Toasted Marshmallow Macarons

One thing I can say about these: yum, yum, yum! I was a bit down in the dumps this week, so the best thing to do when you’re feeling like crap – bake 🙂 These macarons were just delicious, and tasted just like a marshmallow that had been freshly toasted in a fire. The creme patissiere was such a great base for the filling, and added a nice custardy creaminess to the slight charcoal flavour from the toasted marshmallows. Definitely onto a winner with these!
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The past few times I’ve made creme pat, it has not turned out well at all. Both times I had lumpy custard with bits of cooked egg and a thick skin, sounds delicious, hey?! This time I used Zumbo’s recipe in the trusty Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons, and once again, Zumbo’s recipe worked perfectly. The custard was smooth and vanilla-ey and I could have eaten the whole thing then and there. But that’s not anything out of the ordinary. I got to whip out my blowtorch again this week, it seems to be getting quite a workout at the moment 😉 It took me a while to blowtorch the marshmallows because you have to make sure you cook every side and end so they’re all nice and melted, and I was stupid enough to put baking paper underneath them, and burnt half the paper off in the process. Silly me. Don’t do that at home!
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Macarons:

This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.

  • 135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 45g egg whites
  • 50g egg whites
  • 40g water
  • 1/4 tsp colouring gel, pink

Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray around the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the colouring now. Just lightly beat them into the meringue. Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine. When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. (If you don’t have a piping bag set, most supermarkets sell plastic ones, they are Multix brand, in an orange box and contain 5 piping bags with a few different nozzles, plus they’re only about $3. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 145c (135c fan forced).

Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Check macarons at 16 minutes, and to test if they are cooked, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 12 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. Macarons keep really well (about 5 days in the fridge) and some say that the longer they are refrigerated, the more the flavour is likely to develop. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

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 Crème Patissiere: (recipe from p. 104 of Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons)
  • 1 cup (250ml) milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/extract/seeds
  • 60g egg yolks
  • 60g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 25g cornflour
  • 100g butter, chopped and softened

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla over a medium-low heat until almost boiling. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl until it is thick and pale. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, and return mixture to saucepan. Return to medium heat until custard comes to boil (it will be very foamy at this stage, but don’t worry as it will go down and turn into a thick custard). Boil for 1 minute. Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Cool mixture to 50c – this will take about 15-20 minutes. When crème pat is 50c beat in the butter until smooth. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

 Creme pat
Toasted Marshmallow filling: (I used the full quantity of this recipe as I will use the rest of the filling for something else. If you are using the macaron recipe I use, you could certainly halve it. Adapted from p. 61 of Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons)
  • 150g marshmallows
  • 170g butter, chopped and softened (make sure it’s salted butter)
  • Crème patissiere

Marshmallows

Place the marshmallows on a baking tray (NOT with baking paper!), and use a blowtorch to toast on all sides. Place the butter in a large bowl and beat until pale and creamy. Add the crème patissiere and mix with a spoon until smooth. Add the freshly toasted marshmallows (ensure they are very melted) and mix well.

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Assembly:
Match up likely pairs of macaron shells. Spoon marshmallow filling into a piping bag fitted with a wide round nozzle. Pipe filling onto the shell and sandwich with the other.
Macarons
Place in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. Take macarons out of the fridge and consume at room temperature. I don’t need to ask you to enjoy, because I already know the answer to that 😛
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Lemon Meringue Layer Cake with Macarons

This cake was tasty, very tasty indeed. I made this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday, as he loves all things lemon and meringue – you may remember from last year. I was really happy with the flavour of this cake and the lemon curd that filled it, and the macarons turned out quite well, too. I’ve been a bit lucky with macarons of late, lets hope it stays that way!
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I pictured the merinuge on the outside to look a little different. It wasn’t as glossy and high as I would have liked, but I think it was because I didn’t make enough sugar syrup. However, that’s a minor detail. The part I loved most about making this cake was blowtorching it! I love watching the meringue cook and change colour, I could stand there all day and blowtroch…or maybe I just love playing with flames?! I used my usual vanilla cupcake recipe and just added a bunch of lemon juice and zest and it worked a real treat! It was moist, lemony and buttery all at the same time – yum 😉 The lemon curd recipe I used was from the ever wonderful Zumbo, and it was unsurprisingly delicious and unlike many lemon curds, it remained thick and did not leak out the sides of the macarons like lemon curds often do! Winner 🙂
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Macarons:

This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.

