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Friday, December 3, 2010

On vacation...until December 16th:)


Going to Japan for 2 weeks for some cutural and food adventures:)

Finally, the trip that I've been waiting is almost here. I'll be in Kyoto in less than 24 hours and might not have time to update the blog for the next two weeks.

I do, however, check emails regularly and will try to attend to questions whenever I can:)

Sayonara and will be back soon

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Series Macaron - Red: Raspberry Buttercream Macaron


A continuation from my previous post of Christmas series macarons, Green: Dark Chocolate Mint Macarons, this week is ... as you might have guessed it...Red: Raspberry Buttercream Macaron. It would be a good idea to whip these two batches of Red and Green macarons together for Christmas party or gift. The colours are so festive and christmasey.



This is the first time I made French buttercream for macaron filling. French buttercream is a perfect way to use leftover egg yolks from making macaron shells (hence, I never made it as I never had any egg yolks leftover. I usually used those yolks for ice cream, custard and crème brulèe). French buttercream is egg yolk mixed with cooked sugar syrup and butter. It tastes quite rich and smooth. It is also versatile that you can mix other ingredients in to create your own flavours, lemon curd, jam, fruit puree, to name a few. 
 



The raspberry macarons is now my most favourite. It's an OMG moment when I first bit into it. The taste is to die for. The raspberry must be a fruit from heaven or something, for pastry and sweet anyway. The flavour is just so intense. It is full of tang, rich aroma and rich colour. The flavour blends so perfectly with the rich buttercream and sweet meringue shells. It made my mouth watered thinking about the taste experience. It has so much depth in its flavour.


Com'on, let's get festive and whip up some red macarons!

 Raspberry Buttercream Macarons
Make about 25 3-cm macarons

Note:

You can also see more detailed intructions on making macarons in my Basic Macaron Recipe and I heart Macarons blogs.

Macaron shell ingredients
100 g egg white (about 3 extra large eggs, aged 24- 48 hrs in advance. Take egg white out of the fridge a couple of hours before making to bring it to room temperature)
110 g almond meal (almond powder, ground almond)
160 g pure icing sugar (powder sugar)
60 g caster sugar (fine sugar)
a pinch of red colouring powder or liquid

Raspberry buttercream ingredients
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
90 grams castor sugar (fine sugar)
90 grams butter ointment (soft butter, but not melting)
10 grams water
½ cup raspberry jam (I used a homemade jam in this recipe)

Making macaron shell

Sifting almond meal and icing sugar together by pushing them through a sieve. You can also grind almond meal and icing sugar together in a food processor to have finer almond meal mixture and it will be easier for sifting. However, this is not necessary.

If using colouring powder, mix it with caster sugar in a small bowl until you achieve the desired colour (note that the colour need to be much more intense than the desired end-result as the colour will fade once mixed with egg white and other dry ingredients)

Using electric mixer, beat egg white on a high speed until foamy, gradually add caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating the egg white until it reaches a glossy stiff peak. If using colouring liquid, put about 10 drops of green colouring liquid into the egg white mixture and mix on a low speed until well-combined.

Mix egg white into an almond meal mixture. Stir quite vigourously to break the egg white into dry ingredients for the first ten stokes or so. Continue to mix the egg white with dry ingredients until well combined (try the motion of lift, fold and push the mixture to the side of mixing bowl). The mixture should be thick, glossy and well-blended. The batter will look like a very thick cake batter.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1-cm plain nozzle (size #11).

Pipe mixture onto a tray lined with parchment paper or non-stick baking mat (Silpat) about one-inch in diameter and one inch apart.
Tap trays on a kitchen bench a few times to flatten the piped macarons and remove the air bubbles.

Leave the piped shell uncovered at room temperature for 30-60 mins until you can touch the shell without them sticking to your fingers.

Preheat the oven to 160c/180c (convection/conventional) about 15 mins before baking.

Reduce the temperature to 140c/160c (convection/conventional) and bake macarons for about 13-15 mins. Baking time will depend on the macaron size.

