Tag Archives: macarons

The Pleasure Monger serving up at Plusixfive tonight!

Hello everyone! Just dropping by quickly to make an announcement, well…sort of anyway, because something’s big happening tonight at a mysterious location in London and I’m part of it!

Those residing in London may have heard of (if you haven’t, I wonder if you’ve been living under a rock…) PlusixfiveTHE supperclub that has been making waves in the dining scene with its kick-ass Singaporean food. Now, head chef gozgozgoz has kindly invited me to serve up some sweets tonight (some of you may have caught wind of this on Twitter, and boy, am I glad that gozgozgoz thinks I’m worthy of his supperclub)! It kinda came at a good and bad time. You see, I have been toying with the idea of doing the whole baking thing on a small-scale commercial basis after receiving some requests to do dessert tables for weddings in Singapore (I can’t do this ladies, because I’m not based in Singapore..unfortunately), but never had the guts/opportunity to do it, so this was the perfect thing to be commissioned for. The bad really showed up unannounced when I ran into some oven trouble last week and I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to deliver. After a whole week of troubleshooting, I’m happy (and relieved) to present my Gula Melaka Salted Caramel Buttercream Macarons, and a new-and-improved version of my Lychee Chiffon Cake for the supperclub tonight!

This may be nothing much for all you funky, cool, talented chefs out there, but for a nondescript home cook like me, this fares pretty high up on the list. Wish me luck, everyone! And to all who are attending the supperclub tonight, I hope you enjoy the dinner (and the sweets, hehe)!

*Updated: This post is featured on Tastespotting. Check out my profile on  Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!

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Macarons: Be Inspired

I am often asked by readers how I first came to even think about making macarons, how I conquered the wretched task of growing feet on them, how I conjure up flavours and how I style them as I do today. The truth is, I’m mad, mostly, and I’m a flawed perfectionist. Oxymoron, no? Let me explain.

Mad to want to continue making macarons even though sometimes I get slapped in the face with cracked shells and uneven feet, because I really quite enjoy the process of nurturing them into being, and watching my delighted friends savour (or at least they pretend to…) these treats. But a lot of times, I do this at the expense of immense frustration and foul moods that come with getting it all wrong. Sadistic…..? Yes, just a little bit.

And I really do seek perfection in everything I do or make, macarons included. I try my darndest to get them to look right, taste right and even the process has to feel right. If the shells are a tad too chewy, or too crispy, I am inclined to throw them away (although M thinks it’s a waste of food and stops me from doing so now…). If they look wrinkly, they go straight to the bin. If the flavours don’t come together, again, bin-bound. If they look, taste, and feel right, but I don’t style them well, I feel like crap, as if I have wasted the few hours making them.

So it takes the attitude of a perfectionist for me to pursue the whole shebang of making macarons, because I constantly am seeking ways to make them better and better, and I won’t rest until I do. Unfortunately, I am flawed and I’m not a complete whiz at making macarons, so I never quite get them to be perfect. Come to think of it, it might just well be this flawed-slash-perfectionist nature of mine that empowers me with dogged determination when it comes to making macarons.

Above all, I am inspired to make them. And the very man who inspires me (other than M, of course) to do so is none other than pastry maestro, Pierre Hermé, himself. Ever since I had my first bite of his macarons, I never looked back. I was intrigued and captivated by the ingenious flavours that he came up with. And I grew very curious as to how this man could pack so much flavour into such a tiny and delicate mouthful. Before I knew it, I was getting busy in the kitchen, trying ways and means to dig deep into the mystery that were macarons, experimenting like I used to when I was a scientist, troubleshooting problems, discovering the tricks of the trade, playing with colours, dreaming up of flavours that would please my palate, capturing the beauty that belonged exclusively to macarons. My world was changed.

So imagine my delight when I was invited to meet Pierre Hermé for an interview at the Quintessentially Epicure event in early September. And imagine my horror when I realised it fell on the same day as my graduation. Both were once-in-a-lifetime events, but my family was here and I couldn’t possibly miss my own graduation. I was gutted to miss the event and I thought I would never have the chance to meet Pierre Hermé again.

Boy, was I wrong! Just this afternoon, I was invited to attend Pierre Hermé’s book signing event at the Belgravia boutique in London, to celebrate the release of the English edition of his ‘Macaron’ book (which I bought a couple of weeks ago!). And this time, I’m fighting tooth and nail to see him!

So, calling all Pierre Hermé fans, do drop by the boutique on 4 November 2011 Friday, from 4.30p to 6pm, and be inspired by the man himself! If you happen to see me hugging my Macaron book with a silly big grin on my face, please do say hi!

(Weeeeeeeee!!)

Address: Pierre Hermé Paris, 13 Lowndes Street, London SW1

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey.

*Updated: This post is featured on Tastespotting. Check out my profile on  Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

Happy Birthday, My Little Red Dot

London. A city where M and I chase our dreams, and perhaps even living other people’s dreams. It is fun and exciting. There’s always something to do. The summers are so irresistible and pretty that they make up for all the crap weather that rain relentlessly on us during other seasons. One smells freedom in the air – there are barely any boundaries to what we can do and where we can go.

