Wednesday, December 24, 2014

French Macarons with Mint Chocolate Ganache (Sucre Cuit / Italian Method)

It’s Christmas Eve! I bet everyone or at least majority of you are feeling as excited as I am. And I am extremely thrilled because I will be hitting the road up north of Florida in a couple of hours for my 10-day road trip to various cities in the sunshine state. I’m sure it’s going to be a well-deserved break after days of baking some homemade sweet treats for this festive season.

It was a bold attempt I would say since it was a first-time for me, or rather, the first time I am trying out a new recipe – the baking of French macarons! Bold because I would end up with no gifts for giving in the event my baking experiment fails. Haha! Well, I suppose you guessed it right that my experiment pulled off successfully since I am blogging about it now. Oh wait, does anyone blogs a failed recipe? Not that I have come across so far. *Grin!

Strictly speaking it’s not my first time making French macarons. In the past, I have relied on the French method – a more commonly used method of creating the meringue by whipping together cool egg whites with granulated sugar until they form a stiff consistency which is said to yield lighter, tastier with a more delicate, cookie-like texture of authentic French macarons. Unfortunately the results of my macaronage were not quite consistent each time I tried. Until much research and read-up, I discovered the Italian (also known as Sucre Cuit or Sugar-baked) method of making macarons – a method that relies on a hot sugar syrup slowly whipped into egg whites to achieve its meringue which is regarded as more complicated than the French method. Despite so, many who have tried the Italian method said it actually yields a more stable meringue consistency. And I have witnessed that for myself indeed.

French Macarons with Mint Chocolate Ganache

For those who still have “fear” of trying to bake macarons at home, stop hesitating! If I can do it, you can do it too. ^_^

Monday, December 22, 2014

Longan Red Dates with Tang Yuan (Glutinous Rice Balls)

It's officially winter! Are you feeling the cold? ^_^

I happened to chance upon the Lunar calendar on my mobile phone and noticed that Dōng Zhì 冬至 (Winter Solstice), a festival traditionally celebrated by the Chinese and East Asians with family getting together falls on the 22nd of December this year. This is my second winter solstice away from home. Recalling back, my husband and I were travelling in the Washington D.C. last winter solstice and had missed the eating of tang yuan (glutinous rice balls), a festive food that symbolises reunion traditionally eaten by the southern Chinese. It has been a year now, time flies!

In the past, my Mom used to cook our favourite store-bought glutinous rice balls with peanut fillings during this day of the year. Since this winter solstice came ahead of my year-end trip and glutinous rice flour was surprisingly available in this small city in the west of Florida, I decided to attempt my first home-make (plain) tang yuan from scratch. 

Longan Red Dates with Tang Yuan (Glutinous Rice Balls)

After cracking my head on what to go with my plain home-made tang yuan, I decided on this sweet dessert soup which is quite commonly served to the newly-weds on their wedding day as it seeks to symbolise bliss and reunion. And it kind of brought me back to my wedding day. Much memories~

Have you had your tang yuan this winter solstice?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Reindeer Cupcakes

Can't believe it's already mid-December. My last baking post seems like yesterday. My apologies to those who have been checking back this space but find no updates. I have been pretty tied up with all the crafts-making for Christmas and itineraries planning for the holiday trips that I hardly had the time to bake these days. >,<

Fortunately or unfortunately, it was a stay-at-home over the last weekend since my husband was still recovering from his flu. Hence, I'm turning weekend shopping time to weekend baking time! This reindeer cupcake idea triggered by my non-stop-pretzels-snacking of late (a good snack find recommended by a friend during my Washington D.C. trip over the last Thanksgiving holiday) which very much resembled the horns of a reindeer has been in my head for awhile (although a quick search online found that it's nothing new actually). However, I'm glad it pulled off well and tasty as imagined after putting all my flavour ideas into one cupcake. ^_^ 

Reindeer Cupcakes

But wait, perhaps they look more like bears? Haha! Well, up to your imagination then...