Sunday 29 March 2020

Hot-Cross Bun Salted Caramel Macarons (Low-sugar macaron shell recipe with video tutorial!)

Easter is coming in less than 2 weeks time so I thought it would be good to make hot-cross bun macarons again but this time round, I filled them with salted caramel cream cheese and salted caramel!

A few things why I am sharing a detailed blog post along with video tutorials of real-time macaron making process. Firstly, due to the Covid-19 situation, I thought many people would have time on their hands to learn something and work with their hands at home. So a detailed tutorial would be very helpful. The techniques in the tutorials here are applicable for other non low-sugar recipes too. Secondly, I have always wanted to revisit my super low-sugar macaron recipe that I developed after many failed attempts. I shared the blog post for it last year over here. Lastly, I was curious to know if Swiss meringue method can be done using icing sugar with cornflour already added, instead of the traditional caster sugar.

If you manage to try this successfully and share on social media, do acknowledge that it is from me as it has taken me lots of time and drawing from my experience to come up with this. Do check out both of my macaron books Creative Baking: Macarons and Creative Baking: Macaron Basics for a more systematic presentation of all you need to know about making decorative macarons, from basics all the way to more challenging projects, for more ideas and templates for different designs.

As mentioned in my previous low-sugar post, sugar serves very important structural functions in macarons. Without it, you won't be able to have the characteristic feet and it would be a serious challenge to make a stable enough meringue. Yes you may use sugar replacements but the results would still taste as sweet as regular sugar. My previous low sugar recipe contains about 35% sugar by weight (weight of sugar/total weight of ingredients x 100%). This new recipe has slightly less sugar than my previous one with only about 32% sugar! I made slight tweaks to my previous recipe by using a bit more egg whites, replacing caster sugar with icing sugar and overall using slightly less sugar in the meringue.

I did something in the bake that I used for the videos here which I don't recommend, that is to replace 10g of almond flour with pumpkin seed flour. The resulting piped batter took 2 hours of oven drying before I could bake it ๐Ÿคฃ. In case you are wondering why are there darker specks in my batter, it is from the pumpkin seed flour. So just stick to the recipe I type here. If you would like a higher chance of success for a first attempt, do add 5g of icing sugar to the meringue portion. It comes up about 35% sugar, still way lower than regular macaron recipes which contain 50% or more sugar by weight. As a comparison, my almost fail proof recipe that I use for junior chef classes has about 51.7% sugar and my other reduced sugar recipes and those developed by others have about 40+% sugar. Working with significantly less sugar in the batter makes it more technically challenging so don't despair if you fail. Try my suggestion of increasing icing sugar by 5g in the meringue and follow the videos closely.

Why did I choose to use icing sugar instead of caster sugar? Because it is just white sugar that is even finer, and with cornflour added. Cornflour can act as a meringue stabilizer and helps piped batter to dry faster (plus point for low sugar recipe!) and finer sugar means it dissolves more easily in the egg whites (another plus point to produce good quality meringue!). But I was afraid to do this experiment on my paid work as I have no idea what will happen if you cook the egg whites with cornflour added. I was afraid it would thicken the batter too much. Now that I tried, it certainly rocks for low sugar meringues!

As mentioned in my previous post, I chose Swiss meringue as you can produce a more stable meringue than french meringue using less sugar. Italian method also produces stable meringue but isn't suitable for small quantity so I am not going there. Semi-cooking the egg whites is the key to improvement in meringue stability.

Recipe for low-sugar macaron shells
Ingredients (makes about 12 macarons, 24 shells) :
Dry ingredients
55g superfine almond flour (don't oven dry it or the batter will turn out too dry. Use straight from package that has been properly stored in cool pantry or in fridge)
8g rice flour
2g (1tsp) cornflour
30g icing sugar (with cornflour already added)
1/8-1/4 tsp cocoa powder (for colour, omit for plain shells)

Swiss meringue
40g egg whites (don't need to age)
22g icing sugar (with cornflour already added)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (to stabilize meringue)
1 drop orange gel colouring
1 drop yellow gel colouring

I know this adds up to be about 32.7% sugar but icing sugar contains cornflour so actual amount of sugar could be closer to 32%

1. Preheat oven to 60-70°C, rack on middle shelf. Line baking tray with template of 4cm circles and parchment paper.

2. Place all dry ingredients in mixing bowl and whisk together. Sift into another mixing bowl. Set aside. Do not mash the dry ingredients against the sieve just to get it through. Just scrape with a spatula. You don't want to release more oils from the almond than necessary.