Sounds perfect, no? Here’s the newflash – nothing is and ever will be. Despite everything we’ve got going on over here, all the milestones that we’ve crossed, and everything that we’ve achieved, we miss home dearly. We miss Singapore.

Some have fondly christened Singapore ‘The Little Red Dot’, for its incredibly small size, so small that it only appears as a red dot at the tip of the Malaysia Peninsula on the world map. But small it might be next to giants in the neighbourhood, Singapore is a whole lot of everything for us.

Singapore is love. Our family and friends are there. Our parents in particular have supported us in all the tough choices we’ve made, even though it is not easy for them. This year, I lived out one of my worst fears when bad news hailed from home. I’m just thankful to the big man upstairs that everything has blown over, and that home will always be home, with my family smiling back at me whenever they pick me up from the airport. Those smiles, hugs and the tender strokes on my head when I am feeling down, they are so very precious.

Singapore is everything else and beyond. Stability, efficiency, safety, we’ve got it going as perfectly as any other country can even dream of.

Think about all the social unrest in other cities. Right now, I’m thinking of the London riots and I shudder at how a developed city could descend into such chaos. Then my thoughts wander back to Singapore and realise how fortunate we are. As M put it very succinctly in one of our conversations yesterday – in London, we have to look out for places that are safe; in Singapore, we have to look hard for places that aren’t.

Things work as efficiently as they can possibly be in Singapore. Public transport letting you down? Trains not coming on time? The city crippled because of strikes? Trains packed to the point where you have to wait ages to board another one? Try living here. Getting banks/organisations to do what you went there to do – try waiting and people even die here while waiting in hospitals. I was in a horseback riding accident once and guess what, the nurse-led unit said I had to be flown to another city in UK to get an X-ray done. Go figure. (Well come to think of it, at least I could be flown, in other undeveloped countries, people walk for a day to get a checkup and even to give birth.)

My point is, every country has its trophies and skeletons. London offers many opportunities, both for carving out a livelihood and for leisure. It gives us freedom, the room to be creative and to think out of the box. But it is freckled. I’m sure there’s much to complain about Singapore too, seeing the debates that recent elections have sparked off. We don’t have that much freedom, we are controlled, some even say we’re puppeted, but I love The Little Red Dot nonetheless. After all, it is home. We have much to be proud of for a young, miniscule country with no natural resources whatsoever next to global giants. Our forefathers built our country with their very hands and little else. I hope we can go on and do the same for our children. Here’s to 46 years of independence and magnificent strides into the future, and more to come!

Happy Birthday, my Little Red Dot. We’ll be home soon.

[Photos: Palm Sugar and Coconut Salted Butter Caramel Macarons specially made for this occasion, from yours truly to you]

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey.

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post has been featured on Tastespotting. Check out my profile on Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!

 

The Day I Called On Pierre Hermé…And A Giveaway!

[ANNOUNCEMENT] We have a winner! Congratulations, Sam Becker, you have won the 16-piece Macaron Assortment from Pierre Hermé! We will be in touch with you shortly via email to arrange for the delivery of the macarons to you. I hope you enjoy the macarons!

To everyone else, thank you all for your comments and participation in this giveaway – I know many will be disappointed at not winning this, hopefully there will be more to come for everyone! Otherwise, I’d strongly recommend you to pop by the boutique and get yourself some macarons, they are completely worth the trip!

Friends and family, shakers and movers of this blog, you know how much I love Pierre Hermé, don’t you? If you don’t, all’s forgiven, don’t worry – because it’s never too late to know that I really, really do. So, imagine my delight (well, delight is an understatement, because I was literally bouncing off the walls) when the good people at Pierre Hermé came knocking on my door.

‘Rachel, would you like to drop by our boutique for a visit?’

‘Hell YEAH!’ 

I would be a fool not to, because this, oh this invitation, is akin to winning the Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

As I stepped into the chic Pierre Hermé Paris boutique at Lowndes Street, I was Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. The boutique offers a wider selection of Pierre Hermé products than the shop at Selfridges; in fact, it offers the same selection as that in eight out of the ten Parisian shops. There are macarons (but of course), chocolates, tea blends, jams, pound cakes, scented candles and even recipe books available at the Lowndes Street boutique – it took every sane fibre of my being not to go on rampage in the shop. I just wanted to get my hands dirty with every(damnrightdelicious)thing that Pierre Hermé has created.

It’s no wonder why I would feel this way. Pierre Hermé seeks perfection and pleasure in everything he creates. Once hailed as ‘the Picasso of Pastry’ by Vogue, Pierre Hermé has revolutionised the flavours, textures and the art that is pastry-making, and he owes this passion and constant seek for perfection to the lineage of pastry chefs that he came from, the training with the master Gaston Lenôtre, and his Alsatian heritage. Olivier, the manager, also shared that even the boutique decor, packaging and branding were carefully composed – as a result, Pierre Hermé’s products are now well-known and synonymous with perfection. Indeed, having stepped into the boutiques in London and Paris, and sampled a fair bit of Pierre Hermé’s creations, I can testify to all this. I’ve been to many elite pâtisseries during my time in Europe, I have to say that the quality of the pastries created by Pierre Hermé is and remains truly unsurpassed; one bite is all it takes for one to know what perfection should taste like. The pilgrimage that many travellers make to the Pierre Hermé boutiques in Japan, France and London is also testament to how highly revered these refined treats are.

