Archived entries for recipes

Espresso macarons with dark
chocolate ganache

I’m so happy the French bakery in my neighbourhood is open again.

You know you really like a place when you return home from vacation, and the *very same day*, you hit up that bakery. Only to find that it’s closed.

Espresso macarons filled with dark chocolate ganache

For another two weeks.

Then you stand there for five whole minutes in disbelief.

After I collected myself and dragged myself home (the sky suddenly seemed a little darker, the wind a little colder), I continued working on macarons since I would have to be self-sufficient with French baked goods for the next two weeks.

I’ve struggled in the past with macarons, but eventually got “feet” with vanilla-flavored ones. I tried over and over with chocolate ones, but just could not make it happen, no matter how much I pleaded and cajoled the tiny puffs as they sat in the oven, taunting me. I still can’t get the chocolate ones to develop feet, the slippery little things. (If anyone has a magic trick I could try, or a spell I could recite, please message me.)

However, I have been able to make it happen with espresso macarons. This is especially nice because I can sandwich dark chocolate in between and you basically get a nice little mocha fix.

So until I get those chocolate ones worked out, these are my go-to recipe.

Espresso macarons with dark chocolate ganache
Makes about 16 filled cookies
I suggest reading my instructions in my previous post: I have detailed bullet points on what seemed to work well for me. Also, make sure to store the macarons in the fridge overnight before eating; the cookies need to ‘fuse’ with the filling to create that heavenly macaron texture.

For the cookies:
Ingredients

2 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons fine granulated sugar
2 teaspoons espresso powder
3 ounces (85 g) almond flour
5.25 ounces (150 g) powdered sugar
3 large egg whites at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the almond flour, espresso powder and powdered sugar through a strainer (you won’t want any big pieces of almond in the mixture.)
  2. In a small heavy saucepan, combine the 5 tablespoons granulated sugar with the 2 tablespoons water. Swirl — don’t stir — over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Raise the heat just a bit until the sugar mixture comes to a boil. You will want to use a candy thermometer to make sure it comes to 240 degrees F (soft ball stage). At this point, you will need to take it off the heat and quickly start streaming it into the meringue, so it’s important to get the meringue started as the sugar syrup is boiling.
  3. Meanwhile, start beating the egg whites in a stand mixer with the wire whisk (level 6 on a KitchenAid). When you have reached soft peaks, add the 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. When the sugar syrup is ready, very, very slowly and steadily trickle it into the meringue mixture as the mixer is running. As soon as all the sugar syrup is added, you will now add the almond flour mixture.
  4. Stir in a third of the meringue into the flour mixture with a spatula until it was well combined. Add the rest of the meringue and fold in until all the flour has been combined with the meringue.
  5. The macaronnage: Using a spatula or dough scraper, scoop the entire mixture from the bottom of the bowl and turn it upside down. Do this about 15 times, or until the batter “flows like lava,” or drips slowly from the spatula when lifted.
  6. Fill a piping bag with a 1-cm tip and pipe the cookies into 1-inch (or 2.5-cm) wide circles on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Rap the baking sheet against the counter a few times, set another baking sheet under it, and let the cookies rest while preheating the oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
  8. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, turning the baking sheet halfway through the baking time.
  9. Transfer the parchment to a cooling rack while you make the filling.

For the ganache:
Ingredients

1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
4 ounces (approx 100 g) dark chocolate
wee pinch of salt

  1. Chop the chocolate and set it aside in a bowl.
  2. Bring the cream and pinch salt to a simmer over low heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Wait 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the cream and chocolate until well combined. Cool the mixture to room temperature.

Preparing the cookies:
Spoon a bit of the ganache onto a macaron and sandwich with another. Store in an airtight container in the fridge overnight.

Link: Vanilla Macarons (crispywaffle.com)

Haricots verts guisado

Filipinos are not exactly known to be crazy about vegetables. The Filipino-American comedian Rex Navarrete joked, “If we could eat the soul of the pig, we would.” (Wait, crispy pata isn’t vegetarian?) So in a way, this month’s Kulinarya Cooking Club vegetable theme seemed like a pretty good challenge.