3. Place all swiss meringue ingredients (except colouring) in heatproof mixing bowl over a saucepan with water. Make sure the water doesn't touch base of the bowl. Heat the saucepan with medium-low heat from room temperature water, while whisking the egg whites with a clean handwhisk. Monitor the egg white temperature with candy thermometer. Keep whisking until temperature reads 50°C. This step may take several minutes. It is important to heat the egg whites slowly to ensure all sugar is dissolved. Any undissolved sugar will cause the meringue not to whip up properly.

4. Immediately remove mixing bowl from heat and beat with electric mixer until stiff peak, adding gel food colouring towards the end of beating the meringue. As the amount of sugar is low, the meringue will be less stable and less stiff than regular recipes, and the meringue is also more easily overbeaten. Please watch the video tutorial below for how you should beat such a meringue. I didn't speed up the video so this is the actual speed of the process.

5. Transfer the meringue into a wide mixing bowl for easier macaronage. Do note that low sugar macaron batter is thicker than regular batter so we don't follow the traditional lava-like consistency rule. This method of testing batter consistency also applies for tricky macaron batter like chocolate or matcha batter that tends to be thicker than regular batter. Please watch the follow video to find out how you should do the macaronage and test the consistency. Use a table to hit the bottom of mixing bowl if you aren't comfortable using your hand as shown in the video. I didn't speed up this video too so this is the actual speed of the macaronage.

6.Transfer batter into piping bag fitted with wilton #12 tip. Pipe the batter as you normally would with regular batter, with the tip perpendicular to tray surface. The difference is, you bang the tray really hard for many more times to flatten the peaks because the batter is thicker.

7. Pop the tray straight into the oven for 10 min. Use your finger to gently check if the surface of piped batter is dry. If it still feels sticky, dry for another 5 to 10 min and check again. Repeat as necessary. This can take 30 min to even 1h, depending on how wet or dry your almond flour is. Higher sugar content recipes dry much faster. Use an oven thermometer to monitor the oven temperature accurately. This is highly recommended as oven temperatures tend to be off by 10 to 20°C. So how dry is dry? You should be able to run a finger across the surface without feeling any bit of stickiness. When you apply slight pressure to the membrane formed, it should be able to resist a little, but not so firm that it feels like a fully baked shell. Be patient with this drying step. If you don't dry it sufficiently, your shells will crack during baking as reduced sugar means the membrane formed is less sturdy. So you want to make sure that membrane formed is really strong and dry enough to withstand the expansion of the batter during baking.

8. When the shells are sufficiently dried, ramp the temperature up to 130-140°C without removing the tray from the oven. Bake for 18-23min or until feet doesn't appear wet.

Just to show you the awesome shells! Not as pretty as regular recipes but nicely full on the inside!

The texture is also a little different from regular macarons due to the low sugar content. It is denser and less crisp.

I used royal icing to decorate the baked shells.

I filled the shells with whatever I have on hand at home, so I chose to fill it with a ring of salted caramel cream cheese and salted caramel in the middle, both were leftovers from my junior chef class last weekend. If you want something tasting more authentically like hot-cross buns, please follow the recipe in this post.

I developed this low-sugar recipe partly as a personal challenge, partly because I know people out there want to know if there is a much less sweet macaron recipe. I would say, it is possible to reduce sugar significantly but not without its challenges. For my regular fanciful macarons, I would stick with my regular reduced-sugar recipes which are easier to work with if I have to reduce sugar. Have fun with this challenge!

Blessed Easter in advance! Stay safe! I am just thankful that God is still in control in the midst of all this madness.

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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Tuesday 24 March 2020

Nut-Free Strawberry Bug Macarons (Swiss method)

I shared in an earlier blog post my experiment with nut-free macarons using the French method. The purpose of that experiment was to create these critters ๐Ÿ˜Š.

I love the way they stare at you! 