Remove baking trays from oven. Remove macarons from the tray and put them on cooling racks. You may need a serrated knife to help removing macarons. Spraying a little water onto the hot tray underneath the paper also help releasing macarons (the steam gives that magic releasing power). 

Once they're completely cool, sandwich two shells together with raspberry buttercream. Keep the filled macarons in a covered container in the fridge. They can be kept upto 5 days (or longer). Macarons taste better after they have been chilled for at least 12 hours. Filled macarons can also be frozen.


Making raspberry buttercream

Make the butter oinment by wrapping the butter in plastic wrap and putting in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Use a rolling pin to roll over the wrapped butter and make it into a paste. Do not overwork the butter as you don't want it to turn to liquid. Set aside.

Mix the sugar with the water and bring to a boil. Using a candy thermometer to measure the sugar temperature, continue to boil until it reaches 121C (249F). If the sugar begins to crystallize on the sides of the pan, wash them down with a pastry brush dipped in the water or briefly cover the pan and let the steam dissolve the crystals naturally.


Meanwhile, whip egg yolks in electric mixer on medium high speed. They will begin to turn pale and yellow and will become light and thick.

When the sugar reach 121 C or 249 F, remove it from heat. With the mixer on high, slowly pour the syrup into the egg yolks in a thin stream between the whip and the sides of the bowl. Be careful not to splash the hot syrup, or your buttercream may from small sugar crystals in it. Return the mixer to medium high, and continue beating until the yolks are thick and fully cooled.


Reduced mixer speed to medium and gradually add small amount of butter ointment, but only as much as it can be absorbed into the mixture before adding the next amount. Continue to beat well until the buttercream is smooth. About 15 minutes. If you add the butter too quickly, the butter can melt and the mixture will turn to liquid.

As the buttercream solidifies, add raspberry jam, and beat for an additional minute.


Chill the buttercream filling until ready to use.

Voila, enjoy the most delicious macarons ever!

Stollen - my first festive fruit bread

When Christmas is just around the corner, one can’t help feeling festive and want to generate Christmas spirit all around. This is my first Christmas as a  bread enthusiast and I have my eyes on a couple of festive breads. One of them is stolen,  a festive German breads eaten during Chistmas time.  The bread symbolises the blanket of the baby Jesus, and the coloured fruits represent the gifts of the Magi.

 


I think I only had stollen once. I bought a pre-package ones imported from Germany. It was quite sweet and dry, yet it was lovely, a very tasty bread.

I chose the recipe from Peter Reinhart’s  Bread Baker Apprentice: Mastering the arts of extraordinary breads. I changed parts of the recipes to suit what I have in the pantry (I am one of those who would try to find substitutes to recipes in my pantry instead of venturing out and buy new packs of ingredients). Some of the substitutes I had were using lemon and orange zests instead of orange/lemon extract, and using sherry instead of brandy (I know, I know, this is probably so untraditional, but let me tell you that it worked really well). I also used the pre-packaged dried fruit mix, instead of making my own fruit mix as the recipe suggested, and again it worked nicely.

I knead the dough by hand and knead it until the gluten was fully developed before adding the mixed fruit soaker. It would be almost impossible to develop the gluten further once you add fruit soaker.

The dough was very sticky when it is mixed with the fruit soaker. I had to put about 4 tablespoons of more flour in to adjust consistency of the dough. The texture was almost like a cake. The dough was still quite sticky even dough I added more flour. However, the liquid seemed to get absorbed during the fermentation and the dough wasn’t too hard to shape after all.



I had trouble shaping the loaves following Peter Reinhart's instruction. I determined to get it right...so, I made this again the weekend after (it's actually an excuse, I love the bread and want to have it again:)). I ended following Susan’s instructions on Wild Yeast Blog which is easier to follow and quite straight forwards, yet achieving the same result.

