Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category

Mad about Gingerbread Cookies

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

               Gingerbread Kids

In my opinion, gingerbread cookies are to Christmas, what pineapple tarts are to the Chinese Lunar New Year. But to be perfectly honest, I didn’t make any last Christmas and the main reason why I’m making them this year is an order for a corporate client.

Gingerbread Kids

When I do make gingerbread cookies, I actually find the entire process of kneading, rolling out, cutting and baking the dough a lot of fun. But the most enjoyable part for me is the decorating. There are really so many different ways to decorate a gingerbread cookie and every cookie represents a chance to try out a new idea.

               Gingerbread Christmas Tree

This year, I came across the idea for an edible Christmas tree in several places. I first saw it on the Wilton website, subsequently on Jocelyn’s blog and most recently on Lynn’s blog.

               Gingerbread Christmas Trees

It seemed like an easy enough project with impressive looking results, so I went ahead and made one (ok, two) small tree(s) as well. The icing turned out a little more time consuming than I’d expected, but the finished product certainly justified the effort.

Gingerbread Christmas Trees

There’s no denying that a large edible gingerbread tree would make a wonderful table centrepiece for that Christmas brunch or dinner party. It would also make a lovely gift, but if you do decide to give it a go, be forewarned that while the piping process isn’t rocket science, it does require some patience!

Mad about New Macaron Flavours

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

Macarons with Pistachio Paste Buttercream & Praliné

Despite the laborious process that is macaron making, I can never stay away from these petite French confections for long. This time it was the glowing reviews on Pierre Herme’s Arabesque and Pistachio & Griottine macarons that I’d read on other food blogs that sent me off to the nearest supermarket for almonds, pistachios and apricots.

Apricot Macarons with Apricot Cream & Praliné

PH’s Arabesque macarons (based on the various descriptions I found) are supposed to be pistachio dusted macaron shells with apricot cream filling and pistachio praline. Not being a big fan of pistachios, I left out the pistachio on the shells and replaced the pistachio praline with almond & sesame praline.

Apricot Macarons with Apricot Cream & Praliné

The texture of the apricot macarons was amazing – chewy macaron shells with smooth apricot cream and crunchy, nutty praline. I’ll definitely be making these again. The only problem I had was that the macaron shells turned out somewhat on the flat side because I’d overmixed the batter.

Macarons with Pistachio Paste Buttercream & Praliné

The other PH macaron (pistachio & griottine) which I wanted to try recreating at home is supposed to be filled with pistachio paste and have an alcohol-soaked griottine in the centre.

I faced three problems in this quest. The first being that I had no idea how to make the smooth jade-green pistachio paste I’d seen in the few photographs of these macarons, so I improvised and made the pistachio paste with ½ cup of finely ground pistachios, ½ cup of confectioner’s sugar and a few tablespoons of water, which I then blended together with some buttercream.

Ingredients for Macaron Filling

The second challenge is that griottines in glass bottles are impossible to find here in Singapore. I’d only seen them on supermarket shelves in Germany. The only things remotely close to the small sour cherries over here are canned dark sweet pitted cherries in heavy syrup. I didn’t think that these syrup laden cherries would be a suitable replacement and went for a praline centre instead.

The last small problem I had was not knowing where to get powdered colouring (dark pink) for dusting the macaron shells and ended up using cocoa powder, which wasn’t the best replacement since it has a slightly bitter taste. [Latest Update: 13 May 2007] I’ve since been told that powdered colouring can be found at B-I-Y.

Various Combinations

As an experiment, I used dried apricot bits for the centre in some of the pistachio macarons. I preferred the nut praline version - it went very well with the pistachio filling. The version with the apricot bits was a little strange - the apricot flavour was too intense and didn’t go as well with the pistachio cream.

Inside my macarons

Taste-test conclusion: The apricot macaron with its apricot and praline centre is something I’d definitely make again. I really liked the pistachio macaron with its pistachio cream and praline centre as well. Next time I’d probably experiment with a cherry centre when cherries are in season.

Available for purchase: 1.5″ - 2″ macaron @ S$2.00 each (min purchase of 28, choice of 3 flavours per order of 28). Listing of flavours here or here. Gift box packaging available @ a nominal cost.

For details on how to place an order, please click here.

Mad about Opéra Macarons

Friday, April 13th, 2007

Opera Macarons

These delightfully pale macarons were inspired by the opéra cake, a cake made popular by the well-known Dalloyau Parisian pâtisserie more than 50 years ago.

The opéra cake, or Clichy cake (named after Louis Clichy who supposedly created this cake), is an elegant mulit-layered cake made up of several thin layers of joconde (an almond sponge cake), a layer or two of coffee buttercream, a layer of chocolate ganache and a topping of chocolate glaze.

              Opera Macarons

Since macarons have at least 2 similar components (almonds, buttercream or chocolate ganache) to the classic opéra, I though it would be an interesting experiment to “port” the combination of flavours in the cake to macarons.

Opera Macarons

For the shells I experimented with ground hazelnuts, which have a much stronger flavour than almonds. I especially love the contrast of the tiny flecks of dark brown hazelnut skin against the pale creamy colour of the shells. The macarons were then sandwiched with an expresso-flavoured italian meringue buttercream and a chocolate ganache centre.

Opera Macaron Anatomy

The resulting macaron was a wonderful combination of flavours and textures - nutty & chewy hazelnut macarons, aromatic & fluffy expresso buttercream and decadently rich dark chocolate ganache. Wildly addictive, even for a non-coffee drinker like me!

[Latest Update: 1 May 2007] Available for Purchase: 1.5″ - 2″ macarons @ S$2.00 each (min purchase of 28 macarons, choice of 3 flavours per order of 28). Please see this post for other flavours or click here. Gift box packaging available @ a nominal cost.