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The Cool Beans – Tiramisu Macaron with Coffee Mascarpone Buttercream Filling




I’ve waited SO LONG to have this post about THE intimidating macarons. I don’t know about you, despite how lush and tempting macarons Look, I often find them too pricey to bring home as a student. So, I might as well learn to make them myself, right?   

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It’s no exaggeration to say that these tiramisu macarons are heavenly. Tell me, how can you resist it when you get a crispy coffee-flavoured almond meringue shell with a marshmallow interior, with some creamy rich and creamy mascarpone cheese buttercream layered between? The bitterness from the coffee justly tones down the macarons’ high level of sweetness that’d be considered a put off for certain people.  Have a bite and you’d be brought straight to Paris.

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I am quite a perfectionist when it comes to baking. This is a double-edged sword, because while it always pushes me to strive for the best result, sometimes I could just break down for a not-so-good-looking muffin. However, ironically,  here I am, ready to talk about the making of macarons –  something that constantly forces me to deal with imperfection.  Sometimes I’d pipe out macarons that aren’t the same shape and size on the baking sheet; sometimes the macaroon shells would crack when I was eagerly peeping through the oven door; sometimes the famous and essential “feet” simply wouldn’t show.  In other words, there are  tons of reasons for me to face frustration when making these little treats, or for me to doubt myself. But there’s one thing that I know for sure –  to master anything I have to start somewhere, and coming to terms with initial failures is the way to go because that’s how I figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it.

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If I have to mention the most important thing that I have learnt about making macarons, it’d be it is not as hard as it seems, yet it has to be made with absolute precision. In order to create the smooth top shell layers and the little famous “feet”, you must rest the macaron for at least 30 mins before baking, and make sure the oven is kept at low temperature (i.e. 150C). Also, as many would agree, when compared with the traditional French meringue method, using the Italian meringue method produces more stable result. If you feel uncertain about reading the written instructions alone, do check out some tutorial videos with clear demonstration online (The Scran Line is  good source where you’d find lots of creative macarons recipes). I hope you will try it out for yourself! 😉

Ingredients:

Yields about 20 Macaroons (40 shells)

  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 80 g egg white, separated into two portions, 40g each 
  • 32.5 ml water 
  • 2 tsp instant coffee, melted in 1 tsp water

Filling:

  • 100 g softened butter
  • 100g mascarpone cheese
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp (5ml) coffee liqueur

Instructions :

Macaron shells:

  1. Place the icing sugar and almond flour in a food processor, and pulse for 30 seconds until well combined and fine in texture. Sift the flour-sugar mixture through a sieve into a mixing bowl, and pour in the first portion of egg whites. With a spatula, mix together until well combined. You can still be quite vigorous at this stage.
  2. Now you prepare the syrup. Put sugar and water in a small saucepan and do NOT stir. Bring the water and sugar to boil at 118C. When the syrup reaches 115C, simultaneously start whisking the second portion of egg whites to soft peaks on a medium speed.
  3. When the sugar reaches 118C, pour it over the egg whites (pour the hot syrup on the side of the mixing bowl to avoid cooking the egg whites). Turn the mixer to high speed and continue beating for about 5-7 mins, until the meringue is cooled down to 50C and glossy stiff peaks have formed. In two additions, add the meringue over the almond mixture, and, using a spatula, gently fold in until combined and smooth. Work the batter until it flows in very thick ribbons when the spatula is lifted.
  4. Pipe rounds of batter about 3.5cm in diameter, spacing them 2cm apart on baking trays lined with baking parchment. Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter to flatten the macarons and to remove air bubbles.
  5. Tap the tray on the work surface covered with a kitchen cloth. Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes, until a skin forms on the shells.
  6. Preheat the oven to 150C, then put the trays in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Out of the oven, slide the shells on to the work surface. Let cool.

