Archive for June, 2007

Mad about Pandan Chiffon Cake

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

Pandan Chiffon Cake

Although I really like chiffon cakes, I’d always been told that it was really difficult to get the right texture. After seeing HL’s beautifully fluffy chiffon cake, I couldn’t help but be inspired to give this pale green cake a shot myself. My mum had recently loaned me her precious collection of cake recipes, complete with neat handwritten notes and instructions on each page. I flipped through the thick binder, hoping that there’d be one for pandan chiffon cake.

As luck would have it, I found not one, but four different recipes and selected the one with the most notes penciled on it. After all, I’d never made a pandan chiffon cake before and would need all the extra help I could get.

                Pandan Chiffon Cake

My mum’s recipe called for thick coconut milk and pandan “juice”. Although I could probably have used commercially packed coconut milk and pandan essence, I opted to use fresh ingredients instead. This meant extracting coconut milk from freshly grated coconut and extracting the deep green liquid from fresh pandan leaves. Having done neither of these two things before, I was glad that everything went without a glitch. I suspect hanging around the kitchen as a child and watching my mum perform these tasks umpteen times played a big part in my own “success” here.

Pandan Chiffon Cake Slices

Other than being a little surprised that the huge cake slid out of the pan so smoothly (albeit without most of its brown “skin”), I was delighted with my first attempt. The cake was pillowy soft, fluffy and wonderfully fragrant. I would love to bake this cake again sometime soon - if only it didn’t contain sinfully rich coconut milk and such a large number of eggs.

Mad about Mango Mousse

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Mango Mousse Circus

With so many different fruits being in season all at the same time (strawberries, mangoes, durian, lychees, cherries), I was spoilt for choice at the market last weekend. I’m a little late in catching the mango season, but there were still some beautifully ripe mangoes on sale. I had grand plans to make a large mango mousse cake, but got sidetracked by macarons.

                Mango Mousse Dessert

I opted for these 4″ miniature desserts instead - made with fresh mangoes, mango mousse, mango jelly, thin layers of sponge cake, some rhubard compote (which I’d made a couple of days ago with vanilla sugar) and brandy-soaked cherries. I’d also picked up a punnet of strawberries and a bag of cherries at the market and threw one of each on as decoration. On hindsight, I think they would have looked better without them.

Mango Mousse Circus

I had not intended for these desserts to look like something out of a circus - probably due to the alternating stripes of deep orange mango and light yellow mousse. But I guess they’re kind of cute that way.

Mad about More Macaron Flavours

Friday, June 1st, 2007

Experimental Flavours

Yesterday I had an epiphany about macarons. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but in my previous post, I wrote that I’d been wondering why 90% of macaron photos I’d seen had filling that could hardly be seen from the outside and I think I may have stumbled upon the reason.

I may be entirely wrong, but it could be because these macaron shells are too soft on the bottom and either collapse under the weight of the filling when the filling is piped on or when they are sandwiched with another shell. This means that even if there’s a load of filling inside, it may not be visible from the outside. Of course, this probably doesn’t apply to ALL macarons with “camera-shy” filling. Some could really just be filled with a small amount of cream/paste.

Black Sesame, Green Tea & Mango Macarons

I experienced this “phenomenon” today with my experimental green tea and mango macaron shells. I’d tweaked my usual recipe a little and the new ratio of dry to wet ingredients didn’t quite work out the way I’d hoped. I prefer my macarons a little firmer on the bottom and not quite so delicate that they collapse when sandwiched or turn soft less than 5 minutes out of the fridge.

But enough about my moment of revelation. This post is really about these new macaron flavours:

Experimental Flavours

Mango Shells with Mango Mousse: The shells had a healthy amount of fruity flavour. The filling was light and ethereal compared to regular buttercream or paste filling. However, I’ve concluded that mousse is too soft a filling for macarons, even though my family liked the combination. The macaron would also have to be consumed within a few hours of being sandwiched, since mousse tends to give off moisture. I think I’ll stick with buttercream blended with mango puree in the future.

Verdict: Mango macarons will be on the menu, but with a further adjustment to the shell recipe and a change in filling.

Green Tea, Mango & Black Sesame Macarons

Green Tea Shells with Chestnut Puree Buttercream Blend: I’d always been hesitant about making green tea macarons, mainly because I’m not a green tea fan. The “herbal” and “earthy” taste of green tea works as a drink for me, but not as a flavouring in cakes or cookies. For these macarons, I used matcha powder, instead of sencha powder. In fact, while I was searching the supermarket shelves for matcha powder, I came across several brands of sencha powder which listed sugar as an ingredient! Apparently, not all powdered green tea are created equal and techically speaking, not all green tea macarons are matcha macarons unless they really contain matcha. But I’m no green tea expert and I digress. :D

Verdict: The green tea macaron was actually surprisingly good and I really liked the chestnut puree buttercream blend, which helped to cut out some of the green tea’s herbal taste. I’ll definitely make this available, once I get the recipe for the shells right.

Black Sesame Macarons Closeup

Black Sesame Shells with White Sesame Paste: These macarons were my favourite flavour of the day. The colour of the shells were wonderful - grey with flecks of black. They reminded me of smooth granite pebbles. The taste was also deliciously nutty and fragrant.

Verdict: A definite keeper, but I’ll be switching to black sesame for the filling. I found that the white sesame paste sometimes left a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Macaron Anatomy