Oh Sweet Day!

To Ethan (65 & 66 months) and Maya (41 & 42 months)

April 23, 2014 by Fanny | 2 Comments

Dear Ethan and Maya,

I know that posting about you has been really light recently, and that’s due in no small part to the fact that I have about 16 different things in the air right now and I’m desperately trying not to let anything hit the ground. Running a website and a bakery already requires double of my time, and my body doesn’t have the energy it needs to run the daily routine of our family. When you both are around I only have two hands and you seem to have hundreds. The work of running a family on top of everything can totally obstruct the joy, and when it does, I will see myself repeating myself in an attempt to maintain some order during the whole day, and I don’t enjoy that!

Writing to you has helped me find the humor in this job. I find so much enjoyment in sitting down and trying to figure out a way to tell a story that you both will one day laugh at. And that really helps me get through those rough days.

This month we’ve all started to see a lot of sibling time between you both. And I have to give credit to you, Ethan, for being a very mature big brother. You often like to sit with Maya and watch entire episodes of Barney, and although you are probably not too proud to admit it, you can sing along to every song almost better than Maya does. In fact, whenever Barney starts to ask the audience to sing along, you will stand up and get ready, although occasionally you will grunt, “Not again?!” which I think shows incredible restraint on yourself. Because I will usually be tempted to throw a rock at Barney’s head.

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Every morning when your father and I try to steal that additional 15 minutes of sleep, or an hour or two, instead of bugging us to leave the bed, you both will happily entertain each other.  Recently you’ve started to play “Princess Elsa” game. And yes, Ethan, I am sorry to tell you this, but you love that movie too. For several minutes you act out the various part of the movie, like Princess Elsa building the ice castle while singing and dancing, and shooting the ice lasers to the bad guys. You always forget the name, but Olaf the Snowman is always one of your key roles. Like you will begin all of his adventure with Princess Anna with a destination in mind, like the beach, or the big mountain, or sometimes even rehab, oh, no, you haven’t acted out that part yet.

“Frozen” hit kids and spread like the plague. When our neighbors’ kids come over for a playdate, five minutes in, you kids are sitting properly on the couch and starting to watch that movie. The fourteenth time. And when their mother comes over to check out her kids, I have to shrug my shoulders and calmly explain, “They did just tell me to let it go.”

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Maya, you even requested me to do Princess Elsa’s hair one morning. Now I have to stop and mention again about my experience of brushing your hair every morning – I’d look like Edward Scissorhands carving a vomiting hippopotamus out of your head. Every day you wake up and it’s like I have to call a landscaper right now. It’s nuts! And when I try to detangle it, you will scream, “Mom, LET IT GO!”  I have no choice but just tie it whatever I can, and leave it to your loving teacher at pre-school to figure it all out.

Preschool could not be going better, although there are mornings when I have to dissuade you from bringing along some of “your stuff”. You seem to be really excited every morning when you realized that’s a school day. No more anxiety. I also think your teachers really like you because they’ve always got a story for us when we come to pick you up. Just last week one of them looked up from a group of kids to say hello to you in the morning, and when you waved hello back to her she told us that you are always polite, always saying thank you and asking please in the right circumstances, always eager to share and take the lead to engage other kids who are shy. You are a very popular kid. On the way home, I asked you, “So Maya, looks like everyone loves to play with you, doesn’t it?”

You: YES! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVERYONE! Ben, Olivia, Emily, Chelsea, Connor…

Me: Really? But why?

You: Because I am funny. I am always joking.

Me (almost burst out laughing): Can you tell me a joke?

You: Hmmm…I was joking with Olivia today, but she didn’t like it. But I was just joking.

Me: This is your joke?

You: Yes. But I was just joking!

How could you be not popular?!

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Maya, you seem much more invigorated by life as you grow. And you are much more inspired to create stories and tell wild, imaginative tales. Your favorite stores are silly stories, all of them involving anything and anyone. At night after we read you a book, we will snuggle together for a few minutes and talk about our day. You love it so much when I talk about purple big house (!) or green dinosaur (!!) or skinny but fat grandma (!!!), because HOW SILLY IS THAT? Quite silly, apparently. One night we were both laughing so hard that your father asked what  we’d been doing in there. And I was all SKINNY BUT FAT GRANDMA, GET IT? And he was all, what? And I was all obviously you had to be your daughter to understand.

