Category Archives: Recipes – Sweet Treats

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!

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!

Tiramisu macarons


In thinking about new flavours for macarons, I find myself drawn to desserts that we like and thinking whether there can be a macaron version. A while ago I made a coffee macaron and on reflection I thought it reminded me of Tiramisu, an all-time favourite dessert in our household. Today I decided to make macarons based on our Tiramisu recipe. I made these with chocolate shells paired with a rum chocolate ganache and a coffee jelly. J is not allowed to go near the coffee so I made some with just the chocolate ganache, without the strong coffee jelly.

Macaron shells
150 g almond meal
140 g icing sugar
10g valrhona cocoa powder
58 g egg whites (about 1.5 egg)
1 g meringue powder
150 g caster sugar
38 g water
2-3 drops of each of brown coloring gels
58 g egg whites extra

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 and bring to the boil.
To make coffee-coloured shells, I added brown gel colourings 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 2-3 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.

20120409-072001.jpgAdd the extra egg white to the almond meal mix, then add the meringue and use a large spatula to thoroughly combine it.

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Continue combining the mixture to soften the meringue. To achieve “macaronnage”, I mixed the batter about 18 times.

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Wait 30 minutes for the skin to form.

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I fan-baked them at 125°C, for 18 minutes (longer than normal as cocoa ones need more time to cook).

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.

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I paired this with a rum chocolate ganache, and the recipe follows:

120g chocolate, chopped
100ml cream
1 tbsp rum

Melt cream in a pot and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for 2 minutes until the chocolate melts. Mix the rum in till the ganache is smooth. Cool in the fridge for 60 minutes until firm for piping.

Coffee jelly
3 heaped tsp Moccona coffee granules
4 tbsp sugar
100ml hot water
1.5 gelatine sheets

Let the sheet bloom in a bowl of 250ml cold water for a a few minutes.

Dissolve the sugar and coffee granules in the hot water.

Squeeze the water from the bloomed gelatine sheet and add the sheet into the coffee mix, stir to completely dissolve the sheet. Cool in fridge to set.

This recipe makes plenty, so save some in an airtight box for later!

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In the meantime, I used a small icing spatula to lift off thin sections of the coffee jelly. I placed these on one pair of the domes and the chocolate ganache onto the other pair of the domes.

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These need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the ganache to flavour the shells, so don’t eat it yet! These can keep in the freezer for up to 3 months – just wrap a few of them (4 or 6) with cling film wraps and place them in a airtight box. Bring them out an hour before serving to allow them to return to room temperature. The moisture will cling to the cling film and not your macarons.

The one in the left is the chocolate flavour.

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Where as the one on the right has the coffee jelly layer. My tasters said they were yum! Although the coffee jelly is quite strong when tried on its own, it achieves a striking balance when paired with the rich ganache and sweet shell. Hm-mmm!

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Chocolate chestnut mini cupcakes


J: mummy can I have a cupcake please?
Me: ok (grabs one from the box and gives her one, and walks out of the kitchen)
A few minutes later, J came to find me,
J: mummy I’ve finished my 2 cupcakes !!! They were delicious!
Me: I only gave you one, how did you get another?
J: I tippy-toed onto the bench, grabbed the box and chose one!

Now I can’t leave things on the kitchen bench!!

Recipes are written to be followed, right? Well sometimes not I guess. Especially when you can’t find an easy and quick recipe that allows you to use up your chestnut puree!! Even in this day and age where you have search engines that do all the work for you in 0.01 of a second?? So I say recipes are developed and improved upon to allow us to face whatever life throws at us (leftover chestnut purée that is).
So here you have a recipe that I personally designed. You have 3 options (having choices are good):
A) chocolate chestnut cupcake with no flour component. In which case don’t add the last ingredient. This gives a gooey decadent dessert-like cake.
B) chocolate chestnut cupcake with plain flour. This is what I made in the photos, for I wanted something less rich for J.
C) chocolate chestnut gluten-free cupcake, using almond meal instead of plain flour. Well that’s if you needed to make cupcakes, but discovered at the last minute that you have ran out of flour because you have been making macarons for far too long and had forgotten the need for flour. You however have almond meal well stocked in the pantry, so go ahead and use it!

Ingredients

110g dark chocolate melts
4 eggs, separated
100g caster sugar
200g chestnut purée
75g dark chocolate bites (those that hold their shapes during cooking, and you can omit this if you think there is enough chocolate already!! J insisted she wanted these, so in they go)
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g flour (or almond meal if you want these to be gluten-free cupcakes)

Instructions

Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water. This will take about 3-5 minutes. Stir to make sure all the chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk the egg whites until it forms a soft peak.

Beat the egg yolks with the caster sugar until it is pale and creamy.

Add the cooled melted chocolate, mix to combine.

Add the chestnut puree, mix slightly just to combine (having little lumps of chestnuts inside is like discovering little treasures – oh how I wish I had glaced chestnuts!!!)

Mix in the dark chocolate bites and baking powder.

Mix in the flour or almond meal.

Last but not least, fold in the egg whites.

In the mean time, J has been lining the tray with mini cupcake cases.

Drop them into mini cupcake cases. You will have enough to make 30.

Bake at 175 degrees Celcius for 13 minutes.

Rest for 1 minute in the pan, and then remove to cool on a wire rack.

No icing needed, but if you really wanted, you could do a simple 1:1 chocolate ganache (i.e. 1 part chocolate to 1 part cream – eg 50g chocolate melted with 50ml hot cream, like for my macarons)

and rating…don’t really need to say much =)

(ps. sorry about the holes in the cupcakes – this was a rather hurried job and I didn’t sift my flour and baking powder…and also probably over mixed it a bit! Did not affect the yummyness though, so all good.)

Hazelnut cocoa nibs cookies


Today J helped me with some freezer cookie dough. These are the ones I always have in the freezer, to be whipped out in a second when cookies are called for in short notice.

You can replace the hazelnuts with other nuts you like: pistachios, macadamias or cashews.

Ingredients
1 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup cocoa nibs
2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup valrhona cocoa powder
2 tbsp Frangelico (hazelnut liquor)

Method

Combine the butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer, and beat on high for 1 minute until it is smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla extract and frangelico liquor.

Beat in the chopped hazelnuts and cocoa nibs.

Add all the flour and cocoa powder in. Beat on low speed until the flour mixture is well incorporated.

Scoop half of this dough and place onto cling film. Roll into a log and freeze for at least 2 hours before slicing. You can keep this for up to 3 months. Scoop the rest of the dough onto another piece of cling film to form a second log.

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like so…

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celcius.

Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough into 0.5cm thick slices.

Place cookies on baking paper-lined cookie sheets.

Bake for 12 minutes, remove from oven and let them rest on the sheets for about 1-2 minutes further before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!