Saturday 30 September 2023

Pokeball 3D Cookies with a Hidden Surprise

 Over the years many people have made edible Pokeballs out of chocolate and hid surprises inside. I have to confess I dislike working with chocolate for structures or construction because my home kitchen is on an average 29-30C, RH 65-80% all year round, with some days out of the range in either direction. This makes it almost impossible to temper chocolate and handle it for assembly. I only do dry work in the aircon room like drying piped macaron batter or packaging marshmallows.

I made the Pokeballs out of cookies instead!

The surprise inside is chocolate coated marzipan balls from Marks and Spencer


Putting marzipan balls in the cookie cavity

Because I didn't take the chocolate route, this was more time consuming to create as I needed to bake the cookies and coat them with royal icing. Thankfully, Julia Usher shared multiple detailed videos on how to create spherical/hemispherical iced cookie structures so I had a very good guide on how to make them. Do checkout her YouTube channel for the videos!

I used Julia's cookie recipe but omitted the spices and replaced it with a little cocoa powder. I only had the dark molasses on hand at home so the cookies appear darker. You can also use honey instead. As I only needed a small amount of dough, I reduced the portion by a few times. I used my default royal icing recipe with a little light corn syrup added to soften to texture a little.

Another thing I learnt in this project is making and using fondant from scratch. I thought long and hard about how to create the details of the Pokeball and came to the conclusion that fondant is still the best. Although I used homemade marzipan or modelling chocolate for details that are fondant-like in the past, I wanted something that is easier to handle (than modelling chocolate) in my hot and humid environment, and appear less grainy (than marzipan as almond flour grains may show a little in marzipan). I will still consider modelling chocolate and marzipan for future projects if they are appropriate because they taste good, just not for this project.

I chanced upon recipes by Veena Azmanov for homemade fondant which doesn't taste as bad as I thought! I have to stress that it has to be made from scratch and not from store bought marshmallows, for homemade fondant to taste good. I have avoided working with fondant because they don't taste good. Well I am proven wrong with homemade ones, especially when black cocoa powder is used for black๐Ÿ˜‹! I used this recipe for white fondant and this recipe for black fondant. I made really small batches since I only needed a little fondant and won't be using it in the foreseeable future. 

Here's a reel for the process of making these cookies! Pardon the lack of coverage during most of the fondant parts as I didn't want to have to focus on the camera while working with the sticky mess that took me some time to get the hang of it ๐Ÿ˜†. It turned out I needed to knead in a lot more icing sugar/ cornstarch mix for it to be workable because of my hot and humid working conditions.

https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cx0K3Sty8gF/?igshid=MWZjMTM2ODFkZg==

I managed to make a dozen of them!


It was a good learning experience throughout the whole process and my chocoholic elder kid happily ate all the cut Pokeballs (I cut a few of them for taking videos and taste testing) . One of them is going on top of a macaron carousel. Stay tuned for it!


with love,

Phay Shing




Read More »

Wednesday 20 September 2023

BT21 Cherry Blossom Scene (a marshmallow & cookie creation)

 My friend requested a creation from me to surprise his girlfriend who is a BT21 fan. A picture of the whole squad in a cherry blossom field was sent to me along with the request. He was kind enough to give me an open date and let my imagination go wild. Presenting my version of the scene made out of marshmallows and cookies!


This was before I scattered the cherry blossom "petals".


And this is the reference picture!


I refused to use a huge cakeboard or make the characters really tiny so it isn't an exact replica but I tried my best to capture the essence of the scene.

I made the tree trunks and base out of cookies using my favourite brown sugar cookie recipe but I replaced brown sugar with regular sugar. The characters and foliage are made out of marshmallows. The sakura petals are made out of wafer paper coloured pink with lustre dust. I used royal icing and store bought sugar flowers for the other details.

Here are some pictures of the trees and characters before assembly!


The characters have not been dusted yet in these pictures. I make duplicates of each character in case of accidental uglification 

I used templates for my marshmallows and it helps a lot because I can't do freehand piping of characters very well. I will show you the technique in detail in my upcoming Deco Marshmallows book.

