Thursday, 13 November 2014

Chocolate macarons with yuzu curd


I'd pretty much decided not to post macarons again for a while, if ever; mostly people are over them, they're everywhere, even in McDonald's. I still love them with their neatness and symmetry, such a perfect blank canvass for flavour tinkering.  A very lovely person recently called me the "macaron whisperer" and I thought f*#% it, go with what you love, so here's another macaron post.

Chocolate and citrus work so beautifully together; I'm a chocolate orange girl, a gorgeous friend's favourite gelato combo is chocolate and lemon, passionfruit might as well be a citrus fruit and it works perfectly with chocolate. I've been on a bit of a yuzu bender of late, so here we have chocolate yuzu macarons. If you're over macarons maybe just make the yuzu curd, it's a beautiful thing :)

If fresh yuzus are available here in Sydney I haven't found them, but we have a great Japanese supermarket that sells bottled yuzu juice. Now if bottled yuzu juice follows the same pattern as bottled lemon and lime juice, the fresh stuff must be pretty damn amazing. Yuzu are beautifully fragrant and taste decidedly citrusy, somewhere between a mandarin and a grapefruit. So far I've just made the curd, but I'm thinking yuzu sorbet or mousse would be awesome. Roll on mid December when I may actually have a kitchen to bake in...

macaron shells

75g egg white
90g ground almonds
90g icing sugar
20g cocoa powder
100g caster sugar
25ml water

• line 2 baking trays with baking paper
• combine the caster sugar and water in a small, heavy based pan and set aside
• put the ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder in a blender and blitz on the pulse setting for a minute or so • push the nut powder through a sieve into a large bowl, if you have a small amount that won't be pushed through the sieve just toss it out, any more than a teaspoon and it's worth repeating the blitzing stage
• divide the egg white in half, use scales for this stage, you may need to lightly beat the egg white with a fork to break it up • put half in the bowl of a stand mixer, set the other half aside
• over a low heat stir the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves • increase heat to high and bring the syrup to a boil, it's ok to swirl the pan but do not stir (!) • use a wet pastry brush to remove any crystals that form on the side of the pan • check the temperature with a sugar thermometer, you are aiming for 118ºC, but when the temperature reaches 110ºC whisk the egg whites until firm peaks form
• when the sugar syrup reaches 118ºC turn the mixer to low and slowly pour into the bowl, once all the syrup is in, turn the speed to high and whisk until cool
• pour the unbeaten egg white over the nut/sugar/cocoa powder, tip the meringue on top and using a spatula, mix together in a circular motion, lifting the batter from underneath • this method takes a bit of mixing, the batter is ready when a ribbon of batter falls from your spatula and disappears back into the mix within 20-30 seconds
• use a spot of batter under the corners of the baking paper to stick it to the trays
• fit a piping bag with a 10mm nozzle and fill with the batter • pipe 3cm rounds, about 2cm apart, onto the baking paper • tap the trays on the bench, turn through 90º and tap again
• preheat the oven to 150ºC while the macarons rest on the bench for half an hour or so
• bake for 18 minutes, lightly push a macaron from the side, if it moves away from the ruffled foot around the base put them back in the oven for another couple of minutes, then check again
• cool on the tray for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack
• pair each shell with a similar sized partner; pipe a circle of ganache filling on the underside of one shell, fill the hollow centre with yuzu curd and gently press its partner on top
• store in an airtight container in the fridge overnight
• allow to come to room temperature to eat and enjoy!!

chocolate ganache

175g dark chocolate (or a 50/50 combination of milk and dark)
125ml cream

• chop the chocolate into small pieces and put in a heat proof bowl 
 heat cream in a small pan until just simmering, allow to simmer for a minute then pour over the chocolate 
 leave for 5 minutes, do not stir! 
 stir cream and chocolate together until smooth and glossy
 cool at room temperature until it is thick enough to pipe, a similar consistency as smooth peanut butter, you can put it in the fridge to speed the process up, but the ganache will lose its gloss




Yuzu Curd

2 eggs 

2 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
80g cold butter
70ml yuzu juice

• whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar together then tip into a small pan with the yuzu juice and butter

• heat gently, stirring constantly, until the butter has melted and the mixture has thickened (enough to coat the back of a spoon)
• strain the curd through a sieve into a sterilised jar, cover the top with cling wrap as it cools to prevent a skin forming
• seal the jar and store in the fridge for up to two weeks












Sunday, 26 October 2014

Blood Orange Hazelnut Cake















Yes, that's a lovely photo of a very pretty cake, but there's more, the cringe inducing tale of a truly awful pavlova...

