Vanilla Bean Macarons with buttercream


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I have been making all sorts of crazy flavours lately and my colleague requested her favourite flavour – vanilla.  A good vanilla dessert calls for good quality vanilla bean, not any of the imitation stuff. I’ve used seeds from vanilla bean to flavour the shells and then a Heilala vanilla paste to flavour the buttercream. The result was a gorgeously balanced vanilla flavour that reminds me of vanilla milkshakes. Sometimes the simplest is the best!
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Macarons shell ingredients
150 g icing sugar
150 g almond meal
110 g egg whites, split into 2 bowls of 55g each
150 g caster sugar
38 ml water
1 g meringue powder
seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Follow my basic recipe to make the shells.
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I paired these with a Vanilla Bean buttercream.

Filling Ingredients:
100g butter, room temperature
100g icing sugar
1 tbsp good quality vanilla bean paste (I used Heilala)
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Instructions:
Beat butter until soft in a mixer. Add icing sugar and mix well. Add vanilla bean paste and mix. Fill a piping bag and pipe a small dollop of buttercream on half of your shells and top them with the remaining half of your shells.

The filled macarons need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the filling to flavour the shells.

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Salted Caramel Macarons


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It happened to be my work’s third birthday a few weeks ago and in celebration I made these aqua blue macarons and paired them with my all time favourite – salted caramel filling.

I might have to make a salted caramel cake next, such is my addition to the salty sweet caramelly  flavours. Watch this space!

Macarons shell ingredients
150 g icing sugar
150 g almond meal
110 g egg whites, split into 2 bowls of 55g each
150 g caster sugar
38 ml water
1 g meringue powder
a few drops of blue gel colouring

Follow my basic recipe to make the shells.

I paired these with a salted caramel filling.

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Filling Ingredients:
200g castor sugar
125ml fresh cream
50g butter, cubed
5g good quality salt flakes
A few drops of vanilla essence

Instructions:

Heat the sugar in a wide saucepan until it is melted.
Be really careful and wait for it to turn amber/ golden and slightly smoke.
Carefully add the cream in slowly, continuing to whisk but be aware of the resulting vigorous bubbling.
Add the butter in gradually until it is melted and combined.
Add in salt flakes and vanilla essence.
Cool in the fridge for a few hours.

Fill half of your shells and top them with the remaining half of your shells.
If your salted caramel isn’t thick enough, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar until it is thick enough to spread.

The filled macarons need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the filling to flavour the shells. These freeze really well (up to 3 months). Turns out they are even better after freezing as the gooey salted caramel hardens up a bit more!

Black Forrest Macarons with freeze-dried plum powder


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I wanted to introduce a secondary crunchy element to my macarons and was toying with the idea when I came across some Cadbury Berry Forrest chocolate. It had jelly and biscuit pieces in the block – perfect!

As mentioned in an earlier post I love adding freeze dried powders to macarons. I added plum powder to these for a change.

Macarons shell ingredients
150 g icing sugar
150 g almond meal
110 g egg whites, split into 2 bowls of 55g each
150 g caster sugar
38 ml water
1 g meringue powder
a few drops of violet gel colouring

Follow my basic recipe to make the shells.

I paired these with a Cadbury Berry Forrest chocolate ganache.

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Filling Ingredients:
150g Cadbury Berry Forrest chocolate
120ml full cream

Instructions:
Break up chocolate into small chunks. Bring cream up to a boil in a pan, and pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute before stirring. Let it cool and thicken in the fridge. Spread or pipe a teaspoon of ganache on half of your shells and top them with the remaining half of your shells.

Dust with freeze dried plum powder.

The filled macarons need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the filling to flavour the shells. These freeze well (up to 3 months).

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Look at my little stylist!

Milo Macarons


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This one is for the kids.

Remember the controlled drink dispensers in the home room at school?

I used to put like 6 clicks of milo into the foam cup with a tiny splash of hot water, just enough to form a thick paste. I would have this as an afternoon “pick me up” during the afternoon class. That was my little rebellion…

Even J who has never been able to finish off a macaron by herself, had one tonight and literally it was gone in 60 seconds! Yummy malty goodness, who can resist? I’m glad I’ve reintroduced this childhood experience into a grown-up macaron experience!

Macarons shell ingredients
(makes about 40 macarons)

150 g icing sugar
150 g almond meal
110 g egg whites, split into 2 bowls of 55g each
150 g caster sugar
38 ml water
1 g meringue powder
a few drops of copper gel colouring
A few drops of brown gel colouring
2 tbsp cocoa powder (Dutch ones, without extra sugar)

Making macarons shells

Sift the almond meal and icing sugar, set aside in a large wide bowl.

Put the first lot of egg whites into your stand mixer.
Clip the sugar thermometer according to manufacturer’s instructions to a milk saucepan, put the water and caster sugar in and dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Leave it to heat up and don’t stir it.

Cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 70°C. You should monitor your sugar thermometer, and as it reaches this temperature, add the meringue powder to the egg whites and whisk in medium speed until it becomes frothy.