Here's a reel for what went on behind the scenes:

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CxaersoykFw/?igshid=MWZjMTM2ODFkZg==


Thank God the surprise was very well received!


with love,

Phay Shing

Read More »

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Bear Red Velvet Tiramisu Cups

 


Tiny cups of bear-y deliciousness: coffee-infused red velvet hearts, cuddled between layers of mascarpone cream and cocoa magic! ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿฅฐ 
Assembly video here
More detailed recipe can be found in my previous post

With lots of love, 
Susanne 

Read More »

Monday 11 September 2023

Earl Grey Pear Chiffon Cake

 If I had a choice, I would rename the title of this post as "Earl Grey Honey Milk Tea Vanilla Pear and Lime Chiffon Cake" but that would be too long and a big mouthful to read out aloud ๐Ÿ˜†. But that's the true representation of this really aromatic, refreshing and yummy cake!


I made not just one but two such cakes! One for my dad's birthday and another for my uncle's birthday.


The pears on top are actually made of chiffon cake. This is the Instagram reel on how to make it:


The large cakes are made up of:
- Earl grey honey milk tea chiffon sponges
- Earl grey pear tea with honey agar jelly 
- Pear and lime compote with brown sugar and honey
- Chantilly cream

I have to thank Lizzy (@homecookinglizzy Instagram account ) for the inspiration for this cake flavour and the recipe for the pear and lime compote. It's amazing ๐Ÿ˜.

I was trying out baking without using steam baking but with a different baking temperature profile to see if it works too. Fan mode was used when I usually use top and bottom heat only. My conclusion is, there isn't really much difference in results from my usual temperature profile which starts at a higher temperature and then gradually lowering it, while using steam baking.

Earl Grey pear tea
This is used for making the chiffon "pears" and the agar jelly.

Ingredients:
1 large ripe Packham pear, peeled and grated
2 Earl Grey tea bags
1/2 tsp black tea powder (or 1 Earl Grey tea bag)
1 stick of cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
400ml water

Steps:
1. Place all ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.

2. Turn off heat and leave it to cool completely. Discard cinnamon stick. Squeeze out the tea bags. Sieve the Earl Grey pear tea through fine sieve. Store in airtight glass container refrigerated until needed. You may prepare this 1-2 days in advance.


Earl Grey pear tea chiffon cake "pears"
Ingredients (makes about 15-16 pears):
Egg yolk batter
2 egg yolks
28g vegetable oil
28g Earl Grey pear tea
40g cake flour
Pinches of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Green and yellow gel food colouring
1/2 tsp Earl Grey tea leaves from tea bag (optional)
Cinnamon stick cut to thin slivers (for pear stems)

Meringue
2 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
38g caster sugar

Steps:
1. Wash egg shells and remove membrane inside. Air dry completely before using. Use silicone hemisphere tray, muffin cases or disposable cupcake cases to hold each eggshell upright.

2. Preheat oven to 120-130C fan mode.

3. Prepare egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolks until pale and thick. Add oil and whisk until well combined. Add tea, salt and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Gradually sift in flour and whisk until no trace of flour is seen. You may add some tea leaves from a tea bag to the flour before sifting together to add black specks on the pear to mimic real pears. Set aside.

4. Make the meringue. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until firm peaks or just reach stiff peaks, gradually adding sugar once egg whites are foamy. 

5. Quickly but gently fold meringue into egg yolk batter in three additions. Transfer into large piping bag. Cut a hole about 7-8mm. Fill the egg shells about 2/3-3/4 full.


6. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Increase temperature to 160C and bake for another 5 minutes. Leave to cool completely before cutting off the excess cake that rose out of the egg shell. Crack the egg shells with the back of metal spoon and gently releasing the cake. Adjust baking temperature and time according to your oven as each oven is different. 

7. Use a strip of cling wrap to tie a knot at where you want the "waist" of the pear to appear on each cake. Leave it for 10-15 minutes before untying it. I was impatient and didn't want to use so much plastic so I just did it one at a time, using the time to unmould each cake as the length of time to "strangle" the previous cake. The sponge would bounce back a little but I just shape it with my fingers again.


8. Insert a sliver of cinnamon stick for the pear stem. You may use chocolate if you wish but I prefer something that is less fragile and easier to handle in hot and humid Singapore. 



9. Brush the surface of the sponge with syrup (1:2 sugar: hot water) and store in airtight condition in the fridge. You may store at room temperature too if consuming within 3 days.


Don't they look cute?๐Ÿ˜

Earl Grey pear tea with honey agar jelly
I portion the jelly ingredients such that the jelly layer I set in my silicone tray is about 7-8mm thick. My tray is about 8" in diameter.

Ingredients:
270g Earl Grey pear tea
40g honey
5g agar powder
Zest of 1 large lime (calamamsi), optional

Steps:
1. Put cold or room temperature tea in saucepan. Scatter agar powder over and whisk. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes. 

