Black Sesame Macarons

More macarons! This time I replaced the cocoa powder with black sesame, and filled it with a black sesame-white chocolate whipped ganache. I used the same recipe as my chocolate macarons, but replaced the cocoa powder with an equal weight of ground sesame seeds, which I whizzed in my blender and sieved.. a highly tedious task! The flavour was good, although, as in the case with most macarons, I found them way too sweet! The filling is a whipped white chocolate ganache flavoured with more ground sesame seeds. I accidentally overwhipped the ganache so it split a little bit. Oh well, it still tastes good!

Chocolate Macarons

Finally, finally I’ve conquered the french macaron! All of them had feet, no cracks and shiny tops- yahooo! As Malaysia is extremely humid- more so now that it’s the rainy season, I had to take lots of precautions to ensure that the feet form. Macarons are notorious for misbehaving in humid environments!

Firstly, I age the egg whites for at least a day to dry it out and increase its acidity. This step is essential regardless of the humidity as aged egg whites are much more stable than fresh ones.

Secondly, I switched on the airconditioning for at least half an hour before I start baking. This nippy environment is much more friendly for macarons, and will help the “skin” form properly before baking.

Thirdly, I let the piped macarons rest on the baking sheet for an hour to properly dry it out. Recipes usually state a rest period of 30 minutes, but that’s hardly enough for KL where it’s so muggy. I baked one macaron after a 45 minute rest just as a tester, and it cracked on top, so it definitely needs at least an hour- don’t skimp on the wait time, otherwise your efforts will be wasted and you’ll have lots of cracked macarons!

Fourthly, I baked one tray at a time.. I’m not sure if this helps but it doesn’t hurt either. Anyway, the bake time is short (15 minutes per tray) so the other tray would just have a slightly longer rest period.

The basic recipe is:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 110g ground almonds
  • 170g icing sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2T cocoa powder

1. Sift the almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder together, then blitz them in a food processor or blender until fine. Don’t blend for too long, the almond will become oily.

2. Whisk the egg whites in a very, very clean bowl. When it’s foamy, slowly add the caster sugar in. Beat until stiff, be careful not to overbeat it!

3. Sift the almond mixture over the stiff meringue and use a spatula to fold it it. The mixture will be quite hard initially but it will become more viscuous after several folds. Don’t worry, the meringue is meant to deflate quite a lot. The mixture is ready when it “flows like magma”.

4. Pipe 1.5″ circles on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Pipe them an inch apart. I drew a template on a large piece of paper and placed them under the parchment paper as guidance.

5. Let the piped batter rest for an hour in an air-conditioned room.

6. Bake for 15 minutes at 150C. Don’t forget to rotate the pan halfway.

Cloud doughnuts

There’s just something so lovable and naughty about doughnuts, so cute and puffy and sugary. And when they’re shaped like clouds? I’m a bit of a goner.

The ideal doughnut, to me, is one that is not too light, something fluffy but still with a bit of a chew. A beautiful, crackly crust dusted with caster sugar (powdered sugar is pretty, but lacks the crunch of caster sugar) or, depending on my mood, a thin layer of glaze. I once saw a beautiful photo of a raspberry doughnut covered with a speckled, pale red raspberry glaze, and the image has been stuck in my head since. It wasn’t one of those bright coloured artificial looking doughnut- it looked natural and rustic and absolutely irresistable. But most times, I prefer my doughnut plain, with just a sugary coat.

The recipe I used, is once again, my go-to bread recipe. The only thing that has to be done differently is instead of shaping the dough into a loaf, it is rolled out about 1.5 cm thick, then cut out into doughnut shapes using 2 different sized round cookie cutters, or, shapes of any kind with any cookie cutter. Fry them in oil that’s 375F- this is important as it is hot enough to fully cook the doughnut without it sitting in the oil for too long, and not too hot as to burn the outsides before it is cooked in the middle.

Oh, and if you’re ever in KL, the best doughnut you will ever eat (seriously) is from a doughnut truck in Taman Tun.

Milk Chocolate Cream Scones

Cream scones are my favourite. I love my scones moist, tender only slightly sweet and with a biscuity crust. And I like to eat them plain, fresh out of the oven. Sometimes, I feel a little naughty and throw in a chopped up chocolate bar, and if I do it’ll always be milk chocolate. Yum!

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 1/4 C heavy cream
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped

1. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together.

2. Pour cold heavy cream over the flour mixture and mix very gently with a fork until the cream is absorbed and it is somewhat combined. Don’t worry if it looks like a shaggy mess, it’s meant to be that way. It shouldn’t be wet at all though, so add a little flour if it’s slightly wet.

3. Tip the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a circle. I don’t usually knead the dough as I’d rather err on under-mixed than over-mixed as there’s nothing worse than a tough scone.

4. Cut into wedges, there should be enough for 8. You could also use a cookie cutter to cut them into rounds, but I prefer wedges as there aren’t any scraps to re-roll. The re-rolled dough makes tougher scones as they’ve been handled more.

5. Bake at 210C for 15 minutes.

Roasted Greengages

It’s exciting how the seasons change what we eat. It feels so much more special eating fruit that comes with the season- berries in summer, plums in autumn, citrus in winter.. it’s like everything has its time and place and its turn in the spotlight. I get so excited when I visit the fruit shop and see different fruit on display as the season progresses from one to another. These greengages were bought in late summer, and are mouth-puckeringly tart- in the best way possible. Too sour to be eaten as is, I roasted them with a vanilla bean, sugar and lemon zest. Don’t skimp on the sugar as stone fruit actually gets more sour after roasting, unlike other fruit which gets syrupy sweet. I ate them with oatmeal, but I think it will be lovely tucked into a muffin batter or with greek yoghurt, honey and muesli.. mm.

You don’t really need a recipe for this, just taste and adjust as you go. I suggest at least half a cup of sugar (100g) of sugar per 500g of fruit though, as it does get quite sour! Bake at 2o0C for about 30-40 minutes, but this time is just a guidance, and it varies considerably from oven to oven, and depending on your roasting dish.