The shells for spider were made using the french method recipe I shared in the earlier blog post. I will share the Swiss meringue method version for the bee and ladybug in this post. This is not the first time I am making bug macarons using hemispherical macaron shells. You may refer to this post for the version made using almond flour.

I used a combination of rice flour and pumpkin seed flour for this Swiss method recipe as well. As mentioned in my French method post, unfortunately for nut-free versions, the sugar content is higher due to the change in batter consitency caused by the use of something else other than almond flour. You may compensate the increase in sweetness level by making a really tart or bitter filling. I try to compensate the increase in use of icing sugar in fhe almond paste portion by reducing the sugar by a little for the meringue. You still need enough sugar in the meringue for stability, so that the meringue doesn't break down too soon.

I bought this can of pumpkin seed flour from Yue Hwa, a shop that sells traditional chinese medicine as well as other sundry items

Recipe for nut-free macaron shells (Swiss method) 
Almond paste
35g rice flour
35g pumpkin seed flour
100g icing sugar (choose one with cornstarch added)
31g egg whites

Swiss meringue
55g caster sugar
15g icing sugar
46g egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp fine salt (optional)

Please refer to this post for the detailed steps for Swiss method.

You may refer to this post for video tutorial on how to pipe hemispheres. You need a silicone mould with hemispheres to create the shells.

Piped bee and ladybug

Piped spider shells

I used white confetti sprinkles to create the eyes but used royal icing to add a small dot in the middle and an even smaller dot of white for the eye highlights. I used royal icing transfers for making the wings of the bees. The spider legs were made out of modelling chocolate. You may refer to this post for the details. Do note that ratio of chocolate and corn syrup may be varied according to your work environment. I live in a hot and humid climate so I use a higher chocolate to corn syrup ratio.

When you have a box of critters staring back at you like this, you can't help but smile ๐Ÿ˜Š

I filled the bugs with strawberry white chocolate buttercream and homemade strawberry jam/compote. You may refer to this post for detailed recipe of both the buttercream and jam. The jam is really tart as it is meant as filling for sweet macaron shells.

Line the insides of the hemisphere with buttercream, add a dollop of jam, and then top off with more buttercream seal the jam

I hope these bugs put a smile on your face as it did mine!

With love,
Phay Shing

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Monday 23 March 2020

Boba Brown Sugar Milk Tea Chiffon Cake

Who is a fan of Boba Brown Sugar Milk Tea?

Brown Sugar Milk Tea Chiffon Cake, dressed up as a giant "Bubble Tea"! I used brown sugar entirely for this cake, including the meringue, and very strong black tea that is very fragrant. If you are a boba milk tea lover, you will love this cake! ๐Ÿ’– Make sure you use good quality tea with strong fragrance and taste, it will make all the difference! I personally like Earl grey, but you can use any tea you like =).

Brown Sugar Milk Tea (makes 1 tall 5-inch cake, or a 10-inch roll cake)
2 egg yolks
14g brown sugar
26g vegetable oil
27g strong black tea (2-3 tea bags in 40 g ml hot milk)
40g cake flour

3 egg whites
36g brown sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

*Tip: If you are using a 7 to 8-inch cake pan, you can multiply this recipe by 2 

1. Heat up 40g fresh milk and dip tea bags. Cover and let it simmer for 5+ min. Remove tea bags and squeeze out the milk from the tea bags for strong tea flavour. The tea bags will soak up milk, so actual amount will be a lot less, and you should measure out 27g for step 3. Leave to cool. 

2. Preheat oven to 140°C.

3. Beat egg yolks with sugar with whisk till pale yellow before stirring in oil and 27 g strong black tea (weigh out to be precise).

4. Next add in sieved flour and whisk till no trace of flour found. 
*If you like, you can break open the tea bags and add the fine leaves into the cake. It will add to the fragrance. I omitted this step because I wanted a clean-looking exterior.

5. Meringue: Beat the egg whites with ¼ tsp cream of tartar till firm peaks, mixing in brown sugar in 2 additions. 

Beautiful shiny brown sugar meringue

6. Fold in the meringue gently into the batter 1/3 at a time.

7. Pour the batter into the baking pan and gently tap the tin on table 3x to remove air bubbles.

8. Bake the cake at 140°C for 45-50 min or until skewer comes out clean. 
*If you do not have a tall cake/loaf pan, bake as a sheet cake on a lined 10-inch tray instead for 25-30 min and roll into a log later.

