Sunday, 20 January 2019

"Peter Rabbit in Pink" Cherry Macarons

I have been trying not to overload myself with requests as I need to prepare for a month or more of bakes and step by step photo taking for the upcoming Deco Choux Pastries book. But I manage to squeeze this request in as I could do it concurrently with a couple of requests. I must say that I probably bit off more than I can chew but I am glad that they turned out well! I made Peter Rabbit macarons three years ago and it's nice to revisit an old bake again but with a slight twist. The requestor wanted Peter to be in pink this time, along with some juicy looking carrot macarons on the side 😊.


You may refer to my original post in 2016 over here for recipe, detailed piping steps and template for Peter Rabbit. The template and piping steps of the carrots can be found in my Creative Baking: Macarons book. I used a Swiss method recipe here instead of the Italian method shared previously. Just to share some photos of the macaron shells for this bake...

Piping Peter in pink

Piping carrots


Freshly baked shells. Check out the feet!

I usually pair cherry jam with dark chocolate ganache but this time round it's going to be just pure cherry flavour for Peter Rabbit and dark chocolate ganache for the carrots. I shall share the recipe for the cherry white chocolate buttercream here. Feel free to scale up the recipe as needed.

Cherry white chocolate buttercream
Ingredients:
60g white chocolate
30g unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
35g cherry jam
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp freeze-dried raspberry powder *

* You may omit if you don't have or add 1-2 tsp freeze-dried cherry powder instead. I added the raspberry powder as I didn't have cherry powder on hand but wanted to add a little more berry-like tartness to the filling.

Steps:
1. Melt white chocolate and butter together using double boiling or microwave. Add salt and freeze-dried raspberry/cherry powder and mix well.

2. Let it rest on the counter until firm, about half and hour to an hour. Beat with spatula until light, smooth and fluffy like buttercream. If you want to speed up the process, you may chill the mixture in the fridge/freezer for 1-3min and beat the mixture with a spatula. Repeat until the texture is smooth and creamy like whipped buttercream.

3. Add lemon juice and beat it into the buttercream. Gradually fold in the cherry jam, a teaspoon at a time. I didn't puree the cherries but finely chopped instead.

Cherry white chocolate buttercream!

The rabbits were filled with a ring of cherry white chocolate buttercream and a few chopped pieces of cherries from the jam in the middle.

Just to share a photo of the crazy macaron bake that I did concurrently with other requests...

And that's not all the shells I baked that day! Stay tuned for a family portrait bake!

Thank God that the macarons were very well received! The requestor sent me a photo of the macarons at the dessert table taken by professional photographer (@underthestarsphotography on Instagram). Much better than any photo I can take 😆



With love,
Phay Shing
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Wednesday, 16 January 2019

猪饱饱 Piggy Chiffon Cakes


Cutest 猪饱饱 piggies from @ch8sg for CNY2019. Loved them so much💕, just had to make a chiffon cake version of them! Which is your favorite among the 3? 🐷🐷🐷💕

There is the “富贵饱” (prosperity), “幸福饱” (happiness) and “健康饱” (health) lol. I saw the stacked piggies trio at Popular and was so tickled by them! =)

The recipe and technique is similar to my previous post Bandung Piggy Family Chiffon Cake pops, so you can refer to it. The only difference is that I baked the piggies in bigger molds, bowls, instead small cake pop molds (baking time increased by 10 min).

I also achieved the gold effect on chiffon cake "gold ingot" and "weights" by dusting gold powder on the chiffon cakes. Previously I had tried baking with the edible gold coloring or dust and it didn't work.

Hope this adorable stacked trio made you smile as it made me!

Very thankful and honored too that my previous Bandung Chiffon Cake Piggy Family was featured on Channel 8 news om 13th Jan (630 pm and 10 pm news)! News video here.


Wishing you a happy, blessed Lunar new year in advance!!

With lots of love,
Susanne 



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Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Rainbow Unicorn Vanilla Choux Pastry

You have seen unicorn of just about everything under the sun in the baking arena. But have you seen a rainbow unicorn made out of Choux pastry like this 😉?

I love the cross-section view revealing the smooth and creamy vanilla pastry cream and nicely hemispherical cavity!

As you all know by now, I won't use fondant in my decorations. The rainbow coloured unicorn mane and horn are all made of choux pastry! The ears are white chocolate but that's because it has to match the white chocolate glaze of the unicorn head.

