pistachio, cardamom, and rose mille crepe (& Liebster questions)

I’ve been thinking of baklava a lot recently. I’m not really sure why, apart from that I recently saw the GBBO baklava episode. But regardless, I’ve been thinking about it for a while and so then I decided to make a mille crepe. (Typical.)I went with the triumvirate of cardamom, rose and pistachio as the main flavouring, flavouring the pastry cream with cardamom, rose (and a bit of rosewater) as well as a small bit of orange blossom water. Ground pistachio was added between the layers, and I glazed the top with a syrup of honey, lemon and orange juice.

In the end it still wasn’t what I wanted–so I guess I really did want to have some baklava after all.

Also, (ack–it’s been over a month–I’m afraid I didn’t see it at first!) but Angie from Angie’s Kitchen Shenanigans nominated me for the Liebster Award! Thank you! Angie blogs about her kitchen shenanigans, which, far from shenanigans, are actually marvellously delicious food adventures. They range from searching for the elusive bluefish to make the perfect sancocho de pescado (I’ll leave it to you to read more to find out whether she locates one!) or sharing incredible recipes such as this mofongo which sounds incredibly appealing with those pork cracklings!

The Liebster award process is a bit exhausting, so while I won’t give nominations again (you can see my previous nominations here), I thought I’d answer the questions because that’s always plenty of fun!

1. What is the best time of day for you?

I like mid-morning. By then I’m usually cognizant and I feel like I have a lot of the day ahead of me still.

2. Of everything on this planet, what drives you bonkers?

That’s a difficult question! All I can think of at the moment is myself. I do irritate and confound myself a lot.

3. What is your favourite past time?

Oh, that should be obvious…taxidermy! (No, I was just trying to be a bit exciting. It’s baking. Baking.)

4. Are you living your dream, what is it?

One of my dreams was to have a food blog. So yes, I suppose I am living it! Another aspect of this was to have a fantastic food blog. Hopefully I’ll get there some day.

5. Make a list of inspiration moments.

Other food blogs are constantly inspiring me. Otherwise, it’s everyday acts of kindness from the people around me. It does sound a bit cliche, but I’m afraid it’s very very true.

6. Are you city, country, or a suburbs kind of person?

Without a doubt, city. Though small-ish city.

7. Indoors or outdoors?

I like both.

8. If you were an animal, what would you be, and why?

If not human, maybe a sloth. It would be comfortable and leisurely, although also a bit dull.

9. Tell me one thing you love about yourself?

Hmm. I like that I like to bake.

10. Why do you blog?

To keep an organized and easily navigable record of what I bake. And it’s fun to be able to connect with others, so I’m very glad I started!

Recipe notes:

I also had some issues with the mille-crepe itself. It was rather pasty or floury–I think this resulted from two contributing factors. First, I need to cook my crepes more. I get a bit impatient and remove them as soon as they’ve firmed up, but really some colour and more thorough cooking would leave a less pallid and flabby impression.

Second, while I liked the flavour of the pastry cream, with the crepes, the flour taste came out. I thought I managed to cook most of the flour taste out, but apparently not, so perhaps next time I’d try using a cornstarch-based pastry cream.

Finally, while I liked how the glaze gave it some shine and finish, and it reminded me of baklava, I found it unnecessarily sweet. I also found the lemon and orange flavour overly concentrated and too sour–in retrospect, I would leave it off. It did, however, make it seem more like baklava. But really, I should just try to make baklava instead of all of this roundabout nonsense.

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Pistachio, rose and cardamom mille crepe

Crepes

I made 15 serviceable crepes that were around 8″. Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.

1 1/2 c flour

2 c milk

3 eggs

pinch salt

spoon sugar

2 tbsp melted and cooled butter or neutral oil

Whisk together flour, sugar and salt; beat in the milk and eggs. Finally whisk in the butter or oil. Strain the batter through a fine sieve.

Proceed to make the crepes: Brush a pan with butter or oil and heat over medium. Pour in the necessary amount of crepe batter and swirl to coat the surface of the pan. Let cook until the edges are dried; loosen with a spatula and flip over using fingertips.

Cook until both sides are lightly browned.

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Pastry cream

Adapted from creme diplomat, Bouchon Bakery, by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel. I think stabilizing with gelatin was unnecessary, though I’m not sure. Next time I would have also added more whipped cream than I did. This made enough cream for 12 layers.   

As a note, Elizabeth suggested using 1/4 c cornstarch in place of the flour with better results.

