As the weather turns chilly this week and my works continue to pile on, baking really allows me to take a step back and relax from the stress. Having said that, despite working through the weekends in the past weeks, I felt like I am starting to enjoy my job again. Perhaps is a turning point for me? (But we shall wait and see about that lol.)
Yesterday, I baked some traybakes for Free Cakes for Kids Hackney (whilst also sneaked our for a nice Indian supper in between haha). It’s a charity I’ve been working with for a couple of months now, and honestly what’s better than sharing the joy of your bakes than with someone else? 🙂 (And to be fair, it just gives me an excuse to temporarily drop my work and do something else lol.)
‘Last night I dreamed I ate a 10-pound marshmallow, and when I woke up the pillow was gone.‘ Have you ever dreamt about marshmallows? Tommy Cooper once did at the cost of his own pillow. As I am leaning against my pillow, almost half dozed off, I thought I would share the recipe of my homemade marshmallows.
It’s probably unsurprising to know that I am always a big fan of sweet treats, but this is my first time making any kind of confectionary. And surprisingly, these pillowy blueberry marshmallows are rather easy to make. I can say my friends and I had fun eating them while dipping them in our hot chocolate and coffee yesterday. (It’s quite a sticky business though! 😂)
The recipe is adapted from the book ‘Pâtisserie’ by William and Suzue Curley. The recipe starts from making a blueberry purée, but you can also adapt it for other kinds of fruit puréeto create marshmallows of different flavours! 😋
Quantity: 1 tray
For the blueberry purée:
15g caster sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
For the marshmallows:
110g blueberry purée
10g leaf gelatine
225g caster sugar
38g egg whites
Icing sugar, for dusting
Cornflour, for dusting
1. To make the blueberry purée, place blueberries, caster sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to boil and crush the blueberries as you are cooking them. Pass the purée through a sieve and set aside.
2. Soak the leaf gelatine in cold water and set aside.
3. Use 110g of the blueberry purée to make the marshmallows. (You can save any leftovers to eat later, for example, putting it in plain yogurt!) Place the purée in a saucepan and bring to boil.
4. Squeeze off any excess water from the leaf gelatine and add it to the purée. Stir until the gelatine is fully dissolved. Set aside.
5. Place the caster sugar and water in a saucepan and heat to create a syrup.
6. In a large, clean mixing bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks.
7. Mix the syrup with the purée mixture. Then add it to the whisking egg whites. Continue to whisk until smooth and cold.
8. Mix equal amounts of cornflour and icing sugar together. Sift into a bowl.
9. Line a small baking tray with baking paper (choose one with enough depth). Dust it with the cornflour and icing sugar mixture, saving some for dusting the marshmallows later. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the tray and spread evenly.
10. Place in a fridge for about 1-2 hours, or until set.
11. Once set, cut into cubes of marshmallows and roll in the dusting mixture before serving.
Have a sweet marshmallow dream! (Excuse me as I doze off on my pillow 😴…)
After a really long day at work today, I was exhausted beyond belief by the time I got home. Now, I must confess that I am probably not the tidiest person in the entire world. So having put off doing laundry for two weeks now, I finally decided to turn on the washing machine at last. 😅 After stuffing it full, I collapsed on my bed and fell sound asleep with the noises of the washing machine and the TV running in the background.
Just when I thought my evening was going to smoothly run its course, I snored awake when I noticed everything in my apartment was silent and switched off. Thinking it was just another tripped fuse, I wandered half-awakened to the fuse box. That was when I discovered that not just the entire building, but the street I lived on had suddenly experienced a power outage!
Before I had time to even worry about how long it would take for the power to come back on, I realised my phone (the only one thing unaffected) was low on battery and most of my clothes now stuck in the washing machine. And yet, I found the first thing I was actually concerned about was my alarm not coming on tomorrow morning if all my appliances were dead. Thoughts and stress started racing in my head. What if I get in trouble if I wake up late for work tomorrow? Why did I always seem to value my job above everything else? Why couldn’t I stop worrying about things I wasn’t able to control?
Finally, I came to a realisation I should stop stressing myself out and savoured the peace I was finally allowed. I decide to watch MasterChef on my phone, then fell asleep again before I was awakened by the washing machine and lights coming back on two hours later. Since my laundry still needed some time to finish, I decided to go outside meanwhile for a cheeky strawberry sundae in the middle of night. (Excuse the drop of sauce dripped onto the table 😂)
Turn out tonight wasn’t so bad after all. Why don’t we all stop and just make the most of every moments we have in our lives? Sometimes even the bad moments can still turn out to be sweet in the end.
(Clearly jinxed myself with this post ’cause the power is gone yet again 😓 when I was showering…)
How often have you spent your day worrying what others think of you and trying to be your perfect self? But when I have days like this, I would suddenly feel like I am losing myself in the process of trying to achieve this almost-impossible goal. Isn’t life just simpler when you embrace all these imperfections?
Following my stunt to make the perfect macarons a few days ago, I was left with trays of cracked macarons that had since clustered in my fridge. I pondered whether I should just throw them away or just eat them all as they were, but then an idea came to my head that maybe they could be of some better uses. After some quick researches online, I was inspired by the idea of making an Eton mess using the broken macarons. Not only did it look more elaborated, but the softeness of the whipped cream and the tartness of the fruits complimented very well with the crunchy texture of the sweet macarons. And more importantly, it is very simple and quick to make. It is the perfect summer dessert!
Life may not be smooth sailing at all times, but those imperfect moments are just as beautiful as the rest. So, let’s all enjoy the ride! 🙂
Macaron Eton Mess
1 batch of macarons
berries (e.g. blueberries and raspberries)
1 tsp lemon
Place one third of the fruits, water, sugar and
the lemon juice in a saucepan. Heat and bring them to a boil. Crush the fruits
as you are cooking.
Pass the puree through a sieve and leave it to
Whip the double cream to soft peaks and set
Use a spoon to drizzle swirls of the fruit puree
on the plate. Break the macarons into small pieces and place on top of the
puree. Garnish with the remaining fruits and whipped cream, and drizzle more
puree over it.
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!
Remember the iconic scene in Roman Holiday when Audrey Hepburn was eating ice cream on the Spanish Steps? Unlike her though, eating ice cream on a warm, sunny day pose more of a challenge for me thanks to the lovely British weather. (Yes, I am being sarcastic. :p)
As I walked under drizzles of rain, buying groceries in Central London today, I nonetheless paid a visit to my favourite ice cream shop in town. I stumbled across Yolkin one night a couple of months ago when I was wandering around near Chinatown. Their unique, Asian-inspired flavours are some of the most innovate ideas I’ve seen in ice cream anywhere. Some of my favourites of theirs include egg tart, mango & mochi, white rabbit candy and pocky biscuit sticks, and honestly I have been kept coming back for more ever since my first visit.
They also do the most fabulous macaron ice cream sandwiches.
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.
They once said, ‘Click your heels together three times and say ‘There’s no place like home” and you’ll be there’. When I moved away from home, I was hungry for more in life. New job, new friends, new relationships and everything more. Three years in, I feel unhappy and frustrated at my job, whilst those around me go through new changes and challenges. But as I sat here feeling unfulfilled about my life, I always try to remind myself about how far I come. How far away from home I am.
Being in the city has its quirk of seeing many things that remind me of home, but food always come first on my list. My mum and I always have a fondness for angel food cake. This light yolk-less sponge paired with whipped cream and passion fruit curd is quite literally a recipe from the heaven. To paraphrase Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, I say ‘Eat your cake three times and say ‘There’s no place like home” and you’ll be there’.