I was intending to blog in a little more detail for this bake but my editor loved the unicorns so much she wanted this to be in the upcoming Deco Choux Pastries book. I could hear her excitement over the email exchange...Lol! She would rather we sacrifice one of the original designs in the book to make space for this entry.

And so, I can't really share how I made nearly perfect hemispheres for all of the twenty plus choux pastry cases that I baked and how to make the mane and horn out of choux pastry. But the good news is that Deco Choux Pastries is going to be published in May (hopefully) so the secret and techniques will be out in a few months time!

In the mean time you may refer to the recipe in the blog for Rilakkuma cream puffs for a Choux pastry and vanilla pastry cream recipe that you can use although I have made certain tweaks since my earlier attempts that I will include in the book. As the pastry case is coated with white chocolate, you may want to reduce the amount of sugar in the pastry cream by a third to half.

My friend requested for the unicorns but I made some extras which my kids and I ate. I filled a pastry case and left it in an air conditioned room for an hour. The pastry case remained crisp and complemented the smooth and creamy vanilla pastry cream very well! Although I would have preferred Choux pastry without white chocolate coating on the outside because I don't have a sweet tooth, I love the look of these unicorns!

My friend who had it a few days later said that the unicorns with pastry cream were yummy and pastry case remained crispy too! But I let her fill the cases only when she wanted to eat them. Different from the soggy choux pastries you often get from shops because they are usually pre-filled and left on display for hours in the fridge.

With love,
Phay Shing


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Friday, 11 January 2019

Tsum Tsum Elsa and Anna Brown Sugar Cookies

I just realised I have quite a few cookie posts that have been in cold storage as drafts because there are more exciting posts to share. I am finally posting this...After several months 😅. My friend requested for these Elsa and Anna cookies for her daughter who was recovering from surgery and needed cheering up.


I have made this Elsa design in macaron form a few years ago, along with Olaf and you can see it in this post.

I have not changed my brown sugar cookie and royal icing recipe over the years because they have always been well received. People who tried using my recipe loved it too. You may refer to this post for both brown sugar cookie and royal icing recipe. I also make my own cookie templates from cheap, easily available materials. You may refer to this post on how to make and use your own templates.

Thank God that the little girl loved it!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Kakao Friends Ryan on a Watermelon Chiffon Cake


Who finds Ryan from Kakao friends adorable and funny??
Finally got round to making a chiffon cake Ryan after Apeach more a year back! On a cute Watermelon chiffon cake! =p Hope this brings you some mid-week cheer! <3

Recipe for Watermelon Chiffon Cake has been shared in my 3rd book Deco Chiffon Cake Basics. 'Ryan' is made from round cakes and cake pops similar to 'panda' in Deco Chiffon Cake Basics too.

Hope this creation made you smile! =)

With lots of love,
Susanne


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Monday, 7 January 2019

Piggy Chiffon Cakes in Macaron Teacups

It's only natural that I put little piggies in the macaron teacups that I made! Please refer to my previous post on how to make the macaron teacups where I provided a video tutorial on how to pipe the hemispherical shells.

The piggies in cups with chiffon Mandarin oranges!

I will share the recipe for making the strawberry orange flavoured chiffon piggies which have no additional artificial colouring added. I have been making creative chiffons for five years now (how time flies!) but this is the first time I did something differently to make it easier and faster to complete a bake like this. Before I share the details on how to make the piggies, let me share a little about the Mandarin orange chiffons.

I have been making the chiffon Mandarin oranges around Chinese new year since 2014 and this is the sixth consecutive year I have been making them! They have a special place in my baking journey as the first successful experiment for baking chiffons in glass bowls and one of the earliest creative chiffon bakes. You may refer to this post for the recipe and shaping/decorating instructions. Just to share some photos of the process...

Freshly baked Mandarin orange chiffon cakes in glass bowls

Shaping the unmoulded cakes in the same glass bowls they were baked in

Imprinting the creases at the top of the orange

And now, on to the piggies!


I baked the three larger piggies in small glass bowls and the mini ones in small hemispherical silicone mould with 4cm diameter cavities. I actually intended to bake only the mini ones but had leftover batter so I baked three larger piggies in the glass bowls.

Strawberry orange chiffon cake
Ingredients (makes one 15cm chiffon cake or in my case it's about twenty to twenty-five 4cm hemispheres and one 8x8" chiffon sheet cake):
Egg yolk batter
2 egg yolks
5g caster sugar
30g vegetable oil
30g freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2-1 tsp strawberry emulco*
A pinch of salt
40g cake flour

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

* The strawberry emulco or strawberry paste added is variable as it depends on how strong the red colouring is in the strawberry paste you are using. Add a quarter tsp at a time into your batter and observe the resulting colour before you decide to add more.