For the uninitiated, you might want to know what treats I’m referring to. Now, I consider myself pretty fortunate to have easy access to Pierre Hermé as I live in London. But with this Golden Ticket, I consider myself even luckier and very humbled by what I was about to sample, thanks to the team at Pierre Hermé. I have to say that it was pretty embarrassing for me to try and stifle my X-rated gasps at the Lowndes Street boutique as I bit into each macaron. That’s the magical thing, you see…I am so familiar with most of the flavours (because I run to the shop at Selfridges whenever I have cravings) and yet, Pierre Hermé’s macarons never fail to surprise me every single time. I am always bowled over by the symphony of flavours, whether it’s the classic ones like Infiniment Caramel (Salted Butter Caramel) or the seasonal ones such as Huile D’Olive & Vanille (Olive Oil & Vanilla) or Asperge Verte & Huile De Noisette (Green Asparagus & Hazelnut Oil). The textures were perfectly balanced, as always, with the slightly crispy and chewy shell giving way to melt-in-your-mouth filling perfumed in the most pleasurable ways. The thing about these macarons is they always tease, please and inspire me – take for example my latest experiment, Sunflower Seed Macarons with Black Truffle Salted White Chocolate Ganache, which was inspired by Pierre Hermé’s Truffle Blanche & Noisette macaron. That is how I like my pastries – they should make me want to close my eyes to indulge in, and tell stories with the imagery they create.

The pleasures didn’t end there with the visit to the Pierre Hermé boutique. I was also given some chocolates and the Ispahan jam, two products that I have yet to try from Pierre Hermé. These chocolates were some of the most exquisite that I’ve ever had – especially the Corso, which is gianduja with olive oil, fleur de sel and bits of black olives enrobed with dark chocolate. Like salted butter caramel, the Corso wows with savoury notes to the bittersweet and velvety smooth chocolate coating. M even stole some of these chocolates when I wasn’t looking (that didn’t make me very happy…). The jam really impressed as well. I, for one, absolutely adore the Ispahan flavours of lychees, raspberries and rose; this jam was the perfect way to enjoy these flavours without any of the cloyingness that comes with the usual jams. The subtle aroma of rose and tartness of raspberries came through to temper the sweetness of lychees and the sugars used to make the jam. I had this straight out of the jar, and no offence to Pierre Hermé, this was so good that I couldn’t resist slapping some on a peanut butter sandwich. Pierre Hermé makes a range of other flavours as well, such as Envie (pear & violet, blackcurrant), Montebello (strawberry & pistachio) and Eden (peach & saffron, with pieces of tender apricot). Word has it that new macaron flavours are also turning up in September (also the one year anniversary for the Lowndes Street boutique and 10th birthday for the pioneer in Paris!), and a certain Ispahan pound cake is making way into the boutique very, very soon! I’d be camping out to get my hands on these when the time comes!

As you can see, I had a pretty swell time with the folks at Pierre Hermé stuffing my face with macarons, but before you turn green with envy, I would like to share something with you too!

Pierre Hermé Paris is giving away a 16-piece Macaron assortment in a ‘London Landmarks’ gift box illustrated by Soledad Bravi, who is the illustrator for the iconic French Magazine ELLE (last image on this post, credits to Pierre Hermé Paris) to one lucky reader of this blog!

Here’s how YOU can qualify for the giveaway:

1. You have to live in the UK (as the macarons will be delivered to you).

2. Like the Pierre Hermé Paris – London Facebook page and leave a comment at The Pleasure Monger (here on this blog post) with your valid email address and Facebook name, telling me that you did so.

Once you’ve qualified for the giveaway, you can increase your chances of winning by:

1. Following Pierre Hermé Paris – London on Twitter and leaving a comment here on this blog post with your valid email address and Twitter name, telling me that you did so.

2. Liking The Pleasure Monger Facebook page AND liking the link to this post! Leave a comment here on this blog post with your valid email address and Facebook name, telling me that you did both.

3. Following me, The Pleasure Monger on Twitter AND tweeting this message: Pierre Hermé #Macaron Assortment Giveaway @pleasure_monger http://bit.ly/qrvrk5 . Leave a comment here on this blog spot with your valid email address and Twitter name, telling me that you did both.

4. Stumbling this post (when you click on the title of this post, scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see the StumbleUpon button, please click on this!). Leave a comment with your valid email address and Stumble username, telling me that you did so.

The winner will be selected using random.org and contacted via the email address and/or the Facebook/Twitter usernames that you use to comment on this entry. This giveaway will be closed on 3rd August 2011, GMT 2359h….Go on and win some macarons, tell your friends about it and GOOD LUCK!

 

What I Have Been Up To and…My First Guest Post!

