Category Archives: Muffins & Cookies

Jadeite love

My mother and I were watching a show we both love not too long ago when we made a wonderful discovery. The show was ….dare I say it? Arguably uncool, totally nerdy but so what I love it Poirot. I like Agatha Christie’s novels and enjoy watching the Poirot and Miss Marple series.

The Poirot series is set in the 1930’s and we were admiring the art deco items from the time. My mother noticed the tea set from the episode we were watching and said it looked a lot like the dishes they’d had when she was a child. They were milky green, a bit transclucent and lovely. Before we left the Philippines she looked all over for another set but could never find any. For the last 27 years since we moved to Australia she had looked for these dishes at homeware and department stores but still could not find them.

So, when she mentioned it to me, I did a little bit of research the intuitive 2015 way……Google! Within minutes, we solved the mystery of the green dishes. My grandfather had worked as an aircraft mechanic for an American air base in the Philippines (before Philippines had their own airport, then he moved to Philippines Airlines) and consequently often bought American-made products from the base which he brought home. It turned out the dishes were jadeite plates and it made sense that my mother couldn’t find them in the Philippines or Australia because they appeared not to have been produced in either country. However, they were mass produced in the US and were inexpensive during the 1930s- 1970’s. They were manufactured by McKee (the first to produce these), Jeanette Glass Company and Anchor Hocking. Mosser Glass produces more modern jadeite pieces.

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My search in sites like Ebay and Etsy led me to vintage jadeite plates while in Amazon.com I found a variety of new and old. They are collectable items these days and although they were reasonably priced, they turned out a little bit expensive in terms of postage and currency conversion. Interestingly, in my searches I could not find one single posting from Australia so I had to order them from overseas (most from the US, one from France). 

After we discovered what the plates were,  I have to admit I also fell in love with their beautiful mint green loveliness. I understand now why my mother loved them so much and it is nice to have a lovely part of history on our table.

Mocha Chiffon Cake with Buttercream frosting

It was my brother’s birthday recently and his favorite cake is mocha chiffon. Like a dutiful little sister, I decided to make him a mocha chiffon cake for his birthday. The recipe  is outlined below which is pretty straightforward to make and tastes delicious.

For the mocha chiffon cake you’ll need:

6 eggs at room temperature, separated.

1/2 cup oil

1 cup sugar

1 tsp cocoa power

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 tsp coffee and chicory essence

1 cup self raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cream of tartar

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1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius and grease two 9×2 inch baking pans.

2. Mix the yolks and sugar until light and creamy. Gradually add the oil then mix in the vanilla, chicory and coffee essence.

3. Sift the flour and baking powder into the yolk mixture. Mix until well combined.

4. Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar to stiff peaks.

5. Gradually fold in the egg whites into the yolk and flour mixture.

6. Pour  the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 25 mins or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

7. Leave to cool in the pan for about 15 mins before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

8. Sandwich the cakes using some of the buttercream icing and decorate the exterior with the remainder. I used a blue ombre design  for my brother’s cake and topped it off with 2 large gumpaste flowers.

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For the buttercream frosting you’ll need:

1 cup butter

1 tsp vanilla essence or preferred flavoring (for this I used (surprise, surprise!) coffee and chicory essence)

3 cups icing sugar

1. Whisk butter and icing sugar until light and creamy.

2. Add the essence and a little milk if a lighter consistency is desired.

Macarons

What is deliciously light, chewy, and can almost always guarantee a smile no matter how long or grey the day may be? What else but theMacaron ? The Lindt Chocolate Bar serves delicious macarons. I love to sink into one of their comfortable chairs with a coffee and macaron as the stress of the day is slowly replaced with contentment.

The macaron was arguably introduced to mainstream Sydney by superstar patissier Adriano Zumbo during his appearances in Master Chef Australia. Since then, his inner city cafe has become a mecca for foodies, pastry lovers and macaron seekers of all kinds.

The modern macaron that Adriano Zumbo introduced was developed by Pierre Desfontaines from the French pâtisserie Ladurée *. It consists of two almond meringue shells filled with buttercream, ganache or jam filling. When I first considered making them from scratch, I decided to reconsider that notion and examine it. They are notoriously difficult to make and require a lot of patience and perseverance. The thought of making these delicate brightly colored biscuits intimidated me. What if I put in all this effort only to have a batch of cracked, deflated cookies? Is it really worth the time and energy? Why bother making them when I can buy them from someone who knows how to make them already? But there the turning point lay – if I let this fear of failure stop me from trying to learn how to master the macaron, then I will spend the rest of my life never knowing this skill. The macaron loomed in my mind, a neon tinted fancy mockingly bwaking chicken…chicken.. ch-ch-chicken! I made up my mind. It was time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

To make the macarons you’ll need:

Macaron Shells:
3 cups sifted icing sugar
3 cups ground almonds
5 egg whites (aged)
1/3 cup caster sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
Flavouring and food colouring

Chocolate Ganache:
125g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
Approx 100 ml heavy cream

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  1. Separate the yolks from the whites and leave the egg whites in the fridge to age for at least 24 hours.
  2. Using an electric blender, grind the almond and powered sugar together until very fine.
  3. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and keep whisking until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and continue whisking until the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Stir in your preferred coloring and flavouring.
  5. Fold the almond and sugar mixture into the egg whites. Fold carefully, making sure the mixture is fully incorporated.
  6. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round 5mm nozzle. Pipe 2cm rounds onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Set meringue aside to dry for about 45 mins (this helps to reduce cracking)
  7. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius and bake the macarons for about 15 mins or until firm when lightly tapped.
  8. Allow the macarons to cool on the tray. The macarons should lift from the baking paper easily, but if the bottoms are a little sticky, use a sharp knife to lift them.
  9. To make the ganache filling, heat the cream and pour it over the chocolate. Mix gently until the chocolate melts. Keep stirring until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. Allow it to cool until the mixture thickens.
  10. Match up similarly sized macaron shells. Spoon the ganache into a pastry bag and pipe onto one half of the macaron shells before topping with the other macaron shell.