Haricots verts guisado

Sitaw guisado, or stir-fried long beans, is one of my favorite Filipino vegetable dishes. Because proper yard-long beans can be harder to find where I live, I decided to try to make it with a substitute that is more readily available to me: haricots verts. Haricots verts are th small, very thin green beans, essentially a baby version of the normal pencil-width green beans. They’re great because they cook much faster and I find that I don’t need to blanch them; ideal for a three-minute stir fry.

The classic sitaw guisado usually calls for pork, shrimp, tomatoes and onion, as well as sometimes soy or fish sauce. I love this for yard-long beans, but haricots verts have a much more delicate flavor. For these, I scaled back until they were almost naked: just the beans, garlic and a tiny hit of oyster sauce. (Oyster sauce is the truth.) Because it’s so simple, I’ve worked out the steps so they’ll come out just right: the beans need to be quickly fried over high heat, then a bit of water is added to make sure they cook through, then after, the garlic and oyster sauce are added. (I always add the garlic towards the end otherwise you’ll taste nothing but burnt garlic.) If you want to get all fancy, fry some sliced Chinese sausage before frying the beans. If you can’t tear yourself away from the mighty pig, this is a delicious way to incorporate it into this otherwise meatless dish.

Haricots verts guisado
serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients
150 grams (6 ounces) haricots verts
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Rinse the green beans and drain in a colander.
  2. Heat the wok over high heat. Add a small glug of vegetable oil and swirl around immediately.
  3. Add the green beans and a big pinch of sea salt and stir for one minute.
  4. Add 2-3 tablespoons water. Continue to stir fry until the beans almost entirely absorb the water (there should be a little bit at the bottom of the pan).
  5. Add the garlic and give it a quick two or three stirs. Add the oyster sauce and give it another quick stir.
  6. Immediately turn the whole thing out into a serving dish and eat with rice.

Haricots verts

Orange-scented leche flan

Wow, was one of my New Year’s resolutions really to tend to my blog more? Well, I guess that one was over before it started!

So my first post of the year is for this month’s Kulinarya Cooking Club challenge: your favorite birthday food.

orange-scented leche flan

Since my birthday is in the summer, I would probably narrow it to barbecue skewers. But this is January, so I’m not going to be standing out in front of the grill in my winter coat (although I have been known to do that in the past). That said, I would have to go for one of my favorite desserts: leche flan. This is total pinoy party food because:

a) It’s super rich. The only way it would ever become richer is if you figured out a way to add pork. (Which I don’t think I would recommend, even though I am in fact, Filipina.)
b) It’s kind of a pain to make. It’s not difficult, but there are a couple of annoying steps. And you have to wait before eating it.

I used to make leche flan with a combination of whole eggs and egg yolks, but I prefer the super creamy texture that all egg yolks bring to the table. (You can see my older recipe here — I made a video with my daughter outlining the steps.)

Filipino leche flan contains condensed milk, which adds to the creamy texture. I heat the milk mixture first, although this is something I wasn’t taught, it’s a fairly important step. The trick to making a flan is tempering the eggs. When you add hot liquid to the egg yolks, the egg yolks acclimate to the hot temperature, thus preventing them from curdling when you put the flan in the oven. (I’m sorry to say I’ve tasted a fair share of rubbery homemade flans, and this has to do with the eggs curdling, among other things.) Also important: make sure to bake it in a bain-marie (water bath).

I love the taste of citrus in flan, so I use orange zest. Lemon zest is also great, and adds a little bit of a fresh, light flavor. (You’ll like it if you’re a fan of lemon curd.) If you prefer a non-citrusy flavor, just replace the orange zest with one scraped vanilla bean.

Orange-scented leche flan
makes one 8-inch flan
I just use a baking dish, but a fluted brioche pan makes it look extra pretty. If I spotted a flan that was baked in a fluted mould, I’m sure it would whisk me back to being a 7-year-old at my grandma’s house, celebrating my summer birthday.