9. Invert the cake pan immediately once out of the oven to cool. 
*For sheet cake, roll up while still warm.

11. Unmould after the cakes are cool.

The black dots were made by prebaking a 1 egg recipe charcoal sheet cake, cutting out circles from the black sheet cake, and then baking them into the brown sugar milk tea cake. For picture tutorials of this technique, you can refer to Airplane cake in Deco Chiffon Cake Basics. You can use the same recipe above for the tea cake, divided by 2 and coloured with charcoal powder. Bake the charcoal batter in a lined 8-inch tray for 18 min.

Watch a video of the soft bubble tea chiffon cake jiggling here.

For true Boba Brown Sugar Milk Tea taste, make brown sugar syrup (dissolve in hot water in 2:1 ratio) and drizzle over the cake. Garnish with black tapioca pearls, made by cooking tapioca pearls in hot water for 30 minutes.

And here are some crumb shots of the cake! Hope you like it!

And here is another version of the Boba Milk Tea cake for online class.

Please stay well and healthy!

With lots of love,

*Airplane Cake is 4th cake from the left

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Thursday 19 March 2020

Carousel Chiffon Cake

Sharing some LOVE during these trying times with this Chiffon Cake Carousel ๐Ÿ’–. Hope that this magical sweet carousel brightens your day ๐Ÿฅฐ.

The carousel is made entirely from chiffon cake, including the pillars and the roof. Very thankful that it worked out. I finally overcame my fear of making another chiffon cake carousel after my first one 5 years ago. Thank God for this opportunity and also to bake for my dear friend's daughter too. She is a very special gift from God. And because of her lovely name and meaning behind it, I could use this cake to encourage others during this difficult time. I had difficulty uploading the video on FB in the right format, so you can watch a video of it here. I will try uploading another video here later.

Let's stay strong and positive during these times๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ’ช. Stay healthy, drink lots of water and take care..

With lots of LOVE ,

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Wednesday 18 March 2020

Macaron Foodcart on Strawberries n Cream Chiffon Cake

My friend requested for a birthday cake for her daughter who loves playing with her foodcart. Since Korean strawberries are in season, I made strawberries n cream chiffon cake for the cake base and a foodcart macaron structure filled mainly with strawberry filling!

Birthday girl's name is Love! 

A closer view of the foodcart. The food items are made out of macarons too! 

A better view of the strawberries n cream cake below. Doesn't it look inviting? 

I have made strawberries n cream cake a few times and I always use the same default recipe for the chiffon cake base. You may refer to this post for detailed recipe of the vanilla chiffon cake. I used to use Italian method as my default meringue method for making macarons but I seldom work with large quantities now so I switch to using Swiss meringue method. You may refer to this post for the recipe. Please refer to the updated version in the blog post as I have been using it.

Just to share some photos of the process...

Piping the roof and panels of the foodcart. I piped 2 different variations so I could choose which roof to use. 

Freshly baked mini hotdogs, pretzels, ice-cream cones and macarons! They are all macaron shells of course ๐Ÿคฃ. I decided not to use the chocolate rice sprinkled vanilla cone as I thought it looked a little smudged. 

I filled the mini food items with white chocolate melted with a little vegetable shortening, either plain vanilla flavoured or with pandan paste added. I filled the larger section of the foodcart with strawberry filling. You may refer to this post for detailed recipe of the jam. For the purpose of buidling macaron structures, I reduced the amount of jam added but increased the amount of emulco a little.

Strawberry white chocolate buttercream
85g white chocolate
12g cocoa butter
20g vegetable shortening/unsalted butter
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp strawberry emulco
10g jam

Steps please follow this post.

Filling up the foodcart! Total of 5 alternating layers of macaron shells and strawberry filling! 

I completed the assembly of the foodcart before I began on the cake because it can be kept for a longer time, up to a week or two in the fridge. Let it sit at room temperature before consuming as the filling may be too firm.

Here is the freshly baked vanilla chiffon cake!