It's been just over a year since the orange chiffon cake made its debut at a family get together, Mr B's grandfather's 95th birthday lunch; this I realised when my MIL asked if I'd make dessert for Pa's 96th. Mr B's mum was flicking through the September issue of the Gourmet Traveller and selected a gorgeous looking blood orange and hazelnut cake, chosen not simply for its beauty, but for its appeal to the older generation.

Guest numbers grew, a cake alone would not do; something reliable, tested, that i could bake with my eyes closed was needed as back up. Pavlova, passionfruit curd, raspberries, simple, delicious. I made the cake and passionfruit curd the night before, hopped up early the next morning feeling pretty smug to make the pavlova. Total fricken disaster. Worst pavlova I've made in my LIFE. I'm guessing what I thought was cornflour probably wasn't. It looked kind of okay, a bit grainy, maybe a hint of grey. Pavlovas are great, heaped with fruit and cream they are pretty forgiving, not this pav. Just prior to serving I topped it with passionfruit curd, pillows of cream and a gorgeous mound of matt raspberries. It looked pretty amazing for about 5 minutes until it slowly collapsed into an extremely expensive raspberry and passionfruit puddle. In a typical twist of irony most guests went with the puddle. Family are forgiving, but there was no hiding, it was awful.

The blood orange and hazelnut cake, it was good, as lovely as the photo in the magazine, a refined pineapple upside down cake for a new generation. It was straightforward to make, I may have bought the wrong polenta, my batter was strange, not quite curdled but definitely different! It baked like a dream, came out of the pan without a hitch and looked amazing. Click here for the original recipe, I followed it pretty closely just a slight reduction in the sugar content.  I poured the extra syrup over the cake before we cut slices, don't do that, it was super sweet and left the cake a bit wet in the centre. Next time I'll switch the ground hazelnuts for almonds, I think it may even be better.

Blood Orange topping

200 caster sugar
125ml freshly squeezed and strained blood orange juice
2 blood oranges

• butter a 25 cm spring form cake pan and line the base with baking paper
• finely slice the blood oranges, I used a mandolin but completely understand if this freaks you out, I have the scar and slight loss of feeling in my right index finger...
• tip the sugar and juice into a medium pan, stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves
• add the orange slices to the pan, simmer gently for 10 minutes until the skins are tender
• cool the slices in the pan, then remove, reserving the syrup, arrange the slices on the base of the cake tin, pour over 100ml of the reserved syrup, pour the rest into a jug to serve with the cake



Blood Orange and Hazelnut cake

350g caster sugar
300g butter
6 large eggs
260g ground hazelnuts
150g fine polenta
150g plain flour
zest and juice of 1 blood orange
zest and juice of 1 lemon
blood orange juice
125ml buttermilk

• preheat your oven to 180ºC and leave your ingredients to come to room temperature
• cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
• combine the hazelnuts and polenta in a bowl, add half to the creamed butter and sugar
with the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before you add the next, scraping the mixture from the side of the bowl as you go
• add the remaining ingredients and fold carefully to combine
• spoon the mixture carefully over the sliced oranges, smoothing the top with the back of your spoon
• bake in the centre of your oven for 1 hour, test with a skewer or cake tester, it should come out clean
• cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out of the tin and leave on a rack until completely cooled

serve slices of the cake with greek yoghurt or whipped cream, warm the extra syrup for the sweet tooths! The cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days

Thanks AGT for the recipe, it's a wonderful cake; and because it's spring, here's a pretty, floral shot with a few of my favourite things :)



Monday, 13 October 2014

Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches

A few weeks ago, over on instagram, I flippantly asked Erika Raxworthy to come over and bake with me; Erika thought it was a great idea, there may even have been an emoji, a flamenco dancing chica! I hadn't remotely expected my offer to be taken up, so there you go, sometimes you just have to ask. Emails were exchanged, plans were hatched, and a macaron ice-cream sandwich date was set.  