  •  135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 45g egg whites
  • 50g egg whites
  • 40g water
  • 1/4 tsp colouring gel, yellow

Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray around the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the colouring now. Just lightly beat them into the meringue. Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine. When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. (If you don’t have a piping bag set, most supermarkets sell plastic ones, they are Multix brand, in an orange box and contain 5 piping bags with a few different nozzles, plus they’re only about $3. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 145c (135c fan forced).

Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Check macarons at 16 minutes, and to test if they are cooked, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 12 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. Macarons keep really well (about 5 days in the fridge) and some say that the longer they are refrigerated, the more the flavour is likely to develop. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

 Lemon Meringue Cake

Lemon Vanilla Cake: (adapted from Taste’s recipe)
  • 200g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1 3/4 cups caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • zest and juice of 3 lemons
Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a round baking tin with baking paper (I have two tins, so I baked two cakes then another one), and set aside. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. One at a time, add the eggs and beat until just combined. Add the lemon juice and zest and stir to combine. Add the flour and milk in alternate batches, ensuring you start and finish with the adding the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. To ensure layers are even, weigh mixture and divide into three. I think, from memory, each layer weighed about 312g. Pour mixture into prepared tins and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Place in oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. It should just be slightly golden. Let cakes cool in tins for approximately 15 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack. When completely cooled, gently wrap cakes in glad wrap and if not using immediately, place in fridge until they are needed.
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Lemon Curd: (from Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons p. 28)
  • 160g lightly beaten egg
  • 240g caster sugar
  •  Finely grated zest of 5 lemons
  • 160g fresh lemon juice (this amounted to be exactly 5 lemons for me)
  • 300g butter, chopped and softened
Put the egg and sugar in a saucepan and mix well. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Heat over a low-medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 85c/185f (You can buy thermometers from homeware or discount stores). Strain the curd into a bowl, discarding the zest and any little bits of cooked egg (I had a few – it’s so easy to do!). Cool the mixture to 50c/133f. When the curd is at the right temperature, beat in the butter gradually until smooth and shiny. If not using straight away, refrigerate. If you are using immediately, allow to curd to cool until it becomes firm enough to pipe.
Lemon Curd
 
 Italian Meringue: (italian meringue is made by making a sugar syrup and adding it to the egg whites to create an extremely thick and glossy mixture)
  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup cold water
To make the sugar syrup, slowly heat the sugar and water in a saucepan on a low heat until sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat up to medium until mixture begins to bubble – some people heat their syrup to a certain temperature but I usually do it by touch, usually when the mixture is just too hot for my finger it is done! Begin beating the egg whites, and slowly stream the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl. Beat until mixture is thick and very glossy. NOTE – don’t make the meringue ahead of time otherwise it will become limp. Make it straight before you cover and blowtorch the cake.
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Assembly:
Place one layer of cake on a cake stand, and generously spread lemon curd on top. Place another layer of cake on top of the lemon curd, and once again cover it with lemon curd. Place the final layer of cake on top. and cover will lemon curd. There should be a couple of teaspoons left after the cake and macarons have been filled. With a round-edged knife, generously cover the cake completely with the meringue mixture, making flicks with the knife as you go to create an element of height and visual appeal 🙂 With a chef’s blowtorch, gently go over the meringue from about 10cm, depending on how brown you want the meringue to be. To completely blowtorch the cake took me about 10-15 minutes. If you are not serving the cake immediately, gently cover it with glad wrap and keep it in a cool dry place. Enjoy!
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Roast Pumpkin and Brown Sugar Blondies

If you are unsure what a blondie is, you are definitely not alone. I showed these to my Dad and got “what on earth is that?!” For those of you wondering, blondies are fairly self explanatory. A blondie is a brownie, made with white chocolate instead of milk or dark. Genius, hey? I think so, because I can assure you these delicious slices definitely taste a lotttttt better than they look.

