July 19, 2016

Macaron Tutorial




You might know these little beauties as a very temperamental cookie. They are very unreliable, no matter how many times you have made them before, they can still cause trouble. Sometimes will you have no clue what went wrong. However, they are quite easy to get the hang of once you know all the tips and tricks of making Macarons! That's why I'm here to help with this snazzy Macaron Tutorial!

Ingredients & Utensils:


-Almonds
-Icing Sugar
-Egg whites
-Granulated Sugar
-Sieve
-Parchment Paper
-Weigh Scale
-Baking Sheets
-Bowls
-Spatula
-Piping Bag
-Piping Tip
-Stand/ Hand Mixer

Recipe:


100g                      ground almonds
200g                      icing sugar
100g                      egg whites
4 tbsp                    sugar
1-5 drops               food colouring (optional)

Tutorial:



Sift the ground almonds into a medium sized bowl. Dispose of any large lumps. Measure them out again, add more if needed, sift again with the icing sugar. Set aside.
  • Blanched almonds, almond meal or almond flour works best for this. 
  • As well, some people say that it matters if your icing sugar has cornstarch: it doesn't. 



In a large bowl whip the egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and whip until it holds stiff peaks.
  • There is absolutely no need to age the egg whites, it makes no difference, trust me. Use aged or freshly cracked, either way it will leave you with great macarons
  • Use a stainless steel bowl, and make sure it's spotless. Wipe the bowl clean with a small squeeze of lemon juice and a paper towel. Any oil could wreck the whipping of the egg whites.
  • Make sure you don't whip the egg whites too much, this can cause hollow shells. 
  • This is the point in which you can add food colouring (powdered or gel). Adding it later may cause you to over-mix the finished batter. 


Dump 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the egg whites. Fold from top to bottom scraping down the sides. Add the second 1/3 and repeat. Add the last 1/3 and fold until it forms slight ribbons. When dropped from a spoon it should take 15 seconds to flatten out. Don't over mix!
  • This is the most crucial part of the entire macaron making process, there is quite a bit that can go wrong, it's surprising. The batter should be able to drop in very slight ribbons from the spatula, it should take about 20 seconds for the batter to flatten out. If it runs too quickly, that means you have over-folded. If it doesn't flatten out, you have to fold a bit more.


Fill a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Don't pipe too big, 1" is enough. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Let your cookies sit at room temperature until they form a dry "skin", this will help form "feet". When you tap with your finger, it shouldn't be sticky.
  • Use parchment paper or a silpat for this. Please don't use aluminum foil or wax paper.
  • Pop any bubbles you see in the batter by slamming the baking sheets on the counter! This should bring any extra bubbles to the top so you can pop them with a toothpick.
  • Letting your cookies sit a room temperature to form a skin helps them form feet better. Not doing this can cause a warped shell, which you obviously don't want! I would also recommend not attempting this on a humid day because it's a lot harder to dry-out your shells.


Bake for 6-8 minutes. You can test by touching the sides, if they wobble they are not done. Let the shells cool before removing from the sheet.
  • Baking can also be a hassle. If your oven is too hot, it can cause your shells to crack, or brown. Using an oven thermometer is the best choice. If you find they are browning too fast, move them to a lower rack or even decrease the oven temperature to 300 degrees.  
  • Use a test tray! Having a few macaron shells on a separate tray can help you get a feel for how hot your oven is and how long you should bake your bigger batch for. This is great for beginners. 


 Lastly, take your filling of choice and pipe it onto one side of the macaron. Then, take another and place it on top, sandwiching the two together to create the perfect macaron!
  • Make Sure you choose shells that are about the same size to pair with. It will make them look more neat. 
  • Don't pipe too much filling onto your macarons! It should be visible once sandwiched, but not over flowing.

 

Common Mistakes & Causes: 

Cracked Shells
  • Oven temperature may be too high, try lowering it a couple degrees. Usually bakes differently for everyone, the common range in degrees is 350-300 degrees. Try using an oven thermometer.
  • You didn't let the macarons rest. Once fully set, the batter shouldn't stick to your finger when touched. 
  •  Batter could have been over mixed or under mixed.
Bumpy Shells
  • You didn't pop any air bubbles with a toothpick before baking.
  • Sift the almonds very well to avoid bumps.
Hollow Shells
  • Over beaten egg whites, made too much air in the batter.
  • Oven temperature was too high, not allowing the inside to set causing it to collapse when taken out of the oven.
No Feet
  • Batter was over mixed, or too thin.
  • Batter could have been folded too forcefully, too much air may have been taken out of it.
  • You didn't let the macarons rest. Once fully set, the batter shouldn't stick to your finger when touched. 
  • Oven temperature was too low, not allowing it to build up enough heat to rise and bake.
Browned Shells
  • Oven temperature may be too high, try lowering it a couple degrees. Usually bakes differently for everyone, the common range in degrees is 350-300 degrees. Try using an oven thermometer.
  • Lower the oven rack, could have been too close to the broiler. 
  • Baked for too long.


