Macarons and Onesies

There are two things I love about winter. Well, there are more than two things but only two of them a relevant to this post! Those two things are as follows:

1. Its cold enough that I can cook whatever I like, whenever I like, for as long as I like

2. I can wear my onesie!

Now, for the uninitiated, a onesie is possibly the most amazing item of sleepwear ever invented. It’s jim jams with feet! Last year, the Ginger Ninja, Helen the Melon and I all bought onesies to keep us toasty through winter. Because everyone laughed at us, we thought we would celebrate our warmth and amazing foresight together at our own exclusive Onesie Party. And thus, the Annual Onesie Party was born.

For our party this year, joined by the Lawyer (onesie-less im afraid), we decided that we would attempt to make macarons. Surely some of the awesomeness of our onesies would rub off on these notoriously difficult biscuits? Unfortunately not. While they were passable, they were not quite a success.

We were not blessed with amazing piping skills…

But they looked alright on the tray…

But when cooked they didn’t really have that crisp outer layer and melt in your mouth center. More of a crinkly, paper thin outer layer and a gooey but mostly hollow centre. And, lets face it, they look a little like baby hamburgers. Or is that just me?

They looked ok, but still not a success.

And, after a full day onesie-ing, catching up with friends and cooking, I was knackered and needed a rest

I will post the recipe below and maybe you will have more luck with it. However, the quest for macaron perfection WILL continue until I succeed! Do you have any tips for me my lovelies? I would love to hear from you!

Pink Macaroon Recipe (Yes, its written “Macaroon” in the book) – From Australian Women’s Weekly Cookies Cookbook

Ingredients

3 egg whites

2 tblspoons caster sugar

pink food colouring

1 1/4 cups (200g) icing sugar

1 cup (120g) almond meal

100g chocolate

2 tblspoon thickened cream

Method

1. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form

2. A sugar and food colouring and beat until sugar dissolves

3. Fold in sifted icing sugar and almond meal

4. Pipe mixture onto greased and lined trays

5. Bake at 150 degrees celsius for 20 mins

6. Cool on a wire rack

7. Melt the chocolate and stir in the cream

8. Sandwich macaroons with ganache

Swiss Swirl Ice cream Cake! (Daring Bakers Challenge 2010)

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

Well, this month was a challenge and a half! Although I have been able to finish most challenges a few weeks before the deadline, some how I found myself pulling this baby together last night in the nick of time. It wasn’t that I found the recipe unappealing (I love ice cream as much as the next woman) but I think I lacked motivation this month in pulling together a recipe that largely consisted of ice cream, in the dead of winter. Some how, trudging home in the cold and the rain after a long day at the chalkface didn’t make me want to complete this recipe. However, this is absolutely something i’m going to pull out when Summertime decides to roll around!

This culinary journey was not without its hiccups. I had considerable difficulty with the initial swiss roll recipe. For reasons unknown, no matter how closely I followed the recipe the damn thing would not rise! I made a few batches of flat, rubbery swiss rolls before finally baking my end product. After reading a few different recipes I decided to try whipping the egg and sugar mixture over a double boiler. Finally, I had the thick, creamy consistency required by the recipe. Finally, I had a light, spongy swiss roll!

And of course, my first alteration to the recipe was to make it a different colour…

Pink! Yes, i’m predictable.

I had decided that I was going to steer clear of my traditional chocolate on chocolate on chocolate approach. After seeing the amazing creations of many fellow Daring Bakers I knew it was high time I experimented a bit! So instead of vanilla ice cream, I tried…

Rosewater! P.s. I  whipped that cream by hand baby!

I had to go with chocolate sauce for the middle because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out a sauce to go with rosewater ice cream.

I have to mention here that I did find the sauce mesmerising. It was like looking into a swirling galaxy

A cross section of swiss roll, ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Next came the final layer of ice cream. But what flavour to go with rosewater? I have to admit that I did cop  out a little bit in this section. I thought that pistachio ice cream would go nicely with the other flavours in this cake. However, I decided to make this ice cream on a night where I was just too tired and over it to do a good job. So I blended up a bunch of pistachios and whacked them in the ice cream.

While the texture was a little grainy as a result of my laziness, the flavour was delicate and pistachio-y

I held my breath while inverting the cake… and crossed my fingers!

Success!!

Cross section!