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There are lots of great flavours you could put in a blondie. I decided to branch a little out of the ordinary, and I’m pretty happy that I did. I think pumpkin in desserts is great when done well – the humble pumpkin pie is an all time American classic. With a hint of cinnamon, salt and olive oil, the pumpkin in these blondies was quite the delicious bite. It was really subtle, but you could definitely taste it. If I were making it only for myself and other pumpkin lovers, I would have gladly put in a bit hell of a lot more.
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Pumpkin Mash:
  • 3/4 cup diced pumpkin (if you really love pumpkin you could definitely use more)
  • Olive oil, to drizzle on top
  • Cinnamon, to sprinkle
  • Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 190c (180c fan forced). Prepare oven tray with baking paper. Spread pumpkin out on baking paper, drizzle generously with olive oil and mix with hands to coat. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of pepper, salt and a generous amount of cinnamon. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven and let cool slightly for 5 minutes. Place pumpkin pieces in mortar and mash with pestle until it reaches a mash-y consistency, but still a little bit chunky. Set aside.
Pumpkin
Roast Pumpkin and Brown Sugar Blondies: (adapted from Katy’s Lazy Blondies on Nigella Lawson’s forum)
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped
  • 100g butter
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 110g plain flour
  • 100g additional white chocolate chips
  •  roast pumpkin mash

Blondies

Prepare a slice tin (approx. 20cm long) by spraying with olive oil spray or butter and lining with non-stick baking paper. In a microwavable bowl, heat 100g chocolate and butter until melted. For me, this took about a minute and I still had a few lumps, and being a bit silly I heated it for an extra 10 seconds and it curdled a little, but it didn’t make a difference at all to the final product 🙂 Set aside. In a separate large bowl, beat brown sugar and eggs until well combined. Slowly add the chocolate and butter mixture. Stir in the flour gently until fully incorporated. Mix in the additional chocolate chips and the pumpkin mash, and ensure they are evenly distributed. Pour mixture into prepared tin, sprinkle with cinnamon and bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. If you like your brownies/blondies gooey, you can probably take them out a little earlier. Just keep testing with a skewer until you are happy 🙂 Set tin aside to cool, then slice into 15 pieces. Store and serve at room temperature, but they are also delicious warmed up!
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If you have never tried, or have never heard of blondies, I stongly urge that you familiarise yourself 🙂 You won’t regret it!

Salted Butter Popcorn Macarons

Macs are back! This makes me very happy. Very happy indeed. As you would have seen earlier in the year, the last time I made macarons, it didn’t go so well. These still weren’t perfect, that’s for sure, but they do look like macarons, and they taste pretty amazeballs. And that’s all I really care about 🙂

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This mac flavour is from Zumbo’s Fantasy Land of Macarons (p. 57), and the recipe had intrigued me for a quite a while, but I was just a bit scared to give them a go. I’m very glad I did though, because they were definitely worth it. Surprising or not, they taste exactly like a big mouthful of butter popcorn, just with a few different textures. I am a massive fan of sweets with salt, so these were a major winner in my eyes! The only thing I think I would do differently next time, would be to blitz the popcorn a bit more, because I had some big chunky bits on my shells, so they didn’t look quite as dainty as Zumbo the Great’s.
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Macarons:

This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.

  • 135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 45g egg whites
  • 50g egg whites
  • 40g water
  • 1/4 tsp colouring gel, yellow

Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray around the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the colouring now. Just lightly beat them into the meringue. Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine. When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. (If you don’t have a piping bag set, most supermarkets sell plastic ones, they are Multix brand, in an orange box and contain 5 piping bags with a few different nozzles, plus they’re only about $3. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 145c (135c fan forced).

Making

Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Check macarons at 16 minutes, and to test if they are cooked, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 12 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. Macarons keep really well (about 5 days in the fridge) and some say that the longer they are refrigerated, the more the flavour is likely to develop. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

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Buttercream: (from Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons, p.57.)
(I still made the full recipe, even though it could have filled double the shells I had. I am sure I will use it for something…maybe eating it from the bowl…maybe…)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 38g water
  • 75g lightly beaten egg
  • 45g egg yolks
  • 200g butter, chopped and softened
  • Sea salt, to taste
You will need digital scales and a thermometer to make this buttercream. The thermometer I use is just an ordinary one used for coffee. You can find them at homeware or discount stores.
Beat the butter until pale and creamy, about 4 minutes. Put the egg and egg yolks together in a large bowl, and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water, and cook over a low-medium heat until sugar dissolves. Turn the heat up to medium, and cook mixture until it reaches 121c. Begin beating the eggs for a minute or so, and then very slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture. Continue whisking the mixture until it is thick, and cooled to 50c. A teaspoon at a time, add the butter to the egg and sugar mixture, and mix well after each addition to ensure there is no lumps. Once all the butter has been incorporated, fold in the salt to taste. It should look a little something like this:
Buttercream
Assembly:
Cook the microwave popcorn according to instructions. Blitz approximately half of the popcorn in a food processor, until they look like small chunky crumbs. Place popcorn on a large plate or in a shallow bowl. Pair up macaron shells. Spoon buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle, and pipe 1/2 tsp onto shells, and sandwich with another. Melt 1 (if you want to brush 1 shell) or 2 tablespoons of butter (if you want to brush both shells) and completely brush the shell/s with the melted butter.
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Immediately place buttered shell/s into the popcorn and place on an oven tray with baking paper. Once you have completed all of the macarons, place in fridge to set overnight. This will help develop the flavour. After 24 hours or so, place macarons in airtight container if not serving immediately. Store in fridge, and bring down to room temperature to serve.
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Easter Egg Nest Chocolate Cupcakes