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Ethan, your teacher says you are terrific in class too. And you never seem to want the school day to end. You want extra five minutes on the playground with your friends. You want a playdate at your best friend’s house. When we decide it’s time to go home, you will become incredibly grumpy, like, do you know how hard it is to have kept it together for six hours? I am so going to let it out now because I won’t be able to see my friends until the next day.

And this is you. Like this morning we were still snuggling in my bed, your head touching mine. But as I was walking you into the school building, you refused to hold my hand out of embarrassment. And all I could think of was the warmth of your forehead on my pillow this very morning. The warmth from the child hidden inside you.

This month the list of words you can read has multiplied quite a bit, and often you’re spelling words out loud at random times. Like, oooh, look, there’s a cat. C-A-T. Or I love you, mom. L-O-V-E. You love to draw. And your drawings always tell elaborated stories. You still enjoy doing math. And you are really good at it now that you don’t want any help from us at all. Maybe because you are just like me, you like to perform things well. On your own. And if you accidentally confuse addition with subtraction and all the answers are wrong, you will want to tear up that specific page, and declare that you will never be able to do math ever in the rest of your life. I SO UNDERSTAND. This frustrates your father to no end, and in moments like this I have to step in because I know exactly how you are feeling. It’s called the We’re Going To Die Homeless And Alone.

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Spring is here. For weeks you’ve begged us to let you go outside, and we’ve said we had to wait until it got sunny and warmer. You would wake up in the morning, look hopefully out your bedroom window and ask today? Is it warm today? And I had to say, no, not today, even though there are kids right now sunbathing in Hawaii, today the kids in Vancouver are totally screwed because of the annoying rain.

Your father and I have always wanted to live in a house with a backyard, ideally lots of family nearby, beautiful landscapes to explore throughout the year, west side of the city. But neither of us were willing to sell drugs to fulfil that desire. So we made sacrifices here and there, took a hard look at how we really wanted to live, and here we live in a suburb. Neither of us ever thought we’d be here, family keeps complaining how far we are. But now that we are here, and we couldn’t be happier.

Last Sunday the sky started to clear up, the sun came out and it’s so warm. You just couldn’t wait and spend most of the day out at the backyard. At one point, you both came back inside the kitchen to show me a ladybug that you held with a leave. You both fought to tell me the story about how it flew all the way from Brazil (?) to our house. Before you finished, the ladybug flew away.

Ethan, you took Maya’s hand and ran outside trying to chase after it. Except it’s gone. “Bye, ladybug,” you said. You both waved at it, “Let’s look for another one!” I could feel my heart expanding so wide that it filled every corner of my chest.

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Lavender Honey Ice Cream

April 22, 2014 by Fanny | 4 Comments

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I used to buy ice cream from grocery stores. I thought ice cream was too cheap to worth making it from scratch at home. But then we eat a lot of home made desserts, our sweet teeth have started to get picky, and we found the store bought ice cream too boring. The flavours are pretty standard. And when you try to look for something special, it’s neither easy nor tasty. Normally it’s too sweet.

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So when my daughter kept asking me to buy her blueberry ice cream, and I didn’t seem to have any luck, I decided to buy an ice cream maker, and make blueberry ice cream by myself. And you know what, here I found the bestest of the best ice cream – home made ice cream. You can control the sweetness, the yolkiness (in case you have cholesterol concerns), the fruitiness…Most importantly, you can create your own flavours.

Ingredients (about 1 quart):

1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dried lavender
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a drop of purple food coloring paste
 

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, heavy cream, honey, salt and dried lavender. Bring mixture to simmer, until honey is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.

Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until pale, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in half of the warm cream mixture, mix until blended. Stir yolk mixture into the remaining cream mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat a wooden spoon, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Strain custard into another medium bowl, let cool over a bowl of ice water, or chill in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.

