Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Happy Cat Macaron Carousel III

I prefer making personalized birthday bakes that are meaningful and special to the birthday boy or girl. I also prefer not to repeat designs. That's how this macaron carousel came about even though it's my third time making a happy cat macaron carousel. It's for a little boy who loves cats, candy and fish 😊

The carousel is filled with vanilla white chocolate buttercream and strawberry dark chocolate ganache

You may take a look at my first two happy cat macaron carousels over here and here.

I used the same reduced-sugar Swiss method recipe as the piggy macarons I made for Chinese New Year. So I won't be typing out the detailed recipe here. Just to share some photos of the process...

Piping the cats

Piping the carousel roof. Using Teflon sheets instead of parchment paper helps to prevent creases on the underside of large macaron shells but it's optional.

I decorated the cats using royal icing, edible marker and lustre dust

Checkout the awesome feet!

I had some extra macaron shells so I broke it to check the insides. Nice and fluffy!

I will share the recipe for filling over here. Due to the hot Singapore weather, I make firmer fillings for macaron carousels so that it's structurally stable even when displayed for a few hours at room temperature.

Vanilla white chocolate buttercream
70g white chocolate
20g unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Strawberry dark chocolate buttercream
60g dark chocolate chips
20g unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
20g strawberry jam
1/2 tsp strawberry emulco/ paste

1. Place butter and white/dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat at medium power for 20 seconds. Mix well. Heat at 10 seconds at medium power and stir again. Repeat as necessary until mixture is fully melted.

2. Set aside at cool room temperature 23-27℃ for an hour or until firm. Alternatively you may refrigerate for 10min or until firm.

3. Use a spatula and whip the chocolate mixture until light and fluffy. You may have to freeze/chill the dark chocolate mixture for a longer time before whipping it again.

4. Add salt, vanilla bean paste and strawberry paste (for dark chocolate buttercream), and mix well.

5. Gradually fold in the jam for the dark chocolate buttercream.

Vanilla white chocolate buttercream and dark chocolate buttercream with a dollop of strawberry jam about to be folded in 

I filled the macarons with a ring of vanilla white chocolate buttercream and the center with strawberry dark chocolate buttercream

I filled the cats the same way too!

With love,
Phay Shing
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Tuesday, 19 February 2019

'One Piece Chopper' Straw Hat Chiffon Cake

Happy 元宵节! <3

Who can identify this character from One Piece?

I grew up loving One Piece and its adorable characters.

Made from chiffon sponge cake, making this brought back lots of memories!

This isn't my first Chopper cake, check out a previous smaller version here. That's how much I like it! <3 This one has a lot more details as I was feeling just a little more confident making this the 2nd time. I put the Chopper on the classic Straw Hat from the show.

And also not my first time making a Hat Chiffon Cake. I made a Willy Wonka Blueberry Hat chiffon cake for Penguin books almost at the start of my baking journey =).

Hope you like this happy creation!

Happy Chinese Valentine's day too! =D

With lots of love,

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Thursday, 14 February 2019

Valentine's Bear Chiffon Cake

Giving you a BEARY BIG HEART with lots of love! Here's my Bear chiffon cake, Valentine's version. This bear is made similar to my previous Pusheen snowman! Wishing everyone a Blessed Valentine's Day with your loved ones tomorrow! <3

With lots of love,
Susanne =) xoxo

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Wednesday, 13 February 2019

'Winnie the Pooh' in Heart Shaped Choux Pastries

I have begun taking step by step photos for my Deco Choux Pastries book! It's only been three days but I am exhausted 😅. I have planned 5 weeks of work and on the 6th week, it's when the photoshoot with the Marshall Cavendish team will happen. Although I didn't plan to blog about this, I thought I might as well. Just in time for Valentine's Day!

Winnie the Pooh peeking out from heart shaped choux pastry!

I was taking step by step photos for these heart shapes and thought I might as well have a little fun and fill one of the cases since I baked extras. I was in a rush so I just used instant pudding to make Pooh and filled the rest of the case with nutella.