2 c milk

6 small green cardamom pods

a few dried rose flowers

4 egg yolks

55 g sugar (or substitute honey, using a bit less)

80 g flour

20 g butter

1/4 tsp rose water (or to taste; you’ll likely have sufficient rose flavour from the infusion)

1/2 tsp orange blossom water

1.5 g gelatin

15 mL cold water

15 mL hot water

150 g whipping cream

Heat milk, cardamom and rose flowers until steaming. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes or so to infuse.

Whisk eggs and sugar until light; add in flour and beat until pale and thick.

Pull out cardamom pods and rose flowers, return milk to the heat. Once steaming, gradually pour into egg mixture, whisking. Return to the saucepan. Cook, whisking, until the pastry cream has started to thicken. Switch to a wooden spoon and beat thoroughly as the pastry cream thickens thoroughly. Taste to ensure that flour is cooked.

Remove from heat, beat to let cool a bit, and then beat in the butter, rosewater and orange blossom water. Cover and let pastry cream cool completely.

Meanwhile, bloom gelatin in cold water, then dissolve in hot water (heat additionally if necessary).

Whip cream until stiff.

Add a dollop of cooled pastry cream to gelatin mixture, whisking until incorporated. Add this back into the remaining pastry cream, beating thoroughly to loosen.

Lighten the pastry cream by folding in 1 scoop of whipped cream, then fold in remainder. Chill until ready to use.

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Assembly

1/2 c finely ground pistachios

a couple tablespoons honey

lemon

orange

long curls lemon, orange zest

chopped pistachios

dried rose petals

Start with a crepe and spread a thin layer of pastry cream overtop. Sprinkle some ground pistachios over top and repeat until either the filling or crepes are used up (for me it was the filling–12 crepes worth).

Let cake sit overnight in the refrigerator to set.

Before serving, heat the honey and some orange and lemon juice in a small saucepan to a slightly thick consistency. Use this to glaze the top of the mille crepe.

Finish by sprinkling with lemon zest, orange zest, chopped pistachios, and dried rose petals. The ground pistachio also looks nice, but it’s best to do that only right before serving; otherwise it does get a bit soggy and messy.

white nectarine black sesame mochi tart

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There was a time when I was a voracious reader. I read with a burning passion and an aggressive fury (well, at least in my memories of my younger self). I would take a book and sit down for as long as need be to finish it; then I would pick up the second; luckily I was at the age where you only needed a couple hours to finish a book. When I went to the library it was more about quantity than quality, (though there was this one book about a stray dog that I read at least five times over, and cried in the same four identical places every time—it was a tragic, tragic story).

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My parents supported my hobby completely; it kept me quiet and out of the way, and they probably thought it meant I was smart (so sorry that didn’t turn out). I sometimes would read through dinner and if I started reading just before I went to bed, it also meant I read through the night.

I could also force myself to read just about anything–whether or not I absorbed anything was another matter. But as I grew older, I noticed two things: first, I couldn’t just read anything; I became a lot more selective (and somehow more easily bored; a bit counterintuitive).

Second, the quantity of reading began teetering off as I proceeded through school. My last great reading exploit was To Kill a Mockingbird in grade 10. I read over it 7 and a half straight hours sitting in the same chair, starting at 8 am and ending and 6 (with a half-hour lunch break in between). I was sore afterwards—power reading is hard work.

And now, well, I’ve been reading the same novel for a year and a half. It’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami. I think it’s marvelous and I think I like it, and somehow I’m not forgetting too much of what happened earlier either. But it’s a novel I didn’t have a hope of understanding in the first place, and even less now that I’ve been reading it in such fragmented, discrete chunks.

And while I miss the old appetite I had for reading, I also sort of prefer the more leisurely manner I have now. The novel is sitting in front of my at the moment; I think it may have been a month since I last picked it up. So maybe I should read a bit more soon.

Now, onto the tart: About the only thing I’ve been cognizant enough to recognize in The Wind-up Bird Chronicles is that there are a lot of people shedding old-selves, and giving way to new-selves. It may literally stepping out of their old skin (oh, the horror) or, for the most part, a bit more figuratively. Well, this tart wasn’t made consciously thinking of this, but some connection would be good.

You see, the other day I had an ice cream bar with red beans and mochi in it. It was a good reminder of how much I like cream daifuku…and somehow it turned itself into a tart.

(That was a poor transition. Ignore that.)

But this tart is a bit about re-imagination and reinvention, without being too imaginative or inventive (in other word, general enough to apply to anything): so yes, an almond and ground black sesame shortbread crust with a bit of soft mochi, whipped cream, and white nectarine.

