All posts by michtsang

Black sesame macaron with black sesame chocolate ganache


I decided to make a black sesame ganache to fill my black sesame macarons to see how intense will the overall black sesame flavour be. Follow my black sesame macaron recipe and replace the mascarpone and red bean filling with the following ganache.

Black Sesame Ganache
100ml heavy cream
100g semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
40g ground black sesame powder

Melt cream in a pot and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for 2 minutes until the chocolate melts. Add the sesame powder and stir everything together until the ganache is smooth. Cool in the fridge for 60 minutes until firm for spreading.

To make bunnies, I piped rounds and then continued piping down wards, drawing a short line from the circle. This creates an ear, which I then matched with another by piping another line next to the first.

I used edible black ink to draw some bunny faces.

I popped a lollipop stick in between the sandwich to make bunny pops.

How cute is this trio of mummy bunny, baby bunny and daddy bunny here?

Citrus Shortbread biscuits


This week at Sunday School, the kids made little cut outs from carrot slices, using little cookie cutters. It immediately brought me back to my childhood years, where these are almost always found in chinese stir fry dishes in restaurants in Hong Kong. Next moment I get a flash back of these wonderful citrusy shortbread biscuits I used to make, using the same cookie cutters. This could be among the first few things we learnt to bake at school, perhaps even before we did the good old chocolate chip cookies.

When we got home, I ran to the kitchen and dug through my folder of old recipes to see if I’d brought it to NZ.

There, among other old recipes, is this recipe on letter-sized paper with typewriter-style font. The paper is still impeccably clean, straight and readable.
I said to J: ‘look, this is mummy’s recipes from 20 years ago! It is still perfect!’ she gave me a funny look, like ‘what is 20 years??’. I stopped myself from explaining about ageing, remembering that she had earlier espressed her dislike of growing old.

Just like that, I was brought back to that school kitchen 20 years ago, baking alongside my friends. It warmed my heart to remember that I’ve always loved cooking, with the joys of success in the kitchen not matched or surpassed by many other things (well perhaps a perfectly exposed photo in the dark room in my later years). This isn’t just a hobby, it is what makes me, ME. That’s why a day off at home usually means a baking marathon or culinary challenge. That’s why I record, watch and re-watch episodes of Masterchef Masterclass. That’s why I have an insatiable appetite for cook books, cooking shows, learning new techniques and cooking challenges.

I have just found another piece of the puzzle about who I AM.

citrus shortbread biscuit

Ingredients

250 g butter (firm, straight out from fridge)
350g plain flour
a pinch of salt
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon or orange or lime
100g caster sugar
Extra caster sugar for dredging

Method

Line two baking sheets with baking paper, preheat the oven to 170°C.

Sift the flour and salt together, then rub in the butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Use a knife to cut further to make it more crumbly. This will take about 10 minutes. It was quite nice feeling the textures come together in my hands, and the memory of doing it the first time is still right there in my head, bringing a smile to my face. I resisted the temptation of getting the processor out.

Add the sugar and zest, then knead the mixture until it binds well together. It will be crumbly at first, but just give it a good knead and it will come together.

Turn this dough onto a lightly floured board and press into a round shape. Roll out to 1cm thick.

These are the cutters I used – 20 years ago!

Cut with cutters, re- roll left overs and cut until the dough’s all been cut.

Prick the shortbread surfaces with a fork.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until surface is golden.

Remove from oven, leaving it to rest on sheets for another few minutes, before transferring carefully to wire racks to cool for a bit.

I also remember dredging them with caster sugar but it isn’t in the original recipe…

I couldn’t resist making little “Thomas” and “Percy” engine-shaped biscuits…the flowers look like the steam clouds! Cute~

Citrus Shortbread

I hope you will enjoy making these as much as I did!

To my friends of class 2X: do you remember these? how long has it been since you made some? Carmen, what about you?

Spiced cookies


In my quest to put together a series of basic recipes, I came upon this cookie recipe from my formative years. It looked simple enough, here I made only one change – using Valrhona cocoa powder instead of ordinary ones. V cocoa is totally irresistible and gives an addictive cocoa aroma not found in others. The difference is entirely noticeable, worth every cent.

Ingredients
125g butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp valrhona cocoa powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder

Instructions
Beat butter and sugar until creamy.
Add golden syrup and egg and mix until combined.
Sift in flour, cocoa powder, ground cinnamon and baking powder.
Mix until the dough comes together.
Roll out on a floured board to about 3mm thick.

Demonstration by J:

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Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes as desired.

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Lift carefully and place on a baking sheet. Don’t eat them yet!!

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Bake at 175 degrees C for 15 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack. Quak quak, oink oink, moo moo!

Thai Beef Salad


This is another all-time favourite in our household. It looks so vibrant in a glass bowl you just want to dig in straight away. It is also quick and easy to prep and cook, making it an ideal weekday dinner when you have no amount of spare time. If you only have 15 minutes, you could have the vegetables sliced and diced the night before, and have the sauce prepared and bottled in the fridge ready to go. This way, all you are doing when you get home is cooking the steak, the carbohydrate that goes with it (rice of course) and then plating up. Simple!

