February 28, 2017

Macarons


While macarons are beautiful and rather impressive, they're definitely not the easiest things to make - but when they do work, it's an incredible feeling!

This is my tried and true recipe, with all my tips for macaron success (after a lot of trial and error!)  I hope that this helps with your macaron endeavours.

Do note that macarons' behaviour can differ depending on the climate that you live in, so what works for me may not necessarily work for you.  I encourage you to keep experimenting!

Recipe adapted from: David Lebovitz
Ingredients
180g icing sugar

75g almond meal
3 egg whites from large eggs
97g white sugar

Method
1. Using a food processor, process the icing sugar and almond meal until combined and smooth.  This step helps to break down the almond meal into smaller particles, which will result in a smoother macaron batter.
You can also use hazelnut meal, which provides a lovely flavour, however I find that my macarons don't usually work how I want them to when I use hazelnuts.

2. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they form soft peaks.  (Top tip - I often use spare egg yolks to whip up some lemon curd!)

3. Add the white sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating in between additions.  Continue to beat until firm peaks form. 

4. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites in two batches.  (If you are using food colouring to colour your macarons, now is the time to add it!)  Ensure that all ingredients are combined, but do not overmix.

You don't need to be too gentle - the 'macaronnage' technique calls for the mixture to be smeared across the site of the bowl a bit with the spatula to decrease aeration.  The macaron batter should be smooth with no streaks of egg whites.

5. Line baking trays with baking paper.  I usually use a silicon mat and top it with baking paper to ensure that no oils from the silicon come in contact with the macarons.

6. Pipe the batter into small circles with a small round piping tip.  I usually make my macarons around 4-5cm in diameter.  Make sure to leave some space between macarons as they can spread.  Rap the baking tray on your table a few times to flatten the macarons and remove any large air bubbles.

7. Preheat your oven to 185C (365F).  While the oven's heating up, set the macarons aside to set a little - a skin will form on the top which will help your macaron to form a 'foot' when baked.

8. Bake the macarons for 10-15 minutes.  I bake my macarons on the fan setting for around 5 minutes (the foot should form during this time), then turn the fan setting off and lower the temperature to 150C (300F).

If your oven element is on the bottom of the oven, don't put your macarons on the bottom rack as it will be too hot for them and they may crack.  You can also put an empty baking tray on the bottom rack to help block the heat a bit.

9. Let the macarons rest on the tray until cool.  They can be sticky if you try to pull them off the baking paper while hot.

10. Sandwich your macarons with your desired filling - I usually use buttercream or dark chocolate ganache.  You can also make a dam of ganache or buttercream and put jam, caramel or another softer filling in the middle.



A dam of dark chocolate ganache surrounds salted caramel in these macarons!





February 14, 2017

Nutella Raspberry Rugelach


Rugelach is a Jewish pastry that can be filled with a variety of ingredients such as fruits, nuts or chocolate.  I'd never had rugelach before these but was drawn to the recipe because the filling is Nutella.  I am happy to say that these are absolutely delicious!  I could hardly believe I'd made them myself at home; the pastry was beautifully flaky and they were really tasty!

Recipe adapted from: Bakerita
Ingredients
113g butter
113g cream cheese
145g flour
1 1/2  tsp white sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 cup Nutella
1/4 cup raspberry jam (optional)
Milk and white sugar (to brush on top of the pastries)

Method
1. Combine the butter, cream cheese, flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl (I used my stand mixer).  Mix on low speed until the dough comes together.

2. Press the dough into a rectangular lump.  Wrap it in cling wrap and let it chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

3. When you're ready to bake the rugelach, preheat the oven to 175C (350F).

4. Cut the dough into 2 portions and, on a floured surface, roll them out into a large rectangle.

5. Spread the dough with the Nutella, then top with the raspberry jam.  (Alternatively, you can just use Nutella!)



6. Roll the dough up, starting from the long side of the rectangle to make two long logs.

7. Put the logs into the freezer for around 15 minutes to make them easier to cut up.

8. When the logs are chilled, brush them with some milk and sprinkle with some white sugar.  Cut the logs into equal pieces about 2.5cm (1 inch) wide.  Place the slices upright on a baking tray lined with baking paper or a silicon mat.