Note: I use a slightly higher oil content and less juice content as the chiffon cake is to be stored together with the macaron teacup. Macaron shells turn soggy if they come in direct contact with moisture from chiffon cake. To keep the cake fairly moist without turning the macaron soggy during storage, I use a higher oil content but lower juice content.

Steps:
1. Line the 8x8" baking tray with parchment paper or Teflon sheet. If you don't have the tray of this size, you may substitute with other sizes. Just fill with enough batter to form a thin layer when you want to bake. I prefer using Teflon sheet as it produces sheet cakes without creases. Preheat oven to 160℃. Set oven rack to second lowest position.

2. Prepare egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick. Add oil and whisk until combined. Add orange juice and pinch of salt until well combined. Gradually add sifted flour and whisk until no trace of flour is seen. Add strawberry emulco a quarter tsp at a time until a desired warm pink shade is achieved.

3. Prepare the meringue. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until firm peaks, adding sugar gradually once the egg whites are foamy.

4. Quickly but gently fold the meringue into the egg yolk batter a third at a time. Quickly spoon the batter into the mould cavities (or glass bowls or egg shells if you have neither silicone mould nor glass bowls). Spoon some batter into lined baking tray and use the spoon to smooth out the surface. It should just be a thin layer of batter.

5. Bake for 5 minutes. Reduce temperature to 135℃ and bake for another 7-8 minutes or until skewer comes out clean for the sheet cake. Immediately remove from oven and flip onto a parchment paper.


Continue baking the hemispheres for another 10-15 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Cool completely before unmoulding.

6. Shape the unmoulded hemispheres to make the bottom look more rounded. I did this by gently inserting the bottom into a slightly smaller mould that I have. If you don't have, you can still gently mould it using your hands (see my video tutorial for shaping Mandarin oranges). I found that the silicone mould that the cakes were baked in were not rigid enough for moulding, unlike the glass bowls. That was why I used a smaller mould for shaping.


7. Cut little triangles from the sheet cake using a small fruit knife for the ears. Cut out snouts by using a round cutter to cut out a piece from the sheet cake. Gently squish it to make it oval. If you have oval cutters you may use it instead. Use the blunt end of toothpick to create the nostrils. The tail of the larger piggy and “hands” of the smaller pig was made by using a round cutter to cut out a circle and then gently moulding it into a ball with your fingers. Keep the small cutouts in airtight container to prevent them from drying out.

8. I used to bake thin black and white sheet cakes for the character's eyes. This meant that I had to go through the trouble of preparing extra batter and baking them. The thing that I did differently was to use black candy melts for the eyes. No, I didn't melt the candy melts, transfer into piping bag and pipe the eyes on. I did something much faster and easier. I used a rolling pin to roll the candy melt chip between parchment paper until it was flat. Then I used a small round cutter to cut out the eyes. Singapore's weather is warm enough such that it's easy to roll the candy melt chip flat. If you are working in a cold kitchen, you may want to warm up the chip with the heat of your fingers or hands before rolling it flat. Something that took half an hour using more ingredients can now be done in less than 10 seconds with only one ingredient!

9. I melted some white compound chocolate with a bit of vegetable shortening and used it as glue to stick on the small parts. I used the same melted chocolate to pipe the white highlights in the eyes. I usually use melted marshmellows with a sprinkle of water as glue but find that using this form of melted chocolate works wonderfully too. The addition of vegetable shortening is to make the chocolate stay in a workable fluid condition for a longer time. Otherwise the melted chocolate may harden quite quickly and you need to re-melt it before you are done with the assembly.

The last step of assembly involves filling the macaron teacups with whipped Earl grey white chocolate ganache and then gently placing the mini piggies and two round balls of chiffon for the hands on the ganache.

Store the assembled teacup with piggies in airtight container in the fridge.

Since it's the first time I am making a creation with this configuration of chiffon and macarons, I kept one test piece for five days in the fridge (trying to push the limits here) and did a taste test.

I love the look of the cross section 😍😍

I was pleasantly surprised that the chiffon wasn't overly dry nor was the macaron shell overly soggy! I normally brush the surface of baked chiffons with some syrup to prevent the sponge from drying out during storage in the fridge but didn't do so for the mini piggies in the cups as I didn't want to risk turning the macaron shells soggy. So I am really pleased that this configuration is workable and so cute!

