg whites are semi cooked to produce a more stable meringue than the French meringue, they will eventually breakdown with time. Hollows happen when the meringue in your piped batter starts to breakdown before the internal structure of the macaron shell is set by baking.

That leaves us with two strategies to combat hollows:
1. Anything that helps to set the internal structure as soon as possible by baking
2. Anything that helps to keep the meringue stable for a longer time during drying stage (if you are drying) and during the initial baking stage (piped batter in oven but structure not set yet).

Not resting at all is what some bakers do to fulfil option 1. But this is not always possible for some bakers as the membrane formed on the surface of the piped batter may not be strong enough to withstand the internal expansion of the batter in the oven. This results in cracked shells. I believe many would rather have hollow shells than exploded shells. Whether or not you are able to get away without resting depends a lot on how your oven transfers heat to your macarons, the humidity of environment, type of meringue, ingredient ratio and whether things like cornflour /cornstarch is added. The longer you rest your shells before baking, the sturdier the membrane on the surface of the piped batter is. But if the meringue starts to break down during this resting stage, a hollow will start to form under that membrane. So there is a tradeoff you have to consider.

What can we do to minimize the resting time then?

-Reduce humidity of environment. If you live in an arid area, good for you! You probabably don't need to rest your shells or rest for long. For those of us in the tropics (like me), you may have to dry your shells in an aircon room, under a fan or use a dehumidifier to speed this up.

- Add cornflour /cornstarch to your dry ingredients or French meringue (if using French method). This helps a membrane to form more quickly and your shells dry faster. It also makes the membrane sturdier and less prone to cracking when you bake. How much to add? I personally don't add more than 1tsp per egg white recipe as I find that it alters the delicate texture of macarons to become a lot chewier. But this can be fixed by maturing for longer time with filling or brushing the bottoms of the shells with unwhipped heavy cream before filling. Some bakers add up to 10g cornflour per 100g dry ingredients. That is way too much for me but it works for them.

- Oven drying. There are 2 ways to go about this. The first one is a technique I use in macaron class to speed things up. I partially dry the shells at 60°C oven for 5-10min using top and bottom heat only. And then either pop it straight into another oven preheated to baking temperature or let it continue to rest at room temperature while the oven preheats to baking temperature. The second method is a method that I use to get super full and shiny surfaced shells. But it is very much oven dependent. I preheat the oven to baking temperature, pop the freshly piped tray of macarons in and bake with the door ajar (about 10cm wide) for 3-5min before closing the door to bake the rest of the way. You need to keep a close eye on this one and do some trial and error as to what temperature works best for your oven. I don't recommend this method if your oven tends to have high temperature overshoot or unstable oven temperature during baking.

Using a higher initial baking temperature also ensures the meringue starts setting quickly before it starts breaking down in the oven. When the initial temperature is too low or when heat conduction to the base of the macaron shell is poor (due to use of silicone mat, poor heat conduction of baking tray), the hollow forms near the base of the shell instead or near the top, resulting in a concave at the base of the shell.

How do we go about option 2?

- Add cornflour or cornstarch to dry ingredients or meringue (for French method). Besides helping to shells to dry faster and form a sturdier membrane, this also helps to stabilise the meringue. Some bakers use it as a stabiliser for the meringue in chiffon cakes.

- Add Cream of tartar. This is an acid that helps to stabilise the meringue. I use it in macarons and chiffon cakes all the time. You add it to the egg whites when they are beaten to frothy stage for French method and before beating the egg whites for Swiss and Italian methods. Some people find that adding cream of tartar ruin their macarons but some find it helpful. You have to try it out for yourself to see if it works. I add about 1/8tsp per egg white.

- Use Swiss or Italian method instead of French. When I have projects that require long hours of piping with several coloured batter for character macarons, I use the  Swiss or italian methods because of the better meringue stability.