Erika's blog and instagram images are clean, uncluttered and super elegant. In person Erika is super elegant and just lovely; clean too, but that sounds really creepy... We had lots of fun making and shooting the ice cream sandwiches, it was quite warm and things got messy pretty quickly! The images below I took the next day when it was a little cooler, my daughter constructing and all the kids eating! For the shots taken on the day head over to Erika's blog

I made macarons in two flavours, hazelnut and chocolate. I attempted to make shells using coconut meal, laughingly awful, definitely need to overhaul that recipe! If you are making macarons for the first time it will likely be frustrating, but remember they'll taste great even if they are cracked or wonky, have no feet, look like mini erupting volcanoes...Our sandwiches were filled with pre cut and refrozen doughnut shaped discs of ice-cream; firstly because I was worried the shells would crack if we attempted to squish scoops of ice-cream between them, but mostly because I'm a neat freak when it comes to macarons.  It turned out to be completely unfounded from the squishing side of things; my kids made their own after dinner last night, with giant balls of ice-cream, and the shells held up just fine. Neat, no, lots of fun, yes. I'll definitely make these again, they'd be fantastic after a relaxed lunch or casual dinner, a perfect "make your own" dessert. The sweet answer to the taco. 




Hazelnut Macaron Shells

75g egg white (from approximately 2 jumbo eggs)
50g ground hazelnuts (hazelnut meal)
50g ground almonds (almond meal)
100g icing sugar
25ml water

 line 1 large baking tray with baking paper
 combine the caster sugar and water in a small, heavy based pan and set aside
 put the ground hazelnuts, ground almonds and icing sugar in a blender and blitz on the pulse setting for a minute or so • push the nut powder through a sieve into a large bowl, if you have a small amount that won't be pushed through the sieve just toss it out, any more than a teaspoon and it's worth repeating the blitzing stage or embrace it and go for a more rustic macaron
 divide the egg white in half, use scales for this stage, you may need to lightly beat the egg white with a fork to break it up(for 2 eggs I crack and weigh each egg white separately, they are usually a consistent weight, but if you double/triple the recipe I'd weigh once then divide in half) put half in the bowl of a stand mixer, set the other half aside
 over a low heat stir the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves • increase heat to high and bring the syrup to a boil, it's ok to swirl the pan but do not stir (!) • use a wet pastry brush to remove any crystals that form on the side of the pan • check the temperature with a sugar thermometer, you are aiming for 118ºC, but when the temperature reaches 110ºC whisk the egg whites until firm peaks form
 when the sugar syrup reaches 118ºC turn the mixer to low and slowly pour into the bowl, once all the syrup is in, turn the speed to high and whisk until cool
 pour the unbeaten egg white over the nut/sugar powder, tip the meringue on top and using a spatula, mix together in a circular motion, lifting the batter from underneath • this method takes a bit of mixing, the batter is ready when a ribbon of batter falls from your spatula and disappears back into the mix within 20-30 seconds
• use a spot of batter under the corners of the baking paper to stick it to the trays
• fit a piping bag with a 10mm nozzle and fill with the batter • pipe 6cm rounds, about 2cm apart, onto the baking paper, you should make approximately 12  • tap the tray on the bench, turn through 90º and tap again
• preheat the oven to 150ºC while the macarons rest on the bench for half an hour or so
• bake for 22 minutes, lightly push a macaron from the side, if it moves away from the ruffled foot around the base put them back in the oven for another couple of minutes, then check again
• cool on the tray for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack
• pair each shell with a similar sized partner and store in an airtight container until you are ready to use them.
• store unused shells in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Chocolate Macaron Shells



75g egg white
90g ground almonds
90g icing sugar
20g cocoa powder
100g caster sugar
25ml water

follow the method for the hazelnut shells above, adding the cocoa powder to the ground almonds and icing sugar when you blend.



