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

Monday, 4 August 2014

Velvet Cupcakes & Mini Layer Cake

What do you call a red velvet cake minus the colouring? I'm going with nude velvet; I'll probably get a lot of inappropriate traffic with those search terms... I don't like adding colouring when I bake, so when my daughter requested red velvet cupcakes, nude is what she got, oh dear.

Every Monday, after school and before netball training, Milly hangs out at a friend's house, close to school.  When I remember I send snacks, on a good week I bake. The last few months have been a bit fraught, and this week, for the first time in what seems like a while, I baked for fun. I also broke 2 of my "style over substance" baking rules; I made cupcakes so tall they were difficult to eat, and I left the stems and leaves on strawberries. I knew they'd taste good and I wanted pretty over easy to eat. I'm sure normal baking habits will resume at some point, in the meantime I'm going with it.

One cupcake tray was all I could find, so I baked the left over batter in a mini 6 inch cake pan.  I didn't have enough frosting for my mini cake, I made more, chocolate ganache too. Now I have left over frosting and ganache, I'm in a 'baking to use up leftovers' spiral, I see no end, just lots of cake and dirty dishes. The cupcakes and mini cake were really pretty and a huge hit; the cupcakes are my pick, they were lighter, more moist, and had a higher frosting to cake ratio :)

Nude Velvet Cupcakes

325g plain flour, cake flour if you can find it
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
330g caster sugar
375ml canola oil
2 large eggs
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
250ml (1 cup) buttermilk
2 tsps white vinegar
1 1/2 tsps bicarb soda
1 large punnet strawberries

mascarpone frosting, recipe below

 preheat your oven to 175ºC and line 2 12 hole muffin trays with paper cupcake cases, I always use dark or foil cases, I think they look better when baked. If you want to make 12 cupcakes and a mini cake, also grease a 6 inch round cake tin and line the base with baking paper
 over a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt, set aside
using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or hand held mixer, mix together the oil and sugar until combined, then add the eggs one at a time, make sure your first egg is completed incorporated before you add the next • scrape in the vanilla seeds and mix to combine • the batter looks really weird at this point, but stick with it!
 with the mixer on low, tip in 1/3 of the flour/cocoa comb and mix until just combined • add 1/2 buttermilk, mix until combined • repeat with remaining flour and buttermilk, finishing with the last 1/3 of the flour/cocoa
 in a cup or small bowl, mix the bicarb soda and vinegar together, it will foam up, tip into the cake batter and mix until combined
 divide the batter equally between your cupcake cases, I use an ice-cream scoop with a release for this, it helps me to keep the cakes the same size. If you are making 12 cupcakes and a mini cake, fill your cupcake cases first, then tip the remaining mixture into your 6 inch tin.
 bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes, the 6 inch cake will take 30-35 minutes, check it after 30 minutes • to  check for doneness (is that even a word???) gently poke the centre of your cake with a skewer or piece of uncooked spaghetti, the skewer will come out clean when the cake is cooked
cool your cakes on a wire cooling rack, when completely cold they are ready to frost

to frost the cupcakes

fit a piping bag with a star shaped tip, fill the bag 2/3 full with mascarpone frosting 
 starting at the centre, pipe a large swirl of frosting on top of a cupcake; there are lots of excellent frosting tutorials and videos online, there are basic instructions on the Wilton site here.
 top each cake with a strawberry half (feel free to chop the tops off, or go the pretty route and leave them on)

to assemble the mini cake

when the cake is completely cold, use a serrated knife to cut the cake into 2 layers • if the top layer is very domed, cut the top off, cooks treat!
you'll need 2 piping bags, both fitted with plain tips, fill one 2/3 full with the mascarpone frosting, the other with the chocolate ganache
put the base layer of the cake on your serving plate, starting at the outside of the cake, pipe alternate blobs (for want of a better word, please suggest better words in the comment section below!) of the frosting and ganache, work your way in, and repeat until the cake is covered
carefully place the second layer on top, again starting at the outside of the cake, cover the top with piped blobs of frosting, then pile the strawberries on top

mascarpone frosting

250g cream cheese, at room temperature
250g mascarpone, at room temperature
150ml thickened cream, at room temperature
icing sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp vanilla extract

in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and mascarpone together until combined, add the icing sugar, mix slowly at first, then increase speed and mix until light and fluffy
add the vanilla seeds and cream, on medium speed, mix until combined

chocolate ganache

175g chocolate, milk or dark
150ml thickened 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 • do not stir at this point, do NOT stir, leave for 5 minutes 
 stir cream and chocolate together until smooth and glossy, leave until cold and firm enough to frost

Monday, 2 June 2014

White Chocolate Yoghurt Pots with Black plum and Roasted Fig

Two good things; it's finally winter in Australia, hurray, and Mamamia is running a competition for food bloggers, "Food Blogger Idol"! Just come up with a recipe using Rachel's gourmet low fat yoghurt and blog about it. Simple right..?