- Ensure that your meringue is of good quality. If you are using French method, beat your meringue until it is really stiff and dry but not curdled looking. For those of you using stand mixers, the meringue should be able to ball up inside the whisk. If you are using Swiss method, make sure that the sugar is all dissolved in the egg whites during double boiling stage before you transfer to stand mixer to beat till firm peak. Any undissolved sugar will cause the meringue to be unable to whip up to firm peak within a few minutes of medium-high speed beating. Heat up your egg whites slowly to make sure the sugar has enough time to dissolve and don't forget to keep whisking. I take about several minutes to do this. For Italian method, make sure that your syrup temperature reaches 115-118°C before pouring into egg whites slowly and beat the meringue at high speed until it is cool enough (around body temperature) before you stop the mixer to check. Don't stop beating too early.

If your meringue is under-whipped for all three methods, it will break down earlier.

I hope this is helpful information for you and you don't fret as much about hollows because the recipients don't really care, as long as the macarons are yummy! Most of the time even if you get hollows, they aren't super huge and they will disappear with time after maturing with filling. Don't take the joy out of baking by stressing over little details like this!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Tuesday, 18 February 2020

"Rainbow Bunny In Pink Castle" Macarons on Chocolate Banana Cake

This is perhaps one of my most massive bakes that is almost on par with my macaron playground on strawberries n cream cake I made in 2018. I made a pink ombre castle with rainbow and rainbow bunnies out of macarons! The whole thing sits on top of a 6-layered dark chocolate banana cake!



A macaron structure like this really needed time for planning and execution. I used the swiss meringue method but tweaked the recipe for a reduced sugar version without needing to use rice flour to replace some icing sugar in the dry ingredients portion like I always did. In order to maintain stability of the meringue while reducing sugar content, I replaced some of the caster sugar with icing sugar that has cornflour added, and cook the egg whites to a slightly higher temperature. I am still in the process of finding the optimal higher temperature to heat the egg whites to so I won't be sharing the detailed updated reduced-sugar swiss method recipe yet. You may refer to this post for the original swiss method recipe, and this post for the reduced-sugar swiss method recipe using rice flour and cornflour substitution for icing sugar.

Just to share some pictures of the process...

Piping the batter for various components! 

Freshly baked shells! 

Adding the details of the rainbow bunny using edible marker and gel colouring dissolved in vodka that is painted on. This bunny is modelled after baby Ashley's favourite toy

Just to show the heartbreak I get sometimes when working...

Oops! I accidentally dropped one fully decorated shell! All the hardwork 😂. Thank God I made extras! 

The rainbow is a huge macaron that extends quite tall vertically so I had to take pains to make sure that it is securely anchored. I didn't want to risk it toppling over during transport. Here is a sneak peek of how I did it.

The anchoring actually starts all the way down to the cakeboard with 2 wooden skewers on each end of the rainbow. Stiff royal icing at both ends of the rainbow may not be sufficient to secure it. 

Works-in-progress! Stiff royal icing is used to glue the pieces together, as well as to create the grass

Does this sight put a smile on your face? 

My ultimate chocolate cake has always received rave reviews and this time round, I decided to add bananas to complement the rich chocolate. I baked the banana slices briefly in the oven at 200°C, with some slices sprinkled with sugar on top so that it caramelizes. You may refer to this blog post for the detailed recipe.

Here was how I assembled...

Add a little chocolate custard on cakeboard, place a layer on sponge on top, pipe on the mixture of chocolate ganache and custard, add the bananas, add a thin layer of custard-ganache mixture, place the next layer of sponge and repeat, finally crumb coat with whipped dark chocolate ganache

You may choose to leave the cake in a semi-naked style or cover it with more dark chocolate ganache. I ran 3 wooden skewers through the whole height of the cake to prevent the cake layers from sliding.

I did a simple vertical-line pattern using a spatula, and covered the base with some chocolate pearl crunch sprinkles. 

Thank God the cake was really well received and people were amazed that you can actually construct a castle out of macarons!

With love,
Phay Shing
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Monday, 17 February 2020

6-sector Rainbow Hearts Chiffon Cake


6-sector Rainbow Hearts Chiffon Cake... which is your favorite? Pink or White?

Revisited this cake over Valentine's day to encourage a friend and also some healthcare workers.

Watch a video of the Hearts Roulette spinning!


I have shared recipe for the cake in Creative baking: Chiffon Cakes (book cover below), and also shared a video tutorial of the cake on Youtube.