I miss you guys, I really do. So here I am, clearing the cobwebs to say……I’m STILL alive and that I hope you haven’t forgotten about me. It’s been a while since I wrote anything here. I’ve got tonnes of comments and emails to reply to (I’m sorry, please give me some time). I have not baked or cooked anything recently. The last thing I made was tau yew bak  (braised pork belly), which took me 4 hours on Chinese New Year’s Eve and that was it. So it must have been a week? And that’s a ridiculous record in my books because it means that I’ve been feeling pent up from the lack of my favourite activities. Nothing remotely interesting happened over the last week. I’ve just been holed up in the study, poring over mountains of journals and books, with a pencil and my laptop fired up to get me to the finishing line. I shan’t say too much here, all shall be revealed by the end of this week. And yes, hopefully, you’ll see me resurrecting my annoying self on Facebook, Twitter and the blog when ‘things are revealed’.

It sounds like I had a sucky week, eh? That was pretty much the case, except for the one thing that I’ve been looking forward to for a month now. You see, I started putting my heart, soul and food (but of course..) out for the world to see on 14 February 2010. As the first birthday of my blog approaches (I’m thinking of making something to celebrate this, any ideas?), I marvel at the journey that I’ve been on for the past year, especially with regards to all the cooking and baking I’ve done. Personal growth as a humble home cook aside, I’ve also had the great fortune of meeting quite a few bloggers through all that writing. One of them is none other than Notabilia, who has invited me to pen my very first guest post. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the birthday celebrations for my blog, so thank you for this party, Notabilia.

For this month’s ‘Cooking With…’ instalment over at Notabilia’s, I created a fusion pastry of sorts, something that is inspired by my home country, Singapore, and my current time in London. Over the years in Europe, I’ve become acquainted with beautifully crafted pastries that have not seen the light of day in Singapore.

One of the pastries that has me eating out of its hand (or feet, you’ll see why) is the French macaron. I became enamoured with these delicate babies when my friend took me for birthday tea at Ladurée in Harrods slightly more than a year ago, and it is an understatement to say that my life was changed after that. A few months later, I took the first bite of Pierre Hermé’s ingenious creations, and I became obsessed, in the most psychotic of ways, with these almond cookies. I endeavoured to make them in my kitchen, the first time without incorporating almonds, and without using the proper method. They were delicious but were without feet. Then I tried making them again, this time using the proper method, and lo and behold, I got lucky. One macaron flavour then paved way for another in my kitchen. I was making them regularly in 2010, constantly thinking of new flavours to try out, and I am always excited to get my hands dirty.

So what are these feet that we’re talking about? You know the ruffle-y bit underneath that smooth surface, the bits that are getting cosy with the filling? That’s the feet. Getting them to appear is a bit of a terrifying, stressful venture that drives bakers nuts, and yes, all macaron aficionados should inspect these cookies for proper anatomy. So we’ve got the appearance sorted. How about the taste? Well, a macaron should have a crispy exterior that yields to a slightly chewy centre, and then the shell should cave to the most luscious cores, such as creams, ganache etc. The difficulties are apparent in making a macaron. We need to master the perfect balance between crisp and chewy textures, and we need a good filling. We also need feet. Such a massive amount of effort goes into making these babies that it’s no wonder bakeries hold these ransom for exorbitant amounts of cash. It is also for this reason, that I have gotten round to making macarons at home.

I’m happy to say that feet are aplenty since my first proper attempt, and I hope they continue to pitter-patter their way through my life or at the very least, take The Pleasure Monger to its second birthday (you see, the business of getting feet or no feet seems to be jinxed and I hope that I didn’t just do my luck in). Enough about macarons and getting all nostalgic on my side, let’s bring you over to my first guest post at Notabilia’s to have a look at the recipe! In the meantime, wait for my return!

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey.

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

 

Happy Chinese New Year

As Chinese New Year approaches, you’ll see a flurry of activities in every Chinese household. We spring clean to rid of ill-fortune and welcome good luck. We deck our homes in red and gold, both auspicious colours for the Chinese, to celebrate the most important traditional Chinese festival. We cook, we bake, we feast and we grow fat with our dear family and friends, all in the name of the new year. It is a time to gather with loved ones, particularly so on the eve of the Chinese New Year when we have reunion dinners with our families. It is a time when we say, out with the old, in with the new. This spring festival lasts for fifteen days, and is so important that even those away from home will endeavour to keep to the traditions of preparing ourselves for a blessed year ahead. Like us.

As we bid farewell to the Year of the Tiger and give a warm welcome to the Rabbit, we find ourselves somewhat wedged in no man’s land for Chinese New Year. This is the 4th year that we’re spending the festival overseas without our families. Nobody kicks up a big fuss over Chinese New Year in London, you don’t feel the excitement in the air, in fact, you wouldn’t even realise that the Chinese are celebrating it unless you set foot into Chinatown. That is where you will see families huddled into crowded supermarkets, peering into baskets and baskets of goodies, filling their trolleys up with groceries and cartons of mandarin oranges, and yes, you might even catch the occasional Chinese New Year song. But once outside of Chinatown, everyone is oblivious to the festival. The only way you’ll experience it is if you step into a Chinese home, such as ours.

