Thursday, 21 November 2019

"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 😊

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
Ingredients:
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 😂. 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

Ingredients:
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)

Steps:
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?💖 Elmo, Abby and Cookie Monster? Hope this happy creation made you smile! =))

With love,
Susanne

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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 😊.

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) 
Ingredients:
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

Steps:
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!😘

With love,
Susanne


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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 🤣. 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
Ingredients:
100g shelled raw pistachios (unsalted)
180g heavy cream
1 tsp Sea salt
100g cocoa butter chips or shavings
130g white chocolate, finely chopped

Steps:
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 😊


With love,
Phay Shing
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Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Flying Longevity Noodles Chiffon Cake


Flying Longevity Noodles Chiffon Cake (长寿面线), complete with abalone, red eggs, vegetables, prawns and chicken drumstick!🍜🍗🥬 I tried to pattern the porcelain bowl and mimic how a cracked boiled red egg would look like on the inside 😛. Basically I imagined the red dye seeping into the cracks and making red lines on the boiled eggs hehe.

Here are also my first attempts on abalone and bak choy (小白菜) 😅. It was really fun and a lot of love went into the cake! Which is your favorite ingredient?? 

This cake is in the same spirit as my previous Flying Ramen Chiffon Cake! I did a poll on my instagram and 60% like ramen more than longevity noodles hehe! You can read the previous post for more details! 

Anyway its a Chinese tradition to eat 长寿面线 during our birthdays, so it is a special treat. I remember fondly those days growing up eating the chicken soup, white vermicelli and red eggs on that special day! I think it is to wish the birthday person longevity and good health.

Hope this post warms your heart and gives you blessing or brings back memories! =)

With lots of love,
Susanne
 


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Thursday, 24 October 2019

Rainbow Unicorn Macaron Carousel on Chocolate Drip Cake

September was a month of chocolate drip cake and this was the third one I made in a month because it is really delicious! This is a special birthday bake because it's a combined birthday celebration for two girls who love unicorns and rainbows!


I used the Swiss meringue method to make the macarons as there are many colours involved. I must admit that it was really time consuming to pipe the unicorns. But the effort is quite worth it! The template for the pink carousel frame can be found in my Creative Baking: Macaron Basics book. You may use Italian method for making these macarons too as it also produces the same smooth finishing as Swiss method.

Just to share some photos of the process of putting together the carousel.

Freshly baked macaron shells

I painted the number 8 and unicorn horns using gold lustre dust dissolved in a little vodka. I filled in the eyes and hooves with edible markers


I filled the unicorns and the outer ring of the carousel frame filling with strawberry white chocolate. I filled the middle of the carousel frame with dark chocolate ganache (didn't take photo of it).

Filling with strawberry white chocolate


Completed carousel! 

Ever since I discovered that I can incorporate some cocoa butter into macaron filings that are white chocolate based, I have been adding it to make a firm filling while at the same time making it less sweet. Here's the revised strawberry white chocolate filling recipe that is firm enough for structures like macaron carousel.

Strawberry white chocolate recipe
Ingredients:
70g white chocolate, finely chopped or use chips
10g cocoa butter
20g vegetable shortening
1/8tsp salt
1.5 tsp strawberry emulco

Steps:
1. Place chocolate, cocoa butter and shortening in a microwave safe bowl and heat at medium-low power for 20sec and mix well. Repeat until mixture is smooth and melted. Be careful not to overheat. Alternatively, you may use double boiling method over a pot of freshly boiled water (but off the heat).

2. Add salt and mix well. Add strawberry psste/emulco half a tsp at a time and mix well with each addition.

3. Leave the mixture to firm up on the counter top until toothpaste consistency, about 20-40min. Transfer into piping bag to fill the shells.

I made a platform out of jumbo straws as dowels and a small cakeboard as the stand to place the carousel on top. The carousel is heavy enough that it's not advisable to place it directly on the cake.

I used Royal icing to pipe the names too! 

I hope this combination of unicorns, rainbow and delectable chocolate puts a smile on your face as it did to mine 😊.

With love,
Phay Shing
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Wednesday, 23 October 2019

'We Bare Bears' Rainbow Faultline Chiffon Cake


Always wanted to try a faultline cake.. Better late than never!

Here's my Rainbow🌈 Faultline chiffon cake, complete with the cutest We Bare Bears! 

Can you guess how this is done? Most normal faultline cakes are done by creaming an extra layer on the top and bottom. They are really beautiful!

But for my chiffon version, I baked 2 cakes, one plain and one rainbow and sandwiched the rainbow between two parts of the plain cake. I needed the height as well, as more faultline cakes are tall.

I love We Bare Bears! Check out my previous works here and with the We bare bear tag.

Hope you liked it too! =)

With lots of love,
Susanne



More loving chiffon cake creations here:

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Friday, 18 October 2019

Cinderella on Fluttershy Chocolate Drip Cake

This was made for a little girl who is a fan of both Cinderella and My Little Pony!

Cinderella riding Fluttershy on top of a dark chocolate drip cake! 

I had to come up with my own template for this creation as you can't find this from the Internet. Only one giant cake topper was needed for the cake but for complex characters such as this, I usually make at least one extra in case of damage due to butter fingers. I used the Swiss method recipe to make this as I was working on another bake concurrently. Swiss and Italian methods are great when you have to work with many colours and complex shapes as the meringue takes. Longer time to break down. I just haven't revisited the Italian method for some time because I am lazy to make the syrup 🤣.

Piped batter

Decorating the shells with a mix of  Royal icing and edible markers. You can see the rest of the characters I was working on as well. 

Since the giant macaron is a cake topper for a chocolate cake, I filled it with dark chocolate ganache.


I used this recipe to make the chocolate cake here but did things slightly differently. I cut the sponge into 6" diameter and used a 1:1  ratio of dark chocolate : cream for the drip. I added a little charcoal powder to deepen the drip colour a little and added about 1-2 tsp of light corn syrup as well to give the drip a higher shine. I frosted the sides with whipped dark chocolate ganache and omitted the whipped salted caramel ganache.

I love the look of this cake! *bling bling*

Just some tip about macaron cake topper on such a cake. Do use a long wooden skewer to make holes in the cake where the cakepop sticks on the cake topper are supposed to go. Carefully insert the cake topper by handling the cakepop sticks. DO NOT press on the macaron itself to insert the topper as you may accidentally damage it. I pack the cake topper and cake separately as moisture released from the cake may turn the macarons soggy.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Thursday, 17 October 2019

Pusheen in Fall Chiffon Cake


Another Pusheen creation which I made exactly a year earlier! =) Now that it is fall, I remembered this cake. My Pusheen wearing a scarf, holding a toadstool. Those who know me know that Pusheen has a very very special place in my heart! I have had many Pusheen bakes, just search the tag =).

Hope you like this too!

With lots of love,
Susanne


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