Many on Instagram shared they prefer the newer pink version! Which do you like?


Pink

White

With lots of love,
Susanne









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Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Valentine's day Pusheen Chiffon Cake


Happy Valentine's Day!

Will you be my Valentine? <3

Chiffon cake inspired by Valentine's day Pusheen with a Giant heart candy! It was love at first sight when I first saw it!

Sending some love and hugs to everyone in the midst of this difficult time.. and truly we are very thankful for all the brave healthcare workers on the frontline. A big thank you..

With lots of love, XOXO,
Susanne


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Monday, 10 February 2020

Gudetama On Toast (spherified lemon curd on panna cotta and lavender vanilla chiffon cake)

This is a bake I squeezed in for a young lady who is a fan of Gudetama and also suffers from depression, hoping it would bring her some cheer for the moment. The concept of this bake was inspired by the first episode of season one of Sugar Rush, the baking competition. On that episode, one of the contestants made "egg on toast" for the confections round of the competition but the egg yolk was spherified pineapple curd on top of egg white (milk panna cotta), midori buttercream with marshmellows and a coconut pound cake (the "toast"). I was so totally amazed by how realistic the "egg yolk" looked and saved the idea in my memory until there was a chance to use it. So here it is! My version of "egg on toast"! Spherified lemon curd on vanilla panna cotta and lavender vanilla bean chiffon cake!


Just to show you how cool it is, I made a video of how the spherified curd is like but the curd and panna cotta are resting on an actual slice of bread because I didn't make extra "toast".

You can pick the "yolk" up and finally pierce it to let the inner goodness ooze out when you had enough fun poking at it! I know it looks awfully cruel 🤣

This bake looks simple but it has quite a few elements to prepare.

Gudetama's facial features are made from something inspired by Yuni Sweets, one of the queens of patterned deco roll cakes. I used her simple recipe for the patterned parts of the roll cake to create Gudetama's face.

Recipe for Gudetama's facial features 
Ingredients:
10g unsalted butter, room temperature
10g icing sugar
10g cake flour
10g egg whites
Charcoal powder
White gel food colouring

Steps:
1. Place template of Gudetama on baking tray. Line tray with teflon sheet or parchment paper. Lightly grease the surface with oil and paper towel. Preheat oven to 150°C.

2. Place butter, sugar, flour and egg whites in a small mixing bowl. Whisk together until smooth.

3. Divide the batter into 2 and add charcoal powder to one portion and white colouring to the other. I didn't measure but instead add a bit at a time until desired shade is reached.

4. Transfer each coloured batter into piping bag and cut a small hole at the end. Pipe the black parts, followed by the white part. Use a toothpick to nudge the batter where necessary.


5. Bake in oven for 6-7min or until batter appears dry. Cool completely on tray before storing in airtight condition. You may prepare this a day or two ahead of time.


Recipe for lavender vanilla chiffon cake
Ingredients (for 6x6" square pan) :
2 egg yolks
5g caster sugar
28g fresh milk (or lavender milk* if lavender oil not available)
28g vegetable or canola oil
40g cake flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
2 drops lavender oil

3 egg whites
1/5 tsp cream of tartar
40g caster sugar

* to prepare lavender milk, heat 40g of milk with 1-1.5tsp of dried lavender flowers until the milk just starts to bubble. Let it steep for 10 min. Strain out the flowers and measure out 28g.

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 140°C and set rack to second lowest position. Line bottom of baking tray with parchment paper but leave the walls unlined.

2. Prepare egg yolk batter. In a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar together until pale and thick. Add oil and whisk untik combined. Add milk, lavender oil, vanilla and salt and whisk until combined. Gradually sift in flour and cocoa powder and whisk until no trace of flour is seen.

3. Prepare the meringue. Place egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean metal bowl. Beat with electric mixer until firm peaks or just reach stiff peaks, gradually adding sugar once the egg whites are foamy.

4. Quickly but gently fold meringue into egg yolk batter in three additions. Pour into prepared baking tin. Tap the tin on the table a few times or run a chopstick around to pop air bubbles.


5. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Turn the temperature up to 170°C and bake for another 5-10min. This is to brown the exterior of the cake to make the "crust" of the toast. Usually I leave a tray of water at the base of the oven but I omit for this bake as I want the browning to happen. Note that time and temperature is oven dependemt so adjust accordingly.

6. Cool the cake upright. Carefully unmould the sides by hand or with the help of a spatula. Slice the cake till it is about 3cm tall. Carefully remove part of the crust at the flat face of the cake by gently rubbing off crumbs of the cake to create the toast pattern. It is optional to do so for the middle of the cake since the egg is going to cover it but I did it anyway for fun!

Did I totally fool you with this 😉? 

Store the cake in airtight container until ready to assemble. You may wish to brush the surfaces of the cake with vanilla flavoured simple syrup to moisten it if you wish as I purposely baked until dry on the surface for the toasted look. The cake will still not be awfully dry when you eat as it is eaten with panna cotta and lemon curd

I made more lemon curd and panna cotta than necessary so I placed them into cups for a refreshing pudding dessert for my kids.

Recipe for panna cotta
Ingredients:
200g heavy cream
200g fresh milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
40g caster sugar
6g gelatin sheets (3 sheets) **
Some ice water in a bowl**

**you may use powdered gelatin. If using this instead, scatter same weight of gelatin powder over 50g of cold milk or water to bloom for 10 min before microwaving and stirring to dissolve the gelatin.

Steps:
1. Soak gelaton sheets in ice water for 10 min. In the mean time, place all other ingredients in saucepan and heat and whisk until sugar dissolves.

2. Continue heating the cream and milk mixture until it just starts to bubble at the edges. Remove from heat. Squeeze excess water out from gelatin sheets. Add into saucepan and whisk until dissolved.

3. Pour the mixture into cups/moulds. I prepared acetate sheet rings with cling wrap at the bottom for the "egg white" portion of the fried egg. Sorry I didn't take any photos of it as I was working close to midnight for this part.

4. Chill overnight in the fridge or at least 4 h.

Spherfied lemon curd
I used this blog post as my reference for the spherificarion process.

Ingredients :
240g lemon curd (replace lime with lemon from recipe)
30g water
6g calcium chloride

800g + extra 500g distilled water
4g sodium alginate

Steps:
1. Prepare lemon curd.

2. Dissolve calcium chloride in water but whisking them together.

I added a little turmeric to the lemon curd to make it a deeper yellow shade but you won't taste it at all

3. Add calcium chloride solution into lemon curd and whisk well. Transfer into silicone hemispherical mould. I used the 4cm diameter one


4. Freeze overnight or for 2 hours at least until very firm.

5. In the mean time, prepare sodium alginate solution. Scatter sodium alginate in 800g water in a glass loaf pan (or any other shallow tray). Use a blender to blend until no more gel lumps left. You may find it easier to do this in a measuring jug and then sieve the solution into the loaf pan but I was lazy to wash more things. Set aside to settle for 2h until solution turns totally clear.

Preparing sodium alginate solution 

6. When the solution is ready and lemon curd is frozen, prepare another bath of distilled water for rinsing the spheres. Pop the frozen spheres into alginate solution, a few at a time. Gently agitate the spheres in the solution for about 3 min. Remove with slotted spoon and rinse in distilled water before draining over paper towel and carefully depositing on top of panna cotta. You may find it helpful to dig out a small cavity in the panna cotta such that the "egg yolk" can sit nicely on it without sliding around.


Add on the facial features and you are done!

Keep the assembled creation in the fridge for up to 3 days. The spherified curd I made can survive for up to 3 days stored although what I have read so far for spherified juices needed to be consumed within a day. The spheres I made can remain intact and burst with oozy goodness even on the third day!

I recommend smearing the burst curd all over the cake/ panna cotta and eat together with panna cotta for a well balanced flavour as the addition of calcium chloride to lemon curd makes it sharper than it originally is.


With love,
Phay Shing

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Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Chocolate Piggy Choux Pastries

We just said goodbye to the Year of the Pig but that doesn't stop me from making these cute piggy choux pastries!

"We have piggitude!" 