I used the same old recipe 

I made some tweaks to the cream filling and love it! It is the best compromise between taste and good stability so far. Please refer to this post for assembly steps but use the updated cream filling in this blog post. I use double cream instead of heavy cream as it has higher fat content, which helps in stability in hot Singapore. You may use heavy cream if you are unable to get double cream. Using heavy cream should be fine especially if you live in temperate climates and didn't make this at the height of summer.

Cream filling
200g double cream (I used Bulla)
100g whip topping  (non-dairy whipping cream)
2 gelatin sheets **
Some ice water**
1 tsp vanilla extact

** you may use 1.5 tsp of powdered gelatin bloomed in 1.5 tbs of cold water instead. My preference is to use gelatin sheets as powdered gelatin tends to have an odour.

1. Soak gelatin sheets in some ice water for 10 min. Squeeze out excess water and heat in microwaveable bowl until melted.

2. Put double cream, whip topping and vanilla into a mixing bowl. Scoop out 1tbs of cold cream and add into melted gelatin and mix well.

3. Use electric mixer to beat cream on low speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the gelatin mix while whisking the cream by hand to incorporate it in. If the cream isn't stiff peak by this time, use the mixer to beat for a few seconds and check the consistency again. You want it to be firm enough to work with but smooth and not clumpy.

Here is a picture of assembly in progress.

I was salivating as I was assembling ๐Ÿคฃ

Thank God the cake was very well received!

The foodcart was kept for another round of celebrations for Love in school so it wasn't consumed at the family celebration where the strawberries n cream cake was consumed.

With love,
Phay Shing

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Thursday 12 March 2020

Chiffon Cake 'Tea Cups' filled with Tea Chiffon Cakes

Can you tell which are cakes and which are real cups? ๐Ÿง๐Ÿต 

Giving away these cute chiffon cake "tea cups" filled with yummy chocolatey and hot cross bun-flavoured tea chiffon cakes on my Instagram, as part of a collaboration with T2 teas. The cute "tea cups" are inspired by a chick, cat and bunny. The teas and tea cups are part of a newly launched tea set from T2 teas! Check out the IG post for more details.

Hope they made you smile!

With lots of love,

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Wednesday 11 March 2020

Nut-Free, Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Earl Grey Macarons (French method)

I have an upcoming request that requires me to make nut-free version of macarons. I thought it was as simple as making a one to one substitution for almond meal with nut-free alternatives but it turns out that is not the case. I did a quick search on the internet and all the recipes I found had significantly higher sugar content than what I normally use. This one to one substitution would have worked if I had been using higher icing sugar content recipe as my base. Being the rebel baker that I am, I refused to follow because I don't like to use lots of sugar in my bakes unless absolutely necessary. After a few attempts and some advice from chef Michelle Blaine whom I follow on Instagram, I admit defeat and settled for a recipe I am satisfied with ๐Ÿ˜…. Presenting my nut-free bear macarons filled with dairy-free Earl Grey ganache!

I began my experiment by using rice flour to substitute all of the almond flour. It made the batter really thick at the beginning of macaronage for french method but adding a tsp of unbeaten egg white towards the end of macaronage fixed that. I still could work with it but it took getting used to. The resulting macaron has texture that resembles meringue cookies. This is to be expected because of the lack of protein and fats. I tried substituting with pumpkin seed flour using my regular swiss and french method recipes. The batter had a consistency that became runnier more quickly than usual with folding. The batter was also stickier and took a longer time to dry than almond. I used a combination of rice and pumpkin seed flour and had a result that has a texture very close to almond based macaron shells but lacking in the almond aroma. This isn't too big a deal since macarons are supposed to take on the flavour of the filling. The batter was still stickier and runnier than usual.

Chef Michelle kindly shared with me the ratio of ingredients she uses for both Italian and French methods. The icing sugar content is higher than regular recipes for the dry ingredients portion. I had been avoiding using more sugar right from the start but it looked like these flours really needed to be balanced by higher proportion of icing sugar. I reduced the sugar content in the meringue portion a little to compensate for the increase in icing sugar content in the dry ingredients.

Pumpkin seed flour that I bought from a shop selling Traditional Chinese Medicine

I am sharing the French method recipe in this post.