2. Add honey and lime zest. Bring to boil while whisking frequently.  Simmer for 3 minutes while whisking. 

3. Pour mixture through a very fine sieve into tray. Leave it to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 1 h.

4. Use a small teardrop shaped cutter (or any other shape you like) to cut out pieces for lining the sides of the cakes. Finely chop the remaining leftover jelly for adding to the filling in the middle with the pear and lime compote. Keep the cutouts and finely chopped pieces covered and refrigerated until needed.

Pear and lime compote 
Ingredients:
3 ripe but firm pears, peeled and finely chopped
2 large limes (calamamsi), zest and juice
45g light brown sugar
15g honey
15g water
1/8 tsp salt

Steps:
1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until pear appears translucent.  Set aside to cool completely. You may prepare this a day in advance. Store in refrigerator if preparing in advance.



Earl Grey honey milk tea chiffon cakes
Ingredients (makes one 15cm and one 17cm chiffon cake in tube pans*):
Egg yolk batter
7 egg yolks
80g vegetable oil
110g Earl Grey honey milk tea**
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
5g black tea powder***
145g cake flour

Meringue
7 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
105g caster sugar

*Please scale recipe according to your chiffon cake tin size. Use 2 or 3 egg portion for 15cm and 4 egg portion for 17cm tin.

** Dissolve 55g of honey in 100g of milk by heating and stirring in a saucepan. Remove from heat once honey is dissolved and milk is steaming hot. Soak 6 Earl Grey teabags for 10-15 minutes. Squeeze out as much tea as you can from the tea bags. Portion out 110g for use. Top up with more milk if amount is not enough.

***Extra notes: You may replace tea powder with more Earl Grey tea bags if you don't have it, adjust amount according to taste and brand. The tea powder I use is able to dissolve in water. You may add milk powder if you wish the taste to be milkier. I omitted it although Lizzy added it, because the sponges are eaten with dairy cream instead of eaten alone or without pairing with something milky.

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 120-130C fan mode. Set oven rack to second lower position.

2. Dissolve black tea powder in Earl Grey honey milk tea if using. Set aside.

3. Prepare egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolks until pale and thick. Add oil and whisk until well combined. Add tea, salt and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Gradually sift in flour and whisk until no trace of flour is seen. Set aside.

4. Make the meringue. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until firm peaks or just reach stiff peaks, gradually adding sugar once egg whites are foamy. 

5. Quickly but gently fold meringue into egg yolk batter in three additions. Pour into chiffon cake tins until batter is about 1" below the rim. Run a chopstick along the base and sides of the tin to pop any large air bubbles.

6. Bake for 1h - 1h 10 minutes. The cakes don't brown at all in my oven at this temperature. Increase temperature to 160C and bake for another 7-10 minutes or until tops appear a little browned. Immediately invert the tins to cool completely before unmoulding by hand. Slice each cake horizontally into 3 slices. I sliced into 4 so that I can fill the hole in the middle with circular cutouts from the fourth slice.

Chantilly cream
You may use any type of cream or combination of cream you like according to taste preference and ambient conditions that you are serving the cake. Non-dairy holds up the best, is pre-sweetened and impossible to overwhip. Heavy cream tastes the best but may need stabilizers like gelatin and sugar, and tends to be over whipped more easily if not careful. You may also use double cream which has higher fat content than heavy cream, tastes great too but able to hold its shape better in warmer conditions. I use a combination of non-dairy and double cream to get the best of both worlds of taste, stability and ease of handling. I use a ratio of 2:3 for non-dairy : double cream.

Make sure sponge cakes are sliced and all filling ingredients are ready before whipping the cream. Use it immediately to assemble the cakes.

Ingredients:
250g Whip topping (non-dairy whipping cream)
375g double cream (45% fat)

Steps:
1. Whip non-dairy whipping cream until stiff. Set aside.

2. Whisk double cream until loosened and able to hold some soft to firm peaks. Be careful not to over whisk or it will split. That's why I recommend using the hand whisk instead of electric mixer for this.

Whisked double cream till soft-firm peak

3. Gradually fold in whipped non-dairy cream into double cream until well combined.

Assembly
1. Place a slice of sponge on 7 or 8" cakeboard. Wrap an acetate sheet around the cake and tape it in place. Fill the hole with a sponge cutout if you wish.

2. Brush the sponge with some syrup from the compote. 

3. Spread a thin layer of cream over the sponge.

4. Slide agar jelly cutouts down the sides of the acetate sheet so that there is no air gap. Line the whole circumference of the cake with the jelly.