Did you know that you can easily make fancy shaped pastries? They don't need to be round all the time although round is great!

Making heart shaped choux pastries is fairly easy and I will show you how in the upcoming recipe book! I will be slowing down with blog posts for real until a little while after the photoshoot. Unless I suddenly have the bandwidth and my hands itch to make something 😆.

Happy Valentine's Day!

With love,
Phay Shing
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Monday, 11 February 2019

Hello Kitty & Pooh Valentine's Day Macaron Teacups

I get all excited about coming up with original and cute overloaded creations. This is one of them! It's for a boyfriend who wanted to surprise his girlfriend for Valentine's Day. I am sure you can tell she's a Hello Kitty and Winnie the Pooh fan!

The whole teacup setup is made of macarons, with the exception of the stick for the heart balloon

I made this concurrently with my "Heart in a Teacup" macarons so you may refer to that post for more details on making the macaron teacup. I used reduced-sugar Swiss method for the teacups.

I made Hello Kitty, Pooh and the teeny hearts on a separate day along with a few other unicorn heads and some random characters. And because the quantity is so small, I chose to use the French method for these. You may refer to this post for a cornflour-stabilized French method recipe that I used for this bake.

Piping the tiny shells! I mainly used Wilton #3 and #5 piping tips for these

Decorating the shells with fine black edible marker was a challenge too! Thank God I made extra shells!

I filled the tiny macarons with dark chocolate ganache

Special gifts for your loved ones need not happen on special days like Valentine's Day. Do something special for your loved ones on random days. That's more special 😉.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Thursday, 7 February 2019

'Piggy Family' Homemade Honey Marshmallows

The Piggy family having a relaxing and warm reunion =). Don't they look happy?

This is the last of my Piggy bakes (technically not a bake, because no baking is required =p).

I tried this because my kids love marshmallows. And these marshmallows are so soft and compressible! And less sweet unlike those bought from shops! They are also made from honey so that it is healthy and vanilla flavored =).

Hope you like this creation! The recipe is shared below. I made some adaptations, especially with the addition of egg white which helps to stabilize the marshmallows.

Piggy Homemade Honey Marshmallows

Group 1
30g Cold water
7g Gelatin

Group 2
30g Cold water
100g Honey (please use light colored)
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/4 tsp Salt
Red gel food color (I used natural red coloring from PME)

Group 3
1 Egg white

1. For Group 1: mix gelatin and cold water together in a mixing bowl and set aside to bloom. 

2. For Group 2: mix Group 2 ingredients (cold water, honey, vanilla extract and salt) un a pot and heat till 115°C (please use a candy thermometer). 

3. Slowly pour the hot mixture from Group 2 into Group 1 mixture, use stand mixer or hand mixer to mix quickly, then quickly add in the egg white from Group 3 (must add while this is still hot). 

4. Beat on high till white and fluffy. Test when the mixture is ready by using the spatula to drip the batter to form number 8, if the shape stays, you can start adding gel food color. Mix well with the spatula.

5. Transfer the marshmallow mixture into a piping bag. Use a larger piping tip to pipe the body and a smaller tip (size 0 or 1) to pipe the features. 

6. Sift corn onto a baking tray and pipe out the design quickly.

7. Allow to set in the fridge for at least 6 hrs. Once set, sift more corn flour over to remove the stickiness.

8. Draw on the facial features. I was lazy so I used a food marker. You can also use melted chocolate or a thin brush dipped in charcoal paste.

Hope you had a wonderful time of reunion with your families too! Happy CNY!

With lots of love,

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Wednesday, 6 February 2019

'Heart in a Teacup' Lavender Earl Grey and Dark Chocolate Macarons

When my friend saw the macaron teaset I made last year, she quickly booked me for Valentine's Day order, four months in advance! She already had a cute and visually simple design in mind and I was ready to go with it 😊

Presenting my "heart in a teacup" Valentine's Day bake!

I used the regular Swiss method recipe for the hearts and the reduced-sugar version for the teacups. I had extra red batter left from making display pieces for my boy and girl CNY macaron class so I decided to bake the red hearts in advance and froze the shells.