9. Bake the rugelach for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden.

10. Allow the rugelach to cool on wire racks.



Enjoy!

February 5, 2017

Tahini Choc Chip Cookies


These are absolutely fantastic - they're the classic choc chip cookies we know and love, with an undertone of sesame provided by the addition of tahini in the batter.  They also have a great texture - chewy at the edges with a soft centre.

Recipe adapted from: My Name Is Yeh
Ingredients
125g butter
240g white sugar
110g tahini
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
155g flour
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup choc chips (I used dark chocolate chips)

Method
1. Cream the butter, tahini and sugar together until light and fluffy.  I use my stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

2. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla; beat together until combined.

3. Add the flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt to the batter, mix gently until just combined.

4. Stir through the chocolate chips.

5. Line a baking tray that will fit in your freezer with baking paper or a silicon mat.  Scoop out balls of dough; I make mine a bit bigger than tablespoon size.  If you make your cookies larger or smaller, remember that you'll need to adjust the baking time!

6. Place the tray of cookie dough balls into the freezer and let them rest there for 12 hours/overnight.  This really helps the cookies develop a lovely texture.



7. When you're ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 160C (325F).

8. Place the cookie dough on baking trays lined with baking paper/silicon mats, leaving space between the cookies as they will spread!  You can bake as many or as few cookies as you like - store extra cookies in a seal-able storage bag in the fridge and bake them when you want them!

9. Bake the cookies for 11 minutes; the edges should be lightly golden but they should still be soft.  (Remember you'll need to bake them for a longer time if your cookies are larger.)



10. Let the cookies cool on the trays for a few minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.



Enjoy!


January 24, 2017

Speculoos Swirl Brownies


I discovered speculoos spread while travelling in Belgium - and truly my life was empty before that day!  Speculoos/speculaas are spiced biscuits similar to gingerbread, and the spread is mostly made up of the crushed biscuits.  It's absolutely delicious.

These cocoa brownies are liberally swirled with speculoos spread.  They're chewy, dense and sweet - so good!

In Australia, I buy my speculoos online from It's All Dutch To Me (search for 'Lotus').  I have also found a different brand at Aldi but I find that less reliable as it's not always in store!



Recipe adapted from: Alice Medrich via Butter Baking
Ingredients - 20 cm (8 inch) square tin
225g butter
450g white sugar
110g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs
120g flour
3/4 cup Speculoos spread (also known as cookie butter or Biscoff)

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 170C (325F).

2. Line a 20 cm (8 inch) baking tin with baking paper.

3. Melt the butter in the microwave or over a double boiler.

4. Mix the sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla essence into the melted butter.

5. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until the mixture is combined.

6. Fold the flour into the batter then beat it with a spatula or wooden spoon for 40 strokes.

7. Pour the batter into the lined baking tin and smooth out the top.

8. Drop tablespoons of Speculoos over the top of the batter then swirl it in with a knife.  Don't break the blobs up too much but make sure that there will be Speculoos in every slice!



9. Bake the brownies for about 35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.

10. Let the brownies cool (I usually leave them in the fridge for a bit, it makes it easier to cut them up) - finally, cut the brownies into the size of your choosing.



Enjoy!

April 11, 2016

Meringue Kisses


You've probably seen meringue kisses floating around on the internet and social media - some of the most famous ones are the colourful creations of the Meringue Girls.  Good news; you can make them at home, and they aren't too difficult to achieve!

The only ingredients for these kisses are egg whites and sugar (and optional food colouring).  To achieve a smooth consistency the sugar is heated up a bit before being beaten into the egg whites.  I really love how they turned out!



Recipe adapted from: Meringue Girls via Bakerella
Ingredients
1 part egg whites to 2 parts sugar
e.g. 100g egg whites, 200g sugar

Gel food colouring (I use Wilton)

Method
1. Preheat your oven to 205C (400F).

2. Once the oven is nearly heated to temperature, whisk the egg whites on low in a stand mixer or hand mixer until bubbles form, then increase the speed to high and beat until firm peaks form.

3. Line a baking tray (that has sides on it to prevent sugar spilling everywhere) with baking paper and pour the sugar onto it, making sure that it's spread evenly.