Process custard and food coloring in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container, cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Easter Bunny and Chick Cake Pop

April 16, 2014 by Fanny | 8 Comments

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My last project/job for this Easter was these adorable bunny and chick cake pops. They may look like they are more for kids, and yes, they were ordered for kids. But when the adults saw them, the Awwwwww… the OH MY GOD…the THEY ARE SO CUTE!!!!! Their hearts melted!

They could be shaped as traditional round cake pops. But I found it more adorable to give them a chubby belly, so I decided to go for egg shape. Remember the elegant Easter egg cake pops?

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The bunny was a little tricky. You will have to make sure the ears are 100% attached to the cake balls before you chill them.  And they will have to chill long enough. Otherwise the ears will come off when you dip the cake balls in the candy melts. That was my experience which I don’t want you to come across. Besides that, go ahead and make these, and have tons of fun this Easter!

Ingredients (35 to 40 cake pops):

Vanilla Cake
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Others
1 bag of yellow candy melts
1 tablespoon orange circle flat sprinkles
1 bag of white candy melts
half bag of pink candy melts
black candy decorating pen 
 

Directions:

To prepare cake, preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line an 8-inch square cake pan.

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix eggs and sugar until well combined. Gradually add oil and vanilla, mix until just blended.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the buttermilk, mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Transfer pan to oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes. Then invert it onto a greased rack. Let cool completely.

To prepare buttercream, beat butter for a few minutes in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add powdered sugar and turn your mixer on low, beat until the sugar incorporates with the butter. Add vanilla and heavy cream, beat on medium speed for another 3 minutes, or until buttercream becomes light and fluffy.

To assemble cake pops, prepare two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Break the cooled cake into a few big trunks by hand, place them into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until the big pieces turn into crumbs.

Add frosting gradually into the cake crumbs and blend until the mixture becomes a dough, about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of frosting.

Use a small cookie scoop, roll dough into evenly sized balls (each ball is around 1 1/2 tablespoons). Shape the balls into egg shape, place them on the prepared cookie sheets.

Reserve half of the cake balls for bunny cake pops. For each bunny cake pop, pinch 2 tiny pieces of dough, shape them into two small cones and place on top of the bunny cake ball as ears. Refrigerate all the cake balls for 30 minutes.

To prepare chick cake pops, remove half of the cake balls from the refrigerator. Melt yellow candy melts in the microwave gradually, 10 second intervals and stirring in-between. Dip one end of a lollipop stick in the candy melts and insert into the cake balls. Set aside for 30 seconds.

Dip each cake ball in and gently tap off excess. Carefully but quickly insert an orange sprinkle in the middle as the nose, and place two more at the bottom as feet. Place cake pop onto a piece of wax paper. Let it dry completely. Dot two eyes above the nose with the candy decorating pen.

To prepare bunny cake pops, remove the remaining cake balls from the refrigerator. Melt white candy melts in the microwave gradually, 10 second intervals and stirring in-between. Dip one end of a lollipop stick in the candy melts and insert into the cake balls (between two ears). Set aside for 30 seconds.

Dip each cake ball in and gently tap off excess. Place cake pop onto a piece of wax paper. Let it dry completely. Melt the pink candy melts in the microwave. Transfer to a piping bag with a small round tip, and pipe ears, nose and feet. Dot two eyes above the nose with the candy decorating pen.

Hot Cross Bun

April 15, 2014 by Fanny | 6 Comments

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We eat a lot of cakes, cupcakes, pies, cookies…but to be honest, our breakfast menu is pretty boring. Most of the time we have toasts and cereal. If time allows, we will make omelette. On weekends, we will go for pancakes, waffles or French toasts. When I went on to Internet to look for some weekday breakfast ideas, hot cross buns came to my eyes a lot of time. Maybe because Easter is around the corner. And I decided to try one of my favourite bakers, Pioneer Woman’s recipe.

I didn’t go all the way to make the icing, instead I followed the classic and made a flour and water paste for the crosses. Just trying to lie to myself that it might contain less sugar, and you could eat more.