With my first batch, I brushed the hot stollen loaves with vegetable oil but I used butter with my second bake. The ones with vegetable oil had better moisture, texture and taste

It is a very delicious bread, moist and aromatic.  We love them so much and finish one small loaf in a day, and the other a day after. I also bought a loaf from my second bake to work and my workmates love it too.  I sure will do this again and again. It's great bread all year round, not necessary for only christmas. I also think that the recipe could be good for hot cross buns as well.




Stollen recipe

Make 1 large or 2 small stollens

Sponge
114 g whole milk
64 g all-purpose flour
12.5 g instant yeast

Fruit
170 g golden raisins, plus additional for sprinkling on final dough (or you can use mixed fruit for the amount of golden raisin and candied fruits combined)
170 g candied fruit mix, plus additional for sprinkling on final dough
114 g brandy, rum or schnapps (I used sherry in my bake and it worked well)
14 g orange or lemon extract (I used lemon and orange zest and it worked nicely)

Dough
284 g unbleached all-purpose flour
14 g sugar
5 g salt
3 g (1 teaspoon) grated orange zest (optional)
3 g (1 teaspoon) grated lemon zest (optional)
7 g (1 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
47 g (1 large) egg
70 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
57 g water
57 g silvered blanched almonds (or marzipan)

  1. Make the sponge by warming the milk to about 100F. Whisk in the flour and yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment for 1 hour, or until the sponge is very foamy and ready to collapse when tapped.
  2. Meanwhile, combine 1 cup each of the raisins and fruit mix, the brandy, and the orange extract. Set aside.
  3. To make the dough, in a 4-quart mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, orange and lemon zests, and cinnamon. Then stir in (or mix in on low speed with the paddle attachment) the sponge, egg, butter, and enough water to form a soft, but not sticky, ball. This should take about 2 minutes. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Add in the fruit and mix it with your hands (or on low speed) to incorporate.
  5. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should feel soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 6 minutes (4 minutes by machine). Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  6. Ferment at room temperature for 45 minutes. The dough will rise somewhat but will not double in size.
  7. Sprinkle flour lightly on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. If making two small loaves, divide the dough into two equal pieces. Use the rolling pin to press the dough in the middle and roll the dough to create a well in a middle. The middle well/gap should be about an inch lower that the dough surrounding it. Sprinkle silvered almond and additional fruit mix over the top. Lift the top flap to close the dough by having the top flap sitting on top off the bottom flap.
  8. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Transfer the stolen to the pan and, as you set the dough down, curl it into a slight crescent. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Proof for approximately 1 hour at room temperature, or until the dough is 1 ½ times its original size.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
  10. Bake the stollen for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 50 minutes, depending on the size of the loaves. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color,  should register 190F in the centre of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
  11. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and brush the top with vegetable oil while still hot. Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter. Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first. The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar. Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving. When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or, leave them out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.

Wunderbar!
 Submit this post to YeastSpotting.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas macarons - Chocolate Mint Macarons




Christmas is just around the corner. Let’s do something festive.

I have been thinking about Christmas theme macarons once I started to see the Christmas merchandises in the stores.

When thinking about Christmas, there are quite a few things representing Christmas that come to my mind. Green, red, spice, fruit, brandy, mint, to name a few.  So, I have three Christmas macaron flavours in my mind that I plan to make and post in the next few weeks as part of my Christmas macaron series.

First entry – let’s  start with a Christmas symbol that we are all familiar with, candy cane, which usually comes with mint flavour and red-green-white stripe. Hence, the dark chocolate mint macarons with mint candy cane sprinkle.



I used fresh mint (peppermint) to infuse the cream used for chocolate ganache and added a small amount of peppermint essence to bring out more minty flavour. I have tried using only fresh mints but found that the mint flavour didn’t quite come through. I’ve also tried using only peppermint essence to flavour the mint ganache and found that it lacked the flavour subtlety provided by fresh mints. The combination of fresh mints and peppermint essence provides the good of the both worlds, subtlety yet pronounced minty flavour.