I love the mochi and cream together (which is how I ate the mochi scraps; torn up with a bit of whipped cream on top). I thought that worked extremely well—it was my favourite part of the tart. I made the mochi a bit looser and as a result it wasn’t too stiff or springy against the cream; it was just a bit stretchy, and gave the tart a bit of chew.

It also wasn’t too dry a tart, which is what I expected (starch on starch after all.) Yet the mochi didn’t feel dry at all so eating it on top of the pastry was actually perfectly fine, though it was best if you had some cream or nectarine together with it.

The problem though was how delicate the pastry was. The mochi was also fairly delicate; it could be cut with the side of a fork, however any pressure managed to shatter the crust. This was a lacking point: a bit too much textural contrast between the fragility of the crust and then the mochi and nectarine, which made it more difficult to eat.

Oh, and happy Fiesta FridayHosted by Angie, the Novice Gardener, Effie of Food Daydreaming and Jhuls, The Not So Creative Cook. It’s been another tiring week (I think I say this every time) so enjoy a tart! In the meantime, I have a weekend exam, so I’ll be off studying. Maybe with a slice of cake, though.

White nectarine black sesame mochi tart

Black sesame tart crust

Enough for 5 4-cm diameter tart shells. They are very delicate, so in retrospect I would decrease the almond and perhaps increase the amount of flour. Or look at a recipe next time; I always have mixed results when I freehand things. I tried to ameliorate some of the damage by brushing cracks of the tartshells with a bit of egg white and baking it again…I don’t know how much it helped, but it did help the shells brown nicely. This also makes fabulous shortbread.

7 g black sesame seeds

115 g flour

100 g butter, softened

35 g ground almond

generous pinch salt

1 ½ tbsp sugar

egg white

In a pan over medium heat, dry toast the black sesame seeds. It’s difficult to assess whether you’re burning them as they’re black. I go until I can hear them sizzling slightly (you’ll have to listen quite closely).

Transfer to a mortar and pestle and crush. From the fragrance released you’ll be able to tell whether you toasted the seeds enough or burnt them. Let cool.

Beat the butter with the salt, sugar, ground almonds and black sesame seeds. Mix in the flour.

Compact into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and chill completely.

Roll out ¼ of an inch thick. Line the tart shells evenly, perhaps with some patching, and chill completely.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Cut five pieces of square parchment paper and place them over the tart shells. Fill with rice or other baking weight.

Bake for 20 minutes with the baking weight, or until the edges are lightly brown and the surface of the tart is cooked.

Remove the papers and rice, return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Brush the tart shells lightly with egg white and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

Allow them to cool completely in the pan before unmoulding very carefully.

 

Mochi

Adapted from Just One Cookbook; you’ll have quite a bit of leftover mochi scraps for 5 tarts. I made it a few times to play around with the hydration and texture (I’m not sure; perhaps Mochiko is different from the glutinous rice flour I use?); this is what worked for me, but it is a bit different, so do have look at the original as well!

½ c glutinous rice flour

½ c water + 3 tbsp

2 tbsp sugar

potato starch

Combine flour, water and sugar in a bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until mochi is thickened. Then microwave for 10-20 s intervals until mochi becomes translucent.

Dust a work surface with potato starch. Scrape out mochi, dust generously with more potato starch. Roll out to around 1/4” thick. The mochi shrinks once you cut it, so use a glass around 4 cm in diameter to cut out circles of mochi.

Brush as much starch off each side as you can.

If not making immediately, place circles between layers of parchment paper in a container or plastic bag, and refrigerate.

 

Whipped cream

around 3/4 c heavy cream

1 1/2 tbsp icing sugar or to taste

Whip to desired thickness.

 

Assembly

4 white nectarines, sliced thinly

Lay a mochi circle in the bottom of the tart.

Spread or pipe some whipped cream over top of the mochi.

Arrange white nectarine slices overtop of that.

orange and chestnut cream rolled cake

I’m hesitant to call this a recipe; I think perhaps a “cautionary tale” is the more appropriate description.

(This poor lighting fits the sinister mood…!)

This is an incredibly ugly cake. Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually incredibly proud I managed to end up with anything in a vaguely cake-like form at all, but that doesn’t detract from the simple truth of it’s poor showing in the aesthetics department.

I didn’t realize it until I was done, but the appeal of roll cakes comes from a colour contrast between the cake and the filling. What other reason would it be sliced so as to show off the its whimsical spiral? However both my cake (due to the chestnut flour) and my filling (due to the poorly incorporated chestnut puree) turned out a mottled beige sort of colour, which is hardly pleasant on its own and even less so in two slightly different shades.

Had I been thinking more, I would have made either a chocolate sponge or added some chocolate to filling, which would have made some improvement in colour contrast.