Recipe for nut-free macaron shells
Dry ingredients
19g pumpkin seed flour
19g rice flour
62g icing sugar (with cornflour added)
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp charcoal powder

40g egg whites
30g icing sugar
1/2 tsp cornflour
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp fine salt (optional)
1 drop espresso gel colouring
1 drop egg yellow gel colouring

1. Sift all the dry ingredients together. Omit the charcoal and cocoa powders if making plain shells. Set aside.

2. Make the meringue. Whisk together icing sugar, cornflour and salt in a small bowl. In a clean metal bowk, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add icing sugar mix and beat until stiff peaks form. Add gel colouring and continue to beat until colour is evenly mixed and the meringue is able to ball up in the whisk, able to form really stiff peaks but appears smooth and not clumpy.

3. Scatter half of dry ingredients into meringue. Gently fold in with spatula until homogeneous. Scatter the other half of dry ingredients into batter and fold until combined. Then fold and press the batter against the sides of the mixing bowl to deflate the batter. Keep folding and pressing until batter is able to fall off spatula in a continuous manner. You may refer to this post for video tutorial of the basics of macaron making.

4. Transfer into piping bag fitted with wilton #8 or 10 tip and pipe the bear heads. Pipe bear heads on prepared tray with template and parchment paper (or teflon sheet or silicone mat if you prefer). Bamg tray on table to pop air bubbles.

For these bears, I used a method of drying and baking that I don't normally use because I was in a rush. Do what you are comfortable with when it comes to baking temperature and time. Just take note that the boundary between head and ears will be a weak one so allow for membrane to be formed before baking. Usually I would dry the piped batter in aircon room until
I am able to run a finger across the surface. I would preheat the oven to 170°C then redice the temperature immediately to 145°C and bake for 12 min, reduce temperature to 130°C and bake for another 5 to 10 min or until feet doesn't appear wet.

5. Put tray in middle rack of oven preheated to 70°C for 5 min. Check with finger if membrane is formed without taking macarons out of oven. If the batter still sticks to your fingers, wait for another 5 min and check again. Once membrane is formed, turn the temperature up to 130°C and bake for another 15-20 min or until feet no longer appears wet. Cool completely before removing from parchment paper.

I wanted to test out water based tea ganache as tea flavours and aroma are best brought out with boiling water and not milk or cream. I was really pleased how the ganache tasted especially after maturing! So full of Earl Grey aroma! Feel free to scale up the recipe for a larger batch.

Water-based Earl grey ganache
Chocolate base
30g dairy-free white chocolate, finely chopped or use chips (use regular white chocolate for dairy version)
6g cocoa butter (replace with white chocolate if you wish. I used this to reduce sweetness level imparted by white chocolate)
6g bitter dark chocolate couverture (73.5%, I added this to temper the sweetness of the filling. Replace with white chocolate if you wish)
10g vegetable shortening (use butter for dairy version)
1/8 tsp salt

Tea flavouring
5 Earl grey teabags (or 10g loose tea leaves, finely ground)
3 tsp (or 8g) Earl grey tea powder (this is different from tea leaves as it can be dissolved. Replace with some Earl grey tea leaves if unavailable)
45g boiling hot water

1. Steep 8g or 4 teabags worth of tea leaves in freshly boiled water. Let it steep for 5 min.

2. In the mean time, place all chocolate base ingredients into microwave safe bowl and melt together using medium-low heat. Chill in freezer for 2 min and whip/stir with spatula. Repeat freezing and stirring until it resembles buttercream texture.

3. Strain the tea leaves out and measure out 12g of concentrated tea. Dissolve 3 tsp of Earl Grey tea powder in the concentrated tea to form a paste in a small microwave safe bowl. Heat the paste for 10 sec using medium-low heat. And stir well. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Add it to the whipped chocolate base 1 tsp at a time and fold until combined.

4. Add 2g or 1 teabag of dry loose tea leaves/tea dust into the filling and mix well. Add 2g or 1 teabag worth of tea leaves that was previously soaked in hot water into the filling and mix well. Be careful to make sure the excess water had been squeezed out of the leaves before adding to the ganache. Do a taste test. If this is still not strong enough for you, you may add more soaked tea leaves that have been drained.

Fill the macaron shells and refrigerate forat least 24h before consuming.

