Sunday 29 March 2015

3D Peppa and George 2-Tier Chiffon Cake

This is a cute 3D Peppa and George chiffon cake I made for little Liam who turned 3! My heart was still heavy in the light of yesterday’s events, so the news that the cake made the boy delighted and was well-received brought some cheer. I hope the spirit of unity will continue and we will cherish it in our hearts.

Back to the cake, this is probably one of the most challenging and time-consuming cakes I have made after Carousel, taking 2 days just for assembly. I took a long time to cut the tiniest limbs I have ever cut and to bake the 9 layers of different colours and shades (red, pink, dark blue, light blue, brown, dark green, yellow... etc.) for the decoration, and also the egg cakes making up the Peppa and George’s bodies, and the 7-inch and 9-inch base normal chiffon cakes. As it is a rather convoluted bake so I will just summarise the main points.

Peppa’s face was baked in a jumbo egg, while George’s face was baked in a normal egg. Peppa’s body was baked in a small glass bowl (find the smallest you can find), and George’s body from another egg. Remember to remove the inner membrane for the eggshells cleanly (for more details on how to prepare, please see peppa and rainbow pops). The face shapes were done by cutting the nose snout flat and then carving out the snout with a sharp knife. The rest of the features eg sun and house were cut with the help of cutters or knife from the layer cakes and glued on with melted marshmallows. The two base chiffon cakes consisted of vanilla chiffon cake, divided into 1/3 pandan, 2/3 blue pea flowers (used to reduce the amount of blue colouring used). Blue was at the base, followed by pandan at the top.

Happy birthday to Liam!! It was a joy to bake for you! :) Look forward to Phay Shing's cute cupcakes too ;).

With lots of love,

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Saturday 28 March 2015

Heart & Cross Stained Glass Brown Sugar Cookie

As Good Friday and Easter approaches, we are reminded of God's love for us by sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. But Jesus didn't stay dead. He rose again in the third day so that all who believe in Him can have hope of eternal life!

This is my first attempt at stained glass cookie so pardon my amateurish-looking cookie :p. I have a request for some teddy bear cookies so I made use of the same dough to create something to remind my kids of why we celebrate Good Friday and Easter. No easter eggs or bunnies. Just a simple symbolic cookie with a red cross to represent Jesus' blood shed for us on the cross, sun rays behind the cross to represent the risen Christ, and a big heart to represent God's love for us.

I shone a torch light behind the cookie to illuminate the "stained glass"

Without the backlight

You may refer to this recipe for the brown sugar cookie dough. I chose this as the cookie base as it is very yummy and very forgiving when it comes to overbaking it. (You may tend to overbake when melting the sweets for the stained glass). Simply let the cookie rest for a few days or so before eating if it is too hard. The texture should be soft and chewy.

 Roll the dough to 5mm thick. Use a cookie cutter/ knife to cut out the shapes. I made a template out of plastic sheet to help me cut out the shapes more neatly.

As the cookie dough will expand, make sure that the holes are big enough. I had to cut the holes bigger halfway through baking. Make the width of the struts about 6-7mm wide.

Chill the dough on baking tray lined with baking sheet in the fridge for 15 minutes while preheating the oven to 170°C. Place some boiled sweets in ziplock bags with the sweet wrapper on. Use a tenderizer to pound the sweets. Just a sharp hard tap on each sweet will do.

Bake the cookie for about 8-10 minutes or until browned. Do not underbake the cookie as it will be too soft and break upon handling. Remove the tray from the oven and add the crushed sweets into the holes.

Place the tray back into the oven and bake for another 3-5 minutes or until all the sweet has melted and the stained glass looks even.

Freshly baked!

Let the cookie cool completely on the tray before removing carefully. Store in air tight container. These can keep for a couple of weeks.

My kids had fun eating this huge cookie while having a good reminder of what Easter is about :)

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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Wednesday 25 March 2015

Elsa Doll Chiffon Cake

And the Frozen fever never ends! This is an improved version of my previous Elsa Doll Chiffon Cake with Olaf. I have to thank my friend for providing me with such a gorgeous Elsa doll to work with! Here, I combined chiffon cakes from a doll cake tin with a 9-inch tin (13 eggs recipe) to build a big Elsa doll gown (9-inches tall). I tried to go ‘understated’ this time, going for a classic ribbon frill all around tied with snowflakes, with diagonal snowflakes trains. Thank God that my friend’s daughter loved it.