Coffee mascarpone buttercream filling:

  1. Add softened butter and mascarpone cheese to a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on a medium speed until smooth.
  2. Add icing sugar and coffee liqueur, continue beating for an extra minute until combined and smooth.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble:

 

  1. Place the mascarpone buttercream filling into a piping bag topped with a rose nozzle and pipe it on the inside of the macarons and sandwich them together.
  2. Serve macarons at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a week.

Yum




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Because Why Not – Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Cake with Peanut Butter Swiss Buttercream Frosting




This joyful looking cake came into existence for two reasons. First, apparently I loved making chocolate desserts too much and I must stay away from it (right?). Second, it doesn’t hurt to go for some classic sometimes. By classic, I mean the marriage of salty and sweet – Peanut Butter & Jelly – made famous by Americans. Of course, this combination shouldn’t be limited to a breakfast/snack sandwich; think about it, if it works brilliantly between two slices of bread, it surely can make a great cake too.

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I originally designed this layer cake for my friend’s birthday, and this is a new recipe modified mainly to improve the cake’s texture. My first PB&J cake was bit on the dry and tough side. Therefore, in my second attempt, I put in more eggs and oil, and I also decided to fold meringue into the cake batter at last instead of incorporating whole eggs. Such changes increased the volume of the cake with richer taste and finer structure.

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One indispensable component of this cake is the jam. The slightly tart strawberry jam with a citrus touch perfectly undercuts the richness of the buttercream. People who have been in my baking life would know that I always prefer making things from scratch, for I want to have great control of my baked goods (here comes the even greater satisfaction afterwards!). I couldn’t resist making my own strawberry jam for the cake (see note for instructions), but again, you can by all means purchase your favourite jam :). Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

(make one 6-inch cake)

For the Cake:

  • 1 ½ cup (188g) cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup (58g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) crunchy peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup (75g) granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites + 25g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Peanut Butter Swiss Buttercream Frosting:

  • ¾ cup (150g) white granulated sugar
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tar tar
  • 1 ½ ( (345g) cups unsalted butter, softened  
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) creamy peanut butter

For the homemade strawberry jam (or ½ cup store bought jam)

  • 250g  strawberries
  • 4 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, juice and zest of

Toppings:

  • Fresh strawberry slices
  • Extra peanut butter swiss buttercream

Instructions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)
  2. Line one 6 inch cake with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly sift in and combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. In another mixing bowl (make sure it’s oil free), add egg whites, icing sugar and cream of tar tar. Using an electric beater, beat on high speed until soft peak forms. Transfer the meringue into another bowl; set aside.  
  5. Using the same mixing bowl you used to make the meringue, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed for 4-5 mins until pale and fluffy. Add oil and continue beating for 2 min until incorporated.
  6. Add eggs yolks, one at a time, peanut butter and vanilla. Continue to beat at medium speed until well combined.
  7. Add the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture in three batches. Mix on low speed until no flour can be seen.
  8. Finally, gently fold the prepared meringue into the cake batter with a spatula. Mix gently with folding motion until just incorporated.
  9. Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared cake tin. Tap the pans several times to break any air bubbles. Bake for 50 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean.
  10. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in their pans, then take them out and put them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. While the cakes are cooling, prepare the peanut butter swiss buttercream.

For the Peanut butter Swiss Buttercream:

  1. Add  egg whites and sugar to an oil-free bowl. Using a double boiling method, gently heat the egg whites mixture up, while whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140F (60C).  The sugar should have completely dissolved at this stage.
  2. Add the hot egg white-sugar mixture to your electric mixer mixing bowl (oil-free). Whip on high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels cool. This will take about 7-10 mins.
  3. Turn to medium-low speed, gradually add the softened butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until a silky smooth texture is reached. Add vanilla and peanut butter, and beat until well combined.
  4. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes with a round tip for later use.