You could stop at simply ice-cream in your sandwich, but who does that? Add what ever you like really, or just make these; salted caramel, chocolate ganache and sour cherry compote. You're welcome :)

Salted Caramel

200g granulated sugar (white sugar)
60ml water
125ml cream
1tsp sea salt flakes

in a small pan combine the sugar, syrup and water 
 stir over low heat to dissolve the sugar  increase heat and bring to boil, do not stir 
 use a wet pastry brush to dissolve any crystals that form on the sides of the pan 
 boil until the caramel is medium amber colour, swirl the pan occasionally but no stirring! 
 remove from heat, add the cream and sea salt, prepare for frantic bubbling, stir until combined 
 return to the heat, stirring continuously for 1 minute
 allow to cool at room temperature
 store unused caramel in an airtight container for up to a month 

Chocolate Ganache

175g of your favourite chocolate, no soft centres
125ml thickened cream

 finely chop the chocolate and tip into a heat proof jug or bowl
• bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan then pour over the chocolate, stir once or twice to ensure the chocolate is covered then walk away
 after 5 minutes stir until smooth, leave to cool and thicken at room temperature
 unused ganache can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week, if you can resist just eating it with a spoon...

Sour Cherry Compote

jar of morello cherries
arrowroot (or tapioca flour)

Morello cherries only seem to be available in huge jars. Strain the cherries, retaining the juice in a measuring jug. I had about 250ml juice. 1 tablespoon of arrowroot will thicken 250ml liquid. If you don't want to use all your cherries, or have less liquid than me, just reduce the quantity of arrowroot accordingly; e.g. 1/2 tablespoon arrowroot for 125ml juice, 1 teaspoon of arrowroot for just over 60ml juice (62.5ml or 1/4 cup) etc.

 tip cherries and juice into a pan
 mix 1tbsp arrowroot with 1tbsp water, stir until smooth, then blend into cherries
 stir over a medium heat until thickened
 you'll probably have lots of cherries left over, you may have to make a cheesecake or a pie, I have wicked plans for mine :)


Milly, enjoying her creation, messy but so gooooood..!


Monday, 8 September 2014

Sherbet Lemon Marshmallows, scratch that, Passionfruit Marshmallows with Lemon Sherbet


Things have been pretty sweet this week, I've been taking part in "the sweet swap" organised by Aussie food bloggers Chew Town and Belly Rumbles. It works like this; I parcel up 3 packages of my chosen homemade sweet and post them off to my designated swappers; I then wait, impatiently, for my 3 packages to arrive.



They arrived over a week, on 3 separate days, I didn't open any until the last arrived, I like to prolong the surprise; deferred gratification, in kids it can indicate intelligence... It seems I underestimated the importance of packaging, the parcels I received were gorgeous! That overachieving Amanda at Chew Town even baked her own tags! I loved the contents just as much, 3 of my favourite things; chocolate, nuts and a honeycomb hybrid.  A perfect crunchy, hazelnutty ferrero rocher like chocolate from Julie at I Dream in Chocolate, gorgeous spiced pecan chocolate cups from Nicole at Seeking Victory, and a mad maple comb from Amanda at Chew Town. They were all sweetly delicious, a real treat.





Sherbet lemon marshmallows were my confection of choice, until i realised I'd bought passionfruit instead of lemons, who does that? So, passionfruit marshmallows with lemon sherbet. I love this marshmallow recipe, the texture is amazing, mousse like and spongy, never rubbery. They are super sweet, and paired with a fizzing lemon sherbet are quite something. To make lemon marshmallows, simply substitute the passionfruit juice in the recipe below with freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice. I sent my sherbety, marshmallowy packages off to Sara at Belly Rumbles, Simon at The Heart of Food, and Lucy at Bake Play Smile. I loved the image of the marshmallows Simon posted on instagram, I'd be lying through my teeth if I didn't admit it influenced my own :) thanks Simon!