With lots of love,

"50 years ago, he wept for the nation. 50 years later, the nation wept for him". Thank you Mr Lee Kuan Yew for leaving behind a beautiful legacy for us.

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Rilakkuma and Miffy Macarons

I had a request for Miffy macarons from my friend the same week as the assorted Peppa pig and friends macarons. So I made them together in one single session! Here's Miffy along with Rilakkuma!

Retro look :p
Pardon my poor photography skills. I took many photos of the various macarons (Peppa pig and friends, Garfield, My Melody and this set) in a hurry and this set didn't turn out too well.

Recipe for Miffy macarons is the same as my panda macarons. Recipe for Rilakkuma is the same as my Mickey and Minnie macarons except that I omitted the charcoal powder.

It was surprisingly tough to get Miffy's ears piped well! Or maybe I was just harried with too many different macs to pipe in one session :p

Running out of batter to play with so piped smaller heads :p

Freshly baked and paired shells!

Freshly iced along with Garfield and My Melody. This is only half the batch I made! There were still another 21 Peppa Pig and friends macarons!

Filling up half of Miffy with strawberry swiss meringue buttercream and half with lemon curd and lemon smbc.

Filling up Rilakkuma with cookies n cream smbc.

Glad that the Miffy macarons were well received! My kids got to eat the Rilakkumas and as usual they were happy to eat any leftover macarons!

You may think that I am very good at piping weird shaped macarons. Actually I am still learning and still making mistakes! But with every practice, I learn something new :).

Keep a lookout for my next attempt at Rilakkuma macarons! Made with a different flavour but naturally coloured too ;)

With love,
Phay Shing

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Monday 23 March 2015

Frozen Castle Chiffon Cake II

We can never get past the Frozen fever! This is version 2 of my Frozen Castle Chiffon Cake. Here I experimented with making chiffon cake stairs for the castle with leftover cake from making the blocks. I also changed back the trimmings from jagged (ice berg-like) back to castle-like (hexagonal-top). These were manually cut and so was rather tedious. Castle cakes are also never one of my favorite cakes to make as they need to go in and out of the fridge many times, so really thankful it pulled through and it was well-received!

With love,

"50 years ago, he wept for the nation. 50 years later, the nation wept for him". Thank you Mr Lee Kuan Yew for leaving behind a beautiful legacy for us.

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Saturday 21 March 2015

Mitchiri Neko, Molang & Snoopy Char Siew Bao (叉烧包 naturally coloured and made from scratch!)

I was planning to post some of my macaron bakes but these baos are just too cute to be held back from being posted! They brought smiles all around the family because they are unbearably cute and yummy :). My elder kid requested for char siew baos so I made these...

Michiri Neko, Molang and Snoopy! All naturally coloured!

A close up view of the soft fluffy bao skin and yummy char siew filling. All made from scratch!

I had loads of fun making these baos and burst out laughing looking at the whole collection of Nekos. Hubby walked into the kitchen, took one look and laughed too! The best part is, these are one of the easiest to create as only a single coloured dough (except for Snoopy) has to be prepared for each bao and the only feature that needed shaping are the ears. The rest of the features were drawn on using edible markers after steaming. So I wasn't harried at all when assembling the baos like I usually am as you have to work fast to prevent the baos from being over-proofed.

I made extra char siew last week so some of it could be reserved for making bao. Please refer to this recipe from Rasa Malaysia that is really awesome. I omitted the red food colouring.

Homemade char siew! Tender and full of flavour!

If you prefer to use store-bought char siew, that is fine too. I don't blame you. To make the bao from scratch requires a lot of steps.

Recipe for char siew filling
(Adapted from here. Makes about 8-9 baos)
160-180g char siew, chopped
1/2 tbs oyster sauce*
1/2 tbs soy sauce*
1 tbs honey*
1/4 tsp Chinese five spice powder*
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tbs cooking oil

120ml water
1 tbs corn flour

* if you have char siew sauce bought from a stall selling roasted meats or extra homemade char siew marinade, you could use those instead of the "*" listed items.