This week has been a great one for whiskitforabiscuit. With Easter arriving, I have had a lot of new visitors to the blog, which is so nice to see. I have also had a number of people telling me that they have tried my recipes, such as the Chai and White Chocolate Hot Cross Buns, and how they have succeeded and tasted awesome! So, thanks so much guys, I appreciate it more than you could know and I absolutely love hearing everyones stories and feedback 🙂 It’s also really nice to know that people are actually reading this and it’s not just me writing to my sad and lonely self, lol. Now, to the cupcakes.

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I had seen a few different takes on these egg nest cupcakes, on various sites such as Pinterest, and they just all looked so fantastic and fun! I had to give them a go, and use one of my all-time favourite childhood treats, the chocolate spider. No words can ever describe how much I adore the chocolate spider, seriously, they are just that delish. I really could go on forever and ever about these morsels of goodness, and it’s so great that they only have 3 ingredients! Life = complete.

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I have used this amazing chocolate cupcake recipe countless times, including in My First Order, and it’s never let me down! You can find the recipe here.
Makingcakes
Buttercream:
  • 350g butter, chopped and softened
  • 2 1/3 – 3 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • Wilton’s colourng gel, green
Beat butter until pale and creamy, about 4-5 minutes. Gradually add in the icing sugar mixture until well combined. Beat in vanilla and green colouring until desired colour is achieved. Spoon buttercream into a piping bag with a large round nozzle. Pipe rounds on the cupcakes.
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Chocolate Spider Egg Nests:
  • 1 packet Chang’s noodles (available at most Australian supermarkets. I am sure there would be an equivalent in the US and UK, however I do not know what the brand is)
  • 2 tbs crunchy peanut butter
  • 200g chocolate, milk or dark
  • 1 packet M&M Crunchy speckled eggs, or Cadbury Mini Eggs

Makingspiders

Place chocolate and peanut butter in a microwavable bowl, and microwave for 60 seconds on high. Stir with a metal spoon, even if it does not look melted. If it needs more time, microwave in 10 second increments until completely melted. Don’t do what I did and keep microwaving because you can still see lumps,and then realise it’s just the nuts from the crunchy peanut butter. Idiot. Pour contents of noodles packet into the chocolate and peanut butter mixture until well coated. With two teaspoons, make small ‘nests’, on oven trays with baking paper. Place three speckled eggs on each nests straight away, as you do not want the chocolate to set, otherwise the eggs will not stay on the nests. Place in fridge. You can make these a few days in advance, just pop them in an airtight container when they have set.
Place egg nest onto the green buttercream on the cupcake. Done!
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I hope everybody has a fantastic Easter with their loved ones! I am so lucky I have a little sister who gets so excited about the Easter bunny and the annual hunt we have on Easter Sunday morning, it makes it so much more fun with little kids around!
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Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram – GemmaAsh! Until next time…X

Peanut Butter Macarons

I think I can safely say that I have put on about 2kg’s this week. And the peanut butter filling used for these macarons is the sole reason for this! If you are a peanut butter fiend, you will love these, and I’m seriously surprised there was any filling left for the macarons 😛 I’ve been having a bit of bad luck with macarons lately, many of the shells in this batch cracked in the oven, which makes me really upset and then, in a fit of self-pity, I ended up eating the majority of all the cracked shells! 😦 I think the Australian summer might have something to do with it, as humidity practically destroys macaron shells 😦
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I used a Donna Hay recipe for the peanut butter filling, and as I already mentioned, it certainly did not let me down! It’s really easy to make, and it also keeps very well and is versatile. I can’t wait to use it on cupcakes and in tarts. And of course, to eat it straight from the bowl 😉
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Macarons:

This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.