The mint macarons would be a perfect treat after meals and it’s a good option for not-so-sweet tooth dessert eaters. The dark chocolate with the peppery minty flavours complement well with sweet meringue shell. It is also one of my favourites (well, I have way too many favourites when it comes to macarons)



Dark chocolate mint macaron recipe
Make about 25 3-cm macarons

Note:
You can also visit my Basic Macaron Recipe and I heart Macarons blogs for more details and instruction on making macarons.

Macaron shell ingredients
100 g egg white (about 3 extra large eggs, aged 24- 48 hrs in advance. Take egg white out of the fridge a couple of hours before making to bring it to room temperature)
110 g almond meal (almond powder, ground almond)
160 g pure icing sugar (powder sugar)
60 g caster sugar (fine sugar)
a pinch of green colouring powder or liquid
1 mint flavour candy cane candy, crushed

Dark chocolate mint ganache ingredients (macarons filling)
100 g dark chocolate, cut into small pieces
100 ml thickened cream (whipping cream, minimum 35% fat content)
20 g butter, cut into cubes
A handful of peppermint leaves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon peppermint essence (optional)

Making macaron shell

1. Sifting almond meal and icing sugar together by pushing them through a sieve. You can also grind almond meal and icing sugar together in a food processor to have finer almond meal mixture and it will be easier for sifting. However, this is not necessary.

2. If using colouring powder, mix it with caster sugar in a small bowl until you achieve the desired colour (note that the colour need to be much more intense than the desired end-result as the colour will fade once mixed with egg white and other dry ingredients)

3. Using electric mixer, beat egg white on a high speed until foamy, gradually add caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating the egg white until it reaches a glossy stiff peak. If using colouring liquid, put about 10 drops of green colouring liquid into the egg white mixture and mix on a low speed until well-combined.

4. Mix egg white into an almond meal mixture. Stir quite vigourously to break the egg white into dry ingredients for the first ten stokes or so. Continue to mix the egg white with dry ingredients until well combined (try the motion of lift, fold and push the mixture to the side of mixing bowl). The mixture should be thick, glossy and well-blended. The batter will look like a very thick cake batter.

5. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1-cm plain nozzle (size #11).

6. Pipe mixture onto a tray lined with parchment paper or non-stick baking mat (Silpat) about one-inch in diameter and one inch apart, and sprinkle crushed candy cane on top of  piped shells (only on half of them).

Let's sprinkle some Christmas spirit on to the shell


7. Tap trays on a kitchen bench a few times to flatten the piped macarons and remove the air bubbles.

8. Leave the piped shell uncovered at room temperature for 30-60 mins until you can touch the shell without them sticking to your fingers.

9. Preheat the oven to 160c/180c (convection/conventional) about 15 mins before baking.

Reduce the temperature to 140c/160c (convection/conventional) and bake macarons for about 13-15 mins. Baking time will depend on the macaron size.

10. Remove baking trays from oven. Remove macarons from the tray and put them on cooling racks. You may need a serrated knife to help removing macarons. Spraying a little water onto the hot tray underneath the paper also help releasing macarons (the steam gives that magic releasing power). 

11. Once they're completely cool, sandwich two shells together with chocolate ganache. Keep the macarons in a covered container in the fridge. They can be kept upto 5 days (or longer). Macarons taste better after they have been chilled for at least 12 hours. Filled macarons can also be frozen.


Making dark chocolate mint ganache

1. Put chocolate pieces in a seperate bowl.

2. Heat thickened cream with mint leaves in a small pan over medium heat. When it comes to the boil, remove it from heat and let stand for 10 minutes to infuse the mint flavour. Return the pan back to the stove on medium heat. Remove the pan from heat once it comes to the boil and strain the cream to remove the mint leaves.  Pour the cream over chocolate pieces. Let it sit for about 10 seconds, then stir the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted. Scatter the butter pieces and stir until it's melted.



3. Stir peppermint essence in and mix until well-combined.

4. Chill the ganache in the fridge until ready to use. It needs to be chilled at least an hour or more until it's firm enough for the filling.

Great for Christmas gift

Next week will be 'red Christmas macaron'.