1. Fry the onion in oil in a small saucepan until softened.

2. Add all other ingredients in A) and stir-fry for a minute or two.

3. Make the cornflour slurry in B) and stir well before gradually pouring into A), while stirring the contents in the saucepan.

4. Simmer until the sauce is thickened while stirring now and then. Let it cool. Do taste the filling before you turn off the heat to adjust the taste accordingly in order to have a balance of sweetness, saltiness and aromatic flavours that you like.

You may make the filling ahead of time and store in the fridge or if you are hopeless at pleating baos and working with wet filling like me, portion the filling into balls of 20g portions and freeze it as shown below with cling wrap.

The extra small ball of filling in the middle is for making Snoopy's snout.

The good thing about freezing the filling with gravy is, you are able to pack more gravy into the bao, making the bao filling more moist and juicy.

Recipe for bao skin
I modified the bao skin slightly yet again, paying attention to the process steps as well as ingredient proportion. It's really good!

160g Hong Kong bao flour, plus extra for dusting
20g cornflour
25g icing sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp instant dry yeast
1/6 tsp baking powder dissolved in 1/2 tsp of water
1/16 tsp ammonia bicarbonate (optional)
90g water
12g vegetable shortening/oil

1/2 tsp each of natural sourced powder food colouring; pink, yellow and green
1/4 tsp charcoal powder
Some water
Edible food markers

1. Mix the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl well with a wooden spoon. Dissolve baking powder and ammonia bicarbonate in 1/2 tsp of water.

2. Add water to the dry mixture and stir with wooden spoon until a dry dough forms. Gradually add in baking powder mixture to the dough and knead until well combined.

3. Pour the dough onto non-stick mat and gradually knead in shortening/oil until the dough is smooth and elastic and passes the windowpane test. About 20 minutes. I found it helpful to let the dough rest for 15 minutes covered with cling wrap before kneading in the shortening. This allows time for the flour to absorb the water. The dough feels more pliable in my hands after letting it rest. This step is not necessary as I have always omitted it but I read from a bread making by hand book that letting the dough rest this way allows more moisture to be retained by the dough. You may let the breadmaker/stand mixer do the kneading but I prefer to knead by hand.

4. Let the dough proof until almost doubled in size. I proofed in the fridge for about 3 hours as I was busy. If you are busy like me, simply let the dough rise in the fridge in a large measuring jug or container (covered of course) where you can monitor the rise. You can come back and work on the dough when you are free. Line the jug/container with cling wrap so you have an easier job of digging the proofed dough out. If you are letting it rise at room temperature, it takes about half an hour in hot Singapore. Knead the dough a few times to expel the trapped gas.

5. Portion the dough for colouring. I made 2 of each colour for Michiri Neko, one Molang and one Snoopy. Each round bao uses 30-31g of dough and the Snoopy one is about 50g. Dissolve the powder food colouring in a bit of water to make a paste. About 1/8 tsp for each colour. Gradually knead in the colouring.

Available at Cold Storage in Malaysia but sadly not seen in Singapore.

Food colouring! All natural!

Coloured dough! 

Keep any dough that you are not working with in the fridge wrapped to prevent over-proofing. Over-proofed dough does not taste good.

6. Lightly flour your work surface and fingers and flatten a ball of dough for the round baos. Place the frozen filling in middle and wrap it up, pinch sealing it. Place the bao pinched side down on a small piece of baking sheet. Add on the ears. For Snoopy, roll the dough to form an oblong shape that is wider at one end for the head. Place the larger ball of filling for the head and smaller ball of filling for the snout. Wrap the filling up and pinch seal it. Add on Snoopy ears, nose and eyes with black dough.

Wrapping up with filling!

All wrapped!

7. Proof for 40-45 minutes at room temperature (about 27-28°C) if you are using frozen filling like me, or 30minutes if you are not. I find it easier to wrap a frozen solid ball than to spoon loose and sticky filling onto the dough. Somehow the gravy finds its way out making the bao impossible to seal for me :p.