In retrospect, I think I may have also rolled the cake the wrong way. I never actually thought about this until I actually got to the point where I had to roll cake. Since this cake had fairly low gluten and was a weak and flimsy disaster, I should have put the top crust on the outside—that probably had a bit more tensile strength that the crustless bottom (or at least in my case with such a fragile cake).

I wrapped the cake in a towel and then put it in a bag overnight; it would have been better to make the filling and completed the cake all in the same day–most of my top crust peeled off with the tea towel.

I also spread my cake batter unevenly, resulting it a cake with a wide middle and thin edges. I did have a fix for that however—once my cake was wrapped in plastic wrap, I squished the wider part, moving the filling to the thinner edges. It was not, all in all, the best!

Finally, happy Fiesta Friday! Hosted by the hospitable Angie, the Novice Gardener, and cohosted by the lovely Ginger from Ginger & Bread and the wonderful Loretta from Safari of the Mind. Last week was an unusual (for me) success, so I thought this week I should post one of my failures – after all, things rarely turn out well the first time for me! I’ve had it sitting in my drafts for a couple months now. It’s certainly a bit drab but I always find I have more to say and learn about a failure than anything else!

Recipe notes:

Not really a recipe worth taking note of, really. But as my first rolled cake, we all must start somewhere!

Orange and chestnut cream rolled cake

Orange chestnut sponge cake

Along the same lines as this chestnut sponge I made previously. This is what I did. I think it was somewhat disastrous. The cake itself was very weak-perhaps less chestnut flour (no gluten) would have helped. I also rolled it such that the top of the cake was on the inside of the roll (i.e. it was compressed) and the bottom of the cake was on the outside of the roll (i.e. it was stretched). I’m not sure if that was the right way to do it as the bottom of the cake cracked horrendously—perhaps I should have stretched the top of the cake with the crust instead.

3 eggs

90 g flour

30 g chestnut flour

80 g sugar

zest of ½ orange

Preheat oven to 350F.

Lightly butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13” pan. Line the bottom with parchment.

Beat the eggs until foamy, slowly add the sugar whisking. Whisk in the orange zest. Continue to beat until well tripled, light and fluffy.

Sift the chestnut flour over top and fold.

Fold in the flour in two additions.

Scrape into the pan, tilt to level.

Bake around 15 minutes or until the cake is only very lightly browned on top.

Let cool for 10 or so minutes before loosening the edges with a butter knife and then tipping over onto a piece of parchment paper on a tray. Peel the parchment off. Place a tea towel over top of the cake. Place another tray or cutting board overtop that and invert everything. The top of the cake should be face up.

Roll the cake up inside the tea towel – i.e make a jelly roll with the tea towel as the filling. Let cool completely.

Chestnut cream filling

Adapted from chestnut cake filling in Robert Peterson’s Baking. Because it was going into a roll cake I decided to add gelatin in hopes that it would help it stabilize.

105 g chestnut puree

capful rum

sugar, to taste

150 g cream, divided

2 g powdered gelatin

6 g cold water

12 g hot water

Beat the chestnut puree in a bowl with the rum until smooth and loosened. Add sugar to desired sweetness.

Whip 130 g of the cream to stiff peaks.

Bloom the powdered gelatin with 6 g cold water. Add 12 g hot water and stir to dissolve.

Gradually whisk the remaining 20 g of cream into the dissolved gelatin mixture. Beat this into the whipped cream.

Fold one scoop of the whipped cream into the chestnut puree to lighten.

Then fold in the remaining cream.

Chill until ready to assemble.

Assembly

I used the chestnut cream immediately without letting the gelatin set. This resulted in a rather sloppy cake rolling, but it firmed up nicely after being chilled. Perhaps it would have been easier to use the chestnut cream when it was cold.

1 bag roasted and peeled chestnuts.

Gently unroll the cake and trim the shorter (9”) ends. Spread the filling over the cake, leaving a small border on one 9” end (the end of the roll). Make a higher pile of filling right on the other 9” end (the beginning of the roll)

In the “piled” filling on one end, nestle a line of chestnuts, ensuring they are level with the filling.

Starting from that end with the chestnuts, roll up the cake, using the tea towel as necessary to help.

Wrap the rolled cake tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until filling has firmed.

Trim each end off before serving. Or don’t. It didn’t really look any better in my case.

rose and marmalade financier

I’ve been feeling a bit lost lately. I finished a larger sort of project and now I feel a bit aimless despite the fact that finals are coming up soon. Yes, just when I really shouldn’t be feeling aimless.

(Okay, I’ll go study after this.)