Passionfruit Marshmallows


180ml strained passionfruit juice (approximately 10 large passion fruit)
20g powdered gelatin
500g caster sugar
2 egg whites
snow sugar* for dusting

  • lightly grease a  20cm by 25cm (or similar) cake pan and dust with snow sugar
  • combine passionfruit juice and gelatin in a bowl, set aside
  • combine caster sugar and 1 cup (250ml) water in a medium sized saucepan and cook over gentle heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves  increase heat to medium and cook until syrup reaches 125ºC on a sugar thermometer, approximately 10 minutes but you need to keep an eye on it  remove from heat, add passionfruit mixture to syrup and stir until gelatin dissolves, the mixture will bubble alarmingly!
  • meanwhile, using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites and a pinch of salt until frothy  gradually add passionfruit mixture, whisking continuously on medium speed until mixture has doubled in size  slowly decrease speed and mix until mixture is just warm
  • pour into prepared cake pan, spread evenly, then dust top with snow sugar 
  • stand at room temperature for around 3 hours or until firm, then release the marshmallow by running a knife around the edge of the tin and tipping it onto a board using a sharp knife, and a ruler if you have my OCD leanings, cut marshmallow into 4 by 5 cm rectangles and roll in snow sugar to coat  store in an airtight container between sheets of baking paper at room temperature for up to 2 weeks
  • when you are ready to serve, arrange on your serving dish, dust liberally with lemon sherbet, and finely zest a lemon over the top, watch them fizz then consume as soon as possible
* in Australia snow sugar is available from The Essential Ingredient but can be substituted with a 50/50 combination of icing sugar and corn flour (or potato starch for a gluten free alternative) 

makes approximately 25 large marshmallows

adapted slightly from Catherine Adams, Rockpool Melbourne


Lemon Sherbet

75g citric acid
95g icing sugar
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
1 lemon

  • combine the first 3 ingredients in a bowl, pass through a fine sieve 3 times
  • store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week
adapted from Lisa Featherby's recipe in the Australian Gourmet Traveller




Monday, 1 September 2014

Brownie Marshmallow Cookies with bonus Marshmallow Pops



The end of the year is birthday season in our house, and while it may be September, I have a planner, she’s turning 12… She's chosen a tea party theme, pretty china and tiny treats. Given Miss M is off to high school next year, I’m grabbing the concept and hanging on. There is the small matter of a major kitchen/living area renovation to navigate first… but hoping for the best, we’re recipe testing :)

The lovely Jane from emerald + ella sent over some products from her online store, really pretty party products that suit our theme perfectly! The white straws with tiny green polka dots are my favourite, and the thank you stickers are perfect for someone who is hopeless at sending out thank you notes, even if I have the best intentions.

My instagram and pinterest feeds have been full of images of s’mores, apparently August 10 was National S’mores Day, I love how Americans celebrate food! Combined with the Donna Hay brownie cookies I’ve been wanting to make for a few years, best not to rush things, I dreamt up the brownie marshmallow cookie, like a whoopee pie, but so much better! The cookies are great by themselves, just the perfect combination of crunch and chew, and really easy to make.  They can be sandwiched with almost anything; salted caramel, peanut butter, buttercream, ice cream, strawberries and cream, whatever you fancy really. The marshmallow is slightly trickier, you’ll need a sugar thermometer and an electric mixer, but again you can play with flavours, create something new…

The recipe will give you 10 large, or 20 small, brownie marshmallow cookies and a whole lot of left over marshmallow; you could double the cookie mix, but we are in party planning mode and got a bit carried away, making marshmallow pops and a slab of marshmallow to cut up and fill the goodie bags.