Assembly:

  1. Level the cake layers by slicing the top curve of the cakes with a sharp knife to achieve a flat surface.
  2. Cut the cake into three even layers.
  3. Peel the parchment paper from the base of the cake layers and place one layer onto a plate or a cake board placed on a revolving cake stand (if you have it).
  4. Now we do the crumb coat first.
  5. Pipe a generous amount of frosting evenly on the cake layer. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting carefully and top it a thin layer of strawberry jam.
  6. Top it with the second cake layer and repeat step 5, and top it with the third cake layer.
  7. Frosting the top and sides of the cakes. Get a nice, smooth coat of icing with a bench scraper or a spatula.
  8. Put the crumb-coated cake in the refrigerator for an hour to get the frosting nice and firm. Once the cake is chilled, frost your cake evenly with another layer of frosting using the same method. Get rid of all the peaks and blemishes in the process.
  9. Pipe dollops of cream onto the cake, put thin strawberry slices and spinkle cocoa powder as garnish if desired.
  10. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour.

Note:
Instructions for the homemade strawberry jam: 

  1. Prepare the strawberries by washing them and drying them with a kitchen towel. Remove their stems. Crush strawberries in batches or cut them into small cubes.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil for 5-10 mins until the jam has reached 105C, then turn off the heat.
  3. Let the jam cool to room temperature. Put the jam into jars and refrigerate until ready for use.

Yum




9 comments
Golden Haze – Ferrero Rocher Cupcake with Nutella Swiss Buttercream Frosting

Today let’s forget about going on (or thinking of going on – got you) diet, and just indulge ourselves in these golden goodness. These ferrero hazelnut cupcakes are simply perfect for celebratory occasions, because they’re

  • visually appealing
  • Sophisticated
  • indulgent

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There’s a story behind this creation – my mum’s colleague tried my baked goods at work and asked me to prepare cupcakes for her wedding. As nervous as I usually am, I low-key panicked a little (okay actually A LOT) and have been wracking my brain to think about what I should make in order not to disappoint. Red Velvet? Carrot Cake? Oreo & Cream? As I started to get frustrated this idea suddenly popped up in my mind – thank God – and I decided to go along with it.

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Instead of conventional American buttercream, I opted for Swiss Buttercream for the cupcake frosting. Basically, making swiss buttercream requires an extra step of heating up egg whites and sugar in a double boiler, before you turn the egg white mixture into fluffy, glossy meringue. This method is highly sought-after, because 

1) it in general yields a more delicate & refined texture and taste
2) it does seem that the butter ratio in the frosting is significantly lowered

I followed the instructions given by Tessa on https://www.handletheheat.com/how-to-make-perfect-swiss-meringue-buttercream/with some minor adjustment. If you happen to encounter problems while making your swiss buttercream (it happens), do check this link out http://www.thebrewerandthebaker.com/archives/7640. It was a great help for me.

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For the cupcakes themselves, I tried to incorporate some hazelnut elements into the cake batter, namely hazelnut meals and roasted hazelnut chocolate. And I’d be condemned if I dared to miss using the mighty hazelnut spread, Nutella, for my swiss buttercream, right? To complement the rich nutty flavours and to yield a refreshing and balanced final taste, I added a little bit tangy orange zest as well. I have to say, they brought so much more character and vibrancy to the cupcakes! Psss, If your greedy self wants to bring the cupcake’s luxuriousness to whole new level, edible gold paint is the way to go. Spread joy and love with these beautiful treats, people 😉

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Ingredients:

(make 15-16 cupcakes)

Cupcake: 

  • 1 ½  cup (188g) all purpose flour
  • 100g hazelnut meal
  • ¼  cup (25g) cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup (115g) butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) vegetable oil ( I used canola oil)
  • ½ cup (113g) caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60ml) coffee, room temperature (2 tsp instant coffee powder melted in 1/4 cup (60ml) of water)
  • ½ cup (120ml) whole milk
  • 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla
  • 50g roasted hazelnut chocolate, melted (or you can use dark chocolate instead)
  • 1/2 orange, zest of

