Thursday, September 24, 2009

Red Velvet Cupcakes

And I am back! 
After  travelling to New York & Montreal and suffering from terrible jetlag, my zest to bake hadn't subsided. I know now what the joy of creating something has and that gives a enough high (yes to even keep you awake!).
In New York, my darling sister and I made up our own cupcake crawl, which was not planned much in advance, but it was great fun to be with her and to sample the sugar filled delights - in fact they were so sweet, we couldn't eat more than 3 (and we shared those three too!!)
I made a batch of the famous Red Velvet cupcakes as one of my colleagues was hosting a dinner in which the theme was RED! What better way to end a dinner than with a light, fluffy cupcakes loaded with cream cheese frosting. 

I followed the recipe posted online for the Magnolia Bakery cupcakes. This recipe makes 36 cupcakes, and here it goes:
    • 3 ⅓ cups cake flour
    • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
    • 2 ¼ cups sugar
    • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
    • 6 tablespoons red food coloring
    • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
    • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
    • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
    • 1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
    • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
As technically cream doesn't exist in France, I make do with St. Moret or the simple Fromage à Tartiner.
    • 250 grams cream cheese, softened and cut into small pieces
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
    • 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 21/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1.      Preheat oven to 175°C. line the muffin tins with cupcake liners.
2.      Cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3.      Whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla in a small bowl and add to the batter and beat well.
4.       In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overheat.
5.      In another bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.
6.      Pour the mixture into the individual muffin moulds. Fill in 3/4th, make sure the mixture doesn’t fill up the moulds.
7.      Bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes or untill well done.Remove from the oven and cool completely before de-moulding. 

8.      For the Frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat well.
9.      Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating continuously until smooth and creamy. 
Cover and refrigerate icing for 2 to 3 hours, but no longer, to thicken before using.

When the cupcakes have cooled, spread the frosting liberally and decorate with silly nothings !

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Summer Love Preserve

No, no, this is not the song by the famous Johnny Hallyday who is the famous French rockstar.. errr. whatever ..
I stumbled upon this funny, very helpful and informative blog: Papilles et Pupilles where I noticed that there was a mention of a contest to make Preserves and what was more exciting were the prizes they are offering, one of them being the Kitchen Aid, which has been on my wish-list radar since months. I had proposed a recipe along the themes set by the author - to make a conserve/preserve based on what one would like to eat in winter, it should be ecological and economical as well. The contest sponsored by the jar making company - Le Parfait, required to send a recipe and if your recipe was selected, they would send you a jar to make your recipe and to submit it on your blog. I would like to thank Le Parfait for sending me not one, but 6 jars, which means I can make 6 different preserves!!! Okay, I need to calm down now!!

Summer Love Preserve

Winter, does it bring the desire to et something crunchy, fresh, something that will give you that extra pep in your step!
Try making this delicious preserve full of goodness, pure tastes and natural flavours. Watermelon - crunchy, succulent, sweet coupled with contrasting tastes like mingling mint, earthy ginger and rose petals -the essence of love. This preserve is sure to get back those fond memories of a bright yet tender summer.


4 cups of watermelon juice (fresh)                                                                                    

 2 cups watermoelon pieces (75% white part, 25% pink part)             
3 tbsps apple cider vinegar                                                                      
1 cup sugar

2 tbps ginger sliced
1/2 tsp cardamom
3 tbsps lemon juice
2 tbsps lemon zest
1 tcup mint leaves
1/2 cup rose petals

  • Boil the watermelon juice, cook it till has reduced to half. Clean the jar thouroughly, wash in a hot soapy bath. Dry in room temperature.
  • Add all the ingredients except for the rose petals and pink watermelon part. Cook till the liquid then reduces till more than half. 5 minutes before you take off the pot, add the remaining watermelon.
  • Strain the liquid and take out only the watermelon pieces, put them in the jar and then add the liquid. 
  • The jar should be filled till the brim, but fill a good 2-3 cms below the brim. close the jar immediately.
  • Now the jar has to be treated in a water bath to be able to preserve for a longer duration.
  • Take a large pot, fill it with cold water. Place the jar in this bath, and make sure that the water level is 3 cms above the lid of the jar.Make sure that the jar is tightly closed, we don't want the liquid to seep out now do we?
  • Place this bath on high heat till the water boils, and then reduce the heat and cook for 30 minutes. 
  • Take the jar out and cool. 
Enjoy this yummy preserve with raisin bread or use it to top your ice creams.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lavender & Red Wine Macarons