I think that is all I have to share with you guys! I hope that this tutorial was very informative and not too confusing. Please take this recipe and these tips and apply them to your macaron making skills. Once you know the basics, it's easy to troubleshoot later on when you stumble on a problem. It does get easier trust me, you just need to keep trying. They seem very intimidating at first, but they really aren't that bad of a cookie.

If you have any other questions feel free to ask! Happy macaron making!
Elanne Boake

May 3, 2016

Pistachio & Mousse Tart


Long time no recipe! I had these photos all prepped for my next post but I had forgotten to finish typing it. I'm not the best blogger that's for sure. Sorry guys! 

I do seem to post an awful lot of tarts on this blog. Although, they are quite delicious so I guess it's okay. This one though I must say was an absolute gem. How can I say no to chocolate though? And pistachio? So delectable.


Pistachio & Mousse Tart

Makes one, 12" round tart

Crust

1/2 cup            butter
1/4 cup            sugar
1/2 tsp             salt
1 cup               flour
1 egg yolk

Cream together the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Add the flour and mix together on the lowest speed. You should see course crumbs. Add the egg yolk, and mix together. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for one hour. Once cooled, roll the dough out on top of a large sheet of platic wrap so that it doesn't get stuck to the counter. It should be 1/4" thick and large enough for your tart tin. Transfer into the pan and trim any excess dough. Using a fork, poke holes in the bottom of the crust. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool.

Pistachio Paste

125 g             pistachios, unsalted, raw
30g                almond flour
60g                sugar
20g                water
2 tbsp            vegetable oil

Place the pistachios on a baking sheet and toast for about 5-10 minutes or until the skins can easily flake off. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the sugar and water. Add the cooled pistachios to the saucepan and stir until they are all coated in crystallized sugar. Dump out the pistachios onto parchment paper and allow them to cool slightly. Place the pistachios and almonds in a food processor and blitz for about 2 minutes or until coarse. Slowly add the oil 1 tbsp at a time and mix until it becomes a paste.
Take the finished pistachio paste and spread along the bottom of the cooled tart shell. Set aside.


Filling

5 oz.                           milk chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup                       heavy cream
1/4 cup                       milk
1 egg, beaten

Place milk chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan bring milk and cream to a boil. Pour over milk chocolate let sit for 2 minutes. Whisk together until smooth. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Slowly pour in egg, whisking constantly. Using a offset spatula press down the pistachio paste to the bottom of the tart shell. Pour the chocolate filling over top. Scoop off any foam. preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cook tart for 30-35 minutes until set and giggles very slightly. Let tart cool completely in tart tin.


Mousse

10 oz                     bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups                   whipping cream
6 egg whites

In a heatproof bowl add the chopped chocolate and 1/2 cup whipping cream. Place the bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Melt the chocolate and let it combine with the cream, remove from the heat. Let it cool.
Place egg whites in a clean stainless steel bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. In another bowl beat the rest of the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Fold half of the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate mixture, then add it in two batches into the egg white mixture. Folding carefully, add the last of cream.
Transfer into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and go wild around your cooled tart, doing whatever patterns you like! Enjoy!!



I won't be away for quite as long next time. No more haitus! I gotta get back to work!
I hope you enjoy this recipe, and I assure you there will be more to come, yay 2016! (it's totally not kicking my butt)

Elanne Boake

January 9, 2016

Caramel Cookie Skillet Cake


Happy New Year! I haven't posted anything in a rather long time, almost two months! I'm deeply sorry, I just haven't been quite motivated lately to do a blog post. School really has been taking up most of my time lately. But here I am, and I promise no more hiatuses.


One of my good friend's mother always makes such good cookie skillet cakes. It was so good it made me want to make a whole one just for myself. (That's how you know something is good) I didn't use her recipe unfortunately, and I made a slight adjustment; a layer of caramel. Can you see it?! So delicious.

Caramel Cookie Skillet Cake 

Makes one, 8" or 9" cookie cake

Cookie
 
1 cup                    butter, softened
1 cup                    sugar
1/2 cup                 brown sugar
2 tsp                     vanilla
2 tbsp                   maple syrup
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup              flour
1 tsp                     baking soda
1/2 tsp                  salt
1/2 cup                 chocolate chunks
1/2 cup                 semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8"-9" skillet (or cake pan) with parchment paper. Soften the butter until very slightly melted. Mix the butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and maple syrup and mix again until incorporated. Add the eggs and beat on low until just combined. Add the flour in two batches along with the baking soda and salt. Mix until just combined. Next, stir in the chocolate chunks and chips. Set aside while making the caramel.