4. Bake the sugar in the oven for about 5 minutes, until the edges of the sugar begin to melt.

5. Remove the sugar from the oven.  Leave the oven on, and decrease the heat to 95C (200F).

6. Start whisking the egg whites again, on high speed.  Add large spoonfuls of sugar to the mixture, one at a time, whisking in between (you can keep the mixer going, and just spoon sugar in periodically).  Make sure that the mixture is at firm peaks again before you add more sugar.

7. Once all the sugar is incorporated, keep whisking for another few minutes.  When it's done, the mixture should look shiny, feel smooth between your fingers (without many or any flecks of sugar) and it should form stiff peaks.  If you want to make your kisses a single solid colour, this is the time to add your desired food colouring and beat it in until the colour is how you want it.

8. Prepare a baking tray lined with baking paper.

9. Fit a piping bag (I used a disposable plastic one) with a small round piping tip.  If you want to make colourful stripy kisses, you will need to paint the inside of the bag with food colouring.  Take the food colouring and paint stripes on the inside of the piping bag using a paintbrush.  For these kisses I alternated between blue and green stripes.  You can turn the bag inside out if you want but you can just take a long handled paintbrush and paint inside the bag without inverting it.

When you paint the stripes on the plastic bag, the food colouring won't look like a solid stripe - I found that mine kind of pooled together and made me think that it wouldn't look opaque and work - but don't worry, it will turn out fine!

You can use whatever colour combinations you want for your kisses.  Have fun experimenting!  However, I think it looks best if some of the white is left to peek out.

Pre-baking
10. Carefully spoon the meringue mixture into the piping bag - you don't want to smudge the stripes too much!

11. Pipe kisses onto your baking tray.  This may require a bit of experimentation to get the desired shape, but you'll get into the groove of things!


Pre-baking
12. Bake the kisses for 30-40 minutes, until they are dry and can be easily lifted off the baking paper.

13. Let the kisses cool.



Enjoy!  I'm looking forward to making these in heaps of colours!




March 24, 2016

Sweet Coconut Swirl Bread


This recipe makes a sweet, soft bread full of coconut flavour.

Recipe adapted from: Clockwork Lemon
Ingredients - 11 x 21 cm loaf (4 x 8 inch)
Sponge
4.5g instant yeast
7.5g white sugar
187g coconut milk
150g bread flour (can substitute plain flour)

Dough
1 egg
4g salt 
25g white sugar
175g bread flour (can substitute plain flour)
63g butter (room temperature)

Filling
38g butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
12g white sugar
1 tbsp powdered milk (you can skip this ingredient if you don't have it on hand)

Method
1. Microwave the coconut milk until lukewarm, then combine the sponge ingredients (yeast, sugar, coconut milk and bread flour), stirring until smooth.

2. Cover the mixture with cling wrap and let it double in volume, about 30 minutes.

3. Add the egg, salt, sugar and half of the flour (from the dough ingredients) to the risen sponge, stir until combined.  I used the dough hook attachment on my stand mixer.

4. Cut your butter up into pieces and add a few pieces at a time to the dough, mixing in between additions until all the butter has been combined.

5. Add the remaining flour and knead until smooth.  Continue kneading for another few minutes so that the dough becomes soft and elastic.

6. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap, let it rise for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

7. While the dough rises, mix the filling ingredients (butter, coconut, sugar and powdered milk) together until combined.

8. Once your dough has risen, punch out the air and roll it out to about a 25cm x 35cm rectangle.

9. Spread the filling mixture over the rectangle.

10. From one of the long sides, roll the dough up into a long log.  Cut the log down the middle, leaving a bit un-cut at the top.  Turn the pieces so that the cut side faces up, then wrap the pieces around each other to form a kind of plait.



11. Line your loaf tin with baking paper, then gently place the plait into the tin.  You may need to squish it up a bit so that it fits, but that's ok!



12. Cover the tin with plastic wrap and let the loaf rise again for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

13. While the loaf is rising, preheat the oven to 175C (350F).

14. When the loaf has risen, bake it for about 35 minutes.  The top should be golden.



15. Let the loaf cool a bit before slicing, and enjoy!