5. Transfer some cream into piping bag with a small hole (4-5mm) cut. Pipe cream around the jelly cutouts, making sure there is no air gap. Use a skewer or chopstick to nudge the cream if you see air gaps from the outside. 

6. Fill the middle with pear and lime compote and chopped bits of Earl Grey pear tea jelly.


7. Cover with cream and smoothen it relatively flat.

8. Carefully insert second sponge layer. Fill hole with sponge cutout if you wish.

9. Repeat steps 2-8.

10. Cover the top with cling wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before removing the acetate sheet. You may leave the acetate sheet in place if you wish until ready to serve. Keep refrigerated and consume within 3-5 days. 

My family loved the cake because it is so light, refreshing and fragrant, with a good balance of flavours! I thought the addition of lime to Earl Grey and pear an unusual one but it turned out very well! Here's a peek at the messy yummy slices!



To be honest, I would have filled the "pears" with some cream and compote as well but these cakes came at a very busy period for me with multiple deadlines happening around the same time. I decided to keep things simpler. If you would like to know how to fill the pears, you may refer to my apple black tea chiffon cake apples or chiffon strawberries posts.


with lots of love,

Phay Shing

Read More »

Saturday 9 September 2023

Pineapple Chiffon Roll Cake

 


Rolling into good times with this Pineapple chiffon roll cake๐Ÿ๐Ÿ’• ! Ong Lai Huat ah =). For the uninitiated, the pineapple was the symbol for our newly elected president! Some Chinese also like to roll the pineapple through a new house/office. I was inspired to make this pineapple chiffon from a roll cake, and it is also for a friend. It is also a tribute to our new president! The cake has pineapple whipped cream, as well as mini pineapple surprises inside =). 

 Watch the video tutorial here: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cw6XeWsP7nX

I'm opening up a Hands-on Class on Oct 6th for Pineapple chiffon cake, following some requests from friends. Sign up here if you are keen =). 

With lots of love,

Susanne


Read More »

Monday 4 September 2023

Snow Skin Mooncakes: Basics, Green Tea & Ombre with a Surprise (Video tutorial)

 I have been commissioned by Phoon Huat to create a video tutorial for snowskin mooncakes made using their ingredients and plunger moulds. Those of you not in Singapore may wonder if there's any point in going through this blog post then. Yes there is! The basics and patterning techniques shown here can be applied to other recipes using cooked or raw glutinous rice flour. I will include blog links to my other recipes without using the premix at the end of this post.


Feel free to upsize the portion to 12 mooncakes but I don't recommend working more than that in one round if you are making the ombre version or making coloured patterns like the green tea version as the dough gets more difficult to work with when you let it rest for too long regardless of the recipe/method you use. I colour my snowskin mooncakes using natural sources like Matcha powder and fresh pink dragonfruit puree that has been sieved. Feel free to use food coloring of your choice or other natural sources of colouring!

Here's the YouTube video tutorial:

Basic Snow Skin Mooncake
Ingredients (makes 6 mooncakes with 50g flower mould):
100g snow skin premix, sifted
20g vegetable shortening
50-55g cold water
Food colouring or flavouring of choice (optional)
150-160g lotus paste (or any filling of choice)
2 tsp (6g) melon seeds, toasted (optional, use more filling if omitting)

1. Toast melon seeds if using. It adds a nice crunch & breaks the monotonous texture of the filling

2. Knead melon seeds into lotus paste. Divide into 26-28g portions

3. Rub-in shortening into sifted snow skin premix until very fine crumbs form

4. Add colouring &/or flavouring into cold water. Optional as premix already has milk powder added for a milky flavour. Use less water if adding liquid flavouring.

5. GRADUALLY add water & knead until dough forms for premix to absorb as much water as possible to keep snow skin moist longer.

6. Continue kneading until dough is smooth & elastic.

7. Cover & rest for 10-15 min to relax dough

8. Divide dough into 26-28g portions

9. Lightly dust mould & cling wrap work surface with a little premix

10. Flatten a portion of dough, sandwiching it between cling wrap. I use a wooden coaster as a handy tool for flattening the dough.

11. Wrap a portion of filling with the help of cling wrap. Pinch seal the opening

12. Lightly coat mooncake with premix. Roll between palms until diameter is able to fit into the mould easily

13. Press mooncake into mould, using fingers to press in around the edges for smooth & well-defined looking sides

14. Press plunger FIRMLY onto a flat work surface. Patterns won't be distinct if you don't press hard enough. Push mooncake out. Brush off excess dusting


Here's the reel for the basics:


I made Instagram reels as well if you need some thing a little faster paced.