I did a test to see how well the ganache holds up in a hot kitchen.

Not too bad ๐Ÿ˜Š. You can't really pipe rosettes with it at 32.3°C ambient temperature but it shouldn't melt into a puddle.

With love,
Phay Shing
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Thursday 5 March 2020

Black Sesame Koala Choux Pastry Class

If you are new to baking but would like to learn how to make a simple, cute and delicious treat, join me for this choux pastry class for making black sesame koalas!

The Choux pastries I make is not your soggy cream puffs that are bought from bakeri
es. I will teach you how to make the pastry cases light and crisp, such that it will be a delight to sink your teeth into when you pair it with cold, creamy and flavourful filling.

Please click on this link for registration and more details.

With love,
Phay Shing
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Wednesday 4 March 2020

Giant Macaron and Ice Cream Sundae Pusheen Chiffon Cakes

Giant macaron and giant ice cream sundae! Which is your favourite? <3

Made these for my dear daughter's birthday! She has turned 6 and I truly thank God for her.

She is a cat lover, so every year it is either cat or princess for now =p. These were also in her favourite colours.

These cakes were inspired by Pusheen's surprise toys series. I love Pusheen so much!

I didn't manage to snap a crumb shot in time, so here is a half eaten cake off my daughter's plate =p.

I had a scare last year when she was hospitalized for some time, so her birthday is truly precious to us. May she become a girl after God's heart!

For Pusheen fans, I also have collaborated with Pusheen on a super cute cookbook that is coming out in June! Preorder link here!

Hope you like these cute creations, made with lots of love!

With lots of love,

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Fastfood Themed Chocolate Cake

This is a fun bake covering quite a few genres of bakes. Presenting my version of fastfood themed birthday cake that is fondant-free!

Macaron "burger" filled with dark chocolate ganache "beef patty", modelling white chocolate pandan "lettuce", strawberry "tomatoes" and lemon "cheese; choux pastry "fries"; white chocolate "box" filled with chocolate pastry cream; all these on top of a semi-naked chocolate drip cake! 

The mainstream way of creating this fastfood theme is to use fondant for everything. The result will be something pretty but people are going to throw it away or eat very little of it. I wanted every single element to taste good with a variety of textures, and I wanted the recipient to have fun with it. I think you can tell that the birthday boy loves everything chocolate flavoured. This is a fairly long blog post as this creation has various genres of bakes involved. No detailed recipe here because I have recorded it in other posts but I will provide the links and any mentions of tweaks in the recipe to suit the nature of this creation. The order of presenting this post is roughly the order in which I baked the items. Some good planning is required because of this. 

Sauce box
I made the white chocolate box by thoroughly cleaning a McDonald's sauce box and using it as a mould for the melted white chocolate. I made 2 such boxes so I could use one for photography filled with chocolate pastry cream, and reserved another empty box for the recipient to fill just before serving. Be careful not to overheat white chocolate when you melt it as it will seize. I had to put the chocolate coated box into the freezer for 2 to 3 min before unmoulding because Singapore is really warm. You may refer to this post for the chocolate pastry cream recipe.  I tweaked the recipe a little by adding 30g of dark chocolate couverture along with the butter and folded 20g of whipped cream into pastry cream after it has cooled. This chocolate pastry cream is for the sauce as well as for the cake filling. Make the pastry cream only after the cake sponges have been baked as it has a shorter shelf life than the white chocolate box. 

Burger buns
I made the burger buns using the swiss meringue method recipe. You may refer to this post for the details. I added some cocoa powder, a drop of orange and yellow gel colouring to achieve the bun colour. I have also tweaked the swiss method recipe a little by replacing about 20% of the caster sugar in the meringue with icing sugar (with cornflour already added). 

Piped batter. Sprinkle some sesame seeds while batter is still wet. I had to make one large burger and many small ones. 

You may make the macaron shells ahead of time and store in airtight container for a few days before assembling.

Beef patty
This can be made in advance and kept in the fridge. I made a firm dark chocolate ganache and refrigerate until toothpaste consistency before whipping it with a spatula. Alternatively, you may leave the ganache at room temperature to firm up. This will take longer. I poured out the whipped ganache onto teflon sheet (you may use parchment paper or silicone mat), place another sheet of parchment over and used a rolling pin to roll it to 1cm thickness (or thinner if you prefer). I chilled the ganache until firm (at least half an hour) before cutting out circles with cookie cutter. I used a small fork to poke little indents into the sides of the cutouts to create some texture that looks like beef patty. Keep the tray of ganache cutouts chilled until ready to assemble.