8. Steam on high heat for 8minutes. Turn off the heat and let the bao rest covered for 3minutes before opening the wok/steamer cover.

9. Draw the features with edible food marker after the baos have cooled a little. Molang's rosy cheeks were brushed on with peach coloured lustre dust.

Enjoy while it is hot! Freeze any leftovers after they have cooled in a ziplock bag. Resteam for 15minutes from frozen state when you want to consume.

Hope these put a smile on your faces!

Hubby and kids gave these a thumbs up! My elder kid says not to feed them commercial frozen char siew baos from the supermarket anymore because these taste much better! I can't guarantee that though because it is a lot of work :p but spread over a few sessions.

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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Thursday 19 March 2015

Chiffon Boat Nautical 2-tier Chiffon Cake

This is a sea-themed 2-tier chiffon cake for a little boy Jonas who shares the same birth date as my baby Charissa! :). I made a sailboat out of chiffon cake for him, with cute drops of water splashing everywhere! And starfishes and fishes swimming in the two-tone ocean.. :).

The chiffon cake boat was made by baking a chocolate chiffon cake in an oval bowl, with a rim of strawberry chiffon cake piped on around the rim. The sails were made using layer vanilla chiffon cake, supported by 'poles' (bamboo sticks). I improved on the white-red floats from my previous Nautical Mickey Mouse cake by using donut molds to shape the floats. Thank God cake was well-received. Happy belated birthday to Jonas!

With love,

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Wednesday 18 March 2015

'Frozen' Ombre Snowflake Butter Cookies (coloured with blue pea flower and icing-free!)

I have a request for Frozen themed cookies again but instead of the shortbread, no icing version I made last year, I decided to try something different but icing-free too!

Ombre blue snowflakes! Coloured mainly with blue pea flowers! Coated with glitter! OK the phone camera can't seem to pick up the glitter well...

A better glimpse of the glitter but still doesn't do the actual cookies justice *hmph*. Actual cookies are more shimmery than what you see.

I really love blue pea flowers! Check out the colours below... All unedited but so beautiful!

Top: 45g of boiled milk with 1tbs dried blue pea flowers
Bottom: after soaking the flowers for half an hour

I added a mere 2 drops if blue gel colouring to the strained blue milk just as an insurance against any browning that might occur during baking. Colour of milk didn't change much. That's all the artificial colouring I used!

The recipe for these blue ombre cookies is adapted from my earlier rendition of Mickey and Minnie cookies. The recipe contains milk so it is perfect for infusion of flavours/colours that would be difficult to achieve for shortbread.

Ingredients (makes about twenty 7cm snowflake cookies plus leftover dough):
186g unsalted butter, softened
110g caster sugar
40g milk*
35g blue pea flower milk* (see above for preparation instructions)
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
400g plain flour**
20g corn flour**

* You won't need all the milk
** Mix the flours and sift together. Divide into 5 equal portions. You may use all plain flour for a firmer cookie. Cornflour gives the cookie a more crumbly, melt in your mouth texture. Not advisable to add too much as cookies will be too fragile.

Note: If you are making one big batch of dough then dividing it up to colour with gel food colouring, use 54g of milk.

1. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. You may use electric mixer or cream by hand like what I did. If creaming by hand, do take about several minutes to do so until mixture is light and creamy.

2. Add vanilla and salt to the mixture and mix well.

3. Divide the mixture into 5 equal portions. To each portion, gradually beat in milk in the following proportions:
Dark blue: 9g blue milk, 2g plain milk
Medium blue: 5g blue milk, 6g plain milk
Light blue: 2g blue milk, 9g plain milk
Very pale blue: 1g blue milk, 10g plain milk
White: 11g plain milk

4. Gradually fold in flours and form a ball of dough.

Ombre dough!

5. Divide each coloured dough into two portions in the following approximate weights:
Dark blue and plain: 16g and 144g
Medium blue and very pale blue: 48g and 112g
Light blue: 80g x2

6. Form 2 rolls of ombre blue logs, one with dark blue in center and one with plain dough in center. Wrap the logs in the following manner making sure not to mix up the ombre colours!

