Tagged: almond

Blueberry love

I’ve been obsessing over my blueberry plant ever since it started to ripen, very beautifully I might add. Blue begins to marble the skin and within a day or two the entire fruit turns from green to a dusty blue, then whole bunches turn blue then the whole tree.. it’s quite exciting watching it happening! My plant was heavy with ripe fruit a few days ago so I decided it was time to pick them and bake something. There wasn’t enough for pie or a crumble so a pound cake it was. There’s also some sliced rhubarb in it, since I had two stalks that needed to be used. Rhubarb and almond go hand-in-hand so in went some marzipan into the batter, and also some cream cheese.. I replaced a bit of the flour with ground almonds and this resulted in the cake falling after it was removed from the oven, but that’s ok- it was still delicious.

For a “regular” sized loaf pan:

170g sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
90g blueberries
1 stalk rhubarb, cut into 0.5-1cm chunks
170g self raising flour
20g ground almonds
160g butter
160g cream cheese
40g marzipan (I used Anthon Berg 60% Almond Marzipan)
50ml milk
2 eggs

1. Grease and line a loaf tin, preheat oven to 160°.

2. Cream butter, sugar and marzipan until light and fluffy. Add egg one at a time, then add the cream cheese, vanilla and milk.

3. Fold in the flour and ground almonds.

4. Fill the tin 1/2 full and scatter the blueberries and rhubarb chunks (save some for the top), then top with the rest of the batter and place some blueberries and rhubarb on top.

5. Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven.

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.