Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The wonderful world of MACARONS!!

I'm not sure how my love of macarons started... I remember eating my first macaron in Sydney at Lindt cafe a couple of years ago. They were called "delices" so I didn't know I was eating a macaron but I loved the texture.. how they were crispy on the outside but chewy and soft on the inside. Then masterchef came about and the whole macaron craze started because of the Macaron tower created by Adriano Zumbo!! I had friends over for dinner one night and that's when we decided we would try to bake the infamous MACARONS! I remember following the recipe to the TEE! sifting the almond meal and icing sugar 10 times to make sure there were no lumps .. xD they semi-worked.. I think we undercooked them because they were a bit hard to take off the baking paper. After that.. I didn't try them again until I found a recipe in a macaron book and again with friends (you need the support you see :P) we tried to make chocolate macarons.. and THEY WORKED! we were so happy! That's when the idea of a macaron business started... and who knew it would end up where it is now? (ok so it's not a big business as such.. but i do sell to friends ^^)
pyramid of macarons ^^
anyways after much experimenting and optimising with oven temperatures, egg white textures, flavours.. I thought I had the perfect macaron recipe. Until I met a friend at work who also baked macarons! Hers were so lovely and perfect!! so of course I asked her for the recipe ^_^ and she kindly gave it to me... they were FAIL PROOF (well nearly...) and I've stuck with the same recipe since! The thing I love is that these are "lazy baker's" macarons ^^ and the recipe is really easy to remember!
When I saw that this month's Aspiring Baker's challenge was for Macarons I was so HAPPY =D and good timing too because I had to complete a BIG ORDER of 120 macarons last week~ for a friend's luncheon event at uni.. pretty exciting :D I made 5 batches: chocolate, mocha, green tea, vanilla and strawberry. So now I will share with you all the "not-so-secret" macaron recipe! special thanks to Steph for sharing it wiith me :) :)

So here is my entry for Aspiring Bakers #17: March Macaron Madness 2012 hosted by Alan of Travellingfoodies.
Macarons for ASA luncheon event
Macaron Recipe (makes ~ 50 macaron shells)

125g almond meal
125g pure icing sugar
125g caster sugar
3 egg whites
Flavouring of choice

1. Sift almond meal and icing sugar into a large bowl.
2. Add half the caster sugar to the egg whites and beat with electric beater till thick and white (~3-5 min).
3. Gradually add the rest of the sugar while beating. The mixture should be glossy and thick but not stiff peaks. When you lift the whisk it should leave a ribbon trail.
  • If egg whites are too thick - macarons are grainy and not smooth
  • If egg whites are too thin - macarons are flat and do not rise much
4. Fold in the almond meal/icing sugar mixture into the egg whites using a spatula. 5. Add any flavourings you like.. e.g. cocoa powder... green tea powder.
5. Pipe or spoon 4cm circles of mixture onto lined baking trays. Leave to rest for 30min-1 hour (you should be able to touch the macaron shells and they shouldn't be sticky).
6. Pre-heat oven to 170oC for 5 min then turn down to 140-150oC. Bake one tray at a time on the middle shelf for 12-14min.
7. watch the macarons RISE!!!! take out of oven and allow to cool before trying to lift them off the tray.

so HAPPY to see them RISE =D

8. make filling: dark chocolate ganache - place 100g of dark chocolate and 80g of thickened cream into a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Melt and allow to cool in fridge before use. (white chocolate ganache: 100g white chocolate + 50g cream)
9. Sandwich 2 macaron shells with filling and serve. (Macarons actually taste better the next day so you may have to be patient and wait to taste these lovely morsels =p)
piping the chocolate ganache~
Once I got the hang of making macarons, I decided to get a little more creative and made different shaped ones ^^ So far I have Hello kittyrons, Pandarons and Fishyrons~

*meow* hello kittyrons ^^

Pandaron!!.. <3-shaped nose =p
brown bearon :)
hellokittyron and pandaron version 2
Happy macaron baking =) I would love to hear more suggestions on what other shapes or flavours I can make :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Phan not "Pham" rice paper rolls =p

Ok before I start, just a warning to readers from Vietnam, these are not true vietnamese rice paper rolls so please don't get offended ><" hehe.. these are our version of rice paper rolls and therefore not authentic!

Back when I was in uni, many people would comment or ask if I was Vietnamese! I'm not sure if it was because of my last name... or apparently my eyes? o.0 but no, I'm Malaysian.. but I do love Vietnamese food ^_^ So the other day when my dad asked what to have for dinner on such a hot day.. I suggested Rice paper rolls =D We hadn't made them in a while and it's a nice cold, simple dish and fun to make!

If you were having a lunch or dinner party, these would be a great idea because everyone can get involved :)

So although there is no baking involved.. and it's not sweet~ I still wanted to blog about it ^^ We cheated a little and bought already roasted BBQ chicken but you can basically add what you want! For example prawn, roast pork, roast duck... the list goes on~~~

The rolling up step proved the most difficult! Here's how I did it~

How to roll up a rice paper roll
1. Dip the rice paper into a large bowl of warm-hot water and after 10 seconds quickly remove and place on plate.
ingredients ready to go~~~
2. Place ingredients into the bottom centre of the rice paper.

3. Roll up the bottom (Closest side to you)

4. Roll up the sides.. left and right

5. Finally, starting from the bottom, roll up the rice paper making sure to get all the filling IN the rice paper ^^ and TA DA~~ you are done!

Note: It can be quite sticky but I realised if you dip the paper just until it goes soft, it's much easier to work with =)

I think practice makes perfect xD

rice paper rolls with dipping sauce ^^
Mmmm =) dip in!!