Caramel

1/2 cup               sugar
1/8 cup               water
1/2 tbsp              corn syrup
1/4 cup               heavy cream
1 tbsp                 butter

Add the sugar, water and corn syrup to a small saucepan on low heat. Swirl occasionally to keep from burning. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up to medium and let it come to a simmer. Keep an eye on it and swirl it until it becomes a nice golden colour. Remove from the heat and add the heavy cream. Be careful as it is scalding and will bubble up. Add the butter and whisk to incorporate. Let it cool slightly. You can always substitute real caramel for caramel candies, just melt them with about a 1/4 cup of heavy cream and whisk together.

Once the caramel has cooled, press some cookie dough into the bottom of the skillet (or cake pan) about 1/2"-1" thick. Pour caramel over top and spread out evenly with a spoon. Press down more cookie dough over top, about 1/2" thick.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. It should be golden on the top. Reduce oven temperature to 320 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes to allow the center to cook fully though. Once baked, take out of oven and allow it to cool fully before serving. Enjoy!



This is such a wonderful and easy recipe, sure to be a big hit with kids and adults. I mean who can resist a giant cookie am I right?
Here's to a wonderful new year with many exciting events to come.

Elanne Boake

November 1, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake


I was supposed to have this posted yesterday, but it was a tad too dark out to take photographs. Although it was quite fitting for the occasion (Halloween), I digress.

I think you will find that this is the first ever dessert on my blog that features fondant. Crazy, right? I have used it before but for commissions, so I never bothered to blog about it.
I have had very little experience with fondant overall, I tend to steer away from fondant desserts because I don't have those fancy expensive tools for it. Using random objects around the house to make certain designs doesn't quite cut it for me, but it will just have to do for now. Otherwise I thought that these little pumpkins turned out very well!

Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

Makes one, 3-layer 9"x 4" cake

Cake

2 cups                    a.p flour
1 tsp                      baking soda
1 tsp                      baking soda
1 tsp                      salt
1 tsp                      cinnamon
1 tsp                       ginger
1 tsp                       allspice
1/4 tsp                    nutmeg
1 cup                      brown sugar
3/4 cup                   sugar
1 cup                      melted butter
4 eggs
13 oz.                      pumpkin purée

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9"x 13" baking pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices together. In a large bowl whisk sugars and melted butter and eggs. Add the dry ingredients and pumpkin purée. With an electric beater, beat for 2 minutes on low, or until fully combined. Pour into the grease pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until when a cake tester is inserted it comes out clean.
Once the cake has cooled, trim off the four sides to make them straight edged. Carefully slice off the domed top of the cake to make them level. Divide the cake into three, 4" wide pieces. Cover and set aside. Now make the frosting.


Frosting

2 cups                      unsalted butter, softened
4 cups                      icing sugar
1 tbsp                       vanilla
pinch                         salt
8 oz.                          semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
1/2 cup                      whipping cream

In a large bowl, combine the icing sugar and butter and beat with an electric mixer on low until light and fluffy. Add the salt and vanilla, and beat until combined. Add the cooled melted chocolate combine. Add the whipping cream and beat on high for another minute.

To assemble the layer cake, place your bottom piece of cake on the plate of your desire. Spread an even layer of icing on top. Place the next layer of cake and press down slightly. Next, add another layer of icing, and place the final layer of cake on top. Continue by icing the cake with a very thin layer of frosting; this is called the crumb coat. Place the cake in the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes. Once chilled, finish icing the cake, making all sides even and flat. Now continue on to make the chocolate ganache.

Ganache

4oz.                       semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup                  whipping cream

Chop the chocolate and place in a large heatproof measuring cup with a pouring spout. In a small saucepan bring the whipping cream to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth and thin. (If it is not thin enough heat up more cream to combine.)

Pour the slightly cooled chocolate ganache over your iced cake and let it drip over the sides. Do not spread the ganache, instead wiggle the cake slightly to get it to even out. To finish the cake, place your favorite sprinkle on top as well as any fondant decorations you desire. Enjoy!!


I actually ended up using my cake tester to make the creases and indents in the pumpkins! I guess I can be kind of resourceful. If you want to do your own fondant pumpkins, have a look at this tutorial!
I hope everyone had a happy and safe Halloween!

