Monday, January 24, 2011

Lemon Lavender Sables

What cookies are you making this Chinese New Year? I'm curious :).

Scanning through the newspapers, magazines and blogs today, I saw so many different cookie varieties. Among them, the almond, pork floss, sesame, seaweed, cashew, peanut varieties seem to be some of the most commonly available ones here...and of course, how can I miss out the hot favourite, pineapple tarts! For me, I hope to do things a little differently. Instead of having snacks that are commonly available at my other friends and relatives' houses, I chose a more floral route...hence these flower-inspired Lemon Lavender Sables!

If you ever get a chance to make these, I assure you that the fragrance of these cookies will get you hooked! It's like having aromatherapy in my own little kitchen. After retrieving a baked tray from the oven, I sat right in front of the hot tray, looking at these pretty golden rounds and enjoying their sweet floral fragrance. I simply adore the smell!

Taste-wise, these cookies have the shortbread texture - crisp on the outside yet buttery and crumbly at each bite. I love how sables so versatile, and take on the different flavours just like how a woman clothes herself in different styles of clothing. She varies her appearance on each day, yet stays ever so lovely and alluring.

Hmmm I'm wondering what other floral combinations can I try out. Suggestions anyone? :)

Oooh...I'm submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #3 My Favorite CNY Cookie (Jan 2011) as well. The details can be found here!

Lemon Lavender Sables
adapted from Happy Home Baking

7 ounces (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon dried lavender
Grated zest from one lemon
180g plain flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Sift flour and cornstarch, set aside.
2. With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until smooth, add icing sugar and beat until well blended.
3. Beat in the egg yolk, followed by salt, dried lavender and lemon zest.
4. Add the flour mixture and blend with a spatula. Mix just until flour is incorporated.
5. Gather dough to form a ball, and shape it into a log. Wrap and chill dough for at least 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Slice the log into 1/4 inch thick rounds and bake for 12-14 minutes or until the cookies are set but not brown. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Almond Cookies for Chinese New Year

I finally had time to start my CNY baking for the year! Been scanning through all the blogs for some inspiration and saw that German Butter Cookies were really popular in the blogosphere! Hmmm butter cookies aren't really my cup of tea so I opted for one of my all time favourites - Almond Cookies instead. I chose Jess' recipe for these and they baked up wonderfully well! The dough was a cinch to make and all I had to do was to roll them into balls, top with almond bits and bake! What a breeze!

And these were what I got in slightly under 2 hours :).

Cute little almond cookies! I wish I'd invested in prettier cups to hold these, but decided to curb my spending and use what I have brown cups will have to do!

Besides these Almond Cookies, which were very very delicious and not overly sweet, I also made the very popular Almond Crisps from last year's recipe. These were alot more tedious as I had to repeatedly spread the batter onto the baking sheet, bake and remove them. By the end of 3 hours, I was exhausted! However, these cookies are so delicious I'm pretty sure I'll make them again and again.

Now that I'm done with my first batch of CNY cookies, I'm motivated to do up the rest! 4 more varieties to go and a kueh lapis too if I'm in the mood :). I'm also submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #3 My Favorite CNY Cookie (Jan 2011). The details can be found here.

Happy CNY Baking!

Almond Cookies
adapted from J3ss Kitchen

150g self raising flour
60g icing sugar
80g ground almond
80g diced almonds
100g corn oil
1/2 tsp almond essence
Almond bits for decoration

1. Sift together flour and icing sugar, add in ground almond and diced almonds, mix well.
2. Mix almond essence into corn oil and stir well.
3. Mix both ingredients together to form a soft dough. (the dough will come together when you roll them)
4. Shape into small round balls and place into small paper casing and press it slightly.
5. Decorate with toppings of your choice and bake in a preheated oven at 170°C for 15-20mins or until slightly brown.
6. Cool completely on wire rack before storing into airtight containers.

Yields approximately 50 cookies.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Browned Butter Hazelnut Praline Madeleines

Madeleines...I almost forgot that I used to love these little French cakes until that one bad experience at a local bakery when I tasted an oily and dense version of it. One day when Chelle passed me two of these delicious Browned Butter Hazelnut Praline Madeleines along with some very yummy macarons, all my sweet good memories with madeleines finally came back.

Honestly, I always knew only two flavours of madeleines - lemon and chocolate. The other flavour which I've seen before is matcha, but I'm not that big a fan of matcha so it didn't quite attract me. But these...are truly amazing! At first bite, I couldn't quite make out what flavour it was...there was a hint of cinnamon and some nutty bits. Subsequent bites caused the flavour to be more apparent...and of course I asked the giver what flavour it was before I found out the entire story. I told myself I have to make these madeleines (that was before I started procrastinating) but it never quite happened until only recently. I saw that Chelle shared the recipe and some of my friends asked for madeleines. Seriously, I never knew how popular they were until 4 of my friends simultaneously asked for them. Looks like they have quite a big and loyal following here!

Normally, the madeleine batter would call for refrigeration overnight. But looking at the recipe, it states a minimum of 3 hours and a maximum of 2 days. As I was too eager to taste them, I made them straight out of the fridge after 3 hours. I wonder if the length of refrigeration affected the results? Or perhaps it was my overzealousness in filling the batter into the madeleine moulds. My madeleines cracked at the humps...hmmm...

Getting this was new to me, I don't recall having cracked humps before the last time...I wonder why? Appearance aside, these were absolutely delicious! I ate 3 of them at one go and gave the rest to my family and friends. Making these also gave me a chance to use my (almost) new madeleine moulds from Japan. I love how beautifully brown they turned out in them with some help from non-stick cooking spray!

Yummy! This recipe is definitely for keeps! Do give it try if you love madeleines as much as me and my friends do. I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed :).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mogador Macarons

It's 4 days into 2011! How's your 2011 been so far? The days passed by so quickly I didn't even realise we're so far into the year already. I'm still quite hung up over 2010...haha.

CNY's gonna arrive in about a month's time and my mum just told me we could start our CNY baking next week! the rate at which these holidays are coming at us, we hardly have time to breathe properly!

Anyway, I'm still looking forward to CNY,. It means more days off, more eating and more baking for me...yay!

Before I go into that, there's still my last batch of macarons for 2010. Since I already had all the ground almonds and icing sugar finely ground and pre-sieved for easy baking (yes I do that alot!), and my last batch was sitting on the counter waiting to be used, I decided to whip up a batch of Mogador Macarons, which are basically passionfruit milk chocolate macarons. I went with the French meringue recipe this time round and made slight adjustments to the milk chocolate ganache recipe used here by increasing the passionfruit pulp to 50g for a more intense passionfruit fragrance. The results were positive! Family loved them and commented that the sweetness level was just right :).

Of my 3 almost successful attempts at French meringue, this one falls into the middle spectrum with mixed success. My shells were much nicer than my last attempt at the same flavour, but still not as pretty as my Matcha Red Bean Macarons (which haven't made its appearance on this blog yet). Somehow, French meringue still eludes me...I'm pretty determined to make it work for me in time to come. Hopefully it will!

Oooh I also got myself a new lens, like finally! Been talking about getting it for close to a year and when I bought it, I couldn't resist clicking a few more shots just to test the difference in image quality.

I love that this new lens allows more light into my shots and blurs out the background more for the focus to be on the subject. So cool! *squeals*

I have a question though...I wonder if adding butter into the ganache causes one to have oily shells after filling? If you know the answer, please leave a comment and let me know!

Well, on the up side, it makes the shells shinier, glossier for more attractive photography...haha!


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