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
10 large egg yolks
1 14-ounce (400 g) can of sweetened condensed milk
1-1/2 cups (350 ml) whole milk
zest from a small orange (or, if not using, 1 vanilla bean, scraped)
pinch salt
For the caramel:

  1. Have your 8-inch baking dish next to the stove — you’ll need is as soon as the sugar is done.
  2. Add the sugar to a small saucepan and pour the water over it. With the heat on low, swirl the pan around until the sugar has nearly dissolved. Be careful not to let it boil — if it starts getting too hot, remove it from the burner for a few seconds, continuing to swirl.
  3. Once the sugar has mostly dissolved, raise the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover it immediately and leave on boil for 2 minutes.
  4. Uncover and continue swirling the mixture until it becomes dark amber. (Be careful — you want it to be dark, but it can go from dark to burning in seconds.) Take it off the heat immediately, and pour the caramel into your baking dish. Swirl the caramel around the pan before it sets (you’ll have to do this really quickly.) Set the pan aside.

For the custard:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 F (150 C). Have a kettle of boiling water ready to go for the water bath.
  2. In a heavy, medium saucepan, combine the milk, condensed milk, orange zest and a pinch of salt. Bring to a low simmer, making sure it doesn’t come to a rolling boil.
  3. Meanwhile, crack the egg yolks into a large bowl and whisk lightly.
  4. Whisk in the warm milk mixture. Make sure to add the milk in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly, otherwise the eggs will curdle.
  5. Pour the custard mixture over the caramel in the baking dish.
  6. Set the baking dish in a roasting pan and place in the preheated oven. Pour boiling water in the roasting pan until halfway up the sides of the baking dish.
  7. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the flan is still jiggly in the dish (you don’t want it to be totally firm, otherwise the edges will be curdled).
  8. Let cool to room temperature, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  9. To unmould: Place the baking dish in a roasting pan filled with warm water, then loosen the edges of the custard. Turn the flan out onto a large plate. The caramel will pool around the custard.

Vanilla macarons: now with feet!

Vanilla macarons with coconut cream

I don’t really like macarons.

I know this is a crazy thing for a food blogger to say, but it explains why I had never previously tried making Parisian macarons, the tiny almond flour and meringue cookies that sandwich a filling of custard, jam or buttercream. That is, until I found a giant bag of almond flour at the Ven (the awesome gourmet warehouse near where I live), and thought, “Why not?”

The other thing I thought was “How hard could it be?”

Famous last words.

Now I understand why every food blogger has a post on macarons. Why Laduree is a pilgrimage for any foodie visiting Paris. Why there are more than a dozen pages of macarons photos in TasteSpotting.

They are nearly impossible to make right. Like, voodoo and magic impossible. And when you can’t make it right because some variable is off — the humidity in the room, your macaronnage technique, the aging of the eggs, the heat of the oven — you become obsessed. Really obsessed.

Armed with what has to be the cutest macarons book ever, I love macarons by Hisaka Ogita, I made four batches of macarons over two weekends.

And on that magical third batch: I got feet!

Macaron feet!

Getting the pied, or feet, on macarons is one of the trickiest achievements in baking. The pied is the cute little ruffle on the bottom edge of the cookie. Without the pied, you couldn’t really call it a macaron. There are loads of things that can prevent you from getting those elusive little ruffles. Ogita says that rapping the baking sheet against the counter and drying the batter before baking are factors. Others say it’s the macaronnage (the mixing of the batter before piping) is what has the greatest impact on the feet. And still others point to humidity: the more humid the environment, the more difficult it is to make macarons in general. (Some of the best instructions I’ve found on macaron technique is on an excellent post on Food Nouveau.)