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I am not really into the historical background about Passover and hot cross buns. But when I found out the Christian tradition is to eat them on Good Friday only, I just feel bad for them. Because these comforting buns are too good to be eaten only on Good Friday. 

The rich yeasty smell, the tasty sweet flavor, the sticky golden exterior…these hot cross buns are perfect components of afternoon tea or breakfast or snack or any time you want to eat them.

Ingredients (12 buns):

Bun
2 cup milk, warm to touch
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
Cross Topping
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 tablespoons water
Hot Glaze
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
 

Directions:

To prepare buns, in the large mixing bowl, mix milk, canola oil and 1/2 cup sugar. Sprinkle yeast over mixture.  Let sit for 10 minutes.

Stir in 4 cups of flour to combine. Mixture will be very sticky. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let sit in a warm place for an hour to rise.

When the dough is risen, add the remaining 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine.

Combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon to make cinnamon sugar. Set aside.

Move the dough to a lightly floured surface.  Press to slightly flatten the dough. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons cinnamon sugar and a third of the dried cranberries over the dough. Fold the dough over on itself and flatten again. Repeat the process two more times, ending by folding the dough in on itself.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces. With floured hands, quickly roll the pieces into balls. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, one inch apart. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for another hour.

Preheat oven to 400F.

To prepare the paste for the cross topping, mix the flour and water until smoothly combined. Transfer to a piping bag with a small opening. Pipe cross on each roll. Transfer to oven and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown on top.

To prepare hot glaze, bring sugar and water to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is fully dissolved.

Brush the hot glaze over the hot buns. Let the buns cool completely.

Easter Bunny Macaron

April 14, 2014 by Fanny | 6 Comments

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Totally on Easter baking mode. Have you seen these adorably chic Easter egg cake pops? Not  bragging, but I am really in love with these cuties. I love the pastel colors, solid white sprinkles, and the simplicity.

And you have to have bunnies when you are making something for Easter. Last year I made these bunny cupcakes. This year I decided to do bunny macarons as I’ve been making a lot of macarons for my clients lately.

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If you’ve been making macarons, it should not be a big challenge for you. My only recommendation is to pipe the bunny ears a bit thinner and a bit farer. Because as I tapped my tray of macaron batter, it spread and the two ears became “connected”. I had to use a toothpick to kind of get them separated. But the end result was still satisfactory, at least for my kids.

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Ingredients (around 20 sandwich cookies):

1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup almond flour
2 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a drop or two pink food coloring paste
1/2 cup strawberry buttercream
tiny ball shape sprinkles
long chocolate sprinkles
 

Directions:

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Put a master template under the parchment paper or draw 1 1/2-inch circles in rows on the paper, about 1 inch apart each circles horizontally, and 3  inches apart between each row (space for bunnies’ ears).

Process powdered sugar and almond flour in a food processor until finely ground. Sift the mixture through a sieve. If there are more than 2 tablespoons of large chunks left in the sieve, grind them and sift again. Set the mixture aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium speed until frothy. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to high and beat until very stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.

Sift the almond flour mixture over the egg whites. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the almond flour mixture into the egg whites until the ingredients are just combined. Add a drop or two of food coloring to tint the batter. Continue to fold the mixture until it has loosened and falls in a ribbon from the spatula.

Fit a pastry bag with a round tip and fill the bag with the batter. Using the template as a guide, pipe circles onto the parchment papers.

Pipe two ears each for half of the macarons. The rest will be used as bunnies backs.

Tap the bottom of each sheet on the work surface to release trapped air bubbles.

To decorate the half portion of the macarons (with the piped ears), use a tweezer to carefully place the sprinkle ball on each of the macaron as the nose, and the long chocolate sprinkles as the whiskers.

Let the cookies stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. This allows the cookies to develop their crusts.

Preheat oven to 325F. Bake the macarons for 10 to 12 minutes, until set but not browned.

Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the macarons to cool completely on the pans. Once cooled, gently lift half of the cookies (with the ears) from the parchment paper and turn them upside down.

