Sunday, May 22, 2011

Orange Chocolate Macarons

Phew, what a first week of work it's been for me. I'm glad I survived when I could have potentially drowned in that mountain of work and new things to learn. Though I've been busy, I'm really excited and happy with the things I'm doing at my new place. I get to dabble with my favourite sports and the major sporting events that are being shown on television, something I've been wanting to do for a long, long time. It's getting reaaally close to my dream job and I'm all excited about it!

On the other side of the spectrum, things have been soooo hectic it really takes some getting used to at this point. I pray that it shall get easier as the days go by :).

I made these Orange Chocolate Macarons just before I started work this week. A friend of mine wanted to come over to my place for a baking session and I happily obliged. I always felt that I had to prepare in advance for such baking sessions hence I don't always say yes when such requests come in, just so that I won't feel too stressed out by the amount of preparation work I had to do beforehand. But recently, the requests are coming in at a much higher frequency that I decided to make an extra effort to accept more of them instead. Receiving these requests are definitely compliments to my baking and also encourages me to step out of my comfort zone to do something different for a change.

These Orange Chocolate Macarons were a such a breeze to make, yet yielding delicious macs all the same! I used my trusty Italian Meringue recipe and sandwiched the shells with a orange chocolate ganache made from Lindt's orange chocolate bar. I love this particular chocolate bar because of its lovely orange fragrance and the little chewy bits that are incorporated into the chocolate...very delicious! So far, the reviews I received were all positive, hence this is definitely a recipe for keeps - to reproduce again in the days to come :).

Okay, it's time to get a little more rest before work starts again tomorrow. Happy Weekend to you all!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Marbled Matcha Peach Tea Chiffon Cake

I never quite had a fascination for tea like the one I had for chocolate. I have now amassed enough varieties of chocolate at home to fill up one entire shelf of my baking supplies collection.  Anyways, this all changed after an outing with my bestie to TWG Tea Salon & Boutique to celebrate her birthday. I always thought that their selection of teas were confined to the sole shelf of packaged teas they have, until I opened their full tea menu.

Gosh, there were soooo many varieties of tea that I didn't even know where to begin. Spoilt for choice, we decided to ask the service staff for recommendations instead of getting lost in all the different varieties available. We settled for Snow Needles Tea, a light, floral tea perfect for the evening to accompany our macaron selection. Yes, macarons...I do love TWG's macarons for their lovely texture, balanced level of sweetness and the alluring tea-infused flavours. They were oh so goood! I decided there and then that I have to try my hand at using tea in my baked goods.

Up till now, I've only dabbled with using matcha powder in cakes and cookies. I've always wanted to posess a good variety of earl grey tea to use it in madeleines, macarons and tea cakes. So far, I haven't bought one yet and am looking for a nice one to try. Any suggestions?

I scanned my tiny tea collection for inspiration and spotted my Twinings Peach Tea. An idea came to mind and I decided to incorporate peach tea and matcha into a marbled chiffon cake. The fruity tea flavours melded perfectly and I love the resulting sweet smelling fragrance of the tea leaves in this chiffon...lovely :).

I left the tea leaves in the chiffon instead of filtering them out. Reviews from my friends on that were alright and they didn't feel it tasted weird or awful, which was a relief to me. This cake is so light and soft that I finished close to half a cake at one go - perfect to enjoy with a good cuppa tea on a cool, rainy day :).

Marbling cakes is one of the best ways to get 2 of my favourite flavours into the same cake, and it produces a pretty swirly effect too. I love looking at such pretty marbled cakes...somehow it cheers me up instantly...haha.

I used the base recipe from my last Chocolate Chiffon Cake and made slight adjustments for the replacement of cocoa powder with matcha powder and peach tea. I'm a little lazy today to post up the recipe but do drop me a note if you would like me to share that alright? I'd be happy to type them out in a while :).

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Breakfast Pancakes

Election fever has taken over most, if not all Singaporeans. With such an unprecedented political environmental unlike that we've seen in preceding years, this year's elections is set to be a fiercely fought battle on many fronts. Somehow this got me thinking about the Singapore of older days (not that I have that many years under my belt), and how much Singapore has changed and transformed to become the modern city it is today.

