Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chocolate Macarons w/ Chocolate Orange Buttercream

I made a small test batch of chocolate macarons using the recipe from the Chinese version of "I love Macarons" by Hisako Ogita which i bought when i was in Taiwan a few weeks back since the English version hasn't been released yet. The author teaches the usual 2 methods of making macarons, the french meringue method & the italian meringue method. The italian meringue method, instead of cooking the syrup on stove, she cooked it in microwave and teaches you how to test for soft-ball stage. The book also has step-by-step photos of how to fold in the meringue.

I decided to try her french meringue method since her recipe uses only 1 egg white (ie approximately 50g), so even if i fail, there is less wastage. What i like about this book is that the ingredients changes are listed next to each flavored macaron. In other words, recipes are short & simple, with straight forward instructions.

Since i am not used to making macarons in such small quantity, i think i over-beat the eggwhite..:p! I think that's why my chocolate macarons above doesn't have the high "feet" and those around the edge of the pan have cracked shells. :P But i have to admit that this is the first time i made macarons so quickly in less than an hour! LOL!

Chocolate Orange Buttercream made from the leftover orange buttercream i had in the fridge. I just add melted chocolate to it and voila, chocolate orange buttercream and i must say it tastes delicious together with the chocolate macaron shells! :D This is the first time i actually like chocolate buttercream! Even though my macarons didn't look so pretty this time, at least they do taste yummy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Almond Shamah Chiffon

Rose's Heavenly Cakes, Page 199: Almond Shamah Chiffon

Initially i wanted to be lazy and just use ground almonds instead of grinding it myself. However, i changed my mind and decided to follow Rose's instruction to toast & grind the sliced almonds . Since it is impossible for me to get Wondra flour here, i used the substitute as provided by Rose under her "note"... use the grams version cos that's what i learn in school and it's so much easier imo.

8 egg yolks measured only 145g so i used 155g of eggwhites instead. Not sure if that makes any difference..but i thought i might as well balance the difference. Since my spring-form pans are dark non-stick ones, i baked at 155C for 22mins. My oven can only take in one 9" pan, second pan had to wait. I was worried that the wait will cause the batter in the second pan to deflate. In the end, the 2nd cake turned out alright, still as soft & light. Folding in the meringue with a balloon whisk was very wrist ached quite a bit.

Amaretto Syrup was easy to make and i am delighted to say that i have amaretto in my pantry this time..yay! I'll be getting Bourbon soon. LOL! After i brushed the chiffon cakes, i still have lots of syrup left. Am i suppose to brush them all or what? I figured i don't really like too wet sponge cake, so i brushed only a little.

I didn't make the Raspberry Jam Whipped Cream but instead i made the Raspberry Mousseline (page 149). I used raspberry preserves cos i can't find the seedless ones at all!! Hence you can see a lot of black dots on my buttercream. LOL! Oh and another thing, fyi Rose's Raspberry Mousseline is only good to cover the entire cake just exactly - no wastage! No extra left for making decorations either and I really had to scrimp on the buttercream in order to cover the entire cake! LOL! I had to scrape every last drop and i'm not kidding! Hahahaha! I didn't follow the mousseline buttercream exactly because weather here is pretty hot & humid at 28c-30c, so i just took the butter from the fridge and in less than 2 mins the butter is already soft and i add to it to the meringue piece by piece. Oh..i used salted butter cos i didn't want the buttercream to be too sweet cos of the sweet raspberry preserves.

Verdict? I L-O-V-E the cake!! The cake is so light and soft with strong almond flavor and when paired with the raspberry mousseline cream is heavenly!! Absolutely YUMMY! :9 Everyone in my family loves the cake. I left the cake in the fridge and next day brought some slices to my office colleagues, all said it's delicious except one said is a bit dry. I think probably it's because the fridge absorbed some of the moisture in the chiffon and partly also i didn't brush enough syrup, but i like my sponge/chiffon cake dry though. I still have left over syrup which i guess if anyone wants the cake more moist can brush it on. :P

Monday, October 19, 2009

Apple Upside-Down Cake

Rose's Heavenly Cakes, Page 8: Apple Upside-Down Cake.

Initially i wanted to use peach instead of apples since the pairing of peach & almond seems better option for me since i prefer almonds, but in the end the fresh peaches selling at the supermarket weren't all that fresh and also quite expensive, i decided to bake the apple version and use my left-over walnuts from the earlier cake.

I used a 9" spring form pan because it was easily accessible in my! :P Too lazy to dig and measure the other pans buried somewhere in the cupboard. I was multi-tasking while baking - weighing the ingredients and running to the phone to talk to the airline office regarding changes in my flights. In my haste, i forgot to weigh the apples but i used 2 large apples - on sticker say it's from US, so i don't know what type of apple it is (fortunately not the huge Japanese Fuji version type..). :S AND I do not have Bourbon in my kitchen! :( I don't drink (er..alcohol, i meant). Before i started baking i actually never knew Bourbon existed! :p I wonder if i can replace Bourbon with Whiskey? Do they taste the same or not? *shrugs*

Ok, back to the cake... While baking, my entire kitchen smells so good! :) I love the sweet aroma of the caramalized apples and the vanilla just smells so delicious that you want to eat a piece of it as soon as it is out from the oven! Also, I didn't have any problems with springform pan and in fact i think it's better! After the cake is baked, i just remove the ring and put a plate on top, flip over, remove the bottom pan and all the apple is in place - no problem at all! :))