Spoon or pipe a teaspoon of filling onto each of the upside-down cookies. Top with the remaining cookies.

To Ethan and Maya (The Other Sunday)

April 14, 2014 by Fanny | 0 comments

Dear Ethan and Maya,

I was thinking of pulling out our inflatable pool and water slide over the weekend. You know, this weather is so incredible. You wake up every morning asking if you can go to the backyard. Oh For Sure! I was going to feel relieved that you guys would bring along your normal tantrums and fights out on the lawn. But when I peeked at the window to check, there wasn’t any battles in sight.

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This is how I spent my entire Sunday morning – looking at my children enjoying their sibling time under the sun. Before the next fight comes around, I think my life is pretty fulfilling now.

Love,
Mommy

Easter Egg Cake Pop

April 9, 2014 by Fanny | 6 Comments

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What I love about these cake pops are the colors. I think the perfect color for Easter is pastel. Soft, tender, sweet, loving. Just the way it should be with these petite Easter egg cake pops.

You don’t have to look for candy melts in pastel colors. It might be hard. In fact you can just mix it with a lot of white candy melts plus a few pieces of candy melts in a solid color, like red, orange, yellow, purple, green, blue… It can go as light or deep as you want.

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If it’s your first time making cake pops, do not be intimated. I am happy to share some tips and experiences that I’ve gone through along the many times I’ve made these adorable treats.

Ingredients (about 45 pops):

Vanilla Cake
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Others
500 grams white candy melts
2 or 3 pieces purple, orange, green candy melts
1 tablespoon solid white round sprinkles
 

Directions:

To prepare cake, preheat over to 350F. Grease and line an 8-inch square cake pan.

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix eggs and sugar until well combined. Gradually add oil and vanilla, mix until just blended.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the buttermilk, mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Transfer pan to oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes. Then invert it onto a greased rack. Let cool completely.

To prepare buttercream, beat butter for a few minutes in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add powdered sugar and turn your mixer on low, beat until the sugar incorporates with the butter. Add vanilla and heavy cream, beat on medium speed for another 3 minutes, or until buttercream becomes light and fluffy.

To assemble cake pops, prepare two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Break the cooled cake into a few big trunks by hand, place them into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until the big pieces turn into crumbs.

Add frosting gradually into the cake crumbs and blend until the mixture becomes a dough, about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of frosting.

Use a small cookie scoop, roll dough into evenly sized balls. Shape the balls into egg shape, and place them on the prepared cookie sheets. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Divide candy melts equally into 3 microwavable bowl. Put purple, orange and green candy melts into each bowl respectively. Work one bowl at a time, melt the candy melts in the microwave, 10 second intervals and stirring in-between. Dip one end of a lollipop stick in the candy melts and insert into 1/3 of the cake balls. Repeat with remaining cake pops with the other two colors. Refrigerate again for an hour.

Prepare sprinkles in a shallow bowl.

Remove cake pops from the refrigerator. Melt candy melts again in the microwave. Dip each cake pop in and gently tap off excess. Scatter sprinkles on top of the egg immediately. Insert the cake pop into a styrofoam block to dry. Repeat with the remaining cake pops.

Oreo Stuffed Cupcake with Marshmallow Frosting

April 7, 2014 by Fanny | 7 Comments

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These cupcakes are kid killer. Like if you are not very popular among kids, and you want to do something to impress them. Instead of trying to be a clown which is boring, or throw them your iPad which will be very effective but their parents will hate you because what comes along is the kids will ask their parents for their iPad, you should make these cupcakes.

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Come on! Oreo. Marshmallow. Cupcake. A perfect combination for kids. And you have to look at the their faces when they see the hidden Oreo inside the cupcake. Because it will melt your heart.

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Ingredients (12 regular sized cupcakes):

Oreo Stuffed Cupcake
12 Oreo cookies
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
Marshmallow Frosting
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
Others
12 Oreo cookies
1/4  cup Oreo cookie crumbs
 

Directions:

Preheat over to 350F. Grease muffin tin or line with muffin liners. Place an Oreo cookie in each liner.