I had a request to make some simple pig choux pastries but they should sport different facial expressions. I have made and taught pig choux pastry a year ago but I decided to inject a bit more life to them by giving them a range of expressions and changing the design of the ears a little.

You may refer to this post for detailed recipe of the craquelin and choux pastry batter. I coloured the batter and craquelin with some white powder colouring, orange and pink gel food colouring to create the peach colour. There is a step that I do slightly differently from the past, which is to use metal guides for rolling out the craquelin. I find this method results in more evenly thick craquelin than using the softer silicone guides that came with the rolling pin. I bought these 2.38mm thick metal guides from an art supplies store (Art Friend in Singapore)

Rolling out craquelin with metal guides. 

As usual, I recommend using perforated mats for baking the main case. Craquelin: 3cm diameter, piped batter:2.5cm diameter

Piped ears and snout. These are baked at 170°C for about 12 to 15min.

I cut a hole at the base of the pastry case this way to thoroughly dry out the insides at a 140°C oven for 20 min. This ensures that the pastry cases remains crisp. Don't discard the small round cutout. You may cover back the hole after filling the pastry cases 

You may refer to this post for video tutorial on how you can assemble a choux pastry character.

You may refer to this post for the chocolate pastry cream recipe that is rich flavour, light in texture but not too sweet.

If you have not tried your hand at making deco choux pastries, do give it a try! I love choux pastries for it's lower sugar content but rich flavours and wonderful textures! Remember to fill the pastries only just before consuming so your pastry cases remain crisp!

With love,
Phay Shing
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Monday, 3 February 2020

Winter Pusheen Chiffon Cake

Left or right?

Pusheen and Cheek in winter is so cute! 💓💓

This is inspired by their Surprise plush - Winter Wonderland!

Another exciting Pusheen news, "Let's Bake! A Pusheen Cookbook", a collaboration between the creator of Pusheen, Claire Belton and myself is coming in June! It's filled with sweet treats of all kinds, for all levels of bakers! You can preorder a copy of the book here.



Also praying for the Wuhan virus situation.. everyone please stay healthy!

With lots of love,
Susanne


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Thursday, 30 January 2020

All You Need To Know About Heart Macarons (Templates and Video included)

Hot on the heels of Chinese New Year is Valentine's Day so many macaron bakers are looking at making heart macarons for sale. I am part of a wonderful Facebook group called All Things Macarons and I know from there that there are some things that bakers would love to know about making heart shaped macarons. I happen to be teaching this for Culinary Arts Ministry in church so I have decided to do a detailed documentation of making heart shaped macarons. (Update: this event is cancelled due to the coronavirus spread. But I hope this post will be helpful to bakers. Stay safe everyone! Practice sensible hygiene and trust God to take care of us!) Although I have a rather comprehensive post done about 3 years ago over here, I have revised the French method recipe to one that dries faster and is so "failproof" that I use it for Junior chef classes. Many bakers also want to know how to get that beautiful deep shade of red so I am introducing a colouring which I use now that is better than the standard Americolor or Wilton ones. Presenting my humble raspberry dark chocolate heart macarons!

The colour of these hearts are not as deep because I made these concurrently with other macarons and so I didn't use the awesome red powder colouring here. I made these for the event ad much earlier. 

Here are the templates for hearts of different sizes. For Culinary Arts Ministry, I will be using the template with smaller hearts as we have limited time and oven spaces. Each template can be scaled to an A4 size paper.

Regular sized hearts

Mini hearts

I used to need to add many drops of gel food colouring in order to achieve a deep shade of red. But now that I discovered what "Ah Ma" (grandmother in the Chinese Hokkien dialect) used to colour things like red eggs or ang ku kueh works many times better than Wilton or Americolor, I am going to stick with it. All I needed to add was 1/4 tsp of the red powder per egg white worth of recipe for macaron batter to achieve a super deep and bright red!

You can find this at supermarkets like Sheng Shiong in Singapore or perhaps Chinese or Asian grocery stores in other countries 

I will share the French method recipe here although you can use your preferred method.