While it's technically winter in Sydney, seasonal fruits still reckon it’s autumn, so the black plum and roasted fig yoghurt was the choice for me. Cue white chocolate pots with hazelnut madeleines. Impressive, decadent and super easy to make; this could be the perfect dish! 

The yoghurt pots are creamy, silky and slightly tangy, and paired with fresh fruit and crisp, buttery madeleines they are the best :) For breakfast or brunch; there's dairy, fruit, carbs, that's the major food groups covered... Ditto as an after lunch dessert. 

It's all made ahead, and served in beautiful glasses it's perfect for a dinner party. Just take the glasses out of the fridge for the 15 minutes it takes to bake the madeleines, your guests should be super impressed, seriously, the madeleines smell amazing while they bake! Go the extra step and halve some figs and plums, dust with icing sugar then pop under the grill until the sugar bubbles and starts to brown. If your guests don't call you Martha, don't invite them back :) 

White Chocolate Yoghurt Pots

250g Rachel's black plum and fig yoghurt (1 large tub)
300ml thickened cream
220g white chocolate
vanilla bean (or 1tsp vanilla bean paste)

• weigh out your 200g of Rachel's yoghurt, set aside. Scoop out the remaining yoghurt, put in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for when you're looking for a snack... Divide the black plum and fig compote from the bottom of the pot equally between 6 glasses. Set aside.
• tip the white chocolate and 50ml of the thickened cream into a glass or metal bowl, and place it over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water, white chocolate burns really easily!) stir until smooth, set aside to cool
• split the vanilla bean in half, scrape out the seeds and add to a bowl with the remaining cream; whip until soft peaks form
• fold the cooled, melted chocolate into the cream, then fold in the yoghurt, divide between your 6 glasses, cover and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours to set

Hazelnut Madeleines

15g melted butter, for greasing the tray
20g four, for flouring the tray
155g caster sugar (I used golden, but it's neither here nor there)
155g butter
80g flour, sifted
80g hazelnut meal
3 jumbo eggs (approx 200g)
1tbsp frangelico

• melt the butter over a gentle heat, keep heating until the butter turns golden brown, and smells gorgeously nutty and caramelly (so totally a word...) remove from the heat and pour into a bowl, this stops the cooking and prevents the butter burning
• put the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer if you have one, or use a hand held electric mixer, add the sugar and whip until thick and pale
• add the flour and ground hazelnuts and gently fold in
• add the frangelico and melted butter, mix until combined
• cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for somewhere between 2 hours and overnight
• when you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180ºC
• if you have a piping bag and you're not afraid to use it (!) pipe the batter into the trays, filling each shell 3/4 full, alternatively just use a couple of spoons :) if you're making them for a dinner party, just put the trays back in the fridge, then pop them in the oven while you're clearing the main course
• bake in the centre of your oven for 12-15 mins, the madeleines should be brown and crisp around the edges, and spring back when lightly pressed in the centre
• tip the little cakes into your serving bowl and eat while still warm, if not definitely on the day they are baked

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Lost and Found Department. Baking Masterclass. Nadine Ingram. Flour and Stone

If you've seen my instagram feed it's no secret I love Flour and Stone, the small inner city bakery cafe in Woolloomooloo, Sydney. For me it has the trifecta; it's unpretentious, has beautiful baked goods and friendly staff. I don't drink coffee, don't judge me, so can't comment on that!

There are so many choices, my top three; the doughnuts, filled with either lemon curd and ricotta, or raspberry compote and vanilla custard, can't decide which I like more, you'll need to try both; the gorgeous fine apple tart; and the much blogged about panna cotta lamington. Who decides to poke holes in slabs of sponge, pour panna cotta over the top, leaving it to soak, transforming the sponge to light, vanilla-y, custardy deliciousness? I'm very happy someone did. For me it's the fine apple tart that sums up Flour and Stone; it has few ingredients, is beautiful in its simplicity, yet the skill behind it is obvious.

Although happy to "stalk" Nadine Ingram, owner of Flour and Stone, over on instagram, I was pretty damned excited when I learned about a baking masterclass she was holding at the Lost and Found Department. It took just a few minutes to buy two places, and less to convince Deb, my food adventure buddy, to come along. That's Deb, holding the basil in the image towards the bottom of the page; she first took me to Flour and Stone last year when I moved back to Sydney, so it was great to go to the masterclass together. 