Although our home severely lacks decorations, we are on our way to putting up three miserable couplets that we bought years ago. I haven’t managed to get a bunch of pussy willow, and doubt I will have the time to do it. I even contemplated putting up red packets (known as ang baos) on my Christmas tree, which I’ve only taken down last week. We haven’t bought any groceries appropriate for the new year. The only things that hint at the festival are a couple of red packets that we received from our parents, and a heap of oranges and clementines in our fruit basket. Traditionally, tangerines are a symbol of good luck and oranges are that of wealth. You will find that many food items we consume or exchange with family and friends are a symbol of either, or that of good health, happiness etc. These items are chosen as such because their names sound like the respective blesssings in Chinese. We couldn’t get tangerines, but all the same, clementines are a type of mandarin oranges, so that’s good enough for us.

During Chinese New Year, we visit our family and friends to wish them a blessed new year, and to catch up on our lives. No one shows up empty-handed and it’s important to bear gifts as a show of goodwill. These gifts are typically returned in other forms, depending on what the host family has purchased, really. Of these, the most important ones are oranges or tangerines. These are given in pairs, and for the more superstitious host families, never show up four oranges as four sounds like death in the Chinese language. The host families will return the oranges from their own stash to you, and this means that they give their blessings to you too. As you can see, oranges are a staple during the new year, and this, my dears, is the source of my inspiration for the Year of the Rabbit.

With this in mind, I thought it might be interesting to put a twist in the traditional Chinese New Year snacks. Instead of pineapple tarts, kueh bangkit, love letters and what-not, I decided to make some clementine macarons to welcome the new year. In a way, it is a perfect {fusion} representation of our circumstance as we are celebrating Chinese New Year in London. I put a dash of grated clementine zest in the macaron shells and made them a beautiful sunset shade of orange with the wonderful bottle of food colouring that Dad gave me in December last year. I also filled the shells with an orange buttercream that has been infused with orange zest and orange and lemon juice for the citrusy fragrance and tartness. The flavours worked beautifully (although they turned out a little sweet because my oranges were unusually sweet) and I think they make rather pretty gifts. So if you would like to present something different to your loved ones this year, why don’t you make a box of these clementine macarons instead? The possibilities are endless, really. You can make the buttercream however sweet or tart you want, and you could even make pineapple macarons in place of pineapple tarts.

I’m really happy with these macarons and wish I could box them up and give them to our families. But everyone’s 6000 miles away and besides, M and I might just finish the whole stash before our friends come over tomorrow night…..Oh well, there’s always next year, and the year after…..

For now, the plateful of clementine macarons do well to brighten up our currently un-festive home. That, and a bunch of oranges and a couple of red packets. Oh, and the couplets too. Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! I wish you prosperity, good health and happiness for years to come. Have a good one, and eat loads on our behalf!

Here’s the recipe:

Clementine Macarons with Orange Buttercream

For the macaron shells:
(adapted from heavenwildfleur)
Makes 34 shells

66g egg white, aged
2g egg white powder
60g caster sugar
90g almond flour
110g icing sugar
1/3 teaspoon grated clementine zest
A few drops of orange food colouring

1. Preheat oven at 170 degrees Celsius.

2. Blitz almond flour, icing sugar and grated orange zest to combine and make the meal as fine as possible. Sift blitzed ingredients together in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites and egg white powder till soft peaks are formed. Whisk in caster sugar until stiff peaks form.

4. To the egg white mixture, fold in dry ingredients from Step 2 in 1/3 portions to combine. Add colouring, then fold in the mixture more vigorously. Test the consistency from time to time by lifting a generous dollop of macaron paste and dropping it into the mixing bowl. If the macaron paste does not settle smoothly after 30 seconds, continue folding the paste. If the macaron paste smooths out too quickly, you’ve gone too far.

5. Pipe out the shells onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and leave them to rest for 25 minutes before baking.

6. When a crust is formed, turn temperature on oven down to 140 degrees Celsius and bake for 15 minutes, turning the tray halfway through baking.

7. Cool parchment of baked shells on cooling rack. Unmould when the shells are completely cool.

For the Orange Buttercream:

100g unsalted butter
250g icing sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice (adjust levels according depending on personal taste)
3 teaspoons orange juice (adjust levels according depending on personal taste)
2/3 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons orange-infused milk (leave 1 tablespoon orange zest in 2 tablespoons of milk in fridge, overnight)

1. Beat butter and icing sugar together till creamy.

2. Add juices and zest and beat till smooth.

3. Add milk and beat till combined. If this is too runny, chill buttercream before piping onto shells.

4. Fill cooled macaron shells with buttercream and sandwich.

Enjoy!

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey.

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

 

Matcha & Adzuki Bean Macarons

Matcha & Adzuki Bean Macarons

When the Mactweets Challenge: MacAttack #13 came around, I knew it was time to get some egg whites out and age them a little. We were warned that this was the 13th challenge, you know, the unlucky number for some, and guess what, I had a bit of an unlucky start this time! I was all ready to whip my egg whites up for Fall-themed macarons, and as luck (or the lack thereof) would have it, I spilled the aged egg whites before I could even grow feet on the macs. My clumsy hands in an over-packed fridge were very much like bulls in a china shop, I knocked the whites over, mopped up the gooey spill and mourned the tragic loss of my aged egg whites. I was ready to throw in the towel and skip this challenge but macaron gurus, Jamie from Life’s a Feast and Eunice from Heaven in a Wild Flower assured me that fresh egg whites will whip up nicely anyway. Heeding their advice, I cracked some new eggs and separated the whites from yolks. There was no looking back and I was glad that I listened to them.