Dainty red hearts! The little "tail" at the bottom piece is to help the macaron sit nicely in the filling inside the teacup.

You may refer to this post for more details on how to make the macaron teacups. Here are some photos of the process...

I added 1.5tsp of freeze-dried raspberry powder into the almond paste.

Note the dull colour. Natural sources of food colouring are usually dull.

After adding some pink gel colouring. I added a little too much pink so I added a little white gel during the macaronage stage.

I love the final soft dusty rose pink colour!

The teacups are made of a few components that need to be piped out.

The saucer

The handles

Teacup body

Piping the cup base when a sticky membrane has formed on the base shell.

Freshly baked macaron shells!

I decorated the teacup with royal icing made using lemon juice instead of water to make it less sweet. I filled the handles with white chocolate. I couldn't help taking a photo of this whimsical setup!

I filled the hearts with whipped dark chocolate ganache

Both flavours of fillings are relatively firm so they are suitable for filling macarons that are to be given away as gifts in tropical Singapore, such as these teacups. If you are living in a colder climate, you may adjust the filling recipe to reduce the chocolate to cream ratio for a softer filling.

Store filled macarons in airtight condition in the fridge for at least 24h before serving. Leave the teacups out at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before opening the container to serve.

If you need more comprehensive and detailed information about the basics and various techniques of macaron making, you may refer to my Creative Baking: Macarons or Creative Baking: Macaron Basics books.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Monday, 4 February 2019

Piggy '拜年' Chiffon Cake

Ushering in the Year of the Pig 🐖💕.. Wishing everyone a Blessed and Fruitful New Year!! Gongxi Gongxi!!

I love pigs so really enjoyed making all the cakes for this Pig year! This is my 4th Piggy cake hehe. I promise you it's the last! =p

I really enjoy this time of reunion too.. Time with our dear family and friends.. Always always treasure your loved ones! 💓👫👭#新年快乐

新年快乐! 身体健康!步步高升!

With lots of love,

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Thursday, 31 January 2019

'Piglet Hugging Pineapple' Chiffon Cake

Those who knew me in school know that Piglet was my favorite character when I was young! This Piglet hugging an "Ong Lai" (Pineapple) is so apt for Chinese new year too, because the Year of the Pig is coming and 'Ong lai' which is translated to prosperity come in Hokkien and Taiwanese lol. The pineapple is actually made from lemon chiffon cake, and the piglet from strawberry chiffon cake. Quite a bit of sculpting was involved, and thankful cake was very well-received by my friend =). Someone on Instagram actually PM me and asked if this was a stuff toy or cake lol.. this is chiffon cake =).

Wish you all 生体健康,富贵平安 in advance!

With lots of love,

More creative chiffon cakes here. The 2nd book Deco Chiffon Cakes features a CNY cake section:

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Wednesday, 30 January 2019

CNY Piggy Macarons (Reduced-Sugar Swiss Method)

After giving the awesome Swiss method recipe that my friend Audrey shared a few tries, I am rather comfortable with it. I decided it's time to be a little adventurous and apply the same reduced-sugar method that I applied to both Italian and French methods to this Swiss method. Although I made many other macarons with this recipe, I thought of just presenting something festive, in time for Chinese New Year!

Only the piggies were made using the reduced-sugar method. The boy and girl macarons were made using regular Swiss method recipe, because I made them in preparation for my macaron class. The boy and girl macaron design can be found in my Creative Baking: Macaron Basics book.

I had some spare capacity to make a couple of macarons along with a cat macaron carousel, and so I decided to make the piggies.

Piped macaron batter. I didn't make enough peach coloured batter that's why the bottom shell looks like that 😅.

I decorated the macaron shells with edible marker, royal icing, peach coloured lustre dust and store-bought sugar flower.

I filled the macarons with whipped osmanthus white chocolate ganache

Take a look at how full the shells are!