  • 135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 45g egg whites
  • 50g egg whites
  • 40g water
  • 1/2 tsp Wilton’s colouring gel, brown

Preheat oven to 160 (150c fan forced). Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray baround the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the colouring now. Just lightly beat them into the meringue. Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine. When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. (If you don’t have a piping bag set, most supermarkets sell plastic ones, they are Multix brand, in an orange box and contain 5 piping bags with a few different nozzles, plus they’re only about $3. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch.

Place in oven and bake for 7minutes. Turn tray around in the oven and bake for another 5 inutes. To test, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 12 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. Macarons keep really well (about 5 days in the fridge) and some say that the longer they are refrigerated, the more the flavour is likely to develop. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

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Peanut Butter filling (adapted from Donna Hay):
  •  3/4 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 cup of smooth peanut butter
  • 80g butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste/extract
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) cream, thickened
  • Pinch of salt

Filling

Place sugar peanut butter, butter and vanilla in a bowl, and beat until light and fluffy (on high for about 5 minutes). Add the cream slowly and beat for another 2 minutes. If not using straight away, cover and refrigerate. To assemble, place the peanut butter filling in a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Pipe 3/4 teaspoon on a macaron shell, then sandwich with another. Refrigerate until you need to serve.
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Best of 2012!

Here is a collection of photos that sums up the best foodie moments of 2012. I have loved every minute of delving into the blogging world, and cannot wait to continue next year 🙂 HNY!

Macarons:

Macarons

Macarons1

Macarons2

Macarons3

Cakes:

 

Cakes1

Cakes2

Cakes3

Cakes4

 

Bits and Pieces:

 

Pizza making class, High Tea with Zumbo, myself with Gary Mehigan

Pizza making class, High Tea with Zumbo, myself with Gary Mehigan

 

Homemade Ravioli and Gnocchi, Curries cooking class on a boat, Sipping cocktails at Sea Links Resort in Mui Ne, Vietnam.

Homemade Ravioli and Gnocchi, Curries cooking class on a boat, Sipping cocktails at Sea Links Resort in Mui Ne, Vietnam.

 

Treats from Little Cupcakes and La Belle Miette, Pasta and Black Risotto at Grossi Florentino, Homemade dumplings

Treats from Little Cupcakes and La Belle Miette, Pasta and Black Risotto at Grossi Florentino, Homemade dumplings

 

Homemade Caramel Ice Cream, Homemade Apple Pie, Sipping sparking in the Yarra Valley, making Neil Perry's Mac and Cheese.

Homemade Caramel Ice Cream, Homemade Apple Pie, Sipping sparking in the Yarra Valley, making Neil Perry’s Mac and Cheese.

 

Chocolate Dumplings and Custard Buns at Yum Cha @ David's, Prahran.

Chocolate Dumplings and Custard Buns at Yum Cha @ David’s, Prahran.

 

Melted Snowmen Shortbread, Candy Cane Macarons, Dessert @ Malvern Hotel, Salted Caramel Profiteroles.

Melted Snowmen Shortbread, Candy Cane Macarons, Dessert @ Malvern Hotel, Salted Caramel Profiteroles.

 

Happy New Year! 🙂 Xo

 

 

 

 

 

Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies with Gingerbread Buttercream