Matcha & Adzuki Bean Macarons

For this month’s challenge, we were asked to create macarons that spoke of what Fall meant to us. The first thing that I thought of was a piping hot cup of Japanese green tea in my cold, cold hands! I admit I did dream about sipping on a mug of hot chocolate about two seconds after I thought about green tea, but I felt that hot chocolate was a little too much for autumn, and better appreciated in the bitter cold of winter. I had wanted to make a matcha & white chocolate mascarpone filling (which I made last month and friends loved them), but I had a tin of adzuki bean paste in the pantry, just dying to be married to matcha already. I couldn’t deny a match made in heaven, could I?

Matcha & Adzuki Bean Macarons

 

Matcha & Adzuki Bean Macarons

Whilst I am not a big fan of winter in London, I quite like autumn. Yes, most of the trees are bald in the blink of an eye, but the occasional tree is decked out in warm gold leaves that turn a seductive shade of mahogany. To me, it is the rarity of this sight that makes London very beautiful despite the cold and the ubiquitous bare trees. Regrettably so, it can get too cold to wander along the streets, and when that happens, what I love most is to curl up in my couch, with a duvet draped round my legs and a cup of hot Japanese green tea to sip on. With every cup of green tea, I also insist on having something sweet to nibble on. This is the ‘way of life’ that M and my sister-in-law, M have instilled in me. Both Ms are true connoisseurs of teatime accompaniments and I am glad that I have been well-taught.

Matcha & Adzuki Bean Macarons

 

 

Matcha & Adzuki Bean Macarons

For about two months now, I’ve been a bit obsessed with matcha, and have made cupcakes, polvorons, macarons and more cupcakes with matcha (posts to follow soon). There’s nothing I like more than having matcha-based pastries with hot green tea. The flavours are strong, yet subtle and so very alluring. Here, the sweet earthiness of adzuki beans are perfectly balanced with the bittersweet matcha & white chocolate buttercream. If you love matcha as much as I do, you might want to get cracking on these macarons in your own kitchen.

Here’s the recipe:

For the macaron shells (makes 22 shells):
(adapted from heavenwildfleur)

55g egg white (these are not aged, and will turn out a little more chewy)
3g egg white powder
45g caster sugar
70g almond flour
80g icing sugar
1 teaspoon green food colouring
Black sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven at 170 degrees Celsius.

2. Sift almond flour and icing sugar together in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites and egg white powder till soft peaks are formed. Whisk in caster sugar until stiff peaks form.

4. To the egg white mixture, fold in dry ingredients from Step 2 in 1/3 portions to combine. Add colouring, then fold in the mixture more vigorously. Test the consistency from time to time by lifting a generous dollop of macaron paste and dropping it into the mixing bowl. If the macaron paste does not settle smoothly after 30 seconds, continue folding the paste. If the macaron paste smooths out too quickly, you’ve gone too far.

5. Pipe out the shells onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and leave them to rest for 25 minutes before baking. Sprinkle some black sesame seeds on the shell.

6. When a crust is formed, turn temperature on oven down to 140 degrees Celsius and bake for 15 minutes, turning the tray halfway through baking.

7. Cool parchment of baked shells on cooling rack. Unmould when the shells are completely cool. (I also dusted the shells with a little bit of edible gold lustre, they do give a nice sheen but they didn’t show up well on the pictures..)

For the Matcha & White Chocolate Buttercream:

55g white chocolate
40g unsalted butter
50g icing sugar
5g matcha powder (you can add more if you like a stronger flavour, as the sweetness of ready-made adzuki bean paste can differ – See ‘Assembling’ section below)

1. Melt white chocolate and butter and leave to cool.

2. Beat in icing sugar and matcha powder until well-combined and creamy.

Assembling macarons:

1. Spoon matcha cream onto one shell.

2. Add one small dollop of adzuki bean paste on top of the cream.

3. Sandwich, and you’re done!

Matcha & Adzuki Bean Macarons

Hope you enjoy making these and let me know what you think of the recipe!

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey. And if you can’t get enough of matcha, you might like my Lychee Chiffon Cake with Matcha Whipped Cream Frosting.

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post has been featured on Foodgawker and Tastespotting. Check out my profiles on Foodgawker and Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!

 

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Bailey’s & Coffee Buttercream

Morning world! I was up pretty early today, with my mind constantly whirring about my coughawfulcough thesis writing and some exciting macaron ideas. I haven’t gotten round to making any macs lately owing to a month-long trip back to Singapore and keeping up with the mundane things-we-have-to-do sice we returned. I have been dying to put some action into egg whites. Not sure if I can get round to making some today (new flavours coming up!), but I shall quieten my overactive mind with a little post on some macarons that I made back in July this year.

