Nothing gets me going like a good recipe and a new dish to bake. The planning, the excitement when the dish looks like its working out, the joy of seeing my family and friends gobble it up and eagerly looking forward to what I can bake next, everything about baking makes me happy (the messy kitchen counter top aside :p) Here's a peek into my kitchen, my cooking, my wonderland.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Meringue ghosts

My 'Boo'meringues
Halloween is a day away and instead of dressing up in a scary costume, I thought I'd go the bake way and give you'll just about enough time to make these cuties if you wish, in time for halloween.

I came upon a picture of the cutest meringue ghosts online and just HAD to try them out. This is so simple to make and oh so cute to look at. It is definitely a kid-favourite dessert and more so, a woman friendly one as it is practically non-fattening. A low cal dessert that looks too cute to eat, did I catch your attention already? I can hear a few of you going aww already :p These lil 'boo'meringues as I like to call them, look so much like the ghostly trio from Casper's gang, don't they. Why, I got Fatso, Stinky and Stretch on my plate :D

The recipe for these peppermint meringues is the same as my old one. It holds a special place in my heart as this was my first recipe to be posted on any blog. I did a guest post for a dear friend and soon, had my very own blog. I had shared a link to the recipe in my earlier posts, but for the lazy bees, here's the recipe again, with directions on how to make these spooky treats..

  • 2 egg whites
  • A pinch of cream of tartar or salt (optional)
  • 2 to 3 drops of vinegar
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • A few drops of peppermint essence
  • Chocolate chips for the eyes


  • In a glass bowl, beat the egg whites along with the vinegar and cream of tartar/salt till soft peaks form. Gradually add in the sugar while beating. Increase the speed and beat till stiff peaks form. Once you have stiff peaks, add the peppermint extract and beat a little till it is mixed well into the meringue mixture.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 110 degrees Celsius (the lowest temp on your oven works best). Fill the contents into a disposable piping bag or a zip lock bag, snip off  the end to form about 1 cm hole. Pipe onto your tray lined with parchment paper.  (I used foil since I didn't have any, works the same, so use whatever you have in your kitchen). As you pipe, release pressure after the first mound, pipe again, release and lift off, to form three mounds, on top of each other. The pic is self-explanatory. You can also just pipe blobs on as your ghosts can have any shape you desire. 
  • If you are feeling lazy, ditch the pastry bag altogether and just drop spoonfuls of the meringue mixture on your tray.
  • Take two chocolate chips and insert them, tip side down, into your meringue mounds to resemble eyes. Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour (more or less depending on how strong your oven is.) Check if they are done by tapping on them. The meringues shouldn't be soft to touch and you should hear a tap like you were knocking on a shell. Once they are done, leave them in the oven (turned off) for another 30 minutes. 
  • You can take an edible marker and draw on funky smiles like I did, but they look cute just as well. 
Aren't we Bootiful?

Foolproof Macarons

Peachy goodness

Owing to the overwhelming demand for my Macaron recipe on the Home Bakers Guild, I decided to blog my recipe out here, rather than emailing bakers one by one instead. I am humbled by the response my macarons got and it just drives me to keep at it. A big thank you to the members of the guild for encouraging me and patting me on my back for my efforts :) So here goes... 

Macarons: source, Ottolenghi, with a few changes here and there. 

