Sunday, March 1, 2015

Chocolate chip cookies

Early last week, I was having a super-mum moment.  This rarely, if ever, occurs.  There was no TV, no Peppa Pig or ABC4Kids, no iphone or tablet to play with, it was a day of pure human interaction filled with educational yet fun activities for a preschooler! 

Baking these cookies was a brilliant diversion from "guess what is in this bag" game and the "let's sort objects according to the letter it begins with" game.  An activity that I could genuinely enjoy!

Cookies are brilliant for a preschooler to get involved with.  Anyone who knows me knows that I can be very "serious" [replace with "uptight"] when I engage in a task, and as a result, I can turn something that would normally be fun, into something well, un-fun.  Accuracy is crucial in baking and 3 year olds don't really have a knack for being accurate and precise in anything they do so this activity could have potentially turned very sour!

However, the brilliant thing about cookies is that whatever goes and accuracy is irrelevant.  Little girl and I were working like two old cooks in the kitchen, it was fantastic team work! I'm pleased to say that with some supervision, these cookies were 100% little girl's doing. Okay, I did round out the little dough balls so that the cookies would come out as near perfectly round as possible.

Nothing beats freshly baked cookies and the smell was divine! We used 70% dark chocolate which with the hint of bitterness, offset the sweet biscuit base.  I prefer soft and chewy cookies, so I took these out of the oven a little bit early before they got too crunchy.  Delicious!
Little girl definitely enjoys baking and there will be much more baking adventures for the two of us yet!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Cookies

I hadn't planned on doing any more baking after my last post.  In fact, I had already signed off for 2014 signalling my intention to do no further baking! So these gingerbread cookies were a very last minute creation when I suddenly remembered that we hadn't organised any presents for little girl's teachers at her childcare centre.   
While we could have ducked to the shops and bought chocolates, I decided it would be fun to involve little girl in the baking of these gingerbread cookies.  While these were the ones I decorated, there were plenty for little girl to decorate and she opted for more simple decoration, preferring to dot every cookie full of M&M's!
Little girl was proud as punch as she hand delivered the cookies to her teachers today!

And with plenty left over, some of these cookies will also be left out for Santa tonight!
And apologies for yet another gingerbread related post.  I'm sure this will be the last gingerbread creation for 2014!
 With it being Christmas eve and all, I will end it here! Have a merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gingerbread Sleigh

Still riding on the high of my gingerbread carousel, I decided to make one more Christmas inspired gingerbread creation - a gingerbread sleigh...with reindeers! 

There was no way I was "free styling" reindeers so I bought a cookie cutter for those! Cookie cutters make everything so much easier!
Putting together the gingerbread sleigh proved to be surprisingly just as difficult as the carousel, something I didn't anticipate.  I think this is because there was no room to hide errors in the sleigh given the simplicity of the structure, whereas the carousel had so many facets to it, you could hide imperfections!

The front of the sleigh

It was an exercise of will power to stay away from colouring the sleigh pink! But I did it! However, I unintentionally ended up colouring the sleigh an equally feminine colour as pink, Tiffany blue! Oh well, a leopard cannot change its spots!
An overview of the sleigh including chair!
Back of the sleigh

Given the amount of gingerbread dough I made, I had plenty spare to make two sets of santa sleighs, which is exactly what I ended up doing (actually, I had enough to make another carousel if I really wanted to but let's be honest, who has that amount of energy)!  So there you have it, two lots of santa sleighs! Cray Cray!
Having two lots of gingerbread sleighs and a gingerbread carousel is bordering on excessive wouldn't you think? Not so, according to little girl who has been eagerly eying these. I have managed to convince her that she doesn't need two sleighs so one will be given away to one lucky customer of our cafe!
It's been a busy month of baking! Aside from gingerbread, I've also been making ginger spiced reindeer macarons to sell at the cafe leading up to Christmas! It truly is the silly season! 

Signing off for 2014, have a merry Christmas everyone and thank you for reading this blog! xx

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gingerbread Carousel

I am so excited to share this post with you all! This was a true labour of love!

Christmas has always had an effect on me.  I get so excited by the prospect of filling our household with Christmas trim and decorations and Christmas trim isn't complete without gingerbread!

I was really chuffed with last year's gingerbread train and it was going to be hard to top it! However, I'm always up for a challenge and I was able to achieve that with this gingerbread carousel!  I'm no architect, so I always draw my stencils by hand (using plain paper) and then tape the paper cut-outs together to see if the paper holds.  I figure if the paper mostly holds, then surely, gingerbread must! 

No cookie cutters were involved in the making of this carousel, not even the horse!

This time around, I decided to decorate each gingerbread panel before assembly (which I was a bit wary of given it could end up collapsing into a massive pile of heap)! But it makes for decorating SO much easier and you can really achieve a more polished finish!  After you-tubing how to decorate with royal icing (so brilliant that you can do this!), I learnt how to get my royal icing to the right consistency for various purposes.  This is absolute key to gingerbread structures and I can't believe it's taken me this long to figure it out (oh the heart ache that could have been avoided along the way!)!  I used to have my icing too runny which meant that it would spread too thin (not good for delicate piping) and be slow setting (not good for when you want the structure to set quickly).  It seems all very obvious now in hindsight!
With the right consistency, I was able to accomplish such fine detail.  I used a Wilton tip number 1 to pipe the carousel mirrors and hearts etc.  And no surprises that I chose an all pink and white colour theme.  I know pink is getting way old now, but try as I do to stray from it, I can never bring myself to experiment with other colours!
I'm absolutely in love with this carousel! Love love love!

Little girl and I ended up making a massive batch of gingerbread dough, so I'm very tempted to make something else.  But for the moment, I'm happy just to sit back and enjoy this!


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Macaron Tower

Like the croquembouche, I believe that every baker has got to try make a macaron tower at least once in their life! So I decided it was time I made one for my BFF’s baby shower yesterday. 
Never have I had to make so many macarons at the one time! Okay, if truth be told, these weren’t exactly made at the “one time”.  Time dictated that I make these in separate batches over two days, which actually worked out quite well for my sanity’s sake.  All up, there were 115 macarons.  ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN MACARONS!  That’s a lot of macarons!
This pic shows only half the number of macarons there were!

It seems like recently, all I ever seem to bake is macarons, so you’d think I’d be an old hand at this by now.  Even so, to this day, I still find baking macarons nerve rattling.  I just never know if they’re going to come out well or not.  Thankfully, I was happy with each and every one of my 115 maccas!  It was such a pity that I was going to have to pierce them with a toothpick. 

Assembling these macarons was no easy feat, not for a first timer! I started off assembling the tower with alternating colours except that by the third row, the alternating colour theme didn’t quite have the desired effect of each colour spiralling neatly up the tower.  I might as well have randomly tacked the macarons that’s how it looked.  So I delicately untoothed (untoothpicked?) each macarons and decided to alternate the colours in rings.  Even then, it still looked a little bit too messy for my liking.  By this time, the macarons had come to room temperature which meant they were way too soft and delicate to be handled and I had to pop the maccas back into the fridge to harden again.  I had also crushed a couple of macarons in the making so I couldn’t afford to experiment any further! Otherwise I would have definitely attempted to perfectly position each macaron.

 And so you have it, the end product! Voila!

And lesson learnt, the bottom layer should not actually touch the surface it will be resting on.  Mine were way too close to the surface which meant that they got crushed! Particularly in the 40 minute car ride to their destination! Luckily I had a few spare macarons and did a quick swap!
So I couldn't be more happier for my friend as she now begins the wait to meet her little bubba any day now! Congratulations NKSC! xx