Spring is undoubtedly my favourite time of the year. It would be enough that the weather is generally just perfect so much of the time. But the way the entire landscape transforms into an array of colourful blooms is just the icing on the proverbial cake. Its all the motivation I need to get out into the garden and start working.
The house my partner and I recently moved into has two large magnolia trees in the garden. As someone who is pretty passionate about having a predominantly Australian native garden I had considered replacing them. But the first spring they bloomed was all the convincing I needed to let them stay. They couple of weeks of colour the bring is more than worth it. This year when it came time for them to bloom I was inspired to use it in a cake somehow.
It was about a year ago that I tried making macarons for the first time. Intimidated by the horror stories, I kept putting it off. I learned then that they’re not as crazy difficult as they seem, and since then I virtually haven’t stopped. I’ve made macarons probably more than anything else this past year, and everyone here sure isn’t complaining. We absolutely love them. I love trying new flavour combinations, and everyone else loves devouring the spoils.
Christmas baking is getting into gear and I’ve made hundreds of the bite-sized treats already. but while I was making standard macarons, I wanted to make some a little extra festive.
I’m the kind of person who never read recipes first. I’ll be flicking through a cook book, see a picture of something that looks good, quickly browse the ingredients and if I have most of them get started straight away. If it’s a standard thing I’ll have trouble even following the recipe, I’ll just use the quantities and the general order of ingredients as a guide.
About three years ago I saw this recipe for apple confit and needed to make it. After dinner was done and people were washing up I started on this recipe. It obviously wasn’t a standard thing so I followed the recipe as I went along. I put the confit in the oven and referred to the next step to see what I had to do once it was out of the oven. Then I saw it: “Refrigerate overnight until firm”.
I announced we were eating it warm, unfinished and accompanied and resolved to return to it properly prepared one day. One day took quite a while to come around again. But when it did, I was prepared this time.
Pailleté feuilletine is a common ingredient in a lot of chef-ey recipes. All it is is crushed up pieces of crêpes dentelles, or lacey crêpes. The crêpes themselves are more like a tuile or a biscuit than the pancake-type dessert I imagine when I hear ‘crêpes’. These incredibly thin layers of sweet, caremelised crêpe are rolled up into a cigar shape, either with an opening large enough for a filling or no.
I needed pailleté feuilletine for a cake I’m making soon, a cake with a massive list of obscure ingredients. I’ve resorted to making as many of the ingredients on my list as I can, both to cut costs and because it’s good fun.
In many places, crêpes dentelles, or the crushed form of them, are not difficult to find. But here in Australia, they are fairly obscure. It’s an item found almost exclusively in specialty food shops and is certainly not cheap for what you get. Making it at home was not only preferable for my hip pocket, but it produces a beautiful dessert along the way.
A while ago a friend of mine introduced me to the concept of chocolate avocado mousse. I had my first play with it with this mousse cake. But the moment I heard about it, this is the dessert I instantly conjured in my mind. I’ve just been waiting for the excuse to do it: a wait that’s stretched to well over a year, but the wait was certainly worth it.
I starting having a look around the net for hard-shell chocolate taco recipes, but there really wasn’t one. Most were just covered in chocolate, or were more pancakey. So I had to come up with a way to create a hand chocolate taco shell on my own. There was one obvious solution: chocolate tuiles.
I’ve steered clear of tuiles after my first attempt with them many years ago went horribly. They were sitting in my ‘Too Hard’ basket waiting for the day I became brave enough to try once more. Necessity forced this reunion.
Macarons are one of those things I've always wanted to try but have been too intimidated to. I haven't even tasted one, let alone baked them. From the horror stories to the legends about how hard they are to bake correctly, I put it in the "one day" basket. I decided I was going to finally tackle this fickle beast for this Christmas. I spent many hours researching recipes and advice and all the what-to-dos and what-not-to-dos. The more I read, the more confused I became. There is so much conflicting information, sworn by recipes, refuted techniques. It's enough to make you want to throw in the towel.
After one such evening I finally closed my internet browser and decided that was enough. It's only a meringue. I can do meringue. I needed to just get in the kitchen and have a go.
Turns out, there's a whole lot of fuss about not much.These are completely achievable…