Noir nostalgia
  • 122 grams icing sugar
  • 50 grams blanched ground almonds
  • 2 egg whites (approx 60g worth, room temperature), left to age for 2 days (I use non-aged egg whites and they don't make much of a difference either way for me, so you could use fresh egg whites if you are pressed for time) 
  • 40 grams caster sugar
  • A pinch of cream of tartar (optional)
  • Sift the icing sugar and almond meal as many times as you can to get a fine mixture.
  • Beat the egg whites. Once soft peaks form, add the cream of tartar (optional) and sugar, bit by bit. Stop once you reach stiff peaks..
  • Add the almond meal/icing sugar mixture and powder food colour and fold. This technique is called macoranage. Click here to see a video I found on Youtube that shows you the process. The video is in french, but you can see the technique to get an idea if you are a first-timer at macarons. The batter should resemble lava many say. This is the tricky bit. It should fold back into the bowl smoothly when you lift your spatula but shouldn't be too runny that it becomes a puddle in the bowl. 
  • Pipe your macarons onto your baking tray lined with parchment paper and leave to rest for 20 minutes or till a skin forms on the tops. Basically, you should be able to touch the tops and they shouldn't stick to your finger. 
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven at 140 C, for 10 to 12 mins, or till the tops are hard and the shells don't move around when you touch them. 
  • Leave to cool completely before peeling them off the paper.. Fill with your choice of filling and enjoy :). Here's the recipe for a super-easy filling to make - chocolate ganache.
Banana split?
Macarons are very temperamental, I should know. I've had disaster after disaster. From no feet at all to feet flowing all the way out to soft and hollow shells to what now. The only way you can perfect macarons is to keep at them and learn from your mistakes. From oven temperatures to humidity, a zillion factors can contribute to failed macarons. Having said that, once you achieve perfection or are almost there, your joy knows no bounds. Most importantly, don't stress yourself out too much. I have read recipes, tips, instructions and spend many a sleepless night trying to find ways to get good macarons. At the end of the day, it was a few simple changes that worked for me and that started with the right proportions that this recipe gave me. So go ahead and try it out for yourself.. This is the one dessert that failed me the most but also thrilled me the most when I nailed it.. 
I hope to start teaching whatever I know on making them after a few members from the guild suggested I do the same. So if you are in Bangalore, I'll be holding classes shortly, soon after I get batch upon batch come out perfectly and some good fillings to go with the same. Dp contact me if you have any queries during your macaron attempts. I'm always happy to help. And do post and send me pictures of your attempts. And lastly, hope the macaron gods smile on you and you achieve smooth domes, good feet and well-baked macarons that slide off your baking sheet.. 

Till then, like I always say, Get, Set, Bake... 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Sunshine on my plate

Macarons masquerading as burgers
Yellow gold
I completed a whole year of blogging a month ago and so caught up in life was I that I didn't even realize it :)

The year has flown by so quickly. I remember like it was just yesterday that I took baby steps in creating my blog and I can see how I've grown with each post. Yes, I'm a lazy blogger and have posted say, maybe, one post a month (hides under blanket to avoid blogger daggers for being so lazy).. But hopefully that will change this year.. 

I wanna say a biiig thank you to all my readers for supporting me and making me grow as a baker and as a person. This journey has just begun and I can only hope that my blog has helped you'll get more passionate about baking.. 

As always, I didn't quite plan on a special 'Anniversary' post, but what luck to have this post mark my bloggie's anniversary. The dreaded macarons form a tall summit on my plate and I have finally conquered them (well, almost :p). So here's my anniversary post, where I conquer my arch nemesis, the one dessert that eluded me, for quite a many attempts...

My quest for macarons kick-started off again after seeing numerous posts on them at the home bakers guild on FB and boy am I glad I ventured on that road again. I have these beauties to show for my efforts. I tried a new recipe and tweaked it a bit to suit my needs and I can't be happier with the result. So happy was I with the success the first time that the hubby decided to take me out for dinner to celebrate. The smile on my face said it all and he has witnessed my rants when batch after batch failed. Rest-assured, he knows I'll be making them almost every week now, trying to achieve perfection. 
What's better is that now that my macarons are coming out fine, I get to experiment with fillings and experiment I did. I tried making lemon curd for the first time and made it in the microwave if you can beat that... The tang of the lemon curd with lemon zest perfectly complimented the almondy-sweet macaron shells and I'm gonna me making macarons again so I can sandwich them with the tart lemon curd :)

Watch out for a detailed tutorial on macarons soon.. 

Till then, Get Set Bake...