You may use the recipe in this post for a firm dark chocolate ganache but reduce the amount of cream further by 5-10g, depending on the climate you live in. Use a firmer ganache (less cream) if you have to work in a hot kitchen like me.

Reserve the excess ganache as glue for assembling the parts together. Transfer the excess ganache into a piping bag and leave it at room temperature until softened before assembly.

Cheese, tomatoes and lettuce
For the modelling chocolate cheese, tomatoes and lettuce, I used the ratio of 5:1 by weight for white chocolate : light corn syrup. You may refer to this post for details of how to make the modelling chocolate. It works like fondant but taste better! Please use a higher ratio of cornsyrup to white chocolate if you live in colder climates. It is very hot and humid here in Singapore all year round. I added the pandan paste, strawberry paste or lemon paste when the corn syrup is added to the melted white chocolate. I just add a few drops of the paste and add a drop of gel colouring to deepen the shades as necessary. After kneading the modelling chocolate, I rolled them out between parchment paper and chill until firm before cutting out using square or circle cookie cutters. I used a fondant tool for thinning out the edges of the lettuce to make it more realistic. Place the cutouts on parchment paper lined trays and keep it chilled in the fridge if you live in hot climate like Singapore until you are ready to assemble.

Modelling chocolate pieces. I made the parts for small and large burgers

Assembly of burger

Begin by piping a thin layer of ganache on the bottom macaron shell. Gently but firmly press a piece of lettuce. Pipe a little ganache and then layer on the cheese. In a simolsr aay, use the ganache to glue on the tomatoes and chilled beef patties. You may layer it in any order you wish. End off with the top burger bun.

I made some regular sized "burgers" as well!  The big one for the centerpiece is 9cm in diameter.

Regular sized "burger" macarons

This version of fries does not only look like the real thing. It is fun to eat and tastes delicious too when eaten with the "sauce". Yoy may refer to this post for the choux pastry recipe. Add a few drops of yellow gel colouring to the batter. Pipe lines of batter using a wilton #8 tip and bake at 170°C for 10-12min or until puffy and very slightly browned. The pastry should be baked through but not totally crisp yet. You may bake longer until totally crisp, or if you want to shape it to make it look more realistic, Do what I did. I took the pastries out at around 10 to 11 min mark and once cool enough to handle, I used my fingers to gently shape the ends of the fries to make it more blockish. I gently shaped the length of the fries to make the round cylindrical shape to be more of a rectangle block shape.

Piped choux pastry batter for fries

Place the shaped fries back in the oven to bake at 140°C until totally crisp and dry. This may take another 20 min or so. Test one or two to check for doneness.

Drying out the choux fries. 

Store in airtight condition at room temperature after cooling. Do not refrigerate.

Here's the picture of the assembled fastfood platter! I coated the cakeboard with blue royal icing as blue is the birthday boy's favourite colour.

Ta-dah! I made a little macaron sign with the birthday message as well! 

A closer view at the choux fries 

Dipping into the chocolate pastry cream! 

Chocolate cream coated fry! Yums! 

Dark chocolate drip cake
As for the base cake, I used my default ultimate chocolate cake that have always received rave reviews. You may refer to this post for the detailed recipe.

I frosted the sides semi-naked style with chocolate ganache 

I tweaked the filling recipe a little as the chocolate custard I made was meant to be shared with the "sauce" in the sauce box, with dark chocolate couverture and a bit of whipped cream already added in. I folded extra whipped cream into the ganache as I had leftover whipped cream from the portion I made for the "sauce". This also served to lighten up  the filling by balancing the richer chocolate custard. You may use any proportion of chocolate custard, chocolate ganache, and additional whipped cream (if using) . You can make it richer (by adding more dark chocolate) or lighter (by adding more whipped cream)

Thank God the cake was really well received, and the kids at the party had fun eating the "fries" dipped in "sauce"!

With love,
Phay Shing
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