My 21st Birthday!

I am writing my blog today with a very joy-filled heart. Not only did I have a great birthday weekend but right now I am enjoying a vanilla ice cream cone covered with caramel corn! Why I haven't done this before is unknown, it's great!
Last friday I celebrated my 21st birthday and the common question around that day is, "Who is going to make your birthday cake?". The answer...ME! I love making my own cake and this year was quite an exciting one. Recently my reading time has been filled with a blog about the best pastry in Paris (click here) which I found a few weeks ago. The awesome flavour combinations and unique assemblage of pastries inspired me to make my own. Starting off with the desire to make a mousse cake surrounded with macaron shells, I chose to do a white chocolate-cranberry-lemon mousse with lemon macarons. For the sponge in the mousse cake I decided to try gingerbread flavour and layered it with lemon curd. I also made bubble sugar to decorate the top. The overall creation was stimulating for both the eyes and the palate and I was very excited because the recipes for the mousse and sponge were my own.
To accompany the mousse cake I made a croquembouche of profiteroles filled with chocolate pastry cream and decorated with fondant flowers and a marzipan birthday ribbon, a banana custard tart with rum glaze, and mint cake bites. I had a wonderful time creating the desserts and was so happy the birthday guests liked the final results. ENJOY


White chocolate Cranberry Lemon Mousse cake



Croquembouche


Banana tart


Mint cake bites

Christmas cookies

Christmas is right around the corner and thats means spending time with friends, family, and loved ones. Evening parties, afternoon tea with the girls, and children's play dates all become more special with festive treats. I was playing with ideas and made some little bite sized cookies perfect for these occasions: vanilla orange cookies with strawberry jam filling. ENJOY!



4th Birthday

Multicolour with stars. That was the request of my little cousin for his fourth birthday cake. We had looked at Lightning McQueen, dinosaurs, Diego, etc... but his favourite was a cake with stars on it and he wanted it to be multicoloured. (I discovered this week that he really does love multicolours. I was helping to look after him and his sister and we did a lot of colouring, all of which was multicoloured.) The flavour he wanted was vanilla cake with vanilla filling and I did a vanilla buttercream with fondant stars for the decoration. I thought that putting stars all over the cake would be a bit boring so I decided to put opposite coloured balls of fondant on top of the ring of stars to give a stronger contrast. I was happy with the overall look but felt it was still missing something. After a few hum's and ahh's I did some designs on the stars around the edge and put 4's on the balls of fondant on top. Then it looked good. ENJOY!

Saturday Morning Croissants

Butter, butter, and MORE BUTTER! mmmm. That is why home-made croissants are so good. This morning I made some buttery melt-in-your-mouth croissants which were so tasty I had to control myself before I fainted from butter overload, which really wouldn't be a bad reason to faint. The baking croissants filled my nose with the smell of butter, my mind of Paris (although I was reading a Paris pastry blog while the croissant were baking, so maybe it was partially due to that), and my mouth with a dancing tongue in anticipation of the treat soon to come.

There were three varieties: the unadorned butter croissant, cheese filled, and chocolate filled. I hope you can ENJOY the pictures without drooling in your lap from thinking of their buttery goodness.


Pre-baked cheese croissant


Baked croissant


Partially consumed chocolate croissant

Gluten-free Snowflakes

This week I decided to dapple into the gluten-free market. One of my favourite christmas cookies are shortbread. YUM! They are not only delicious but have a good shelf life and are quite versatile in shape and decoration. They also are a cookie that does not require gluten formation therefore making it an easy adapter for gluten-free versions. I decided to make some snowflakes out of the dough I made since it is approaching the snowy season and I wanted to do some decorating.

I started out by looking at my regular shortbread recipe and exchanged the wheat flour for a mixture of gluten free flours. Before determining the amount of each gluten-free flour I tasted each (not my favourite part of recipe testing, but it is key), making notes on their individual texture and flavour. I decided on white rice flour as the main replacer with the addition of coconut flour and yellow corn flour. I mixed and rolled the dough in the usual way but discovered that the cookies browned much faster than those made with wheat flour therefore shortening the bake time. The finished result was pleasant but I think it may need a few more tweaks.

Here is the recipe I came up with, feel free to try them out and let me know what you think:

40g icing sugar
30g cornstarch
45g rice flour
30g coconut flour
15g yellow corn flour
100g unsalted butter

Blend all ingredients except butter until mixed. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until a moist dough forms. Roll out on a gluten-free floured surface and cut into favourite shapes. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in a 290f pre-heated oven for 11 min. Cool and decorate with chocolate or royal icing.