Thanks again Daring Bakers for a truly challenging  month! This is absolutely a recipe I will use again when the weather turns. However, I suspect I may return to my chocolate overload ways 😀

Alterations to the Recipe

I only slightly altered the recipe which you can find here.

1. I whipped my egg mixture for the swiss roll over a double boiler until it reached the desired consistency

2. I added about 4 or 5 teaspoons of rosewater to the vanilla icecream mixture instead of the vanilla

3. I added just over half a cup of pistachios (ground well) to the second ice cream mixture rather than adding cocoa or chocolate flavouring

T-T-T-Tapioca!

The other week I went on a shopping expedition to Cabramatta with the lovely Mrs S. I was in search of Kaya after reading many many posts raving about it! Little did I know, that Kaya was merely one of the treasures this gem of a suburb had to offer…

Behold! Multi coloured tapioca!

I’ve never been a big fan of tapioca. It was a staple dessert when my mum was little but it seems to have fallen out of fashion in recent years. As I love all things gelatinous, tapioca has secured a firm place in my heart. When I saw this packet of pastel multi coloured tapioca pearls I knew it was something I had to try!

I followed this recipe because if there were instructions on the packet, they certainly weren’t in a language I speak!

Note: I didn’t realise that you had to soak the pearls before cooking them. I soaked these babies for around half an hour and they came out beautifully!

Tapioca mixture bubbling away in the pan

Mmmmmm creamy tapioca!

Its like a custardy creamy jelly! Yummo! Definitely comfort food for a cold, rainy winters evening. It’s just a pity that the pearls didn’t retain their colour a bit better. There is still a touch of colour in the tapioca but it mostly washed out. At least it still tasted amazing!

Mandarin Syrup Cakes

I don’t like change. I know thats an awful thing to admit, but when things change I feel all out of my depth. A little bit lost at sea.

By now i’ve gotten used to the fact that things like the seasons must change, the weather changes and traffic lights change (thank god). But i’ve never been able to get my head around the seasonality of fruit and vegetables. I hate wanting to make something with Mangos in June, and not being able to find nice fresh juicy ones in the store 🙁 So, in order to make the most of seasonal fruit and vege and educate myself a bit, i’ve been trying to eat and cook with things that are in season.

Enter: The Mandarin

I have been quite neglectful of the humble Mandarin over the past few years. I had forgotten how sweet and juicy its segments are. How lusciously orange its juice is.

Yummo! Mandarin Juice!

The recipe for Mandarin Syrup Cakes in the Good Living section of the paper was just what I was looking for. Why didn’t I think of it before? However, I am a little wary of newspaper recipes. They aren’t always the most reliable and something I think their writers omit a crucial ingredient or step on purpose! Who honestly wants to share their secret recipes with the nation?

Have you ever seen such a beautiful simple little cake?

I shouldn’t have worried! These little babies came out wonderfully. They slipped out of the pan and stood proudly on the plate in all their buttery goodness, waiting for the syrup. Fluffy, moist and lightly mandarin-y, they were everything you could want in a cake.

and of course, they didn’t last long!

The syrup was subtle and sweet. If you aren’t a fan of the tangy lime or lemon syrups, this is absolutely the one for you. I drizzled the syrup over the cakes after putting them on the plate. If you want the syrup to permeate deeper then I would syrup them when they are just out of the oven but still in the pan. Yum!!

Mandarin Syrup Cakes – From the Good Living Guide (Sydney Morning Herald)

Ingredients

125g butter

1 cup caster sugar

2 tsp mandarin zest

2 eggs

1 cup self-raising flour

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup mandarin juice

1 tsp orange flower water

Method

1. Beat butter, half the sugar and zest in a small bowl until light and fluffy

2. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition

3. Stir in flour and buttermilk

4. Divide mixture  between 6 greased muffin holes (recipe say 180ml capacity, I just used one of those giant texas muffin pans with the huge holes)

5. At 180 degrees celsius, bake for 25-30 mins (I did mine for 20, make sure you check yours!) or until they are golden on top and feel cooked

6. Combine mandarin juice and remaining sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar is dissolved.

7. Simmer for two to three minutes or until it has thickened slightly

8. Remove from heat and stir in orange flower water

9. To serve, drizzle syrup over cakes and serve with cream or icecream (original recipe also suggests greek yoghurt, whatever floats your boat!)