With love,
Phay Shing
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Wednesday, 2 January 2019

福 Macaron Teacups (video tutorial of piping hemispherical shells included)

Happy New Year! To kick-start 2019, I have decided to share a video tutorial on how to pipe hemispherical macaron shells as many of you were interested after seeing my macaron tea set. The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating various things with such shells, such as hedgehogs from my Creative Baking: Macaron Basics book, turtles, ladybugs, chickens, watermelons, monsters and solar system. I created Chinese New Year themed teacups this time round with hemispherical macaron shells 😊

Change the character to 囍 and you can use it for tea ceremony at Chinese weddings!

I am also taking this chance to share how I create red macaron shells without using a whole lot of artificial red food colouring. I am using the Swiss method recipe shared by Audrey for this creation. You can read about it in this post as well. Natural sources of food colouring that I like to use for creating red macaron shells are red yeast rice powder, raspberry powder and beetroot powder. I use either red yeast powder alone or a combination of red yeast and raspberry or beetroot powder. Natural sources tend to impart an earthy tone so your shells won't end up bright neon red. Red yeast rice powder doesn't impart any flavour whereas raspberry does. Beetroot powder also may impart a faint earthy flavour. If you aren't able to get any of these natural sources or food colouring, add a little brown gel food colouring or cocoa powder to tone down the red.

Red macaron shells
Ingredients:
Swiss meringue
46g egg whites (fresh or aged is fine)
85g caster sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
8 drops of red gel food colouring

Almond paste
85g superfine almond flour
85g icing sugar (with cornstarch added)
1/8 tsp salt (optional)
1tsp red yeast rice powder
1tsp freeze-dried raspberry powder
1/8 tsp red powder food colouring
31g egg whites

Steps:
1. Prepare templates for teacup handles (letter C) and saucer (circles). Please make your own as it depends on the size of your mould. Place an upturned silicone mould with hemispheres on baking tray. (My mould has 4cm circles). Set oven rack to lowest or second lowest position. I use top and bottom heat most of the time so set your oven rack according to which rack works best for your oven.

2. Make the almond paste. Sift all powdered ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add egg whites and mix well to form a thick paste. Set aside, covering with cling wrap to prevent it from drying out.

3. Make the Swiss meringue. In a clean glass bowl, combine all ingredients together (except the food colouring). Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water without the water touching the bottom of the bowl. Whisk until all the sugar is dissolved and temperature is 45-50℃. This should take around 5 minutes. Use extremely low heat as you want all the sugar to dissolve fully when the temperature is reached. Use an electric mixer to beat until meringue is thick enough not to slide in bowl when turned upside down. About 5-6 minutes. Add red colouring and beat until well mixed. Using a metal bowl for the meringue is fine too but as it conducts heat much faster, make sure that you use really low heat to double boil the egg whites.

Almond paste and Swiss meringue

4. Add about a third of the meringue into almond paste. Use electric mixer on low speed to mix until just combined. You may use a spatula for this but I find that electric mixer may be easier as the paste is really thick. Add the remaining meringue and fold with spatula until you reach the lava stage. You may refer to this post on how to fold and test batter consistency.

Red macaron batter. Note that the colour will deepen with time so don't fret if your batter looks slightly pinkish and bright.

5. Transfer batter into piping bag fitted with a 6-7mm round tip to pipe saucer and hemispheres. Use a smaller tip for the teacup handle.

Piped hemispheres

Here's the video tutorial on how to pipe.  Do note that it's quite a bit of trial and error to determine how much batter to pipe.



Piped teacup handles 

6. Rest the piped batter until dry to touch and bake in preheated oven at 140℃ (top and bottom heat only). Do note that the baking time and temperature profile will vary based on your oven and the various sizes of piped shells. Hemispherical shells take longer to bake through than regular flat macaron shells due to the insulation caused by air gap between silicone mould and baking tray. Thoroughly baked hemispheres should pop right off the mould on their own easily when cooled. If your shells are still stuck, bake for a longer time. It's ok if you overbake the shells as you can mature it longer with filling or brush inner surface with cream or syrup to hasten the maturing process. I lower the temperature to 120℃ and turn on the fan in the oven after the first 15-20 min to prevent excessive browning while thoroughly drying out the shells. Allow for longer drying time for hemispheres before baking as it may be more prone to cracking if the membrane formed is not strong enough.