I have seen a couple of fellow bloggers make these super-cute cookies lately, and I have really wanted to try making them myself too, especially since the recipe is from the wonderful Sweetapolita! These cookies most definitely lived up to my expectation. Not only were they soooooo yummy, but they were really easy to make and even with halving the recipe, I still had 40 sandwiched cookies!
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Another thing I love about these cookies is that you can do anything with them. You can leave them plain, just decorate them or fill them. I decided on the previous two. My blogging buddy Sugabuttacream filled hers with espresso buttercream, which would be great to try as well. Gingerbread buttercream is definitely one of my favourites around Christmas time, it is so yummy and easy to make, plus it keeps really well and the flavour tends to develop over a couple of days.
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Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies: (recipe adapted from Sweetapolita – makes 40 sandwiched cookies, 80 single cookies)
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup good quality cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 225g butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract
Sift flour, salt and cocoa into a bowl and set aside. Place butter and sugars in bowl, and beat until pale and creamy. Add egg and vanilla, and beat well until combined. Stir in dry ingredients until mixure forms a dough.
On a floured surface, knead half of the dough until it becomes smooth. Shape into a ball. If you want to use dough straight away, refrigerate for 30 minutes. If you are using it in a few days time, freeze the dough. Remove from freezer 2-3 before use and leave it to thaw at room temperature. Repeat kneading with other half of mixture.
Preheat oven to 160c, and line 4-5 oven trays with baking paper. Place one ball of dough between 2 sheets of baking paper. With a rolling pin, roll dough out until it is about 1cm thick. With a cookie cutter, cut shapes out from the dough and carefully place them on baking paper. When tray is filled place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are just slightly soft. Let them cool on trays, then place on a wire rack.
Choc Sugar Cookies
Sugar Icing (for decorating):
  • Icing sugar, about 1 1/2 cups
  • Water
  • Wilton’s colouring gel, green
As per the icing I used for the Melted Snowmen, I didn’t really use exact measurements. I combined icing sugar and water until it became a thick paste, then added the green colouring. With a piping bag fitted with a very thin round nozzle, I piped around the edges of the trees, and added a few gold and silver cachous as the decorations. The icing dries really quickly, so add the cachous as you go.
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Gingerbread Buttercream:
  • 350g salted butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 1 1/2-2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
Beat butter until pale and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar and other spices. If you only want a hint of the spices, you could add bit less, and if you want a strong hit of ginger, you can add more. You can just keep tasting, but these quantities, for me, are just the right balance 🙂 If you are not using the buttercream until the following the day or after, refrigerate, then take out of the fridge an hour before use. As mentioned earlier, I personally like to make it a couple of days in advance because the flavour of the spices tend to develop. Place the buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Pipe 2 lines of buttercream down the middle of the tree biscuit, then sandwich with another. You can either refrigerate the cookies, or leave them in a cool, dry place.
Piping...
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, I can’t believe it’s all over for another year! It’s sad but also kind of a relief at the same time. Here are some of the yummy things my family had on Christmas Day (minus the oysters – ew!!).
Christmas Day
January the 1st also marks whiskitforabiscuit’s first birthday – so thank you to everybody who has supported my baking endeavours throughout the past year by coming to visit my site! It is slowly growing in terms of views and followers, which is really exciting to see, so please feel free to comment, like and follow – it would be greatly appreciated! So thank you all so much, and I sincerely hope you come back to say hi in the new year 🙂 Xx
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Melted Snowmen Shortbread

Wow. What a crazy busy few weeks it has been! I cannot believe I haven’t baked anything Christmassy until now, I had so much planned to do in the last couple of weeks, but I always seem to be way too ambitious when Christmas baking is concerned. So, here we are – shortbread on the 13th of December! They are certianly no culinary masterpieces, but it is great shortbread though, even if I say so myself. And they are quite cute. And this is exactly what would happen if we could make snowmen at Christmas in Australia.

Follow me on Instagram - GemmaAsh

Homemade shortbread has always been one of my favourites around Christmas time, and this is actually the first time I have properly made it myself (you can probably tell – they are far from consistent!). I used a Taste.com recipe, surprise, surprise, and it was awesome – really buttery and melted in your mouth. One of the things I love about shortbread is that it is sooo easy to make. It has 5 ingredients that would usually be in your pantry anyway. The dough is pretty tasty, too. Tasty enough that we probably lost a snowman or two due to my severe lack of self-control when it comes to dough.

Yummy

Shortbread: (recipe adapted from Taste.com) Makes 18 large snowmen.

  • 250g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 cup cornflour

Preheat oven to 160c. Line 3 oven trays with baking paper. Beat butter, icing sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add the flours and stir to combine. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth. If you find the dough too sticky, just add a bit more flour when kneading. Wrap the dough tightly in cling wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Cut dough in half, and roll out with a rolling pin between two sheets of baking paper, until the dough is about 1-1/2cm thick. With a ring mould, or a round cookie cutter, cut circles out from the dough and place them on the baking trays. Cook for 20-25 minutes. The shortbread should not be too ‘blonde’ as they would say on Masterchef! I tried to take mine out just as they were beginning to go a tiny bit golden. Let cool on trays for 15-20 minutes.

Shortbread!