Nutella swiss buttercream:

  • 5 egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 280g chopped unsalted butter, soft
  • 50g Nutella
  • pinch of salt

Topping:

  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Ferrero
  • toasted hazelnut, chopped

Instructions:

For the cupcake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175C) . Line pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In a mixing bowl, sift and combine flour, hazelnut meal, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt. Set aside.  
  3. In another mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, oil, and sugar on medium high speed until creamy and smooth. This will take around 4-5 mins.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and continue beating for 1 min. Add coffee, milk and melted chocolate, vanilla, and cointreau. Continue beating for 30 secs.
  5. In 3 batches, pour the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture, and gently stir with a spatula until incorporated. Don’t overmix.
  6. Fill cupcake liners to nearly full and bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake’s centre comes out clean.

For the Nutella Swiss Buttercream:

  1. Add  egg whites and sugar to an oil-free bowl. Using a double boiling method, gently heat the egg whites mixture up, while whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140F (60C).  The sugar should have completely dissolved at this stage.
  2. Add the hot egg white-sugar mixture to your electric mixer mixing bowl (oil-free). Whip on high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels cool. This will take about 7-10 mins.
  3. Turn to medium-low speed, gradually add the softened butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until a silky smooth texture is reached. Add Nutella and salt, and beat until well combined.
  4. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes with your favourite piping tip, and put a Ferrero Rocher, some chopped hazelnuts, and sprinkle sifted cocoa powder on top as decoration if desired.

Yum




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Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

Present to you my beloved recipe of coconut rum pecan banana bread – a sneaky twist on a classic banana bread. This recipe results in a super moist, delicious banana bread that’s packed with coconut flavours, enhanced with a touch of rum aroma and a nutty crunch.

Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

Do you guys have a favourite thing to make? People around me asked me that many times before and I usually couldn’t provide a definite answer. Yet, I guess there’s been an answer inside my heart all along – quick bread. Quick bread is any bread that can be made in a matter of minutes without necessarily using yeast in the process. In other words, they’re my kind of comfort food; quick and easy. It might be a bit embarrassing to say – at the earliest stage of my baking life, I didn’t have any baking tools except a loaf pan in my student dorm kitchen. To satisfy my hungry soul, what I did was keep exploring and trying out as many loaf recipes found online as possible. This crazy experiment resulted in many delicious loaves coming out of my oven (and inevitably some weight gain as well, but who cares? jk lol).

Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

As you may already know, the key to amouth-watering banana bread is using OVERRIPE bananas. Yeap, if you don’t have them ready at home, you have to wait until all the banana skins have almost turned black and rotten. This is when the bananas have become mushy enough and, of course, the sweetest as most of the starch content is broken down into sugar. Trust me, it is totally worth the patience. Why wait? Provide your friends and family with the best banana experience by serving big slices of this banana bread as their breakfast or afternoon snack.

Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½  tsp salt
  • ½  tsp cinnamon
  • ½  cup (100g) dark brown sugar
  • ½  cup (115g) butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • ¼  cup (60ml) coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) rum
  • 50g & 1 extra tbsp (for sprinkling) shredded coconut  
  • 80g pecan, roughly chopped

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, or grease it with butter or oil; set aside.
  2. In a bowl, sift in and combine well the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for 3 mins until fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and continue beating for 1 min.
  5. Add mashed bananas, coconut milk and rum, and continue beating until incorporated.
  6. Pour in the dry ingredients into the mixture in three batches, stirring continuously.
  7. Add in shredded coconut and pecans. Stir the batter gently with a spatula until everything is just incorporated.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle some shredded coconut on top. Tap the pan several times to break any air bubbles. Bake the cake for 50-55 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. When the cake is cool enough to handle, remove it from the pan and let it continue to cool on the wire rack before making the glaze; this will take about 30 mins.
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