Ingredients

300g Beef Sirloin, 1 inch thick cuts
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges and then halved
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1/4 red onion, sliced into small strips
1 small shallot, diced
1-2 spring onions, julienne
handful of coriander leaves
6-8 mint leaves
1 Kaffir lime leaf (optional)

Sauce

Juice of 3 limes
2 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp palm sugar, shaved
1 red chilli, sliced (optional)

Instructions

Prepare your vegetables: chop the tomatoes, slice the cucumbers, slice the red onion, juliene the spring onions, pick the coriander leaves, wash and dry them, roll up the kaffir lime leaf and thinly slice through.

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Prepare your sauce by mixing it all together.

Heat a pan. Season both sides of your sirloin with salt, pepper and rub all over with 1 tsp of oil. When the pan is hot, place the sirloin in and cook for 3 minutes on each side. This will be medium to medium rare. Remove from pan and rest on a plate for 6 minutes.

On a slight angle, thinly slice the sirloin.

Mix the sirloin with the vegetables and sauce. Taste and adjust by adding more lime, fish sauce or shaved palm sugar. Tear the mint leaves at the last minute and mix through.

Black sesame macaron with mascarpone and red bean filling


Time to try a new macaron flavour. There’s one that has been lingering at the back of my mind, and I’ve not had the opportunity to make it. With Mother’s day coming around this Sunday, I think it is perfectly timed for me to make a black sesame macaron paired with a mascarpone and red bean filling. This is for my mum who cannot resist anything red bean. I love you mum! (these won’t survive the postal service so you will just have to wait till our trip home later!) Happy Mother’s Day!

Macarons shell ingredients
150 g icing sugar
100 g almond meal
50 g ground roasted black sesame seeds
110 g egg whites
150 g caster sugar
38 ml water
A tiny glop of black colouring paste, if you wish to add colour to the shell

Making macarons shells
Roast black sesame seeds in a heavy-base pan over a low-medium heat until they are aromatic. They will start to pop. Shake the pan regularly to ensure the seeds don’t get burnt.

Grind roasted sesame seeds in a powerful nut processor until they are finely grounded. I dug out my magic bullet and gave it 15 seconds of blitzing and there I have a bowl of black sesame seed meal. It was so easy I couldn’t believe I didn’t think of it before.

Put the first lot of egg whites into your stand mixer.
Clip the sugar thermometer according to manufacturer’s instructions to a milk saucepan, put the water and caster sugar in and dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Some recipes say you should stir this gently – I’ve found that so long as I didn’t splash the sugar around, I won’t even have to stir. Use a clean pastry brush to brush down the side of the saucepan to avoid any crystallization if the liquid splashes up. Increase the heat.
To make blackish-coloured shells, I added the colouring paste to my Italian meringue. The amount depends on the strength of your gel, what depth of colour you desire and how it mixes with other ingredients. Practice is the only way to test it out. I scrapped tiny balls out using a tooth pick.

Cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 70°C. You should monitor your sugar thermometer, and as it reaches this temperature, add the meringue powder to the egg whites and whisk in medium until it becomes frothy.

Once the sugar syrup has reached 118°C (soft ball stage), take the saucepan off the heat, decrease the mixer speed to medium and slowly trickle the sugar syrup in, down the side of the bowl. (Be warned not to get the syrup onto the whisk as you will then have spun sugar.) Increase speed to high and whisk until the bowl is warm to touch, about 8 minutes.

Add the extra egg white to the almond meal mix, then add the meringue and use a large spatula to thoroughly combine it. Continue mixing the mixture to soften the meringue. Don’t be afraid to slap the mixture down.To achieve “macaronnage”, I mixed the batter about 18 times. Don’t over do this.

Scoop half into a piping bag fitted with a #12 Wilton tip, and pipe.

Today I waited for 30 minutes for a skin to be formed. I also decorated the tops with a few roasted whole black sesames.

I fan-baked them at 125°C, for 16 minutes. After a few minutes in the oven, I could see them rising nicely.

I was so excited with these I did a little victory dance in the kitchen. These came out perfect! The photo’s not though, oops 😉

Once out of the oven, the macarons were left for 2 minutes on its trays before I checked them. They peeled off the baking paper quite easily. I then slid the whole sheet off the baking sheet onto my cool marble counter top. This causes a thermal shock and will make it even easier to peel off.

I paired these with a mascarpone cheese and red bean filling.

Azuki red bean filling Ingredients:

5 tbsp mascarpone Cheese
3 tbsp azuki red bean paste

Directions:

Mix the mascarpone cheese and azuki bean paste together. Chill while your shells are baking. When the shells are cooled, spread the filling onto the macaron shells.

These need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the ganache to flavour the shells, so don’t eat it yet! I have not tried freezing these so cannot comment on that. However I’m sure my friends will gladly polish these off for me so that they won’t have a chance to go near the freezer!