STORAGE & CONSUMPTION TIPS
Store in airtight condition in the fridge. Best consumed within 3-5 days. Leave at room temperature for 20 minutes before eating to soften cold snow skin. Snow Skin mooncakes tend to harden from the third day onwards so it really makes a difference to let the cold mooncakes soften at room temperature before you eat it. Proper storage is important to help to keep the mooncakes moist longer. Make sure there is minimal air gap between mooncake and the container. You may cover with cling wrap to help minimize the air gap. Repeated opening and closing of the box also releases a lot of moisture so you may want to keep each one individually covered if you want to keep the snow skin as soft as possible for a longer time. 


Green Tea Snow Skin Mooncake
Ingredients:
100g snow skin premix, sifted
20g vegetable shortening
27g cold water
27g hot water
1/4-1/2 tsp matcha powder
150-160g green tea lotus paste 
2 tsp (6g) melon seeds, toasted 

1. Whisk matcha powder in hot water. Cover & refrigerate for at least 2h

2. Knead toasted melon seeds into green tea lotus paste. Divide into 26-28g portions.

3. Rub-in shortening into sifted premix until very fine crumbs form. Divide into two 60g portions

4. GRADUALLY add cold water/matcha & knead until dough forms & is smooth & elastic

5. Cover & rest the dough for 10-15 min

6. Divide each coloured dough into 26-27g portions. Set aside a few grams for patterning. Keep any dough left idle covered with cling wrap

7. Lightly dust flower mould of choice with premix or cooked glutinous rice flour. Cover the pattern with a little dough. Don't overfill the pattern or the dough will spill over to adjacent sections when pressed. Press dough into pattern with your finger. Cover finger with cling wrap if dough tends to stick to your finger.

8. Wrap green tea filling with colour of dough that is different from pattern dough. Insert into mould & press the mooncake out.

Ombre Fuchsia Snow Skin Mooncake with Kinder Bueno Surprise

Ingredients:
100g snow skin premix, sifted
20g vegetable shortening
27g cold water + 1/8 tsp pink dragonfruit puree (sieved)
20g cold water + 1.5 tsp pink dragonfruit puree
6 mini Kinder Bueno
120g lotus paste

1. Divide lotus paste into 20g portions. Wrap Kinder Bueno with lotus paste.

2. Rub-in shortening into sifted premix until very fine crumbs form. Divide into two 60g portions

3. GRADUALLY add concentrated/diluted dragonfruit water & knead until dough forms & is smooth & elastic

4. Mix 7-8g of dough from each colour to form a shade of fuchsia that is in-between

5. Cover & rest the dough for 10-15 min

6. Divide light & dark fuchsia into three 24g portions & three 1g portions. Divide dough in step 4 into six 2-3g portions. Try to work quickly & keep dough that is left idle covered

7. Place 24g of dark/light fuchsia dough on lightly dusted cling wrap. Press a ball of 2-3g fuchsia dough on top followed by a ball of 1g light/dark fuchsia dough. Cover with cling wrap & press flat

8. Flip flattened dough with ombre side down. Wrap filling with dough. Insert into mould & press the mooncake out. Don't worry if the ombre pattern is a little off-center. It will still look pretty!

Here's the reel for making patterned green tea snow skin mooncake and ombre fuchsia with Kinder Bueno surprise filling:


Alternative Recipes
Some of you may have preferences for types of ingredients used or you may not have access to cooked glutinous rice flour. Here are some alternatives you may refer to.

My favourite default recipe uses cooked glutinous rice flour and you can choose to use the premix if you wish. It is able to keep moist and soft for the longest time, about a week, if stored properly. If you expose it too much in the fridge or use too much flour for dusting, it will still dry out faster. The texture of the snow skin is like soft mochi for the first two days so if you prefer it more snow skin-like, wait for 3 days before consuming. I adapted it from Ann Low's recipe.

This recipe uses oil for those of you who prefer not to use vegetable shortening. It also uses cooked glutinous rice flour.

Those of you who are not able to get a hold of cooked glutinous rice flour may wish to use this recipe instead that uses raw glutinous rice flour. It is more work but the texture is really good too! This recipe uses oil too. I adapted it from Kenneth Goh's recipe and provided the link in my post if you wish to see the original recipe.



with love,
Phay Shing
Read More »