Almond Meal / Powdered Almonds - 65 gms
Icing Sugar - 80 gms
Lavender 5 gms
Sugar - 40 gms

Egg White - 50 gms

For the Ganache:
1 3/4 cups red wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
55 grams dry pectin
2 1/4 cups sugar

  • Heat the oven to 160°C. Line the baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Blend the almond meal, lavender and icing sugar in a processesor, making sure the mixture is well blended and fine. Then pass this mixture through a fine sieve, making sure that there are no lumps left. 
  • For the egg whites: make sure the bowl you use is extremely clean. The egg whites should be at room temperature, before you start beating, add a few drops of lemon juice or a pinch of salt. Beat on a medium speed, and slowly add the sugar spoon by spoon. Increase the speed after a minute, beating on high speed for 4 minutes or untill strong peaks have formed. Make sure that the eggs hold firm peaks, like a bird's beak!
  • Sprinkly the dry mixture spoon by spoon over the egg whies. Blend this mixture very slowly with a spatula, just bend and not beat, else the whites will flop over. 
  • While mixing you should be gentle making sure not to overmix, as you'd rather have an undermixed batter than a cakey overmixed batter. Normally, I turn the spatula in 30-40 circular motions depending on the quantity. 
  • The best way to know whether the batter is ready, is to look for these signs:
    • When you started off, the batter was firm and was holding its shape. After mixing for subsquent minutes, when you lift the batter it should fall in ribbons, should be shiny and satiny. 
    • You should not be able to see any of the egg white.
  • Fill in this mixture in a piping bag and use a 8-10 mm round tip. Pipe blobs of batter on the circled baking sheet, make sure you are holding the piping back perpendicular to the sheet. Pipe in just about enough to cover the circles you made, or if you were lazy, pipe the size of macaron you would want remember that the batter usually spreads about 1 cm.
  • Leave the piped batter in a dry warm place for minimum 20 minutes so as to develop a thin cover. 
  • In the oven, place the tray in the middle, keep another tray below the with the macaron tray. 

  • Within 5 minutes the feet will start forming, and at the 7th or 8th minute if the macarons start to brown unevenly, rotate the baking tray. Bake for another 3-4 minutes, however, another trick to check if they are done, is to softly push the macaron, if the feet move a bit. The total time should be 10-11 minutes at 150-160°C
  • Remove the tray from the oven, take off the baking sheet and place on a wet surface for a couple of seconds so as to stop the baking process. You can do so by placing the baking sheet on a wet piece of cloth flattened out. 
  • After a couple of minutes, peel the macaron off the sheet and place them upside down on a wire rack. If they do not peel or come off easily, pop them back into the oven for a couple of minutes.
For the Red Wine Jam (Compote)

Combine the wine, pectin and lemon juice in a large pan. Bring to boil, stir frequently, add sugar and stir untill dissolved. Boil for for 2-3 minutes on high flame stirring constantly. Take off the flame, cool the pan. Cool untill ready to use.

To finish the assembly of the macaron:

  • Smear small portions of the jam on the underside of each macaron and stick two undersides together. 
  • Cool the prepared macarons for 24 hours at least, as they taste better..


As I will be travelling on and off for the 2 following weeks, I wanted to work on my lately acquired macaronia..
And so I made:
1. Lavender and Red Wine
2. Green lime and Melon
3. Passion Fruit and Mango
4. Coffee Caramel
5. Chocolate Blueberry and Sichuan Pepper
6. Vanilla Figue and Goat cheese