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Monday, February 1, 2016

Rugby man cookie

5 aside rugby

I first spied this cutie at NasiLemakLover and fell in love with it totally. I only own a cookie cutter meant for ginger bread man so I adapted it for this recipe.

Frankly, without adequate chilling , the dough is gooey and hard to handle. Use the flattest spatula to transfer the rugby man to the baking tray and work the dough on a baking sheet to ward off sticky worktops and fingers. For the cookie to achieve a clean edge, dip the cutter in flour and shake off well before cutting out the next cookie.

If you have great patience, this is actually quite fun to do. My rugby man resembles the character in Munch’s Scream but it was nevertheless a hit with my friends.

The moral of the story – have forgiving friends for a wonderful baking life.

Original recipe here. Slightly adapted.

Ingredients :
90g unsalted butter, softened
40g icing sugar
1 egg yolk, medium egg
165g cake flour
baked almond ( prebaked in 180C for 5 minutes, cooled )

Method :
Line tray with silicon sheet.
Cream butter until pale.
Sift in icing sugar and whisk.
Add yolk. Whisk.
Sift in cake flour. Whisk.

Transfer dough to a pastry paper. Chill.
Cut out man with cookie cutter, about 40 pieces.
Place nut. Fold arms over nut.
Preheat the oven to 150C.
Bake rugby man in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Cool before storing.
Keeps for one week.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Chinese New Year Sticky Rice Cake ( Niangao )

This is a reduced version of the market place Nian Gao, the ubiquitous CNY snack.

I made this for someone who has been sick for a while and has been longing for all the goodies that he had as a kid. So here it is, as a treat for him. I have tweaked down the sugar but feel free to push up the sugar part if subtle is not your cup of tea.

Adapted from here 

Ingredients :

5 medium sized AL tins
5 tin foil the size of the tins, oiled with coconut butter

120g gula Melaka
250 ml water
5 pieces of pandan leaves, finger length

Flours :
250g glutinous flour
4 Tbsp water ( standby )
3 Tbsp coconut butter

garnish :
2 cups of freshly grated coconut
1 pinch of salt

Method :
Combine syrup ingredients. Bring to a boil until gula is completely dissolved. Remove leaves.
Leave to cool.

Sift flour into a mixing bowl.
Pour gula syrup into the flour. Mix well with a whisk.
If the batter is too thick, all the ( standby ) water, one Tbsp at a time. Batter should reach the consistency of condensed milk.
Whisk in  coconut butter.

Pour the batter into the tins.
Top with foil, buttered side down.

Steam for 40 minutes.
Cool completely.

Microwave the grated coconut and salt.
Leave to cool.

Cut out and coat in a bed of grated coconut.
Serve hot.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Matcha macarons

After the success of the first New Year Eve macaroons, I went through a couple of macaroon failures using other recipes, tweaking parameters here and there. The learning moment was seeing a ‘scientific diagram’ explaining how the lift of the shell happens and how the uneven temperature distribution within and without the shell causes it to grow ‘feet’.

It was an eureka experience, because the macaroon is part technique, part science and mostly passion. There is so much a chef can stomach damaged macaroons and the understanding of how the macaroon elf works is so important.

Most of us think macaroons are sweet things and the sugar needs toning down. But a certain amount of sugar is needed to provide the fine foam as the egg whites cling to each little sugar bit making an air suspension.

Besides getting a workable ratio between egg white and almond meal right, patience to wait for the shell to dry is indeed important. I did not age the whites overnight at this point of my experiments but perhaps I will someday to figure out the advantage of this overnight step. After the shell is sufficiently dried up at room temperature to form a ‘skin’, it is important to bake at low temperature until the macaroon is lifted up on its feet . The sweet spot is getting the right temperature and baking duration so that the shell is cooked yet moist and chewy.

Most recipes called for 160C and this caused lots of grief for me until I realized my oven is hotter than it programmed. After taming it down to 150C, I fiddled with baking from 10-12 minutes because the oven has the tendency to become hotter after the first batch.