I’ve been keeping notes with what seems to go right and wrong with each step (what did I say? obsessive). Some of what seemed to go right in the batch that turned out:

  • I’ve found that the Italian meringue method is a bit more difficult, but more foolproof, especially if you didn’t remember to ‘age’ the egg whites. (Egg whites that have been separated several days beforehand whip more consistently than fresh egg whites.)
  • I also added a bit of sugar to the meringue before pouring the sugar syrup to stabilize the meringue a little bit.
  • I didn’t adjust the humidity at all; it was a ridiculously rainy day on Miracle Batch Day.
  • I felt as though I overmixed it, but I guess I didn’t. The recommendation is that it should ‘flow like lava’. (Not that I’ve ever seen lava in real life before.)
  • I didn’t dry the macarons after piping it and before baking, except for the amount of time it took to preheat the oven. (I’ve seen instructions to leave them to dry for two hours!)
  • I did rap the baking sheet against the counter a few times once I piped the macarons.
  • I stacked two baking sheets under one set of macarons to control the heat while baking.

So that’s what worked for me.

This time around, that is.

Vanilla macarons with coconut cream filling
adapted from I love macarons
makes about 16 filled cookies
I like the coconut filling because it uses up the egg yolks that you’ll have left over. I found it a bit too buttery, but I would probably just reduce the amount of butter a little bit, or just use the custard directly next time. Make sure to store the macarons in the fridge overnight before eating; the cookies need to ‘fuse’ with the filling to create that heavenly macaron texture.

For the cookies:
Ingredients

2 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons fine granulated sugar
3 ounces (85g) almond flour
5.25 ounces (150g) powdered sugar
3 large egg whites at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the almond flour and powdered sugar through a strainer (you won’t want any big pieces of almond in the mixture.)
  2. In a small heavy saucepan, combine the 5 tablespoons granulated sugar with the 2 tablespoons water. Swirl — don’t stir — over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Raise the heat just a bit until the sugar mixture comes to a boil. You will want to use a candy thermometer to make sure it comes to 240 degrees F (soft ball stage). At this point, you will need to take it off the heat and quickly start streaming it into the meringue, so it’s important to get the meringue started as the sugar syrup is boiling.
  3. Meanwhile, start beating the egg whites in a stand mixer with the wire whisk (level 6 on a KitchenAid). When you have reached soft peaks, add the 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. When the sugar syrup is ready, very, very slowly and steadily trickle it into the meringue mixture as the mixer is running. As soon as all the sugar syrup is added, you will now add the almond flour mixture.
  4. Stir in a third of the meringue into the flour mixture with a spatula until it was well combined. Add the rest of the meringue and fold in until all the flour has been combined with the meringue.
  5. The macaronnage: Using a spatula or dough scraper, scoop the entire mixture from the bottom of the bowl and turn it upside down. Do this about 15 times, or until the batter “flows like lava,” or drips slowly from the spatula when lifted.
  6. Fill a piping bag with a 1-cm tip and pipe the cookies into 1-inch (or 2.5-cm) wide circles on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Rap the baking sheet against the counter a few times, set another baking sheet under it, and let the cookies rest while preheating the oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
  8. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, turning the baking sheet halfway through the baking time.
  9. Transfer the parchment to a cooling rack while you make the filling.

For the filling:
Ingredients

7 tablespoons (100 g) butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes
2/3 cup (150 ml) whole milk
3 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup (160 g) granulated sugar

  1. In a small heavy saucepan, bring the milk and coconut to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Slowly pour the steeped milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking the whole time so the eggs don’t curdle.
  3. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Stir constantly with a spatula over medium heat until the mixture starts bubbling. Cook for another 1 minute until thickened, stirring the whole time.
  4. Transfer the custard to the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat with a wire whisk until the mixture cools to room temperature.
  5. Add the butter one piece at a time. Once the butter is all added, whisk at a medium/high level until it’s creamy and light.

Preparing the cookies:
Spoon a bit of the custard cream onto a macaron and sandwich with another. Store in an airtight container in the fridge overnight.

Suman inantala

Suman sa antala

Along with fellow pinay blogger Divina, I had the honor of choosing this months Kulinarya Cooking Club theme: suman. Suman is typically sweet sticky rice and coconut milk wrapped in banana or palm leaves. What’s interesting about this is that I’ve never actually made suman before, even though I grew up eating it because I had aunties who made it for special occasions.