I am really pleased that the reduced-sugar version works as well! As mentioned in my post for reduced-sugar Italian method, replacing icing sugar with rice flour makes the almond paste wetter as rice flour doesn't absorb as much moisture as icing sugar. So there is a need to reduce the amount of egg whites a little. I reduced the icing sugar and caster sugar portion by 10%. Feel free to double the recipe, use three-quarters of the recipe, or even combine the egg whites into one portion, used for making the Swiss meringue only. As mentioned in my original Swiss method post, some people find it easier to work with all the egg whites in the meringue and then folding in sifted dry ingredients into the meringue.

Reduced-sugar Swiss method
Ingredients (makes about 35-40 macarons):
Almond paste
100g superfine almond flour
90g icing sugar
8g rice flour
2g (1 tsp) cornflour
35g egg white

Swiss meringue
50g egg white
90g caster sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
1/4 tsp salt (optional)

Please refer to this post for the detailed steps. The only difference is if you are working with multiple colours in a single batch, the weight of meringue should be half the weight of almond paste for each colour of batter.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Sunday, 27 January 2019

Pink Piggy Golf Ball Pineapple Tarts

I also made these Pink Piggy Pineapple Tarts as I was curious about the many colored pineapple tarts that have been trending. These are made similar to my previous post, Salted Egg Yolk Piggy Pineapple Tarts, with the following changes:

1) Reducing the butter to 125g.
2) Using a pale-colored butter eg Anchor or Lurpak (previously I used SCS which is very yellowish).
3) Replacing the vanilla extract with 5g cold water with drops of pink food coloring mixed in.
4) Omitting the salted egg yolk crumbs.
5) Baking at a lower temperature of 150°C for 20+min (in contrast to 180°C in previous recipe).
6) Omitting the egg wash.

Summary of the cookie dough is as follows:

Cookie Dough (for 60 golf balls):
250g of plain flour, sifted
125g of cold butter cut into small pieces (use pale colored butter)
30g icing sugar
One egg (lightly beaten)
1 tsp cold water with some added pink food coloring
A pinch of salt

You may follow the instructions of the previous post but omit the egg wash and bake at a lower temperature of 150°C for 20+min.

I did not need to use any egg white to stick the 2 balls together as the dough is already sticky. The same is the case for the previous post.

So which type of pineapple tarts do you prefer? The pink or the golden brown version?

Personally I still prefer the golden brown Salted Egg yolk pineapple tarts that are more crusty and shiny! Looks more delicious in my opinion hehe. My kids gobble up anything cute though! =p

Hope you like it and happy CNY in advance! =)

With lots of love,

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Friday, 25 January 2019

'Family Picnic' Cherry Macarons on Blackforest Cake

My friend requested for a birthday bake for her mum that is personalized and special for her family...A family picnic scene on top of a blackforest cake!

I was not given reference pictures for a caricature of the family members and it's beyond my skill to design my own. And so I got a talented artist (@ryaccoon, Instagram account) to design the picnic scene and invidividual characters. I made the macaron template based on the drawings but with some minor modifications based on my friend's feedback and the number of coloured batter I could cope with.

I am usually quite nervous about working with fresh dairy creamed cakes that are under a macaron structure as Singapore's weather is really warm. Pure dairy cream doesn't hold up well although it tastes delicious. I usually use gelatin or white chocolate as a stabilizer but never both of them together. I tried using both this time round as an experiment. The cream still tastes of fresh cream although it's richer and slightly sweeter than if I use icing sugar and gelatin but it's a lot more stable and easy to work with! Usually my pure dairy whipped cream stabilized with gelatin and sweetened with icing sugar will melt into a puddle within 30 min of being left out on my kitchen counter. But this cream held it's shape after being left out on the counter for an hour!  I will share this recipe later in this post. But first let me share some photos of the process...

I used the swiss meringue method with egg white split into two batches. Reason being, it's easier to work with many colours that way as I can colour the almond paste portion before meringue is added in.

Piping out the human figures and picnic basket. My friend requested for the grandpa not to be bald so I had to patch that post-baking 😂

It was quite a mad bake trying to cope with other designs concurrently. These are only some of the shells I baked that day!

Fully decorated macaron shells. Decoration is done with combination of edible markers and gel food colouring made into paint. By diluting it with a little vodka.

