Happy Christmas Eve! 🎄☃️🌟 Almost a week into tier 4, but funnily enough I am still enjoying my time away from work and being left to my own devices. 😌 Obviously this Christmas is a lot quieter than previous years, but I think it’s good to find some peace in these uncertain times.
Continuing my spree of festive baking, I decided to make a traditional Yule Log today. The filling is a whipped cream with raspberries, wrapped in a chocolate sponge coated in dark chocolate ganache and decorated with tempered chocolates. 😋 It’s very straightforward, and I had such a fun time making it because I just love doing tempered chocolate work. 😁👌 And to finish, all it needs a little dust of icing sugar to bring it to life! ❄️❄️
Everyone has a fear. Sounds like something from a horror movie, right? (Not that I would know ’cause I refuse to watch horror movies most times haha.) But, to my fellow cooks and bakers out there, is there a dish that no matter how many times you tried and tried to perfect, it still seems to remain the bane of your life? Your ultimate culinary nemesis? The Nightmare on Elm Street that keeps waking you up? Well, for me, that thing is macaron.
I had my fair share of failures when it comes to this little, adorable French dessert. Cracked top, footless, underbaked, and even macarons as flat as pancakes. For a period of time, I even tried to avoid making them altogether as I can’t stand the thought of it! However, yesterday I decided to face my fear of macarons once again. The result? Three trays of macarons that have almost all cracked! 😭 (I think it’s to do with my oven temperature being too hot. Though because I don’t have a conventional oven at home, it’s hard to adjust accordingly… More on that later.)
Luckily, I still managed to salvage a few. The filling is a dark chocolate ganache with a strawberry jam centre.
They are not perfect, but nonetheless, they are still miles better than the ones I used to make years ago. The recipe I used is by Cupcake Jemma. And quite honestly, having tried quite a few recipes, it’s by far the best one I discovered. I would really recommend it to those of you who are interested in making macarons. See the link of her YouTube video here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uWSOJMcvDec
Here are a few tips I have picked up that I would suggest to pay close attention to:
1. ALWAYS sieve the ground almond and icing sugar to avoid a lumpy surface.
2. This recipe uses an Italian meringue, which I think it’s much better than recipes using French meringue. Supposedly, it gives the macarons more stability. Regardless with the science behind it, I can tell you I have had much higher success rate with this method.
3. Take great care when you fold the meringue into the ground almond mixture. Over-mixing and under-mixing can become big problems for your macarons.
4. Make sure you leave enough rooms when you are piping your macaron batter. Reason see below.
5. Tap your baking tray on the surface to let out air bubbles. Because the macarons are likely to spread a bit as you tap the tray, it’s important you leave rooms when piping. I particularly like Jemma’s idea of using a cocktail stick to pop any air bubbles lurking inside the macarons. It ensures a smooth surface.
6. Make sure you leave the macarons to dry so a skin is formed on top. (Test it by the finger method mentioned in the video.) This ensures the distinctive feet of the macarons will be formed during baking. As they mentioned, it does depend on the environment you are in. In UK, it’s really quick because we have a very dry climate. When I was visiting Hong Kong, it sometimes took over an hour even with air conditioning!
7. The oven temperature is very important (as I have painfully learned). Oven too hot will result in cracked and browned tops, whereas oven too cold will result in footless macarons.
I have a small oven at home, so adjusting the temperature has proven to be difficult. I have tried to bake the macarons at the bottom of the oven and placed another tray on the rack above to block out heat coming from the top, but neither seems to result in much changes, so would love to hear any suggestions or advices on that.
Do you have any tips of making macarons? What is your biggest cooking/baking fear? Let me know in the comments!
As the famous quote in Forrest Gump goes, ‘you never know what you’re gonna get’. Life can get tough at times, but those sweetest and happiest moments also sometimes come at the most surprising times. However, one thing for certain is you can never have too much chocolates. This rich and moist chocolate cake covered in velvety chocolate ganache will be a delicious treat at any time you desire. In fact, life should be filled with chocolates!
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache
1 tsp baking
60 ml hot
200g dark chocolate,
fondant, purple and green
White chocolate, block
Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into a large
Add all the other cake ingredients, apart from
the hot water, into the flour mixture. Mix until it is well combined. Then, gradually add in the hot water and mix
Grease the cake tin, and pour the cake batter
into the tin. Bake the cake for 35-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into
the centre comes out completely clean. Remove the cake from the oven and leave
it to cool in the tin before icing.
To make the chocolate ganache, heat the double
cream in a saucepan to boil.
Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl,
then pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Whisk until the mixture is smooth
and well combined.
Add the butter to the ganache mixture and whisk
until it is fully incorporated.
Leave the ganache to set at room temperature for
about 1-2 hours before using it to ice the cake.
Using a peeler, scrape the white chocolate block
to create white chocolate shavings. Shape the coloured fondant into flowers and
Decorate with coloured fondant flowers and white
chocolate shavings before serving.