* Stay tuned for the next test batch of these cookies

ENJOY!


Caramel Apple Macarons and Curry Macarons

YUM!!! All I can say after eating these macarons is YUM! I am constantly coming up with new ideas (especially macaron flavours) so I used my free time this week to make some into realities. The first I made were Caramel Apple Macarons; apple cider shells with caramel filling. I came up with this idea while thinking of fall flavours and I often like to form one dessert into another. Caramel apples were what I thought of and then came the 'How do I make them?'. I thought of different ideas such as a caramel shell with apple butter filling as well as an apple shell with caramel filling, this time I chose the latter. To make the shell flavoured like apple I was going to use sour apple drink crystals but while at The Bulk Barn I noticed the hot apple cider crystals and got those instead (hoping for a more 'natural' apple flavour). The result was great! The macaron shells not only grew feet while baking (for those who don't know, the 'feet' of macaron shells are the little ruffly part at the bottom that form while baking) but also tasted yummy and with a harvest-apple flavour. The caramel was a bit tricky since I wanted it to be firm enough not to run but also soft enough to sandwich between the macarons. I decided to heat it a bit for a good slightly-flowing consistancy which looked promising until I checked them later on and they had slid around a bit. Next time I will do an apple butter buttercream dam so the caramel can't flow out. I also had a slight disaster right before I was going to fill them with the caramel; I dropped the container of shells! I was so scared to open the lid and find all of my work gone to crumbles but I managed to save enough to make about 12 macarons, whew! The recipes for both the shells and caramel are at the bottom of this post.




Since I was on a macaron roll I decided to try another crazy flavour idea (and I also wanted to use up the caramel I had made)
so I tried curry and the main flavour. I am only posting pictures of these because I like them so much I can't yet part with the recipe. I will guarantee that it will be posted in the future. I also want to give a shout out to my friend Susan who has given me numerous tips on how to photograph food (this is why my pictures for this post look good). She also has a great blog with really nice pictures you should check out here: Visions of Sweetness





Caramel Apple Macarons

Shells:

63g ground almonds
75g icing sugar
45g instant hot apple cider drink crystals
50g liquid egg whites at room temperature
2 drops lemon juice
desired gel colour (I used red and brown)

2 bowls
1 whisk (or electric mixer)
1 spatula
2 parchment lined baking sheets (or use silicon mats if you prefer)
12'' decorator bag
round tip (I used Ateco 805)

Step 1: weight out and have ready all ingredients and tools

Step 2: in a food processor blend the ground almonds and icing sugar until very fine, about 30 sec.

Step 3: in a med sized bowl, whip the egg whites and lemon juice until foamy. While continually whipping (I did this by hand but I think an electric mixer would do fine) slowly add in the hot apple cider crystals and food colour (if desired) continue whipping to stiff peaks.

Step 4: add the almond and icing sugar mix to your whipped egg whited and apple cider mix and gently fold together, ensuring all is combined. The consistency is key so be careful not to over mix but also make sure it is runny enough that it will slightly flow once piped.

Step 5: fill the piping bag with the paste and pipe onto the parchment lined trays, approx 36 shells, and leave to dry for 45 min or until a crust has formed on the top.

Step 6: preheat a convection oven to 300f and bake shells for 13 min rotating halfway through. Let cool and then fill.


Caramel

151g sugar
40 g whipping cream warmed
50 g unsalted butter at room temperature
pinch of salt
2 drops lemon juice
2 drops vanilla

whisk
small pot
heat proof spatula

Step 1: weigh out all ingredients and have utensils ready.

Step 2: dry caramelize the sugar to a deep golden brown, remove from heat and slowly add the warm cream, whisking continually.

Step 3: add in the salt, lemon juice, vanilla, and butter and whisk vigorously for 1 min. Cool.


*use your favourite buttercream to make a dam around the inside of each macaron to prevent to caramel from running.

ENJOY!

Music cakes

Last week I had an order from a friends brother for two cakes and some chocolate croissants. The baking was for his choir group so I decided to incorporate music notes and symbols into the decoration of the cakes. The flourless chocolate cake was made with two types of Lindt chocolate and covered in a chocolate ganache glaze. The Raspberry cream cake was a vanilla-orange butter cake filled with rich vanilla pastry cream and fresh raspberries covered with vanilla meringue buttercream and topped with more fresh raspberries. The chocolate croissants were an all butter dough filled with bittersweet Lindt chocolate and dusted with icing sugar. ENJOY!