I filled the macarons with cherry white chocolate buttercream.

A little too generous with the jam for the picnic mat! I wouldn't recommend it unless you are topping up with more buttercream to cover the jam spots as it would wet the upper shell rather quickly.

I added some royal icing grass to finish off the picnic scene.

I used the yummy chocolate chiffon sponge recipe from the blackforest logcake I made last year soo you may refer to that. I upsized the recipe to a 6 egg white recipe for baking three 9x9" square cakes.

I am always on the lookout for creating a fresh cream tasting filling that is more stable in Singapore's hot weather. This time round, I am trying not to resort to adding non-dairy cream which already has some stabilizers added. I didn't want to end up with so many half-used cartons of cream 😂. I stumbled across one such recipe that I thought I could adapt. It uses both gelatin and white chocolate as stabilizers for dairy cream, instead of simply just gelatin or white chocolate. I didn't have double cream (which as higher fat percentage (45%) than heavy cream (35%)) at the moment so I used a little unsalted butter to increase the fat content, which in turn makes the filling more stable too.

Stabilized dairy whipped cream recipe (richer version)
400g whipping cream/double cream
20g unsalted butter (replace with double cream if using double cream)
1 and 1/4 tsp gelatin powder
20g cold water
110g white chocolate, chopped or use chips
A pinch of salt
1.5 tsp vanilla extract or bean paste

1. Put water in a small microwave safe bowl. Scatter gelatin powder over and let it sit for 10 minutes at room temperature.

2. Place the rest of the ingredients in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of water without the water touching the base of the bowl. Bring the water in the saucepan to a gentle simmer while stirring the mixture in the bowl. Melt everything together until smooth. Remove from heat.

3. Microwave the bloomed gelatin at medium power for 10 seconds and stir, making sure it is totally dissolved. Add melted gelatin into white chocolate and cream mixture and mix well.

4. Cover bowl with cling wrap and chill in fridge for at least 4h or overnight.

5. Whip at low speed with electric mixer until stiff peaks. Be careful not to overbeat. Do this step only when you are about to assemble the cake.

1. Cut about 30-40 cherries into halves and remove the seeds. Dry with paper towel so excess juice doesn't seep out and mess up the cream when you slice it.

2. Prepare stabilized whipped cream. Add a little cream on cake board before putting first layer of chocolate sponge cake on.

3. Brush on some liquid from the cherry jam. Use a spatula to apply a thin layer of cream before lining the sides with cut cherries. I filled the middle of the square with fresh cherries and the homemade cherry jam.

Cover the cherries with more cream. Just enough cream to cover will do.

4. Carefully place another sponge cake on top. Repeat step 3 and then place the final layer of sponge on top.

5. Use a spatula to apply a little cream on the sides and smooth it out. This is to fill any air gaps around the edges.

6. If you happen to like this rustic look, you may leave the cake as it is. If you want to show the sliced cherry view, cover the cake with cling wrap and freeze for 2 hours. Use a long serrated knife to slice about 1cm off each side of the cake. I heat the knife over a flame and clean the blade after each cut to help ensure a cleaner cut. I wish I had a longer knife though 😆. It would have been even neater if I had one.
Cake with trimmed edges

If you are serving the blackforest cake as it is without fancy deco, you may want to add a little more stabilized cream on top in dollops with fresh whole cherries and a light sprinkle of chocolate rasps. At least that's what I would have done for a naked version of plain blackforest cake 😊.

Remember to keep the cake chilled in fridge until it is time to serve. I can assure you it is delicious 😋! Best served a day or two after assembly but it's good for a few days. If you prefer a lighter, less rich cream, you may use the stabilized whipped cream recipe from this post but double the amount of gelatin used to make it more stable.

A tip about macaron cake toppers on naked or semi naked cakes. Always store them separately as the moisture from the sponge cake will turn the macarons soggy quickly. If you need to make a cake with the macarons left on it during storage, you need to frost the whole cake with cream to create a barrier between exposed sponge and macarons.

With love,
Phay Shing
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