Turning the shortbread into Melted Snowmen:

  • 18 white marshmallows
  • Silver cachous
  • Orange sprinkles
  • Icing sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • Water
  • Vanilla bean paste
  • Edible black pen (these are fantastic, I bought mine from Baking Pleasures)

To be honest, I didn’t measure out the ingredients in the icing. I used a small-medium bowl, and started off with approx. 1/2 cup icing sugar, and probably 2 tsp of water. Mix the sugar and water together, then add the vanilla and lemon juice. It needs to be fairly thick, but still spreadable enough to move around on the shortbread. It should be this consistency. and should be well balanced with vanilla and lemon 🙂 This icing dries really quickly, so keep giving a stir every now and then.

Like this...

Draw faces on the marshmallows, I made them sad and confused, as they had just endured a serious heatwave!

 

Place a wire rack on top of some paper towel. Pour a teaspoon of icing onto the shortbread, and spread out to make it look as though the icing is dripping off the sides. Place a marshmallow on the shortbread, and 2 or 3 silver cachous in front if the marshmallow. Push an orange sprinkle into the marshmallow for the nose. Yum!

Heatwave...

These cute, sad little snowmen are great for the kids to make. They are really easy and fun to decorate 🙂 Plus, the shortbread tastes really good, too. Enjoy, and stay tuned for some more Christmas baking goodness 🙂 X

 

 

Maple Bacon Macarons

My love of combining sweet and salty flavours is certainly well documented throughout this blog! Maple bacon is something I have wanted to try making for a while, but struggled about what I would do with it. So, I stuck to what I am best at, macarons.

I decided to use a cream cheese icing for the filling – it is definitely my favourite kind of icing, made even yummier with the addition of real maple syrup. The bacon, seriously, I could have happily eaten the whole tray (I know I say this with a lot of things!), but it was delicious – like a lolly with an awesome salt kick! Yum 🙂

I know there haven’t been as many posts as I would have liked in the past couple of months, but with Christmas coming up, there will probably be one nearly every day! I have just finished my Christmas baking list, and it’s safe to say I don’t think I will be leaving the kitchen for the month of December!

Macarons:

This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.

  • 135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 45g egg whites
  • 50g egg whites
  • 40g water

Preheat oven to 170c (160c fan forced). Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray baround the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. Just lightly beat them into the meringue. Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine. When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. (If you don’t have a piping bag set, most supermarkets sell plastic ones, they are Multix brand, in an orange box and contain 5 piping bags with a few different nozzles, plus they’re only about $3. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch.

Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn tray around in the oven and bake for another 7 minutes. To test, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 12 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. Macarons keep really well (about 5 days in the fridge) and some say that the longer they are refrigerated, the more the flavour is likely to develop. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

Cream Cheese and Maple Syrup Icing: (adapted from Martha Stewart):

  • 112g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
  • 250g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
  • 1 cup icing sugar mixture
  • 80ml real maple syrup (I used Queen brand)

Beat the butter and cream cheese on high until pale and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar and maple syrup. Refrigerate until firm enough to pipe.

Maple Candied Bacon: (adapted from Food Networks Claire Robinson):

  • 250g middle bacon, chopped into 1cm x 1cm pieces
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp wholegrain mustard (I know the recipe says to use dijon, but we didn’t have any and I love wholegrain mustard)

Line a baking tray with two layers of foil, and preheat the oven to 200c (395F). Spread the chopped bacon out on the tray, ensuring no pieces are overlapping. With a pastry brush, brush the bacon with the maple syrup and mustard mixture, ensuring each piece of bacon is evenly coated. Place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until desired crispiness is achieved. You may have to turn some lighter pieces over at the 8 minutes mark. If so, brush with some more syrup. Let bacon cool for 5-10 minutes on the tray. Remove from tray and place in bowl. TIP – you do not want to let the candied bacon cool too much before you remove it from the foil, otherwise the foil will stick to the bacon and it will be really hard to get off. Leave about 25 squares of bacon, and finely chop up the rest so it will be small enough to put around the outside of the macaorn.Try not to eat it all at once 🙂 Trust me, it will be difficult!

Assembly:

Match up likely pairs of macaron shells. Fill a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle, with the maple cream cheese icing. Pipe small rounds of icing on the macaron shells, place a non-chopped piece of bacon on top, and pipe a tiny bit more icing on top of the bacon. Sandwich with the other macaron shell, and place a few finely chopped pieces of bacon around the outside of the macaron. Place macarons in an airtight container. As aforementioned, macarons are best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

Anyone thinking of giving this delicious combination a try – do! It’s a perfect Christmas flavour as well, think Christmas hams basted in maple syrup!

Let the Christmas cooking begin!!