Freshly baked hemispheres! Please don't fret if you don't have perfectly symmetrical hemispheres as it is difficult enough to pipe on a curved surface. Lopsided feet may also be more common as it is difficult to ensure that you get the same amount of batter all around. But, practice makes perfect! I have not attained perfection yet but I am not fretting 😆 so please have realistic expectations when you attempt to make these.

Here's a other view of the baked shells. You may want to pipe a ring near the top of the hemisphere when the piped hemispheres are partially dried (see picture below) for the teacup stand at the base of the cup. You may also add the stand post-baking using royal icing, which was what I did for most of the hemispheres.


I filled the teacup handles with white chocolate and attached it to the hemisphere with royal icing. I used royal icing to glue the teacup to the saucer as well as decorate with the word 福, which means "blessed". You may use melted chocolate instead of royal icing if you wish.

Of course I am not going to leave the teacups unfilled. Take a peek at a cute surprise in my next blog post 😉. Please acknowledge the source here if you do make teacup macarons and share it on social media. It took me some time to create the video, write up this blog post as well as experiment with hemispherical shells over the past two years when time allowed.

Update: I received a couple of queries about whether there is a need to rap the tray after piping hemispherical shells. I don't rap the tray as I normally would as it would disturb the piped batter and make it go out of shape. Instead, I use a toothpick to pop any visible air bubbles before the membrane is formed on the surface. Although you may use any preferred recipe or method of making the macaron batter, using Swiss or Italian methods produce batter with less air bubbles to pop.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Piggy Family Chiffon Cakepops (Bandung Chiffon Cake) – also an experiment comparing French, Swiss and Italian Meringue for Chiffon Cakes


My first post of the year! =) Here is my family of chiffon Piggies wishing everyone a Happy New Year!! And Happy Lunar New Year in advance!

The Piggy Chiffon Cakepops are Bandung-flavored (a new flavour) and no additional pink coloring needs to be added. We all loved it very much.

I also tested out the new Bandung Chiffon Cake flavour using 3 different types of meringue - French (the normal one, Swiss method and Italian method - using hot syrup). This was an experiment on my to-do list for a long time. 

Usually French meringue is used, where raw egg whites are whipped with cream of tartar and the gradual addition of sugar. However it is known to be not very stable. So I tested out the Swiss and Italian meringue (which are supposed to be more stable) to see its effects on the texture and volume of the cake, as well as pore structure and stability of final cake batter. 

For the experiment, I baked Bandung Chiffon Cake in three 6-inch tube pans, one for each method.  In all 3 methods, the amount of sugar and cream of tartar were kept constant (so that the cake would not be too sweet using the different techniques). Finally, I made the chiffon cake piggies using the best recipe, which ended up being still the French (normal meringue) method. 

VERDICT of experiment:

For the Swiss meringue, I dissolved the sugar with egg whites first at 65-70°C in a bowl above boiling water (not touching), and then adding cream of tartar and whipping up the whites quickly. The meringue was very glossy and a little more stable, but of lesser volume than the normal French meringue.


For the Italian meringue, I prepared hot sugar syrup (115°C) and then pour into egg whites while whipping it up. The Italian meringue was even more silky, but denser, and the final volume less than both the Swiss and French meringue.


To my surprise, AFTER the meringue was folded into the cake batter, there was little difference in the stability of the final cake batters. They all bubbled after a while sitting out. This means that the folding in of the egg yolk batter affected the stability of the meringue in all 3 methods. So the Swiss and Italian method of making meringue did not help chiffon batter to become more stable. They were also more cumbersome to make. And that is not all. There were great differences in the structure/texture of the cake.

Volume of French meringue was greatest (meringue was light and fluffy), followed by Swiss Meringue (fluffy but lower volume, due to addition of sugar at early stage) and then Italian meringue (meringue was very silky and shiny but the densest). 


Indeed this shows up the final cake structure where the normal chiffon cake by the French method (most RIGHT) is very light, airy and fluffy and rose the most, followed by the Swiss meringue method (MIDDLE, texture in between, a little like sponge cakes, still fluffy but not as light and airy), and lastly the Italian method (most LEFT) yielded the densest structure.

In all, the taste of the cake was similar, only the texture was of different softness and density.

So in conclusion, French method still yields the best texture, and Swiss method and Italian method didn’t really help the stability of the batter after folding. But in all it was a good experiment to get it off my chest finally =). 