So here’s my conclusion of my experiments :

Almond meal : icing sugar = 1:1.44
The 3 egg whites are from 40g eggs. Bigger eggs will yield runnier foam and affect the shape of the shell ( flatter ) if all other parameters remain constant.
Cream of tartar holds the foam. ½ tsp is a good number.
Tap the macaroons after piping. Air pockets are treacherous because they expand when baking and burst like a pimple, forming cracks. Tapping also flattens and evens off uneven piping. Tapping should be even and tray bottom flat and sturdy so that the macaroons do not slide and form ellipse. Tap gently for a start so that there is minimum gradient of ‘shock’ across the tray.

How long it takes for the skin on uncooked macaroons to form depends on the room it is placed. What is 1 hour in UK is 3-4 hours in Singapore.
Err on the low side when baking. There is a relationship between baking temperature and duration of baking. The thickness of the piped macaroons is also a deciding factor. So far, on a 1.5 inch template, a piped ‘fat’ macaroon is on the brownish side when baked at 150C for 12 minutes. Tweak around to see how it works out for your oven.

Lastly chill for at least half a day. Eat fresh does not work well with macaroons.

On a happy note, my friends who are wary of sweet stuff , managed to pop at least one each and that speaks volumes.

Talks over. It’s now camera … and action!

Makes 25 macaroons.


Macaroon shells –

1.5 inch macaroon template ( 4 sheets )
4 baking sheets
4 trays, low sides, sturdy base

125g extra fine ground almonds
180g icing sugar
½ tsp matcha powder

3  egg whites
2 tbsp caster sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar

Chocolate filling :

80g white chocolate
70g heavy cream
40g butter, softened
1 tbsp matcha powder

shells :

Prepared 4 baking trays.
Place 1.5 inch macaroon template under the baking sheet or silpat.
Set aside.

Whisk whites until stiff.
Add cream of tartar. Whisk.
Add caster sugar. Whisk until stiff.
Combine icing sugar, almond, matcha.
Sieve over whites in 4 batches, folding in between.

Pipe on prepared tray.
Tap tray 6 times, to rid air pockets in the shell meringue.
Set aside, 3 hours until shell is no longer sticky to the touch and forms a skin.

Preheat oven to 150C.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Remove shells, cool then transfer to cooling rack.

Filling :
Heat cream until it steams.
Remove from heat, add chocolate , butter, matcha.
Whisk until homogenous.
Cool mixture.
Piping was be of pipe-able consistency when ready to assemble.

Assembly :

Pipe filling to make sandwiched macarons. Chill for at least half a day before enjoying it.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year’s Eve Macaroon – sending off 2015

I am very happy to end 2015 making these. The year has been a roller coaster ride – so much has happened with many firsts. Thank God He was at every turn and bend!

So on the last day of the year, I am trying a first – macaroons. Of course it has to be festive red to send off the old and welcome the new.

God bless the New Year!

Credits : Adapted from bbc food


Macaroon shells –

125g extra fine ground almonds
180g icing sugar
3  egg whites
2 tbsp caster sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp red food colouring

Method :

Logistics –

Line 2 baking trays with macaroon templates.
Lay silpats or baking sheets over the templates.
Set aside.

Preparing the meringue –

Whisk the egg whites until stiff on high.
Shift in cream of tartar and caster sugar.
Whisk again until stiff.
Shift in almond and icing sugar, in 3 batches.
Fold the almond icing into the whites in between batches until it resembles shaving cream.
Spoon into a piping bag.
Pipe the batter onto prepared trays.
Tap the pans thrice to help smoothen out the shells.
Leave outside until the batter is no longer sticky to the touch, about 60 minutes or more.

Meanwhile …..

Chocolate filling :

100g dark chocolate
70g double cream
40g salted butter

Heat the cream until steaming but not boiling.
Remove pot from the heat. Add in chocolate.
Stir until chocolate melts evenly.
Stir in butter.

Transfer to piping bag.
Chill until ready for use……..

Baking the shells –

Preheat the oven to 160C.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until the shells are cooked.
Cool for 5 minutes.
Remove to cook further.

Assembly –

Pipe the prepared filling on the flat side of the shell.
Sandwich and assemble.
Chill before eating.
Happy holidays! And Happy New Year !