Recipe for red macaron batter (French method, makes about 20 small heart macarons (40 shells) or 12 regular hearts (24 shells) ) 
Ingredients:
Meringue
35g egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional, for stabilising egg whites)
32g icing sugar (with cornflour added)
1/2tsp cornflour
1/8tsp fine salt (optional)

Dry ingredients
48g icing sugar
40g superfine almond flour
1/8 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp freeze-dried raspberry powder
1/8 tsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp bright red powder colouring.

Notes:
I added cornflour to stabilize the meringue as well as help the shells dry faster and be sturdier. Do note that this will cause the shells to be chewier in texture as well so give the filling at least 3 to 4 days to mature with the shells in the fridge before consuming, or brush the bottoms of baked shells with unwhipped heavy cream before filling to speed up maturing process.

Raspberry powder and cocoa powder are added for dulling the bright red colour a little as well as to temper the sweetness level of the macaron shells.

I am introducing oven drying here but you may choose to rest the piped batter in the open or in aircon room.

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 65°C, top and bottom heat only. Set rack to second lowest position. Line baking tray with template and parchment paper.

2. Sift together all the dry ingredients. You may want to weigh out about 3g extra almond as some grains may have difficulty passing through the sifter. Do not press the mix hard through the sieve as it will cause oils from the almond to come out and ruin your macarons (you get fragile, splotchy shells). Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together icing sugar and cornflour for the meringue

4. In a clean metal (or glass) mixing bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add about a third of icing sugar/cornflour mix and whisk until sugar is absorbed then beat for a few seconds using elecreic mixer. Add another third of the sugar and repeat whisking and beating. Add the rest of the sugar and whisk until it is absorbed into the egg whites. Turn up mixer speed to medium high and beat until meringue reaches stiff peaks. Scrape down sides of the bowl with clean spatula. Beat the meringue again for about half a minute. Scrape down the sides and test if the meringue is ready. If the meringue balls up inside the whisk, it is stiff enough. But some whisks of mixers are unable to do this so another test I use is to create little peaks all over the meringue in the bowl. If all the peaks stand up straight without curling over, meringue is ready.

5. Scatter half of the dry ingredients over the meringue. Gently fold in using a spatula until no trace of dry ingredients is seen. Scatter the other half of dry ingredients and gently fold until just incorporated. The batter is underfolded at this point. Press the batter against the side of the mixing bowl to deflate some air from the batter. Test consistency again. Repeat this until batter is smooth, shiny and able to fall of spatula in an almost continuous manner. Alternatively, you can test consistency by creating little peaks of batter in your bowl and tap the bottom of the bowl. If the peaks sink back in, your batter is ready. You may find it helpful to watch this video tutorial I did for the basic french method to have a better idea of batter consistency and folding technique.

6. Transfer batter into piping bag fitted with a wilton #8 tip for small hearts and #10 for regular hearts. Pipe the hearts on the tray like this:

I made this video 3 years ago and didn't bother making another one because I think it is clear enough 🤣

You may use a toothpick to nudge the batter into place as necessary, or to pop air bubbles. Bang the tray a few times to pop trapped air bubbles.

Piped batter

7. Place tray into oven for 10 min. Let it rest at room temperature free from draft while you preheat the oven to 170°C for 10 min. If you happen to have access to two ovens, you may preheat one to 65°C and the other to 170°C right from the start and just pop the tray of piped batter from the low temperature oven to the high temperature oven straight away after 15 min in low temperature oven. The purpose of oven drying is to speed up the process of forming a sturdy membrane on the surface of the shell before baking.

Once the tray is in the oven at 170 °C, reduce the temperature to 140°C. Bake for 18-20min for small hearts and 22-25min for regular hearts. Please note that the suggested temperature and time is a reference only as each oven works differently. Adjust your baking temperature and time accordingly, including the initial oven drying temperature and time. 

Let the shells cool completely on baking tray before carefully removing the parchment away from the shells (not the other way round).

Freshly baked hearts! 

Another view! I love this view! 