Moving on, I used the French method of Bandung Chiffon Cake to make the chiffon cake Piggies. The exact same recipe was used earlier in the 6-inch tube pans.

VERDICT of Bandung Chiffon Cake Flavour:

We all loved the Bandung Chiffon Cake. I thought the flavour of Bandung was fragrant and just nice (usually I am not a big fan of rose syrup). But my hubby who likes Bandung prefers it to be stronger. If you like it to be stronger, you can add in rose essence (found in baking sections). My kids found it addictive even without the Rose essence. 

Here goes my recipe sharing! You can also use this recipe for a 6-inch tube pan =).

Bandung Chiffon Cake Piggies (using normal French meringue)
2 Egg yolks 
5g Castor sugar
27g Vegetable/corn oil
33g Bandung
40g Cake flour, sifted
1 tsp Rose essence (optional, do add if you like stronger Bandung flavour)

3 Egg whites
30g Castor sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar

Bandung, a popular Asian drink with evaporated milk flavoured with rose cordial syrup

1. Preheat oven to 140°C. Prepare a 5-cm cake pop mold or egg shells (2 cavity or egg shell each for 1 body) and a 3-cm cake pop mold for limbs (1 cavity can cut into 4 limbs).

2. Prepare egg yolk batter:

a. Whisk egg yolk with sugar using hand whisk.

b. Add in oil, and Bandung and mix well at each step.

c. Whisk in sifted cake flour and mix till no lumps are found.

4. Prepare meringue:

a. In a grease-free, dry metal bowl, using electric mixer, whisk egg whites with cream of tartar till frothy.

b. Add in castor sugar for meringue gradually and whisk at high speed till firm peaks form.

5. Gently fold in meringue into egg yolk batter 1/3 at a time.

6. Fill the cake pop molds (or egg shells). Bake for 25 min (for 5-cm cake pop) and 20 min (for 3-cm cake pop) or until skewer comes out clean. If you are using egg shells, bake for 35 min or so. Pour leftover batter into cupcake liners (around sheet cake thickness to cut out nose snouts later). These are also baked for around 20 min.

*individual oven conditions may vary so do please check with skewer inserted into centre of cakes to see if it comes out totally dry.

7. Allow the cakes to cool completely on wire rack before unmolding by hand.


8. Unmould by popping the cakes out from the mold or cracking the egg into small pieces using the back of a teaspoon.

9. Assemble the pig chiffon cake pops using melted marshmallow similar to Deco Chiffon Cake Basics (or you can refer to Pegasus Pusheen Chiffon Cake pops if you don’t have the book). This is made by popping some marshmallows with a sprinkle of water and microwaving on high for 30 seconds.

10. Both lying down and sitting up versions involve stacking 2 cake pops together but different ways, slightly adjacent (like my 3D panda in Deco Chiffon Cake Basics), or on top of each other (like my 3D Snowman Workshops). For the limbs, use a bubble tea straw to cut out mini limbs from the 3-cm cake pops and stick using melted marshmallow. The ears are cut the same way. You can pinch the straws to make them more pointed.

11. Similarly cut out the noses using straws and glue them on using melted marshmallows. I used yakult straws to punch out the nostrils.

12. Decorate the facial features with charcoal sheet cake cut outs (refer to Deco Chiffon Cake Basics for picture tutorials of all the techniques), or pipe on using melted chocolate.

Hope you found the experiment comparing the different meringue methods interesting and liked the Chiffon Cake Piggies and Bandung flavour!

Happy New Year and CNY in advance!

With lots of love,
Susanne


Super honored and thankful that these Bandung Chiffon Cake Piggy Family was featured on Channel 8 news 630pm and 10pm on 13th Jan! More here.


More picture tutorials are found in my cookbooks below, which are also available worldwide on Book depository:


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Sunday, 30 December 2018

Boy and Girl Chinese New Year Macarons

Those of you who would like to learn the necessary techniques for creating any shape or design of character macarons can join me for this class, also in time to create these adorable treats for Chinese New Year!

Boy and Girl macarons filled with strawberry white chocolate buttercream

The design is taken from my Creative Baking: Macaron Basics book and you will learn how to split a single batch of batter into a few colours, how to pipe batters of different colours side by side to create the clean boundary between hair and face of the character, as well as creating pop-up features like the buns on the hair and the hands. Post-baking decoration involving the use of edible marker, royal icing and lustre dust will also be taught.