But first: these were actually good.

This isn’t something I say too often (unfortunately).

They did, of course, have their problems; definitely a bit too strong on the rose and a bit heavy on the sugar. But in the end they were quite nice actually.

It’s not as though most things I make are inedible (I think, in practice, that rarely happens for anybody, really) but most things I make I don’t feel to inclined to make again.

This one, however, has some more potential and I’d like to revisit it later to refine.

Recipe notes:

This was my first time using rose petals and I underestimated how strong they were. I found the rose flavour not unpleasantly strong, but still perhaps slightly overpowering and so I didn’t notice the marmalade as much as I wanted to. Next time I would reduce/eliminate the rose water and perhaps some of the rose petal as well.

I guess one of my favourite marmalades is the Ikea one; the elderflower makes it quite floral. But it depends—sometimes I prefer having a more chunky marmalade to bake with. But in that case I usually candy orange peels for that sort of thing (we never really have enough citrus around, let alone Seville oranges, to embark into serious marmalade making. But I would like to do some serious marmalade making someday.)

I really enjoyed the texture of this one–I didn’t see any issues arising from the marmalade addition. I think this would be interesting with other preserves; though I’m not certain how wetter jams would fare.

Rose & marmalade financiers

Adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastein Rouxel. Makes 5 in 4-cm diameter tart pans, or 12 in financier molds.

100 g butter, and then some (for buttering the pans)

110 g sugar

60 g ground almond

40 g flour

pinch salt

100 g egg white

around 2 tsp dried rose petals, slightly crushed (or however many you like; the batter should be fairly speckled), plus additional to top

¼ tsp rosewater

50 g orange marmalade

Preheat the oven to 425F

Brush the pans or molds with softened butter and chill until firm.

Whisk together the sugar, flour, ground almond, and salt.

Place the 100 g of butter in a small pan over medium low heat and proceed to brown it, stirring. Set aside.

Form a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the egg whites. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients and beat well. Then, beat in the marmalade, rose petals, and rosewater.

Beat in the browned butter in two additions; it should still be hot in order for the batter to emulsify properly.

Fill molds/pans with the batter. Top each with a couple rose petals.

Place the pans in the oven, turn the temperature down to 350F and bake for 20 minutes (financier molds) or 20-25 minutes (tart pans), until well browned and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Unmold and let cool on a wire rack.

rhubarb hibiscus macarons

 

I’ve now realized I actually like macarons.

I think previously it was the combination of the price and popularity that made me sort of wary of macarons and a bit skeptical about sincerely liking them.

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I got serious about the circles.

It always starts off a bit stressful when we carefully cut each one (each a different flavour of course) into quarters (which I love doing) and then insisted that someone else have the last piece (which can be a bit more tiring, but also a time-honoured family tradition). The fact that each macaron cost a fair amount only made it the more imperative that they be enjoyed–and eating something while focusing on how much you really ought to be enjoying it is not the best way to actually enjoy something.

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Then there’s the popularity. Things often become popular for a reason, but I also couldn’t help wondering whether I was only interested in eating macarons due to subliminal pressure from their fetishized status. Sort of like cupcakes–I loved them when I was little until I realized that I sort of prefer big cakes more. (Maybe because I could cut whatever size slice I wanted with minimal parental disapproval…) (I still like cupcakes though. Since, you know, they’re cake.)

However after making this batch of macarons I’ve finally realized why they’re so popular. Texturally, the shell is thin and crispy and wonderfully chewy on the inside. Once they’ve been refrigerated, the shells take on a softer texture, they seal together with the filling so the slight textural contrast comes from the very outside of the shells, while the rest is soft through to the middle. Macarons serve as the perfect canvas for highlighting flavours.

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These are things I only truly noticed after having such a ridiculous abundance of macarons of one flavour that I didn’t have to be so tense and careful while eating them. In fact I could eat multiple in a row. And I did.

This is also why I like big cakes and messy cakes: my horrid piping skills! 

This is not to say that I prefer making macarons at home–knowing that I actually like them, I can feel less guilty about buying them! And the variety of flavours you can find at a bakery is something very difficult to replicate at home all at once.

The shells to the left of this photo were baked on the parchment, the shells to the right on Silpat. I don’t really know which I preferred–the parchment came off easier, but they did spread more unevenly.

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But I’m very glad that I’ve made them–so thank you to Lili’s Cakes for the inspiration and lovely Italian meringue macaron shell walkthrough!