Now comes the tasting: I L-O-V-E it!! So does everyone in my family - they all love it too!! :D I brought some slices to my work place and was well received too! Rose is right, this apple upside-down cake paired with walnuts is just absolutely yummy!! As you all know i am not a walnut fan by now..but somehow when eaten with this cake, the cake and walnut combo goes down really well. The caramelized apples are not overly sweet and it is still crunchy and i like crunchy! (Is it meant to be crunchy or not? Anyway, mine is still crunchy, ie half-cooked apple slices and not the soft cooked type as in apple pie. I did use baking stone as mentioned in the book.). Also the cake is soft and moist but not wet. I thought when i turned over the cake all the sugar syrup will be absorbed by the cake leaving the cake wet and soggy, but it didn't and i was pleasantly surprised to be able to taste a normal moist cake with the crunchy apple slices..(unless i'm doing it all wrong..hahaha..even if wrong still tasted very good! LOL!).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Barcelona Brownie Bars

Rose's Heavenly Cakes, page 367, Barcelona Brownie Bars
Recipe can also be found at Rose Levy's website.

I'm so envious of the 10 heavenly cake bakers who got Rose Levy's autographed book! They are so lucky! Congrats to all of you & you know who you are! ;) I wish i can get Rose's autograph too! I wonder if she can autograph on a piece of paper/postcard, mail to me and i paste it on my current book?? o_O ;P

I didn't have the Lekue silicone brownie mold mentioned in the book. I went all over town to look for similar silicone cake pans but they were all out of stock! :( I wanted to order online but realised it wouldn't arrive on time since it will probably take at least 2 weeks to reach Asia. So, in the end, i baked the brownies in a mini heart-shaped pans instead.

I mixed the batter using the Hand Method provided in the book. Baked the brownies for only 10mins since my heart shaped pans are much smaller and at a lower than stated oven temp of 150C (dark-colored pan absorbed more heat). I used my faux-ivory chopsticks to poke through the centre of the brownies. Initially i used the wooden one (the long huge ones i use for cooking) but the soft brownie centre kept getting stuck to the chopstick, so i got fedup and used the plastic one instead. Thereafter, I piped the ganache into the centre of brownies, but since i had lots of ganache left, i coated the top of the brownies with ganache as well.

Will the Heavenly Cake Bakers group flip if i mention again that i don't really like pecan nuts..o_O :p!? In case you all are wondering, i do eat nuts but just not walnuts, pecan nuts & pine nuts (that's all i can think of at the!). Hence I am not sure if i bought a packet of rancid pecan nuts or if i didn't roast them long enough or it is just how pecan nuts is. To me, the nuts have this very distinct "oily nut" taste that seems to overwhelm the chocolate in the brownies, hence another reason why i coated the top of the brownies with more ganache. My family enjoyed the brownies, but they too did mention the weird taste in the pecan nuts. But since i hardly eat pecan nuts, i can't tell if it is rancid (but i just bought the nuts and expiry is only a year later!) or it is just how pecan nuts taste like..? *shrugs*

To get unbias opinion, i brought the brownies to office next morning for tasting. Well, my boss said there's nothing wrong with the brownies or the pecan nuts and he said it's very good. My office colleague who ate a piece liked the brownies and confirmed that it is the distinct flavor of pecan nuts. Again, even for my dislike for pecan nuts, i did eat a few pieces and i have to admit i love the soft & moist texture of the brownies. It's not overly sweet and it complements well with the chocolate ganache. I would definitely bake the brownies again but minus the pecan nuts..:p

For the next cake - the apple-upside-down-cake..i'm sooo gonna use almonds! LOL!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hungarian Jancsi Torta

Roses' Heavenly Cakes, Page 279: Hungarian Jancsi Torta.

The cake sank 1/2 inch in the centre but i wasn't alarmed as it was mentioned in the book that the cake will form 1/2-inch crater in the centre - perfect for filling. (i find that all flourless cakes sink in the centre when cooled). What i didn't particularly enjoy while baking this cake was to remove the skin from the walnuts after toasting. That took quite a while since i had difficulty rubbing off the skin from the walnuts! Otherwise, this is a pretty easy cake to bake and Rose's detailed instructions made it easier. :) I added 10g more sugar, since I only had 66-70% valrhona dark chocolate in my pantry.

I prefer the cake chilled since i find it a bit too wet for my liking when at room temperature. Anyone who loves walnut would definitely love this cake. My family, esp. my daughter enjoyed it, my husband said it is delicious and me? I find it nice, but not a huge fan as i don't quite like walnuts. I would probably have enjoyed it more if i'd substituted the walnuts with almonds or hazelnuts. Even for my dislike for walnuts, i did eat a huge slice, plain on its own without ganache. I like the light texture and the chocolatety taste to it..and actually the taste for the walnuts is not so overpowering with the presence of the chocolate imo.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Rose's Heavenly Cake Bake-Through

I'm sooo excited! I've signed up to be part of Rose's Heavenly Cake Bake-Through. This is the first time i've committed to doing anything like this since i am usually too lazy - so this is a huge challenge for me. I bought her book a week ago and i love her book! (Ok..i admit, I'm a HUGE fan of hers..:p) The recipes, the photos, the print, paper quality, etc :)) Imo, it's a must-get book for anyone who loves to bake. Rose gave very detailed instructions and it's perfect imo for amateur like me. She even indicated what oven temperature to set should you be using dark pan or light pan. I've tried her Lemon Poppy Seed-Sour Cream Cake and i have to say it was delicious!! I'm not going to post the photos or blog about it until the group done so. So i'll keep my photos for the time being. :))

For those of you who wish to be part of Rose's Heavenly Cake Bake-Through, click here: "Heavenly Cake Baker" and sign up to be part of the group! :))

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