Although I shared this design using the Italian method in my book, I will be teaching this design using the Swiss meringue method for the class. Due to the nature of the design and content of the class, I don't recommend complete newbies to join although you won't be banned from it. It would be best if you have some experience baking simple basic macarons or at least be comfortable with doing a range of bakes and piping designs on cakes or cookies. I am afraid newbies may find it overwhelming with too much new information to absorb 😆. Do bring along a spatula (or two.... or three since we are working with three colours of batter) that you are comfortable with as the ones provided by the studio may not be what you are used to working with for macaronage. If you have a candy thermometer that you are comfortable with using, do bring along too.

Please click on this link for more details and to register.

I am also taking this chance to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

With love,
Phay Shing
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Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Guinea Pig Lavender Vanilla Éclairs

My elder kid requested for Choux pastry for his birthday treat -- Guinea pig designed and Lavender flavoured. I decided to make it earlier so that we can all have it together with my parents for a post-christmas meal celebration. Since my mum (who has diabetes) will be eating it as well, I try to keep the use of refined sugar down but at the same time, not compromise the flavour. And so I took the liberty of using some honey (to replace part of the sugar) and include vanilla as part of the flavour that goes harmoniously with lavender. Presenting my version of guinea pig choux pastry, filled with smooth and creamy lavender vanilla pastry cream!


These guinea pig Éclairs are actually modelled after our very adorable pet guinea pigs!

Bottomless pits for food!

Here's a closer look at the cross section of an Eclair...

Nice and crisp pastry case! Really nice when eaten with cold and smooth pastry cream!

I have not been including detailed recipes of my past few choux pastry posts as I can't share what is going into the Deco Choux Pastries book that I am working on. But since what I did here deviates from my basic recipe, I can share it here. There are a couple of firsts for me here. It's the first time I tried using more egg whites than yolks in the Choux pastry batter (pate a choux) and the first time I am using modelling chocolate to create such a complex design.

Feel free to use more sugar if you prefer sweeter pastry cream. Do a taste test. I had my mum in mind when I made it. The Choux pastry batter contains no sugar as well so fell free to include 1 tsp of sugar if you wish. My kids are having the modelling chocolate coated pastry cases so it will be sweet enough for their palate, whereas my mum and the rest of us health conscious adults will be eating the Éclairs without modelling chocolate coating.

Lavender Vanilla honey pastry cream
Ingredients:
3egg yolks
300g lavender milk*
1.5 tsp vanilla bean paste/extract
30g cornflour, sifted
30g sugar (use more if you prefer because lavender is a little bitter)
A pinch or two of salt
15g unsalted butter
1.5 tbs honey

100g whipping cream
1 tsp gelatin powder**
1 tbs water**
1 tbs icing sugar (I didn't use)

* Steep 3-3.5tbs of dried lavender flowers in 340g hot milk for 10 minutes. Strain out the flowers and weigh out 300g of milk to make the pastry cream.

**You may omit the use of gelatin if you are using icing sugar to help stabilize the cream

Steps:
1. In a small saucepan, heat lavender milk with vanilla bean paste until it just starts to bubble. In the mean time, whisk together cornflour, sugar, salt and egg yolks together.

2. Once the milk starts to bubble, remove from heat. Pour into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream while whisking continuously. Start off in a slower stream before pouring more quickly. This is to temper the egg yolks. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.

3. Heat the mixture over low heat while whisking continuously until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat and whisk vigorously until mixture is smooth. Return to heat and continue whisking for another minute or two to thicken until your preferred consistency, keeping in mind it will thicken further after chilling.

4. Add butter and whisk until well combined. Add honey and whisk until well combined. Sieve the mixture into a bowl.


5. Press a cling wrap over the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight if you wish. Chill the whipping cream in mixing bowl for an hour or overnight.

6. When the whipping cream and pastry cream base are sufficiently chilled, sprinkle gelatin over 1 tbs of water and let it sit for 10 min. Heat in microwave oven or double boiler until gelatin is dissolved (medium power for 10 seconds if using microwave). Set aside to cool to room temperature.

7. Whisk the chilled whipping cream with icing sugar (if using) until firm peaks form. If using gelatin to stabilize, whisk until soft peaks form. Gradually add the dissolved gelatin while whisking the cream until firm peaks form.