7. Chill the logs until slightly firm but not rock hard. Either extreme (too soft or too firm) and it's tough to cut the logs. About 10 minutes in the fridge.
Cut each log into 10 equal portions. Roll each slice until about 6-8mm thick with a rolling pin between baking sheets. You may choose to bake these ombre circles or cut out snowflake shapes.

Freshly cut dough!

8. You may chill the dough and bake at this point but if you choose to work really hard like me, use a toothpick/knife to make snowflake imprints on the dough. Or if you happen to have a snowflake pattern stamp, please use it! That would be a lot faster!

Painstakingly imprinting each line...

Finally done! *seeing stars*

9. Chill the dough for 15 minutes while preheating the oven to 160°C. Bake for 13-16 minutes or until very slightly browned at the base. Keep an eye on the cookies or the colours won't be nice! Let the cookies cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely.

Freshly baked snowflakes!

Cooling cookies!

You may leave the cookies as they are or brush on some glitter dust with a dry brush to add on some sparkle to the plain cookies. You may choose to ice the cookies or add silver pearls but I prefer to let the ombre colours shine :). This ombre cookie technique can be applied to other colours too. I can just imagine beautiful pink or purple ombre flowers!

Store the cookies in airtight container. Like shortbread cookies, these can keep for a month.

So what did I do with the leftover dough? Let the kids play with it!

They are happy to have some leftovers to have fun with and to eat :)

Do eat the cookies about a week or two after baking if you can wait. They taste better after maturing :).

With love,
Phay Shing

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Monday 16 March 2015

Hello Kitty Doll Tiered Chiffon Cake

This is a 2.5 tier Hello Kitty Doll made of fully of chiffon cake from the face to the dress, for a mummy with 3 kids like me! =) Her girl also just turned 1 like mine and she was a joy to bake for. I have previously shared how to bake a Hello Kitty face chiffon cake (see Hello Kitty Chiffon Cupcake/Cake pops). I had made it for my dear daughter’s birthday last year =).

It’s my first experiment making cake dress ruffles out of chiffon cake. The dress ruffles are made by using a 2-inch round cutter to cut out a circle from a layer chiffon cake, and then folding the circular chiffon cake half and then another half to form a quarter, and then sealing the edges with melted marshmallows to form a rosette ruffle. The marshmallow glue was also used to glue it to the cake. Two 10-inch layer chiffon cakes were used just to make enough cake ruffles to cover the base of the bottom tier! Hence it was rather tedious.

The two chiffon cake tiers were strawberry (top) and blueberry (bottom) modified with vanilla flavour. I have finally found a way to prevent the blueberry powder from making the chiffon cake patchy! I made blueberry juice using the powder first and then used a coffee filter to remove the blueberry bits.

Thank God cake was well-received and I was super touched she sent a recording of her son saying/singing "thank you".

With lots of love,

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Sunday 15 March 2015

Elmo Red Yeast and Beetroot Macarons with Chocolate Ganache (update for baking/piping techniques)

I have a request for Elmo macarons with chocolate ganache so here they are :)

"Elmo song" kept ringing in my head as I made these!

In order to reduce the amount of artificial red colouring needed, I used two types of natural food colouring to achieve this. I did a brief search on the Internet for beetroot powder or red yeast powder based macaron recipes and find that the resulting macarons are a very dull reddish brown, so some artificial colouring is still needed to make a bright but deep shade of red. I experimented with using fairly small amounts here but sufficient to significantly reduce the amount of artificial colouring used :). Susanne also reported that using too much red yeast causes her chiffon batter to bubble and deflate a bit so I didn't dare to use too much.

Recipe for red macaron shell 
Ingredients (makes 42-46 macarons, 84-92 shells depending on size):
200g almond meal/ ground almond (preferably superfine)
200g icing sugar
10g red yeast powder*
5g beetroot powder*
1/4 tsp red powder food colouring*
Approximately 20 drops of red gel colouring*
200g caster sugar
75ml water
160g egg whites, divided into 2 equal portions (preferably aged overnight or a few days)

*You may replace all of the food colour source with red gel colouring if you don't have any of the above items. Beetroot and red yeast tend to give a brownish tinge to the macarons and deepen the shade of red.