Elanne Boake

October 25, 2015

Oreo Bundt Cake


This cake is a real eye-catcher if I do say so myself! The contrast between the dark cake and the bright white icing makes it look so impressive while being so simple. Plus the taste! Who could resist an oreo chocolate cake, I mean come on. That would be some serious will power that even I do not posses.
Although I must say, I don't quite have a knack for bundt cakes yet. It seems like they always don't come out of the pan well enough. There is always a good chunk or two missing. At least you can cover this one up with icing? Always worth a shot.

Oreo Bundt Cake

Cake

2 1/2 cups                         a.p flour
3/4 cup                             cocoa powder             
1 tsp                                 baking soda
1 tsp                                  salt
1/2 cup                             milk
1 cup                                unsalted butter
1 cup                                sour cream
1 1/2 cups                        sugar
1 eggs
1 tsp                                 vanilla
2 cups                               Oreo® cookie crumbs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 10 cup bundt pan, dust with cocoa powder. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large measuring cup, combine the milk, and sour cream. Set aside. Place butter and sugar into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Add the vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating withe sour cream mixture. Beat until just combined. Fold in the cookie chunks. Spread the batter evenly into the pan. bake for 55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let it cool slightly before inverting and turning out the cake. Place onto a cooling rack with a baking sheet underneath. Let it cool completely.

Marshmallow Glaze

2 cups                               marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup                              icing sugar
2-3 tbsp                             cream

Place the marshmallow fluff and icing sugar into a large measuring cup, stir well to combine. Add the cream and mix until smooth and glossy. Add more cream until desired consistency is reached. Pour the glaze onto the cooled cake and top with oreo cookie chunks. Enjoy!


I had actually made this quite a while ago, but never got around to posting the pictures and recipe. I thought that I might not bother, but how could I deprive you guys of a great and easy recipe.
Also, Halloween is coming up very soon! I think this black and white cake would make a great subtle Halloween dessert for any party. (Are you getting that ghostly vibe too?)

Elanne Boake

October 12, 2015

Pumpkin Praline Meringue Tart


Do I have a story of woes for you today.
I find that it's never a true holiday if something doesn't go wrong. Does anybody else find that? Like, Christmas can't be complete if the tree doesn't fall over, or Thanksgiving can't be right if you don't burn the turkey! Today's victim was not the turkey.

Here I am, as usual, about to snap some photographs; the light reflector placed strategically , and the backdrop leaning against the chair. When I go to adjust the light reflector, it starts to tip. Luckily I caught it, but out of the corner of my eye- SQUASH! The backdrop landed straight on top of my tart.
I'm not going to lie. There were a few tears. The worst thing was, before that happened, I had only taken one measly photo.


Pumpkin Praline Meringue Tart
 
Crust

Makes enough for two 9" tarts
 

1 cup                vegetable shortening
1/4 cup             butter
1/2 tsp              salt
3 cups              cake & pastry flour
1/4 cup            cold water


In a medium bowl combine the shortening and butter. Beat until smooth. Add the salt and flour. With a pastry cutter, combine until clumped together. Add the cold water and combine. 
Divide the dough into two balls. Wrap one with plastic wrap and save for another time. Place plastic wrap on the counter and place one of the balls of dough on top. Place another piece of plastic wrap on top of that. Now, roll it out to be 1/4 " thick (with this method you can easily pick the dough up and not have to use flour). Transfer the dough into your tart shell(s). Trim excess dough. Now prepare the praline.


Praline

1/3 cup               chopped pecans
1/3 cup               brown sugar
2 tbsp                 butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl combine all ingredients. Sprinkle into the bottom of the unbaked tart shell(s). Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove partially baked crust from the oven and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Set aside.

Filling

2 eggs
1 cup                   pumpkin puree
2/3 cup                brown sugar
1 tbsp                  a.p flour
1/4 tsp                 ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp                 ground mace
1/2 tsp                 cinnamon
1/2 tsp                 ground ginger
1/2 tsp                 salt
1 cup                   heavy cream

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk to combine until smooth and creamy. Pour into partially baked shells. Place into the oven that has been reduced to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes or until the filling is set. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meringue

3 egg whites
3/4 cup                 sugar
3/4 tsp                  salt

In a medium saucepan add 1" of water. Place on low heat and allow it to simmer. In a medium heatproof bowl, add the egg whites, sugar and salt. With an electric mixer, beat until slightly foamy. Place the bowl on top of the saucepan with simmering water. Over the heat, beat the egg white mixture until it forms stiff peaks.  Take off the heat and beat it until cool. Transfer the cooled meringue into a pastry bag with a star piping tip.
Pipe the meringue in any pattern onto your cooled tart. Enjoy!


Let's just say, this event of horrors was not in my Thanksgiving schedule for today.
This tart is super easy, and is such a tasty treat. A perfect tart to share with others!
I hope you fellow Canadians had a fabulous long weekend, and to all you non-canadians, i hope you had a great normal length weekend!