I can honestly say I love being here, staying here and I love my country, as this is the place I call my home. This is family, this is Singapore, a place that I've grown up in and grown to love. Much of my adult years have been spent either in university or working in the corporate world and I have to say, this is a remarkable place to live in. There are many areas in which we can do better, without a doubt, but it is still one of the best places to live in - clean, comfortable and safe. I don't wish to take any of these for granted given the very exciting and volatile world events that are happening all around us. It's probably not the time to take a chance with the cards we have on our hands and take a risky bet on the future of our country. These are exciting times for us indeed, scenes that we'd love to see since years ago and now we are seeing it happen right before our very eyes. Now that it has happened, what do we do next? What do we want next? These are questions that have been weighing on my heart in recent days...

That aside, today is my first day of freedom from work! Years of working at the same company caused me to have an emotional attachment to the company and my colleagues, hence a teary and emotional farewell was inevitable yesterday. It feels good to be able to not work for the time being, yet at the same time, I feel sad that the place I call my second home is no longer that to me now.

On the other hand, this frees me up (finally) to have a slow, homey breakfast all by myself. I've been meaning to have homemade pancakes for the longest time and finally made them today! After reading Evan's post, I decided to try out this recipe that I've bookmarked for the longest time.

And the result? I love them! They are light, fluffy and very delicious with some whipped cream on the side :).

Looking around the kitchen for further inspiration, I topped these with some citron tea concentrate and they tasted even more awesome. I love these pancakes!

Haha, I was overly ambitious and I doubled the recipe when I made the recipe. It yielded me soooo much batter than there's no way I can finish them even with my family of four. I'll just have to keep them for tomorrow's breakfast, and perhaps try them out other alternative flavours :).

Breakfast Pancakes

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1 egg, separated
2 tsps caster sugar
1 tbsp oil

1. Combine flour, baking powder & salt in a bowl and mix well.
2. In another bowl, whisk together egg yolk and milk followed by oil. Mix well and add in the flour mixture and whisk to combine.
3. Whisk egg white until foamy and gradually add the sugar and whisk till soft peak form. Fold the meringue into the mixture above. (the batter can be refrigerated overnight to prevent it from spreading too much when cooking)
4. Heat griddle or a non-stick frying pan on medium low heat then scoop batter, about 1 ladleful onto the pan. cook until bubbles appear evenly on the surface, flip it over and cook until golden.
5. Serve with whipped cream, chocolate sauce or maple syrup according to your personal preferences.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Black Bottomed Banana Squares

I'm back! I can't believe how long I've been missing in action when it comes to baking. Life has been extremely hectic for the past month I barely had time to breathe. Now that the majority of my work is completed and I'm looking to move on in my career, it's time to take a short breather and prepare my mind, body and spirit for the exciting journey ahead! :)

I have around 1.5 weeks before I start my new job...scary, but at the same time, I feel excited! Some of the spare time I have will be used to churn out some desserts, just so that my oven won't feel too neglected...haha.

I came across this lovely recipe on Min's blog for chocolate bottomed banana squares....couldn't find a more delightful chocolate banana combination in a banana cake format than this! Love the pretty contrast between the white and black layers, and the speckled crust with dark chocolate chips...looks sooo cute! Tempted, I set out to bake this yesterday and here are the results...

Pretty cute aren't they? I do find the chocolate layer a little dry for my liking. I'd probably cut the amount of flour in the chocolate layer the next time round so that it's easier on the palate. Otherwise, I love this cake! The sweet banana fragrance and the deep chocolate flavour makes it a winning combination in any case :).

This bake came at a timely moment too, in time for Aspiring Bakers #7 - Chocolate Delight! I'm submitting this for this month's challenge!

Black Bottomed Banana Squares
adapted from Min's blog

113g unsalted butter
60g castor sugar
1 egg 
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 medium bananas, mashed
180g cake flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
30g cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Cream the butter with sugar till light and fluffy.
2. Slowly add the egg, vanilla extract and mashed bananas. Beat till well incorporated.
3. Add the flour in 3 additions and fold into the mixture with a rubber spatula.
4. Divide the mixture into half and add the cocoa powder into one half of the mixture.
5. Pour the chocolate mixture into an 8" by 8" square pan, followed by the banana mixture. Top with dark chocolate chips.
6. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.


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