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix eggs and sugar until well combined. Gradually add oil and vanilla, mix until just blended.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the buttermilk, mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely.

To prepare frosting, in a large heatproof bowl, combine sugar and egg whites. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat on high speed until foamy for a minute. Set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Beat on high speed until frosting form stiff peaks, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and water, and beat for another 2 minutes until frosting thickens.

Transfer frosting to a large pastry bag fitted with a wide plain pastry tip and pipe-frost the cupcakes. The frosting will harden slightly as it cools.

Place an Oreo cookie on top of the frosting. Sprinkle a teaspoon of cookie crumbs before serving.

Dark Chocolate Macaron with Dulce de Leche

April 2, 2014 by Fanny | 10 Comments

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Again, I am not a big fan of macarons. But dulce de leche is my weakness. I am so weak that I will go spoonfuls of this crazy stuff. When that jar of dulce de leche is sitting in my fridge, I will try to come up with “solutions” to make it disappear. No more spoonfuls! But the contradictory me will make another jar after it’s gone, cause it’s really too easy to make. I don’t know. Told you that stuff is crazy. And I’m crazy.

By the way, have I told you about the banoffee parfait? Banana, graham cracker crumbs, heavy cream and looooooot of dulce de leche. Oh! Mesmerising.

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Macarons are too sweet for me despite the fact that I love sweets. But for some reason people really love macarons, and I’ve made quite a lot for my clients that I’m proud to share some tips if you are a bit intimated to start making macarons. This time I tried to put a lot of cocoa powder in place with a portion of powdered sugar. And the shells were not only less sweet, but they were also very chocolatey. Perfect to pair with dulce de leche.

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If you also love dulce de leche like I do, you’d be interested into reading this article from Food52 that I came across this morning. Looks like some basic dairy products that you have in your kitchen will help you create this luscious sauce from scratch.

Ingredients (around 20 sandwich cookies):

Dulce de Leche
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon sea salt

Dark Chocolate Macaron Shells 

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup almond flour
2 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425F.

To make dulce de leche, pour whole can of sweetened condensed milk into a shallow baking dish. Stir in the sea salt. Cover it with aluminium foil.

Place the dish into another larger pan. Add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the small dish.

Bake for an hour or until the milk becomes browned and caramelized. Remove from oven and let cool. Whisk until smooth before use.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Put a master template under the parchment paper or draw 1 1/2-inch circles in rows on the paper, about 1 inch apart.

Process powdered sugar, cocoa powder and almond flour in a food processor until finely ground. Sift the mixture through a sieve. If there are more than 2 tablespoons of large chunks left in the sieve, grind them and sift again. Set the mixture aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium speed until frothy. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to high and beat until very stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.

Sift the almond flour mixture over the egg whites. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the almond flour mixture into the egg whites until the ingredients are combined and the mixture has loosened and falls in a ribbon from the spatula.

Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round tip and fill the bag with the batter. Using the template as a guide, pipe circles onto the parchment papers.

Tap the bottom of each sheet on the work surface to release trapped air bubbles. Let the cookies stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes until the surface of the cookie shells is completely dry to touch. This allows the cookies to develop their crusts.

Preheat oven to 325F. Bake the macarons for 10 to 12 minutes, until set but not browned.

Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the macarons to cool completely on the pans. Once cooled, gently lift half of the cookies from the parchment paper and turn them upside down.

Spoon or pipe a teaspoon of dulce de leche onto each of the upside-down cookies. Top with the remaining cookies.

To Ethan (The last snow that we don’t miss)

April 1, 2014 by Fanny | 0 comments

Dear Ethan,

This was taken more than a month ago when we just came back from Hong Kong, and the weather was still pathetically freezing and snowy.

040102014 - The last snow that we don't miss

 

Today the weather has warmed up a lot that you went straight to the backyard after school. Biking, running or mowing the lawn? I just haven’t seen you since then.

And I AM LOVING IT.

Love,
Mummy

Categories: Son

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