Brownie Cookies (adapted from Donna Hay) 

275g dark chocolate, chopped
75g milk chocolate, chopped
40g butter
2 eggs, at room temperature
130g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
35g plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder

makes 20 individual cookies

  • preheat your oven to 180ºC
  • put 200g of the dark chocolate into a small pan with the butter, stir over a low heat until smooth, set aside
  • sift together the flour and baking powder, also set aside
  • put the eggs and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, you can use a hand held electric mixer but expect a sore arm, whisk together for 10-15 minutes until really thick, pale and creamy
  • gently fold the flour/baking powder, melted chocolate/butter and all the remaining chocolate through the egg mixture, leave to stand for 10 minutes
  • while your cookie mix is resting, line 2 trays with baking paper
  • I used a small ice cream scoop (size 40 for the lovers of detail!) to scoop and drop small mounds of the cookie mix onto the trays, a slightly heaped dessert spoon will give you the same amount, give the cookies room to spread, about 3cm
  • bake for 10 minutes, but check after 8, the cookies should be puffed and cracked, dry on top, but still very soft
  • leave on the trays until completely cool

Strawberry marshmallow

180ml strawberry juice (approximately 1 regular punnet, blitzed and strained)
20g powdered gelatin
500g caster sugar
2 egg whites
a pinch of salt
snow sugar* for dusting

for the marshmallow pops

12 pretty drinking straws
40g white chocolate, melted
40g milk chocolate, melted
sprinkles, 100s&100s etc for decoration

for the cookies, marshmallow pops and individual marshmallows; fit a large piping bag with a 10mm plain tip, lightly grease a 12 hole mini muffin tin or silicon mold and dust with snow sugar, you’ll also need to lightly grease a small cake or loaf pan and dust with snow sugar for the leftover mallow mixture

if you are making double the cookies you’ll just need the piping bag and cake pan

  • combine strawberry juice and gelatin in a bowl, set aside
  • combine caster sugar and 1 cup (250ml) water in a medium sized saucepan and cook over gentle heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves 
  • increase heat to medium and cook until syrup reaches 125ºC on a sugar thermometer, this can take up to 10 minutes, but you need to keep an eye on it
  • while the sugar is bubbling away, using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites and a pinch of salt until frothy
  • when the syrup reaches 125ºC remove from heat, add strawberry mixture to the syrup and stir until smooth, the mixture will bubble alarmingly!
  • with  your mixer on med/low, gradually add the hot strawberry syrup, whisk continuously on medium speed until mixture has doubled in size, slowly decrease speed and mix until mixture is cool
* in Australia snow sugar is available from The Essential Ingredient but can be substituted with a 50/50 combination of icing sugar and corn flour (or potato starch if you’re after gluten free) 


assembling the cookie sandwich cookies and marshmallow pops

if you plan to make the marshmallow pops as well, the next few steps require a bit of juggling, you’ll need to work quite quickly, before the marshmallow starts to set, no pressure…

  • while the marshmallow is mixing, pair up similar sized cookies on a tray, one faced up, one faced down
  • as soon as the marshmallow mixture is cool, pour around 1/2 into the piping bag, leave the rest in the bowl for the moment
  • pipe a walnut sized mound of marshmallow on the upturned cookies, then pipe the remainder into the holes of your mini muffin tin, refill your piping bag if you run out
  • when all cookies and pops are piped, tip the left over marshmallow into the cake tin, spread evenly and dust with snow sugar, leave to set at room temperature for about 3 hours
  • sandwich your cookies together and store in an airtight container, they will soften gradually but are good for 3-4 days
  • poke a straw into the centre of each marshmallow pop and leave to set at room temperature for around 3 hours or until firm; when set, gently ease the edges of the marshmallow away from the tin then pull on the straw to release
  • dip the marshmallows in the melted chocolate and decorate with sprinkles; I rigged up an elaborate holes in a box contraption to keep the pops upright as they set, but honestly think up turning them in a glass or jar would work just as well!
  • when the marshmallow in the tin has set, ease away from the edge of the tin, turn upside down over a board and bang sharply on the bench to release
  • using a sharp knife, and a ruler if you have my OCD leanings, cut marshmallow into 2.5cm squares and roll in snow sugar to coat, bag up in your goodie bags or store in an airtight container between sheets of baking paper at room temperature for up to 2 weeks