Now I know why we only had it on special occasions: suman is a supreme pain in the ass to make. It sounds so easy: mix sticky rice with coconut milk and wrap it all up in leaves. I had no idea that I had a few hours ahead of me when I set out.

I decided to make the suman I grew up eating: I guess it’s called suman sa antala, which involves cooking the mixture of sticky rice and coconut milk, wrapping it in banana leaves, then steaming it. Other types of suman, including the popular suman sa ligia (suman made with lye water), involve placing the uncooked rice and coconut milk mixture in the leaves and then dropping the packets in boiling water to cook. I absolutely do not trust my banana-leaf-wrapping abilities, so I opted for the pre-cooked and steamed version so we wouldn’t end up with open banana leaves floating in a sticky rice boiling water mixture.

This is especially wussy of me because suman sa ibos is typically wrapped in palm leaf. Catholics out there know these leaves as the long skinny ones they hand out on Palm Sunday. Wrapping suman in this is truly an art — it should look like this photo and be totally watertight so you can drop it in boiling water without falling apart. That takes SKILLS.

For me, the most irritating step was the preparation of the banana leaves. I grew up eating suman that had a little square of banana leaf wrapped around it, then the whole thing was wrapped in foil. Now I realize why: the preparation of the banana leaves is what you might call time-consuming. You have to wipe down both sides of the giant banana leaves (believe me, you don’t want to skip this step — you’ll be amazed at the grossness that comes off those things) then run each one over an open flame to soften the leaf. Even though it took a while, there was something really therapeutic about this part — the singeing leaf kinda smelled like the Philippines. Weird but nice.

The suman wrapping actually went pretty fast after that. If you’ve ever rolled lumpia or tamales, you’ll have no problem with this. I don’t even know if I did it right, but hey, they looked like a bunch of green tamales, so close enough. I cut a small square of banana leaf (about 5 inches), then the larger square was about 10 inches by 10 inches. I used about 3 tablespoons of the rice mixture within the square. Can anyone educate me on the point of the little square inside the big square? Either way, it looked good when we unwrapped it.

I’m definitely making this again for special occasions. They look like pretty little tropical presents, and this would taste amazing sprinkled with sugar and eaten with Philippine mangoes.

Suman inantala
makes about 18 suman

Ingredients
3 cups sticky rice, soaked for 30 minutes then rinsed
3 15-ounce (500 g) cans of coconut milk (I like Aroy D)
3 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 thawed 1-pound packet of frozen banana leaf (500 g), or fresh if you have access to it

  1. Combine the rice, coconut milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly until it’s really thick and the rice is nearly cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. (It’ll be pretty hard to stir at this point.) Let the mixture cool to just warm or room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the banana leaves. With a damp cloth, wipe the leaves down on both sides. Pass the leaves on both sides over a medium flame on the stove. The leaves will change color slightly and will be more pliable.
  3. Cut the leaves into 18 large squares (10-inch by 10-inch) and 18 small squares (5-inch by 5-inch). Also keep a large section of leaf available to tear into strips for tying the little suman packets shut. (You’ll need 2 ties for each packet.)
  4. Lay the small square in the center of the larger square. Both should have the matte side of the banana leaf face up (you want the shiny side on the outside of the suman). Measure 3 tablespoons of the rice mixture into the center and wrap the suman as shown in the photos.
  5. Steam the suman for 35 minutes. These freeze well, you can also store them in the fridge and heat them in the microwave before eating.
  6. Serve warm, sprinkled with sugar.

Preparing suman: banana leaf preparation
You’ll see the leaf soften has you hold it over the burner.

Preparing suman: banana leaf
Two squares of banana leaves

Preparing suman: rice

Preparing suman: wrapping the rice mixture

Preparing suman: banana leaf wrapped

Suman sa antala

Suman sa antala

Suman sa antala



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