Raspberry dark chocolate ganache
Ingredients:
65g dark chocolate couverture
6g unsalted butter
18g heavy cream
1/8tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp coffee liqueur
8g freeze-dried raspberry powder

Steps :
1. Place all ingredients except raspberry powder in microwave-safe bowl. Heat on medium power for 20 sec and mix well. Repeat heating and mixing as necessary until smooth and melted.

2. Add freeze-dried raspberry powder and mix well.

3. Let the ganache firm up until toothpaste consistency before transferring into piping bag. You may choose to whip the ganache for a lighter texture if you wish.

You may fill the macarons with any filling of your choice but I love the raspberry dark chocolate combo as it compliments the sweetness of the macarons well so overall the confectionery is an explosion of flavours without being too sweet. Remember to be patient and only consume the macarons after a few days of maturing! Let the macarons sit at room temperature for 15 min before eating or the ganache might be too firm. The ganache recipe I share is suitable for hot climates like Singapore so feel free to increase the amount of cream if you want a softer ganache.

With the cancellation of the church event, I rushed out some hearts to give away instead! We need to spread more love during this trying time and not panic.



With love,
Phay Shing
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Wednesday, 29 January 2020

'Year of the Rat' Chiffon Cakes


新年快乐! 祝你幸福鼠不完! 🥰🐭 

This is a belated blog post, as I was busy over CNY and forgot to post these cakes on the blog =p.

Here are my chiffon cake rats, inspired by 裕鼠鼠 and 乐鼠鼠 from Mediacorp wishing you a happy new year!

This year feels a bit different because of the Wuhan virus, but praying that it will soon be over.

Everyone take care!

With lots of love,
Susanne

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Tuesday, 28 January 2020

'Bear in Teacup' Earl Grey Lavender Macaron Class

Due to an overwhelming response to my teacup macaron class for chinese new year in January, I decided to conduct another macaron teacup class but with a different design!

Bears in teacups! 

Unlike the earlier teacup macaron class which focused on a variety of fillings (dark chocolate ganache, mandarin orange yuzu curd and mandarin orange yuzu swiss meringue buttercream), this class covers simple character macarons as well but only one type of filling is taught (Earl Grey lavender ganache).

Just to share another photo of this creation without the filling...

Looking sweet! 

This design is suitable for various occasions such as the upcoming Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, or any other day that you want to show appreciation for your loved ones!

Please click on this link to register for the class in June and for more details. There is an earlier class for this in April but it filled up fast too with only one seat left before I was able to advertise for it!

Update 29/01/20: Class on 6th June is full too! Please whatsapp Sharon Chew for a subsequent class. 

With love,
Phay Shing
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Thursday, 23 January 2020

Mickey Mouse Kueh Lapis


Mickey Mouse cake to usher in the Year of the Rat! Can you guess what cake this is?


And more slices! My family said it was really sad to cut up the cute Mickey =p



Yes it is kueh lapis! Great when we have extra egg yolks! =)

The character kueh lapis was rather experimental, and I didn't think it would work. I actually made a few more other kueh lapis with the kids! Everyone loves it (it's a lot sweeter and richer than the usual chiffon cake haha).

Here's the recipe of the kueh lapis experiment for those who are interested.

Cartoon Kueh Lapis (makes 1 6-inch cake)
Egg Yolks 
10 egg yolks (from large eggs)
60g castor sugar

Butter Batter
250g butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
100 g condensed milk
1 tbsp rum (or 1/2 tbsp vanilla if you prefer non-alcoholic version)
17g corn flour
58g all-purpose flour
½ tsp mixed spice (I used ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamon)
1/8 tsp salt (a pinch)
Charcoal powder
Beetroot powder

Egg Whites 
5 egg whites
¼ tsp cream of tartar
40g castor sugar

For greasing: 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, using only top heat. Place your cake mold into the oven to warm up while you prepare the batter.

2. Egg Yolks: Beat egg yolks with castor sugar (for egg yolks) using an electric mixer on high speed until the egg yolks are pale and thick (ribbon stage). Set aside.

3. Butter Batter: Place the butter, condensed milk and rum (or vanilla extract) in another bowl and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add in corn flour, plain flour, spice and salt, reduce the speed to low and mix till well incorporated. Lastly, add in your whisked egg yolks and mix and low speed till well incorporated.

