My macaron journey continues…

I’m quite proud of my latest attempt at macarons. I made a batch of my own flavour creation ‘Violet Rose’ (violet shell, rose flavoured centre) for a high tea to celebrate my friend’s engagement. Two of my girlfriends believed they were store bought and thought I was lying when I said I’d made them.

I chose to take this as a compliment. But then I’m a glass half full kinda gal.

In short, I’m pretty happy that my macarons are finally starting to look (and taste) the part.

I’m making one more batch on the weekend to ensure the recipe is foolproof. If they’re as lovely as this batch, a recipe post will follow.

If anyone has any flavour ideas, I’d love to hear them!

 

 

 

Easy pumpkin scones

I love a good scone and pumpkin flavoured ones are no exception.

This month’s Australian Better Homes & Gardens magazine featured a recipe for Pumpkin Scones which looked both simple and delicious. I was right on both counts.

The recipe below makes 9 scones but I doubled it because – well, 9 just isn’t enough!

You’ll need –

60g butter, chopped & softened

1/4 cup caster sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup cooked & mashed pumpkin, cooled

2 1/2 cups self raising flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

Extra flour, for kneading

Extra milk, for brushing

Putting it all together –

1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees C and line an oven tray with baking paper. Put butter and sugar in a large bowl & beat with a whisk until light and fluffy. Add egg & pumpkin, stir to combine.  Sift flour and salt into mixture and mix. Add milk gradually, stirring to form a loose dough.

2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead to bring together. Use the palm of your hand to flatten out dough to around 2cm thick. Using a 6.5cm scone cutter dusted in flour, cut out 9 rounds (bringing scraps together and re-flattening if necessary).

3. Put rounds on prepared tray, so no sides are touching. Brush tops with extra milk. Bake for 15 minutes or until light brown. Halve and spread with butter to serve.

Get ’em while they’re hot!

(Almost) successful macarons and salted caramel recipe

Turns out ninth time’s a charm when it comes to me and macarons.

I finally made a batch that were edible. No, more than that – they were actually quite lovely. They were far from the best macarons I’ve eaten, I still found the shells rather hollow, but they’re trending in the right direction. Unfortunately I’m not confident enough to post the recipe, I’ll do that once I’ve had another successful batch or two. Stay tuned.

But I will share the recipe I used for the salted caramel filling because…ummm, salted caramel!!! I only learnt of salted caramel’s existence a couple of years ago and have no idea where it came from, but dearly hope it never leaves my life. It is definitely a treat (as you can tell from the ingredients list) but perfect for the teensy portion you get wedged between a macaron.

If you’re a caramel making novice like I was, you might need a couple of attempts to work out when the liquid is hot enough to take off the heat. I had a batch crystallise on me because I left it on the heat too long. By the way, my husband the chemist used the word ‘crystallised’, I had no idea what that meant beforehand. Basically, the mixture looked like tiny crystals (fancy that) and became almost impossible to stir. Fail.

But the end result was worth waiting for. Here’s the recipe (taken from Annie Rigg’s ‘Macarons’) for salted caramel.

You’ll need –

1/3 cup caster sugar

My macarons are getting there…slowly

2 tablespoons water

1/3 cup light brown sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup double cream

1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes

Putting it all together –

Put the caster sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan over low heat and let the sugar dissolve completely. Bring to the boil, then cook until the syrup turns an amber coloured caramel.

Remove from heat and add the sugar, butter and cream. Stir to dissolve, then return to the low heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes, until the caramel has thickened and will coat the back of a spoon.

Remove from the heat, add the salt, pour into a bowl and leave until completely cold and thick.

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I now have a large bowl of salted caramel left over as this recipe made far too much for my 30 macarons. Any suggestions on what to do with it?

Easy and delicious baked cheesecake

I love cheesecake, especially the baked variety. So when I came across this recipe for Donna Hay’s baked cheesecake on The Hungry Mum’s fabulous blog, I knew I had to give it a bash.

It did not disappoint. Exactly as promised, it was creamy but not sickly sweet. Best of all, it is super duper easy. For the recipe, check out The Hungry Mum’s post here. Make it, then sit back and relish in the compliments your family and friends will bestow upon you. Thank you Hungry Mum & Donna Hay – this one’s a keeper!

Donna Hay baked cheesecake

How to make an entire restaurant kitchen laugh at you… the inaugural Food Fail Friday

A couple of years ago, I completed a 10 week beginners course in Positive Psychology offered online by the University of Pennsylvania. I have the memory of a goldfish so I don’t remember much of it, except that I’m supposed to be meditating, running and doing yoga to become happier…I think? Like I said, I forget. Luckily I kept a file full of notes and journal articles. Must make a note to revisit them someday.

However there was one piece of advice, often repeated by the delightful lecturer Tal Ben-Shahar, which stuck with me. It was “Learn to Fail, or Fail to Learn.” So simple, yet so true. It occurred to me that when it comes to my kitchen adventures, failing is something I do extraordinarily well. Although failing is frustrating (see I hate macarons as evidence) I learn from every mistake and rarely make the same one twice. I believe trying something new and failing will eventually make you a better cook than if you only stick to safe tried and true recipes. When you fail in anything, you usually come back wiser and better off for it. Continue reading