8. Gradually fold the whipped cream into pastry cream.


Smooth and fragrant lavender vanilla honey pastry cream

Refrigerate the pastry cream until ready to fill the pastry cases. You may make this two to three days in advance. Press a cling wrap to the surface of the pastry cream for storage.

Choux pastry case (Eclair)
Ingredients (makes about twenty 5-6cm mini Éclairs):
105g water
20g unsalted butter
24g olive oil (you may replace with 20g butter)
1/2 tsp salt
50g bread flour
10g plain flour (you may replace with bread flour)
95-105g egg, lightly beaten (use two whole eggs or in my case, one whole egg and topped up the rest with egg whites.)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 200℃. Set oven rack to middle position. Line baking tray with parchment paper/silicone mat. I am trying out a perforated silicone baking mat to see if it makes a difference. It is supposed to be great for baking choux pastries.

2. Sift the bread flour and plain flour together twice. Set aside. Place water, butter, oil, salt and vanilla (if using) in saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to make sure all butter is dissolved before water boils.

3. Remove saucepan from heat and pour the flour into saucepan all at once. Quickly mix well with a spatula until a ball of dough forms. Press out any visible lumps of flour.

4. Return the saucepan to heat. Use low heat to cook the dough while kneading it in the saucepan for about 3-4 minutes. Pour the dough into a mixing bowl and knead with a spatula for about a minute before leaving it to cool for a few minutes.

5. Add half of beaten egg into the dough and mix until well combined. Add half of the remaining egg into the batter and mix until well combined. Add the remaining egg a little at a time until the batter is smooth and shiny and is able to fall off the spatula in three seconds. You may not need to use all of the egg.

6. Transfer batter into piping bag fitted with a 12-15mm open star tip. Choose one with as many teeth/tines as possible. Using a star tip instead of round tip helps to control the cracking of eclair during baking. Pipe 5-6cm lines on baking mat. Use a finger wet with water to tap down the peak at the end of piping the eclair. Dab some water around the piped batter. This is to help create steam during baking.

Piped batter. It looks more pale than my usual as it contains more egg whites.

7. Place tray of piped batter into oven. Turn temperature down to 190℃ and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 180℃ and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Switch off the oven and leave the tray inside for another 10-15 minutes.

Freshly baked cases!

You may make the cases in advance too or store the frozen piped batter and bake when you are ready. Just add 5 minutes to your baking time.

Modelling chocolate
I adapted the recipe from here. I tweaked the ratios a little as Singapore is warm and humid. Please check out the link as it has a more detailed explanation of how to work with modelling chocolate.

Ingredients:
White colour
48g compound white chocolate
11g light corn syrup
A few drops of white gel colouring

Brown colour
42g compound white chocolate
10g dark chocolate couverture
12g light corn syrup
1 drop orange gel food colouring
1 drop yellow food colouring

Black colour
48g dark chocolate couverture
20g light corn syrup
1/2 tsp charcoal powder

Steps:
1. Melt the chocolate in microwave oven using short bursts of 10-20 seconds using medium-low power. Stir between each heating cycle. Be careful not to over heat.

2. Pour corn syrup into melted chocolate and fold in until just combined. Pour the mixture onto cling wrap and wrap it up. Leave it to firm up overnight at room temperature or for 30 minutes in the fridge.

3. Knead until smooth and pliable. Wrap in cling wrap again until ready to use. You may prepare this in advance too!

Homemade modelling chocolate! Tastes much better than fondant!

As I don't work with modelling chocolate often, I was quite nervous about working in Singapore's hot weather so I worked in the air-con room. Try to minimize direct contact between your fingers and the chocolate. I use cling wrap as a barrier between my fingers and the chocolate so that it is less messy to work with. I used toothpick, knife and some fondant tools to help to shape the guinea pig shape and features. You may want to replace chocolate with candy melts as advised by the experts as they are easier to work with. I found it easier to work with white compound chocolate than the dark chocolate couverture based ones as the latter may be firm to begin with but quickly turn into a soft sticky mess with a little handling using my fingers.

The birthday boy exclaimed that they look so real!

It is best to fill the pastry cases just before eating to enjoy them crisp. If this is not possible, you may fill it and keep the pastry refrigerated until ready to serve, preferably within a few hours if you still want the case somewhat crisp. If you don't mind it turning soft, you may store filled choux pastry in fridge for up to two days.

Here are the piggies about to be eaten!


Checkout the cross-section!

The other piggy being eaten!

Birthday boy loved his treat a lot and so did the rest of us!

With lots of love,
Phay Shing
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