I also remembered, in this process, why I only ever made macarons once a few years ago and then never again: the grinding and sifting! I might get a bit faster next time though: I experimented using a food processor, blender and spice grinder. In the end the food processor is still the best bet. The blender did a decent job, however it can only grind a very small amount at a time and so it was a bit tedious emptying it out and refilling it. The spice grinder did rather well too, but it also has a small capacity and it started to smell a bit like burning plastic so I got a little bit worried and quickly unplugged it. The food processor was able to take everything all at once–it just took a while before the almonds were sufficiently ground.

macaron5The rhubarb hibiscus curd was lovely—sour and sweet and very buttery. The hibiscus was also very useful in colouring the rhubarb curd—otherwise, I likely would have chosen to infuse the rhubarb curd with rose instead. The hibiscus gave it a more citrus-y taste, for lack of a better word, but in retrospect I may have preferred the floral taste that rose would have given instead. But at least I was able to finish up the frozen rhubarb from last summer with this post (I also used a bit of it here)!

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I’ve made rhubarb curd of some manner a few times now (this is one of my few truly original ideas, so I’m quite pleased to finally post about it) and I’ve noticed that the colour is very dependant on your batch of rhubarb. One of our plants produces really pretty red stems, and the colour of that curd is also usually a pleasant pale pink. Other times though, even while the syrup is so incredibly vibrant, it can’t stand up the egg yolks and turns into that dreaded unappetizing beige.

The end result however looked like mixed berry flavoured yoghurt. I don’t really like flavoured yoghurt and I don’t really like mixed berry flavoured yogurt even more, so the appearance I found a bit off-putting at first.

Still, better than beige?

Since I don’t love food colouring, I put 2 g finely ground hibiscus in the macaron shells. I suppose I was vaguely hoping it might provide some colour; I’m not sure if you can see in the photos, but it left the batter a bit speckled—brown from the outside, but when you break one of the macaron open, the inside is sprinkled with dark red specks like confetti. It’s actually quite pretty. The flavour came out as well—the shells were a bit tart and fruity. I think it would be too overpowering if I were to add enough ground hibiscus to give anything closer to a uniform colour, or even just a more distinctive spatter. Speaking of which, I think it might have looked nice to sprinkle a bit of the more coarsely ground hibiscus over top of the shells before they were baked.

Finally, happy Fiesta Friday! Kindly hosted by Angie, the Novice Gardener, Julianna, the Foodie on Board, and Hilda from Along the Grapevine. It’s been a tiring week, so I hope these macarons are a good way to celebrate!

Rhubarb hibiscus macarons

I made around 84 macaron shells and 33 fully assembled macarons (using 66 shells) from the amount of filling I had. These macarons, because the filling is so wet, are best eaten only in the next day or two after refrigeration. 

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Hibiscus macaron shells

This Italian meringue macaron shells recipe is from Lili’s Cakes–I recommend taking a look at the original recipe as it’s well annotated with lots of helpful details! I made a total of approx 84 macaron shells of varying sizes. I used 5 and a bit egg whites.

200 g ground almond

200 g icing sugar

3 g dried hibiscus

150 g egg whites, divided

200 g granulated sugar

50 g water

Line 3 sheet pans with parchment paper. Draw 4-cm diameter circles 2 cm apart on each sheet of parchment paper; flip over so that the pencil or pen is against the tray.

Grind together the almond and icing sugar in food processor. Sift through a fine sieve.

Grind the dried hibiscus in a spice grinder until finely ground.

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Prepare the Italian meringue: Place 75 g of the egg white in a stand mixer and beat until it the egg whites are at soft peaks. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer.

Meanwhile, mix the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Monitor the temperature until it is close to 240F. At this point beat the eggs a bit with a wire whisk to “refresh” them.

Once the sugar has reached 240F (softball stage is what we’re aiming for), remove from the heat. Pour it in a slow stream into the egg whites while whisking steadily. I found placing the bowl on a wet towel helped it keep from slipping, and agreed with Lili’s advice–it’s great if you can have someone pour the sugar for you or steady your bowl.

Once all the sugar has been incorporated, return the bowl to the mixer and beat until the meringue is stiff and the bowl is barely warm to the touch.

Mix the remaining 75 g egg whites into the almond and sugar mixture, followed by the ground hibiscus.

Lighten with a scoop of meringue. Then fold in the remaining meringue, all at once, using a rubber spatula. Continue to fold until the batter becomes a bit looser and shiny—ribbons of batter should slowly flatten out in around 30 seconds.

Fill a piping bag, fitted with a wide round tip, with the batter and proceed to pipe the shells.

Allow each tray to dry until the macarons have formed the slightest crust—20 minutes; less for me since it’s fairly dry where I am (it’s also lucky I’m a slow piper since I completely forgot about this step, and only coincidentally allowed the shells enough time).