1. Sift together almond, icing sugar, red yeast powder and red color powder.

As you can see, the colour is quite dull. This photo was taken before 1/4 tsp of red powder was added.

2. Dissolve beetroot powder in 80g of egg white and add the egg mixture to the flour mixture in step 1 to form the mass. Add red gel food coloring. I counted about 12 drops of gel colouring but subsequently added more during the macaronage (not advisable for newbies!!) as the shade was not "red" enough.

3. Prepare the Italian meringue. Boil caster sugar and water over medium heat without stirring while beating the remaining egg whites in a clean metal bowl at medium-low speed. When the syrup temperature reaches 115°C, increase the mixer speed to high and gradually pour the syrup into the egg whites, taking care to avoid the beaters. It is important to make sure that the egg whites are not beaten past soft peak stage before syrup is poured in. Otherwise the meringue will be too stiff and difficult to incorporate into the mass. Continue beating on high for 10-12 minutes until the meringue is cool and firm/ stiff peaks form.

4. Fold the meringue into the mass in two additions. Use a fold and press motion until batter just begins to fall off the spatula in a continuous manner. Do watch a video demo many times to have a good feel of the consistency of the batter and folding technique. I have not gone for any macaron classes before so this is how I learn.

Top: batter after first addition of meringue. Bottom: batter after macaronage is completed.

5. Transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a 5-6mm round tip and a bit of batter into another bag fitted with a 3mm tip. Pipe out ovals for bottom shell and Elmo's shape for top shell. Use a template under the baking sheet! Pipe oval for Elmo's head using the big tip, followed by two circles at the top for his eyes using the smaller tip. Use a toothpick to pull out the sides of his face to make the fuzzy edges. Remember that the batter will spread a little after piping so don't fill up your template completely. You can skip all these detailing and simply pipe round circles if you wish but don't you think he looks more endearing when you pay attention to the details? ;) Remember to tap the tray a few times to release air bubbles after piping.

Top and bottom shells. Photo for top shell is freshly piped whereas photo for bottom shell is somewhat dry and almost ready for baking

6. Dry the shells either using the oven at 60°C fan mode or in air con room in hot and humid Singapore. I have mentioned that oven drying is much faster but I find that if you are not careful with watching the drying time or process, the shells may be too dry and the feet won't be as nice on the baked shells. The surface of the shells may not be as smooth as air con drying too. So I settled for about 7-8 minutes of oven drying followed by air con drying until the shell surface is no longer tacky to touch, baking as soon as I can. As a result the feet in this batch are one of the best I achieved so far. Total drying time can vary from 30-60 minutes when using a combination of oven and aircon drying like I did. Don't use time as a gauge but instead use your fingers :)

7. Bake at 130°C with oven rack at lowest position for 17-22 minutes. Let the shells cool for 5 minutes before removing from tray. If the shells are still stuck on baking sheet, put them back in the oven to bake for a few minutes. Rotate your tray halfway through baking if your oven temperature is uneven.

Freshly baked and paired! Looks a bit like crabs hehe...

8. Decorate the shells with royal icing. I iced circles on a baking sheet and dried them for Elmo's eyes.

 I just stuck the pre-iced eyes onto the macaron shells with a dab of royal icing. Use a mixture of orange, yellow and teeny toothpick dip of teal to create Elmo's nose colour. I used charcoal powder to colour the icing black. Let the icing dry completely before storing in airtight container if you are not filling them yet. You may oven dry at 60°C fan mode to speed things up. Do use toothpicks to paint or nudge the icing along for very fine lines.

Freshly iced!

Recipe for chocolate ganache
150g milk or dark chocolate, very finely chopped
8g butter, cut to small pieces
105g whipping cream

1. Place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Boil the cream.

2. Pour boiling cream onto chocolate and use a spatula to stir the mixture in one direction until all chocolate has melted.

3. Let the ganache rest at room temperature and firm up for 1-2 hours before piping onto the shells.

Filling up Elmo!

Just assembled!

4. Refrigerate at least 24h in airtight container before consuming. These can keep for a week plus.

All packed!

As usual, I couldn't resist the chance to play with leftover batter so keep a lookout for Angry Bird and ladybug macs in my future post!

With love,
Phay Shing

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