What did I get myself into?

So a friend asked if I was going to be interested to do a cake decorating class with her and her daughter.  I thought, ‘Sure, why not?’  It was one of those things that I didn’t mind doing and with free time on hand, I thought it would be a good way to level up those paltry baking skills of mine.

So this was supposed to be a cake decorating course where we not only learned how to bake a basic vanilla and chocolate cake but also how to decorate a cake properly with butter-cream icing and then fondant.  I was really excited for I often oogled at pretty fondant cakes and wondered when I would be able to try my hand at making some of them.  And remember these gorgeous Chanel cupcakes that the ex-colleagues got for me as a farewell gift last year?  My ultimate goal was to make one of these EVENTUALLY.

I thought it was going to be all fun and games at this cake decorating class that we were taking.  After all, how difficult could it be?  I soon ate my words.  We were cruising in lesson 1 but for the rest of the lessons, we basically needed to do our homework before going to class.

By the end of lesson 2, I learned how to cover a cake with butter-cream icing and decorate the cake with a simple piping gel design.

Pretty pleased with the result but of course, icing of the cake could be improved.

We were told that we had to prepare a 2-tier cake covered in fondant as our final project on lesson 5.  Of course, I’m a little nervous but I chose to go with an Anna Sui type of cake – think chocolate cake covered in purple fondant and adorned with black butterflies.

And over the weekend, it was mad baking at the loft.  A total of 5 chocolate cakes were baked and that’s not all, made 2 batches of butter-cream icing.  All these are now sitting in my freezer waiting to be assembled for my final project.

So fingers crossed and wish me a good luck won’t ya for my final project?  Can’t wait to show you guys the pics of the cake IF it turns out well.  🙂

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Just the way I like it..

Macarons.  They are often said to be too sweet.  But truth be told, we’ve tasted those heavenly macarons from Pierre Hermé and Luxemburgerli (macarons) from Sprüngli and the verdict?  I say a match made in heaven with flavours from the filling and the shell complimenting one another and tantilizing the taste-buds further.

When I started making macarons, I was worried that it would turn out all too sweet.  But along my macaron journey and under the guidance of many other macaron- bloggers out there (namely R from The Pleasure Monger), I started experimenting with different flavours for the macaron shells and the fillings.  R once told me that you can’t really reduce the quantity of the sugar for the macaron shells for it needs the exact amount of sugar for the macaron shells to be firm but you can control the amount of sugar you put in for the filling.  Sound advice from the Macaron guru herself.  🙂

My macaron journey started some 9 months ago when we moved to Geneva.  I had no strong desire to learn French but didn’t know how to fill my days so I started to read up on how to make macarons.  After days of reading, it kinda felt like I was studying for a big macaron exam.  I finally summoned enough ‘courage’ to attempt baking macarons in the kitchen.  It took up half my day baking these tiny ones.  As the final product emerged and popped off almost perfectly from the baking sheet, I was over-joyed and the macaron madness began.  Haven’t looked back since I had friends plus the Style Princess who were only all to happy to taste what I whipped up.

As I close this chapter of my macron adventures in Geneva, I thought I’ll share one of my favourite macaron combo – Popcorn Macarons with Salted Caramel Buttercream.  This combo has been really special to me and with every bite, a blend of sweet and salty flavours emerge to tease the taste-buds further.  This is how I really enjoy eating macarons, so even when choosing which flavours to buy, the sea-salt caramel flavour would always be my top choice.

Also, I’m going to give it another go and participate in this month’s challenge – ‘Macaron Day‘ over at MacTweets.  I don’t know if I will start picking up the electric whisk to make more macarons when we return back to Singapore.  But if you are willing to taste what I have to bake, I’ll be happy to start baking again.  😉

If you’ve been following my macaron adventures, thanks very much for reading.  And if you’ve tried any of my recipes, a big thank you to you too! I hope you found success in making these macarons.  Following one of the suggestions by Vivian to post a step-by-step guide on how to make macarons, I forgot and only managed to take one picture during the macaron baking process.  But the next time I bake macarons, I’ll remember to document the process.

Salted Buttered Popcorn Macarons with Salted Caramel
Makes about 10 filled bite-sized macarons

For Macaron Batter

  • 1 egg white (preferably aged for 3 days) brought to room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Cream of Tartar
  • 38g icing sugar
  • 36g powdered almonds
  • 30g granulated sugar
  • Crushed salted buttered popcorn

Method:

  1. Line baking tray with 2 pieces of parchment paper.
  2. Sift powdered sugar with the almond powder to ensure that there are no lumps
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg white until they begin to foam. At this stage, add the cream of tartar and the granulated sugar gradually. Continue beating until very stiff and firm. When you invert the bowl, the egg white batter has to stay put. That’s the time you know when you should stop. I decided to play it safe and whisked the egg white batter for about 5 minutes before stiff peaks were formed.
  4. Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in 3 batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula (ideally). Stop folding when the mixture is smooth and there are no streaks of egg white. I used about 40 strokes to incorporate the dry mixture into the egg whites. Scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).
  5. Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch circles, evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.
  6. Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons and to remove the air-bubbles in the macarons.
  7. Sprinkle on top of macarons crushed popcorn.
  8. Leave the macarons out in the open for at least 30 minutes to an hour. This step is important to allow the top of the macaron shell to dry up so that you get a smooth surface for the macarons. You will know when to pop the macarons into the oven when you touch the macarons and the batter does not stick to your fingers. Be careful not to leave them out too much for it will give you crunchy macarons and you don’t want that. This step is important and if you skip it, your macarons might flatten . While waiting, preheat oven to 140 degrees C.
  9. Bake for 15 mins and let cool completely before removing from baking sheet.

To make Salted Caramel Buttercream:

Whisk 3 tbsp of butter (room temperature) for about 1 – 2 minutes until the butter becomes light and fluffy.  Add 2 tbsp of heavy cream and whisk further for 1 minute. Add 2 tbsp of icing sugar and continue until they are thoroughly mixed. Lastly, add approximately 2 tbsp of salted caramel, mix thoroughly.

Assembling macarons:

Simply spoon Salted Caramel Buttercream on the macaron shell. Sandwich and you are done!

It’s recommended that you let the flavours sit inside the macaron for 1 day before having them. :)

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I’ve been busy in the kitchen… Click here to check out my baking adventures in Geneva.