Bake each tray for 6 minutes; then rotate the tray and bake for another 6 minutes, or until the bottom of the macaron shells have formed a thin crust and can be loosened from the tray.

Let the shells cool until they are a bit firmed before removing to a wire rack. Cave in the bottoms of the shells to create additional filling-space, and pair up with a shell of the same size.

 

Rhubarb hibiscus curd

Adapted from lemon curd recipe in Baking by James Peterson. This could be done using more egg yolks if you still have extra from your madeleine shells. I only barely got 125 mL from 310 g, so perhaps use some more rhubarb. The hibiscus can be left out, but do be aware that your rhubarb curd may or may not be pink! I made enough filling to fill 33 macaron of varying sizes to varying degrees of filled-ness. 

310 g rhubarb to get 125 mL rhubarb syrup

4 dried hibiscus flours

a generous 1/3 c of sugar

3 eggs

60 g butter, at room temperature

Chop the rhubarb, place in a saucepan and heat gently until the juices start to come out. Bring to simmer and continue to cook until rhubarb is soft and falling apart. It may help to add the sugar if you’re using fresh rhubarb, or a bit of water or lemon juice.

Line a sieve with a jelly bag and suspend over a bowl. Pour the cooked rhubarb into the jelly bag and allow to drain.

Once the rhubarb has mostly drained, perhaps half an hour to an hour, squeeze the jelly bag to extract as much juice as possible. It would be good to get 125 mL of juice.

Place the juice in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, add the dry hibiscus, cover, remove from the heat and set aside to steep at least 10 minutes. I left the hibiscus in while making the curd to continue to add colour/flavour, but it could be removed after steeping.

Add the sugar and eggs to the rhubarb juice and gently warm, while whisking constantly. As it warms, stir in the butter in pieces. Continue to cook gently until rhubarb curd is thickened. This can also be done overtop of a double boiler, in which case you may be able to skip sieving the curd.

Once the curd is done, press through a sieve and chill until cool.

 

Assembly

Fill a piping bag with the rhubarb curd and use to fill half of the macaron shells—leave a border around the edges. Top with the other half and squeeze slightly until filling squishes out to meet the edges of the macaron.

Refrigerate overnight.

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things other people make: chocolate butter mochi from feasting in apartment 5b

Chocolate. And butter. And mochi.

It’s an attractive sounding title already.

I found this chocolate butter mochi recipe from the blog feasting in apartment 5b. It’s a beautiful blog, clear and concise, and I love the photos–there’s this minimalistic look on the white backgrounds (and did you notice? I totally copied the towel in the background from this stunning and fresh spring soba noodle salad).

So while I had heard of mochi cake before, I’d never made one.

What surprised me the most was the taste–you can clearly taste the rice flour. Thus you can tell, not only from texture, but also from the taste that it’s actually a mochi cake. The texture itself is pleasingly springy and stretchy and a bit toothsome.

Somehow this made for a very refreshing departure from regular cakes and heavy fudge-y brownies. I’m sure I’ll be testing another mochi cake in the future!

Also, evaporated milk… so what colour is it supposed to be? I don’t know whether it should always be like this or if it’s just because it’s so old! Regardless, it reminds me of a Harold McGee post I read a while ago on the breakdown of sugar. It explains why I sometimes open up a can of our really old condensed milk to find the innards looking quite caramelized. Anyways, it’s rather reassuring to know why, and it also indicates how long these cans hang around in our cupboard.

Chocolate butter mochi

From Feasting in Apartment 5b. I added the nanami togarashi, but that was about it. The flavour didn’t come out apart from a slight spiciness; in the future I would supplement with some additional orange peel and black sesame…or skip it all together and go for the chocolate!

1 c glutinous rice flour

3/4 c sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

dash salt

3/4 tsp nanami togarashi (optional, of course)

2 tbsp butter, melted

1 egg

175 mL coconut milk (approx. 1/2 can)

175 mL evaporated milk (approx. 1/2 can)

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter an 8 or 9″ square pan and line with a parchment sling.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and nanami togarashi.

Separately whisk together the butter, egg, coconut milk, and evaporated milk. Add the flour and mix until combined. Scrape into the prepared pan.

Bake for around 50 minutes–at this point, for me, an inserted skewer was removed clean–then remove and let cool. It’s pretty delicate, so I let it cool in the pan before removing it to a wire rack.

 

Previous things other people made: Swiss bircher muesli from Caroline’s Cooking.