This venue is incredible, more on that later. Introductions were made outside, under the vast open sided tent. Nadine filled us in on her background and experience, wow, was friendly, genuine and unassuming. Talking about Flour and Stone, Nadine's passion was evident, as was her support and commitment to her staff, I'm guessing she's a great boss. You can't go wrong with a baker who has a gorgeous old Breville mixer called Neville! She was also, I'm struggling for the right word here, steely maybe, I don't think she'd take any crap from anyone! 

We covered 3 recipes in 5 hours, alas not the apple tart or doughnuts, but, zucchini, gruyere and chilli rolls, chocolate salted caramel tart and lemon drizzle cake. Nadine was very open about where the recipes came from. I didn't take notes, from memory the pastry was based on a Lorraine Godsmark recipe, another, I think the bread dough, was Bill Granger's. The lemon drizzle cake recipe may even have been her grandmother's, or perhaps I'm making that up, the point though, there is no ego here. 

I like to think i can bake, am comfortable in a kitchen, but Nadine, she is at a whole new level! Making caramel can be a bit stressful, for me there's always a wet pastry brush on hand, occasional burnt fingers and pans of useless crystals... I'm guessing she's caramelised a LOT of sugar, but Nadine was sooo comfortable. With a pan and stove she'd never used, Nadine turned her back on the sugar and moved on to something else.  There was occasional swirling of the pan, but generally it was left alone until it was good and ready, and it was perfect :) All of the recipes were cooked with ease, and lots of tips and tricks shared in the process.

I've made the lemon drizzle cake a few times now, still tweaking the recipe to suit my oven and cake tins, but it's a keeper. I'm still hoping to bake more bread this year, I know, it's nearly June :) But the pastry method was the best tip for me, leaving grape sized lumps of butter, then smearing the dough on the bench until just streaks remain. The chocolate salted caramel tart is next on my hit list, I'll keep you posted.

Now, a few words about the workshops at the Lost and Found Department, trying not to gush, bear with me. The workshops are held at a property on Sydney's Northern Beaches, it's actually Sylvia, the business owner's, home, but I'll call it prop heaven. Everything here is BEAUTIFUL, everything. I could have spent the day taking photos, vignettes everywhere. The kitchen is all marble, mirrors, timber and chandeliers, a butcher's block and vintage pieces. Serious kitchen envy. The fabulousness continues in the garden; there's garlic, herbs, finger limes, yes, finger limes, i've wanted to plant one for ages... chickens and bees. So maybe not "a few words"! Let's go with more photos :)

Under the big top tent festooned with chairs, the long table was set for lunch. Silvia is all about the detail, the table setting was amazing. Vintage cake tins and spanish moss lined the centre, and from the string garland above dangled mini pastry moulds, muffin papers and rosemary. There was mismatched vintage cutlery and tea cups, raw edged squares of muslin for napkins. I'd love to see what happens at Christmas.

Silvia's lunch was delicious, lamb slow roasted on a slab of pink salt, with salads and Nadine's zucchini gruyere rolls. Then, after a small breather, tea in those vintage cups and slices of lemon drizzle cake.  Back in the kitchen to finish off the chocolate tart. While it cooled, waiting to be sliced, boxed and added to our take home bags, we wandered the gardens, picked finger limes, basil and nettles. Sylvia was super generous, sharing the bounty from her garden.

All that gushing about the kitchen and garden, I forgot to mention the natural rock pools, one big enough to swim in, others smaller, and a solitary, perfect water lily. Of course.

If you're lucky enough to be in Sydney, I definitely recommend the workshops, for the escape as much as the class itself. I think Nadine is holding another masterclass, later this year, well worth it. In the meantime, get on over to Four and Stone and pick a favourite...

Friday, 9 May 2014

Of May, Mother's Day, and Morning Tea

It's finally feeling like autumn, my favourite Sydney season. May in Australia is all about Mother's Day and morning tea. Mother's day festivities occur on the second Sunday in May, in our family that's lots of baking and a long lunch. Weekends here are a bit crazy at the moment; three kids, winter sports, so I may have bought my own gift. I'd planned on flowers, the book delivery was purely coincidental. I won't spill the beans on my gift giving plans, there's an outside chance my mum may read this before Sunday ;)

"Australia's Biggest Morning Tea" is a fundraising initiative. Friends, families, school kids, colleagues get together, share morning tea and raise dollars for the Cancer Council; socialising, cake and supporting an excellent cause, it's a "win win". Thursday 22nd is the date this year, but tea is drunk and cake eaten all through May and on in to June.  I've hosted before, this year though, I baked for a local event, and went "virtual".