4. Divide the batter 2/3 and 1/3. To 1/3 of the batter, add in 1 tsp charcoal powder, and then bit by bit more and mix well till desired shade of black. From the 2/3 plain batter, spoon out 1 tsp and add ¼ tsp beetroot powder and mix well for the pink batter.

5. Egg Whites: Place the egg whites in a new clean, dry and oil-free bowl. Beat on low speed with cream of tartar until soft peaks formed. Add in castor sugar (for egg whites) gradually and are glossy and stiff peaks formed.

6. Fold ⅓ of the egg whites into the butter batter to lighten the mixture. Fold in the rest of the egg whites gently until fully incorporated.

7. Remove cake pan from oven, and brush the base with melted butter to grease the part you are adding batter. Start with the nose (charcoal batter), and bake for 5 mins, or until the top is golden brown in colour. For the next layer, grease the face, spoon plain batter into a thin layer around the nose and bake another 5 min, or until the top is golden brown in colour. Gradually build up layer by layer, spooning or piping charcoal batter onto the black parts, and likewise plain batter for the face. Repeat this until you have reached the top of the cake mold.

8. For the pink batter, you can either pipe it onto the cake mold at the tongue area, or bake it separately in a cupcake liner,as what I have done and stick it onto the cake later.

9. Allow the cake to cool completely before unmoulding the cake by popping it out of the greased mold.

10. Pipe on the eyes using some melted chocolate.


Hope you enjoyed this creation!

Happy Chinese New Year in advance!

With lots of love,
Susanne

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Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Black Sesame 'Koala in Distress' Choux pastry

Bushfires are a common thing in Australia during summer. But the one that razed Australia end of last year went on at an unprecedented scale and is still not over to this date. Many homes and lives were lost and countless wildlife affected. I am sure you have seen in the news so I shall spare you the details.

Many years ago, my family visited Australia and I had the chance to carry a koala. I was smitten by how cute they are and was surprised by how solidly heavy they are too. It is really heart wrenching to see them lose their habitat, get injured or even killed, along with other animals. I decided to make a choux pastry creation to reflect the sad state of affairs.

Injured koala in a barren landscape. It looks so sad it makes me want to cry too 

I chose black sesame as the filling flavour and worked with what I have at home at the moment. I have some 100% black sesame powder with no sugar added. As I wanted something lighter to compliment the richness of black sesame, I used whipped cream as the base instead of pastry cream.

Choux pastry filled with black sesame whipped cream

You may refer to this post for details on how to create the choux pastry and the craquelin that goes on top of the grey pastry cases. I piped 2.5cm diameter circles for the koala head and body, and used a 3cm diameter craquelin. I used a 1cm diameter open star tip to pipe some slanted éclairs for the tree trunks. As for baking conditions, I preheated the oven to 210°C and reduced the tenperature immediately to 190°C once the tray is in. I baked for 10 min before reducing temperature to 180°C and bake for 10 min. Reduce temperature to 170°C and bake for another 10 min. Reduce temperature to 140°C and bake for 20 min with fan mode on to thoroughly dry the pastry cases.

Piped batter and with craquelin on grey cases

I piped the pastry pieces for the branches and koala ears, limbs and tail. These were baked at 170°C for 10-18min depending on the size of the pieces.

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

Recipe for black sesame whipped cream
Feel free to adjust or substitute the ingredients. You may use all whip topping or all dairy cream. You may scale the recipe up or down too. You may use black sesame paste instead of ground black sesame if that is your preference.

Ingredients:
120g whip topping (non dairy whipping cream)
30g double cream
Pinches of salt
60g black sesame powder (or according to taste)

Steps:
1. Place chilled whip topping and double cream in a mixing bowl and whip until firm peaks with electric mixer.

2. Add pinches of salt and mix well. Add black sesame and mix well.

3. Transfer into piping bag and keep it chilled until ready to eat. Choux pastry tastes best when eaten freshly filled to enjoy the crisp pastry and cold and creamy filling inside.

Do donate to Koalas In Care Inc., which is run by volunteers over here. Praying for restoration to happen soon.

With love,
Phay Shing
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