Once the sugar syrup has reached 118°C (soft ball stage), take the saucepan off the heat, keep the mixer speed on medium and slowly trickle the sugar syrup in, down the side of the bowl. (Be warned not to get the syrup onto the whisk as you will then have spun sugar.) Increase speed to high and whisk until the bowl is warm to touch, about 8 minutes.

Add the second lot of egg whites to the almond meal mix, then add the meringue and use a large spatula to thoroughly combine it. Continue mixing the mixture to soften the meringue. Don’t be afraid to slap the mixture down. To achieve “macaronnage”, I mixed it about 25 times. Don’t over do this.
Sprinkle the cocoa powder in and lightly mix twice to incorporate it into the mix. Yes there will be streaks of it and it is ok.

macronnage
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Scoop half into a piping bag fitted with a #12 Wilton tip, and pipe. To get even rounds, hold the piping bag above the baking sheet, with the tip at a 45 degree angle. Squeeze the mixture in the center of the rounds and as it is close to filling the circle, stop squeezing and flick the tip from three o’clock to 6 o’clock. This ensures a smooth top. Bang it against the bench to remove any air bubbles.

Allow 30 minutes for a skin to be formed.

Fan-bake them at 125°C, for 20 minutes. After a few minutes in the oven, you should see them rising nicely.

Once out of the oven, leave the macarons for 2 minutes on its trays. They should peel off the baking paper quite easily. Slide the whole sheet off the baking sheet onto a cool counter top. This causes a thermal shock and will make it even easier to peel off.

I paired these with a milo chocolate ganache
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Milo ganache Ingredients:
100g good quality milk chocolate, broken into small chunks
100ml pure (heavy) cream
1/2 cup Milo powder

Instructions:
Break up chocolate into small chunks. Bring cream up to a boil in a pan, and pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute before stirring. Add the milo powder into the bowl, stir and let it cool and thicken in the fridge.
(Caution: this turned out to be incredibly addictive … I’m keeping a jar of this handy from now on for those emergency sweet treats!)

Spread or pipe a teaspoon of ganache on half of your shells and top them with the remaining half of your shells.

Dust with extra milo powder.

The filled macarons need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the filling to flavour the shells. These freeze well (up to 3 months).

Well perhaps not just for kids :)

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Massaman Beef Curry


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I don’t know about you, but I find that Monday dinners are the hardest to get on the table, fast.
Coming home from a full day’s work after a relaxing weekend – it’s hard to get back into the routine and I’m always in a rush to prepare anything decent.
What I’ve found to work for us, is that I pre-prepare dishes that we can heat up for Monday night.
That way, all we need to do is to cook the rice, add some veges and heat up the main dish.
Therefore you’d find that this blog category mainly consists of curry and other slow-cook meals. Not your typical Monday dinners of quick throw together meals, but instead meals that have been cooked with tender loving care that can be reheated in a matter of minutes.
Click over under the Monday Dinner  tab to see what other slow-cook meals I have in my repertoire.

This curry is sweet with a bit of kick.
J’s review: “I like it because it’s yummy and has potatoes and tender beef. Easy to eat and healthy for you.”

Ingredients:

800 g cross-cut beef, cubed
5 tbsp of spice paste
3 tsp dry spice powder
470ml of coconut cream (1 can)
5 potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 tbs of unsalted, roasted peanuts
2 tbs of peanut oil
2 tbsp tamarind water

Spice Paste:

3 Dried red chilli
1 Lemongrass
5 cloves of Garlic
2 Shallot
5cm Ginger
5cm Galangal
1 tsp Salt
4 tbsp Oil
4 tbsp Palm sugar

Dry spices powder:

combine 1 tbsp of each (except where indicated otherwise) in a mortar and bash them together.
Mustard seed
Fenugreek
Coriander seed
Turmeric
White pepper
Paprika
Cumin
Cinnamon powder
Clove
Cumin
Coriander seed
10 Cardamom seeds
6 Bay leaves
** save the remainder of your spices mix for the next curry.

Method:

1. Coat beef in 1 tablespoon of peanut oil and massaman curry paste. Stir well to coat and set aside.
2. In a large pot, heat remaining oil over a medium heat.
3. Add the curry-coated beef and brown for 1-2 minutes. Add the dry spices. Stir the beef well to coat it in the spices.
4. Add 1/2 can of coconut cream and 1/2 to 1 cup of water until the beef is just covered by the liquid. Stir well and then bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn heat down very low and cover. Gently simmer for 1 1/2 hours. (I leave them in a thermos cooker so I don’t even need to watch it)
5. After this time, add the remaining can of coconut cream, potatoes and peanuts. Stir well. Taste and add a little more fish sauce and sugar if necessary.
6. Turn heat up to medium and cover. Cook for another 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
7. Meanwhile, prepare the tamarind juice. Soak the dried tamarind seed in 2 tablespoons of warm water and use a spoon to push the pulp off the seeds into the water. The water will become brown and pulpy — this is tamarind juice. Discard the seeds.
8. Once the potatoes are cooked, remove the curry from the heat. Stir in the sugar and tamarind juice. Stir well and serve with Jasmine rice.

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A blog about my kitchen adventures, photography, family and experiences

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