It was beautiful on Wednesday morning in Lane Cove, and In the Cove's biggest morning tea was a lovely event. Jacky, Lane Cove local and community powerhouse, and Nikki from Stella Bella Home hosted lots of locals, who sat in the shade enjoying coffee, tea and the delights of the dessert table. Yes, I sent macarons, but was totally inspired by those butterfly cakes!

On to matters virtual; the very clever Erika Rax and Gemma Ryan devised the very modern virtual tea party and parcel swap.  The virtual tea party is happening this week; a compilation, over on Erika's blog, of links to bloggers doing all things morning tea, one giant online tea party. Hopefully this post will link up, and you can "hop" on over to other sites and see what they are up to.

Apparently people have been parcel swapping for ages, who knew? Check out #postaparcel on instagram and prepare to be both amazed and intimated. For more beautiful parcels and a whole new level of intimidation, search #thecreativeexchange, remember, I warned you...

This was my first swap, and Nia our swap hostess, paired me with Tammi in WA; Tammi and I exchanged addresses and collected 5 items, morning tea themed, to post to each other.

I had a legitimate excuse to seek out op shops, trawl my fabric stash, and even plugged in my 11 year old clunky sewing machine to make napkins. Now call me a one trick pony, but macaron shells are perfectly postable... I made chocolate shells, added chocolate, orange oil and the ganache recipe, a cute little plate and the napkins, wrapped it all up and popped it in the post. My parcel from Tammi arrived the same day. A lovely vintage tea cup and saucer, pyramid tea bags, a jar of melting moments, strawberry jam and Tammi's grandmother's scone recipe - just perfect, lucky me! I've eaten the melting moments, drunk the tea, and plan to test drive the scones next week, yep, for morning tea. Those gorgeous labels are hand printed on vintage linen napkins, totally stealing that idea.

The parcel posting bandwagon, I've jumped right on! It seems to stem from Instagram, where I've been following Bianca from Sunday Folk for a while. Bianca organised another parcel swap, what folk eat. Now, cue spooky music, I joined the swap and was paired with Erika Rax! The freakiness of that coincidence was completely lost on my family...

A chocolate chunk cookie kit with gorgeous handwritten instructions came my way. I finally got around to making them this week and they were gooood, my son "rates" them :) you can find the recipe here. They are a little cakier, less chewy, than the recipe I usually use, I think they'd make perfect whoppie pies...

More op shop finds and home made napkins went in the parcel I sent, a chocolate hazelnut sundae kit; thanks Erika for sharing your photo :)

I'm loving social media, I may turn into a parcel swapping junkie. It's kind of strange how nerve wracking it was, waiting for someone you've never met to receive their parcel, really hoping they don't hate it!

Mother's Day or not, I hope you have a lovely weekend, maybe even bake something and do the morning tea thing :)

Saturday, 26 April 2014


Inspite of my intense dislike for green tea I was convinced to make matcha macarons, from here on in to be known as matcharons. If you're in Australia, and have seen the ad with the man pulling a "soy milk aftertaste face" that's what I look like when I drink green tea! Matcha lovers tell me the taste is worlds apart from regular green tea, I'll take their word for it. Matcharons have a really subtle taste, the buttercream centre fluffy and light with a slight herbaceous hint. Go on, give them a try, if only for their gorgeous colour :)

matcharon shells

75g egg white
100g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
1 tsp matcha powder (don't increase this, it does weird things!)
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 matcha 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 it 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/matcha 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 until firm, 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 the buttercream filling (recipe below) on the underside of one shell 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!!

matcha swiss meringue buttercream

3 large egg whites
180g granulated sugar
230g butter, at room temperature, cubed
pinch salt
1 heaped tbsp matcha powder

 combine the egg whites and sugar in a bowl, place over a pan of simmering water, don't let the bowl touch the water • whisk constantly until the temperature reaches 72ºC (beware the perils of simultaneous mixing and temperature measuring...)
 transfer to a stand mixer and whisk on medium high until the mixtures cools, has doubled in size and forms stiff peaks 
 change to the paddle attachment and add the butter a piece at a time, mixing to incorporate each piece, the mixture may look alarmingly curdled but keep mixing and it will magically come back together
 once all the butter is incorporated add the salt and matcha powder, mixing on slow until combined
• transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 10ml plain tip and you are ready to fill your macarons


After advice from my matcharon testers (thanks JJ, Nikki and Sarah) for my latest trial I upped the matcha in the buttercream and piped yuzu curd in the centre, a hidden surprise. Yuzu juice is one of my new favourite things, no fresh yuzus here, only the bottled juice, but it is amazing! Expect more "things yuzu" to come:)