Vanilla Macarons with Bailey's & Coffee Buttercream

So, I’m not a big coffee drinker. In fact, I can’t take any beverages that have coffee in it. Shame, isn’t it? I could never understand how it feels when people say ‘Oh gosh, this coffee is soooooo good’, or when they quip, ‘I could do with a coffee right now’. I can’t fathom what it feels like to be addicted to coffee, to be reliant on and appreciative of it, and quite frankly, I feel…..left out.

BUT nature has its ways. It’s all about balance, homeostasis (sorry couldn’t help but bring this biological term up, been repeating it a couple of times in my now 120-page strong thesis). And I have been made to love coffee-ish desserts even though I can’t drink coffee.

Drinking coffee makes me want to lie down. For those of you who have witnessed a rather red-faced me (no I wasn’t angry, I just lack alchohol dehydrogenase) feeling faint after a teeny tiny bit of alchohol, drinking coffee kills me. Quite embarrassingly so, it messes with my head far worse than alcohol, it gives me such a nauseating headache, that once after a coffee initiation by my aunt in the form of Starbucks mocha, I quickly apologised to her and said ‘Sorry aunt, I really have to go home right now’. I never took another sip of coffee since. But it’s really okay, because I still am able to enjoy tiramisu, coffee ice-cream, coffee cake, coffee bread, coffee ribs. I suppose I may be regrettably aversive to only liquid coffee.

Vanilla Macarons with Bailey's & Coffee Buttercream

One day in July, I was craving for coffee something. I wanted to be surrounded by the nutty aroma that we can only get with coffee. Tiramisu seemed much too heavy, and I would just end up making too much for the two of us. I didn’t think I wanted to have a slice of coffee cake every day for the rest of the week.  And so, I decided to make something that was manageable in small numbers, something that I have been addicted to making and eating for the last couple of months. Vanilla Bean Macaron with Bailey’s & Coffee Buttercream was it. Let’s just say they were yum, atrociously good with liquid coffee (or so the husband says). I was inspired by salted butter caramel and added a tiny bit of salt to the buttercream filling so it cuts the sweetness and brings out the flavour of Bailey’s. So…yay! Coffee for me!

Vanilla Macarons with Bailey's & Coffee Buttercream

Here’s the recipe:

For the Vanilla Bean Macaron Shells
(adapted from heavenwildfleur)

100g egg whites, aged
3g egg white powder
90g vanilla sugar
140g almond flour
160g icing sugar
Some cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven at 170 degrees Celsius

2. Sift almond flour and icing sugar together in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites and egg white powder till soft peaks are formed. Whisk in caster sugar until stiff peaks form.

4. To the egg white mixture, fold in dry ingredients from Step 2 in 1/3 portions to combine. Then fold in the mixture more vigorously. Test the consistency from time to time by lifting a generous dollop of macaron paste and dropping it into the mixing bowl. If the macaron paste does not settle smoothly after 30 seconds, continue folding the paste. If the macaron paste smooths out too quickly, you’ve gone too far.

5. Pipe out the shells onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle a little cocoa powder on the shells and leave them to rest for 25 minutes before baking.

6. When a crust is formed, turn temperature on oven down to 140 degrees Celsius and bake for 15 minutes, turning the tray halfway through baking.

7. Cool parchment of baked shells on cooling rack. Unmould when the shells are completely cool.

Question: I wanted white shells, but somehow my oven coloured them. Anyone knows how to get whiter shells?

For the Bailey’s & Coffee Buttercream

125g unsalted butter
1 cup icing sugar
3 tablespoons cooled coffee (strength depends on your preference and type of coffee, I filtered 3 tablespoons of Nescafe in 6 tablespoons of water)
2 tablespoons Bailey’s
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt

1. Beat butter and icing sugar together.

2. Add coffee, Bailey’s and salt, and beat till well combined.

3. Pipe on cooled shells and sandwich them into macarons.

These make 60 shells, so that’s 30 macarons.

Hope you enjoy making them! Let me know how they turn out.

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey.

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post is featured on Photograzing. Check out my Photograzing profile to see my other featured posts!

Lime & Coconut Macarons


Lime & Coconut Macarons

I was travelling too much and eating too much good food, naturally, I spent too much time blogging on everything but. This is seriously backdated, I made these lime & coconut macarons in June, and the recipe have been stashed in my growing recipe book since.

As I blazed through my food trails in Singapore on the blog, the dust settled, quite literally too, on my measuring cups, whisk and  everything I made in the last couple of months (with the exception of mooncakes, only because the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is tomorrow). I missed proper baking very much during the break in Singapore, but now that I’m back in London, the kitchen’s all mine (sometimes shared with my husband, but he cooks and I bake, so that’s okay), and I’m sure writing this, will excite me into aging some egg whites again!

Lime & Coconut Macarons

Macarons, oh macarons, they frustrate me and they tease me. I don’t know why I like to dive back into making them so much, even though they are arguably one of the trickiest treats to make in my dictionary. The shell can’t be too chewy, or too crisp, the filling can’t be too sweet (for me, at least). Too much macaronage yields a paste that runs everywhere, too little gives shells that look offensively like boobies. Yet, I love making them. Talk about being sadistic.

Anyways, why lime & coconut macarons? I was really into the whole summer vibe going on in London during the month of June, and I went through a ‘tropical’ phase. Everything I ate or made had to have some element of the tropics. I went a little overboard and decided to make lime & coconut macarons. As the meerkat says, simples.