And in other news; I now plan to make things other people make posts as a brief monthly cumulative round up sort of thing–I’ll drop a few photos, but not too many, plus a bit of ambling and rambling and some links to recipes. Also, maybe I should call it i make things other people make instead? I confuse myself a lot.

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olive sourdough

One of my friends had become vegan. The day before her birthday I’d brought a box of meringues and madeleines, later to receive a text about the new dietary path she had assumed. (I realize this is why you double check with someone before making them something!)

But this post isn’t about her. It’s actually about me. (As usual.)

I was stuck on what to make next, so I ended up pulling my poor abused sourdough starter from the back of the fridge and reviving it sufficiently to spit out a loaf of bread. That gift (also known as the subject of this post) didn’t make it to her either. On Monday I brought it, but never got a chance to see her. The next day I had classes at a different campus. (After all, as long as you don’t cut it, it should stay fairly fresh.)

Wednesday got off to a poor start. It began on the train where I stood too close to the doors and succeeded in squishing the bread when they opened (accordian-style) to the sides. I shrugged off the damage. (After all, it was a sturdy bread.)

Then I ended up bringing the bread to the washroom with me, which smelt strongly of the acrid combination of fish and dishwashing detergent. Not knowing where else to put it, it ended up sitting on the floor. (And after all, it was not only in a box, but in a plastic bag.)

When I finally saw her I couldn’t make myself hand over the bread. As much as I’d reassured myself over the week, I felt too ashamed to hand it over. In the end I made a new bread and some candied orange peel the next week.

And I cut open this second birthday gift rendition myself. It was quite nice–and did not taste stale despite having been 4 days since I made it: the wonders of a thick crust. The crumb was not great however; rather dense, but I’ve come to expect that for any bread that I make.

Edit: I actually posted this and then took it down. I had randomly scheduled it come up and then completely forgot about it. The thing is, I had another post planned to come up soon and I didn’t want to spam the world (not that most people would notice) with too many posts. 

Recipe notes:

While I’ve had my sourdough starter for a number of years now, it was a perhaps a couple years ago that Tartine Bread Experiment gave me the one most useful epiphany about making sourdough (you can tell simply how revelatory that was due to my use of bold letting). It was: to use very little sourdough starter. I was used to using 20% (of the flour weight) as I vaguely recall being prescribed by Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. However, this blog helped me realize that simply 5%, or even less, would suffice with the addition of a number of long rises. By doing this, even when my sourdough starter was in tough shape and began to smell a bit like ammonia, it didn’t affect the taste of the bread.

So obvious, and yet so brilliant.

I use all purpose flour because that is all I ever have on hand. I think bread flour is of course the best choice; and in that case the additional wheat gluten can be disregarded.

It is better to add the olives in later; that way they will not get beaten up as the olive oil is kneaded in. However, I added the olives in with the oil as I prefer to incorporate everything, breaking down and reforming the gluten, all at once. With all the olives it ended up quite salty. I think it’s perfect for eating on its own or, even better, with a bit of butter. But for sandwiches or with salty toppings, the salt should be reduced a bit.

Olive bread

Adapted from Tartine Bread Experiment

For the sponge, combine:

50 g starter

100 g water

50 g spelt flour

50 g all purpose flour

Let it ferment overnight. To make the dough, mix together:

360 g water

550 g all purpose flour

6 g wheat gluten

Being with a spoon, switching to your hands when necessary. Cover and let it autolyze for an hour. Once it has rested, add:

10 g kosher salt

25 g extra-virgin olive oil

80 g olives, sliced lengthwise in 6 wedges

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

Knead the bread in the bowl until the oil has been assimilated. Let the bread rest for half an hour; give it a fold. Repeat a couple times if you like.

Then allow it to rise until doubled, depending on the activity of your starter, a few hours to several.

Using a plastic scraper, gently empty the dough onto a floured countertop. Invert the bowl to cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes (bench rest). Meanwhile, dust a tea towel with rice flour and use it to line an appropriately sized bowl.

Gently pull the bread into a tight boule, keeping deflation to a minimum. Place it, smooth side down, into the towel-lined bowl. (Alternatively, let it rise on a parchment-lined baking tray, covered).

Cover and let the bread undergo a final rise, likely only a couple of hours. It should be well risen, but not overrisen. At some point, start preheating the oven to 550F.

Place a sheet pan on top of bowl, carefully invert, tipping the bread onto the pan. Score with a serrated knife (or whatever works best for you).

Bake for 20 minutes at 550F, then lower the oven temperature to 450F for 30 more minutes. Lower the temperature again to 400 for another 20-30 minutes, or until the bread is well browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Let cool completely on a wire rack.