I was working with the shell recipe from Cannelle et Vanille to make some vanilla bean macarons with salted butter caramel buttercream, and it didn’t quite work out for me on my first attempt with it (possibly because I was rather green at making macarons then). The shells had feet but they weren’t very smooth. So I thought I would try out the shell recipe from heavenwildfleur, an incredibly talented pastry enthusiast that I’ve met in blogosphere.

I wanted a slightly sweeter and sturdier shell to go with the tart lime & coconut cream cheese filling I planned to make, so I tweaked the recipe a little. It worked very well in giving me very smooth and shiny shells with nicely risen feet, but I probably went a little too far with the macaronage, the paste was a tad runny to work with so I couldn’t get perfectly round shells. The macarons nailed my craving for all things tropical; slightly sweet shells with a hint of flaked coconut, giving way to the tartness of lime, mmmm lovely! Here are the recipes.

For the macaron shells:

120 egg whites, aged for 3 days
3g egg white powder
90g caster sugar
140g almond flour (finely ground!)
160g icing sugar
A handful of flaked coconut
Green food colouring

1. Preheat oven at 170 degrees Celsius

2. Sift almond flour and icing sugar together in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites and egg white powder till soft peaks are formed. Whisk in caster sugar until stiff peaks form.

4. To the egg white mixture, fold in dry ingredients from Step 2 in 1/3 portions to combine. Add in the food colouring (the amount depends on intensity desired), and fold in the mixture more vigorously. Test the consistency from time to time by lifting a generous dollop of macaron paste and dropping it into the mixing bowl. If the macaron paste does not settle smoothly after 30 seconds, continue folding the paste. If the macaron paste smooths out too quickly, you’ve gone too far.

5. Pipe out the shells onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle a little flaked coconut on the shells and leave them to rest for 30 minutes before baking.

6. When a crust is formed, turn temperature on oven down to 140 degrees Celsius and bake for 15 minutes, turning the tray halfway through baking.

7. Cool parchment of baked shells on cooling rack. Unmould when the shells are completely cool.

For the lime & coconut cream cheese filling:

75g unsalted butter, room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold
75g icing sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon flaked coconut

1. Beat butter and cream cheese together till combined, then beat in icing sugar.

2. Mix in lime juice and flaked coconut until well-combined.

3. Pipe filling onto cooled shells and sandwich them for the final product.

As the cream cheese filling is a little runny, the macarons are best eaten a day after making them. The filling would have hardened slightly by then, and the shells are still perfect. I kept these at room temperature and they were fine for a few days (this might depend on the humidity at your location).

Enjoy and let me know how this works out!

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey.

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post is featured on Photograzing. Check out my Photograzing profile to see my other featured posts!

TWG Tea Macarons

I get 10 points for remembering to check out the macaron scene in Singapore, but unfortunately, 110 has to be forcibly taken from me for my lack of determination to clean the island out of macarons, and mostly for my ability to be distracted by non-European (more accurately, Singaporean lah) delicacies.

I only managed to drop by TWG Tea at ION in the month I was back and didn’t hesitate to spend S$8 on four of its tea-infused flavours. This was certainly much cheaper than the offerings I sampled in London, Paris and Brussels.

TWG Tea Macarons

At first glance, the macaron shells lacked the alluring lustre that I was accustomed to seeing on creations by Pierre Hermé and Pierre Marcolini. Instead, the shells were matt in appearance, resembling the ones from Ladurée. Whilst the colours were beautiful, the shapes were inconsistent between macarons. I understand how difficult it is to get regularly shaped macarons, even more so in a humid environment like Singapore, so this wasn’t much of an issue for me, although it would have been nice to see perfect little babies coming out of a tea salon like TWG.

What disappointed me was how soft the shells were to touch. I felt like I was holding the most fragile shells up, they felt way too delicate and sure enough, they were too soft for eating. The shells gave in too easily and melted rather quickly in the mouth. I would have preferred a slightly more resistant shell to carry and show off the potentially wonderful flavours and texture of the filling.

I honestly think that the tea-infused flavours are rather good, perhaps they could have done with a little less sugar to bring out the taste of tea. But I loved the fragrance that came through, especially that of Napoleon Tea and Mint. Napoleon tea and caramel worked pretty well, to my surprise, but like I said, it could have done with less sugar. Moroccan mint tea was very refreshing but like the rest of the macarons, the shells were too soft. I held high expectations for Camelot tea and praline, mostly because I adore praline, but the combination was a little off-putting for me. Rose was nicely scented and not too sweet, but again, it was let down by the soft shells.

Whilst it wasn’t a mind-blowing experience, I have to say that I’m very much inspired by the use of tea in macarons. The potential is there in TWG macarons, and tea-infusions set them apart from other patisseries. I do hope that the textures of its macaron shells could be improved. On another note, I think I’m going to have to try out some tea-infused flavours in my kitchen soon!

Check out my other food adventures!

TWG Tea Salon & Boutique is located at:

ION Shopping Mall
2 Orchard Turn, #02 – 21
Singapore 238801