Goulash Recipe With a Twist

Easy Traditional Goulash – With a modern twist

This is my easy take on Hungarian goulash, based on the one my Aunt used to make. It is easy to prepare, delicious and it will easily feed six people. This meal can be prepared in a slow cooker in the morning before work so it will be ready when you get home from work, you just need to make the rice.

Ingredients:

600g gravy beef (trim off excess fat)

2 teaspoons of minced garlic

2 cups of Stones Green Ginger Wine

1 Large tin of diced peeled tomatoes (800g)

1 red capsicum and 1 green capsicum

1 very large red onion (or two medium ones)

1 or 2 heaped tablespoons of Paprika (look for Hungarian)

2 beef stock cubes

A few good grinds of black pepper

Optional – 1 teaspoon of smoky paprika

Optional – 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger

Optional – handful of button mushrooms sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Rice ingredients:

2 cups of medium grain rice

2 tablespoons of salted butter

1 heaped teaspoon of minced garlic (2 cloves crushed garlic)

1/2 tsp salt

Method:

Dice onions and capsicums. Chop the meat into 1-inch cubes.

Fry onions and Garlic in a tablespoon of butter or a little oil until the onions are nearly clear, add to a large heavy based pot or slow cooker.

Fry off the outside of the meat quickly over a high heat in batches so that it does not stew or overcook. If you have a big enough frying pan you can fry the meat with the onions. Just brown the outside of the cubes of meat, do not cook the meat through. If using a slow cooker, roll the cubes of meat in plain flour before frying, then the sauce will thicken while it cooks. 

Add all ingredients to a deep, heavy-based pot add a few grinds of black pepper then cover and simmer on low for about 3 or 4 hours (more if desired) or until the capsicum is cooked through. The longer the goulash simmers the more tender the meat will be. Or add all ingredients to a crockpot and leave to cook on low all day.

 

If the sauce is too thin or there is too much liquid, uncover and simmer on high until the liquid has reduced a bit. Taste the sauce and add a few pinches of salt, if needed. At this point, you can add another splash of stones green ginger wine to enrich the ginger flavour.

Serve over piping hot garlic butter rice.

Will keep in the fridge well for a couple of days, also freezes well.

Rice Method:

This is a slightly different approach to rice.

To a deep heavy-based pot add your rice and then enough cold water to cover the rice by about 2cm

Add butter, garlic, and salt on top, this will look a bit wrong but they will cook through.

Bring to a boil uncovered, drop the heat to a low simmer for about 12 minutes or until the rice is nearly cooked. Gently stir the rice every 4 or five minutes to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add a little more water if the mix dries out too much. Stir just enough to stop the rice sticking, no more, or the rice will become gluggy.

When nearly done, the rice should have a consistency similar to risotto. Remove from the heat cover and leave to stand for 8 minutes. The remaining liquid will absorb leaving the rice perfectly cooked and delicious.

 

Chicken Fajitas with flour Tortilla Recipe

Chicken Fajitas

I cobbled together this recipe based on a dish I had in a good Mexican restaurant. It’s even better with homemade flour tortillas, the flour tortilla recipe is included below.

Makes about 8-12 small tortillas and will easily serve 3 to 4 people.

Ingredients

3 chicken thigh fillets, or 2 smallish breast fillets, diced
Half of a large red capsicum coarsely diced
Half of a large green capsicum coarsely diced
Roughly 1 cup of broccoli cut into bite sized florets, about half a small head of broccoli
Roughly 3/4 cup of Cauliflower cut into bite-sized florets, about 1/3 of a small head of Cauliflower
1 medium brown onion roughly chopped
1/2 a cup of chicken stock
1/3 of a cup of dry white or red wine or a splash of tequila…
2 teaspoons of brown sugar.
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Juice of half a lime

Ingredients for spice mix:

Roughly 1 tablespoon each of:
Black or mixed peppercorns
Cumin seeds
Annatto seeds (or half a tablespoon of Achiote paste added after grinding the spices.)
Dried chili flakes (optional – use less  or leave out if you want it milder)
Dried oregano
Ground paprika. (I like half regular and half smoked ground paprika)
Include half a teaspoon of coarse salt, this helps the grinding

*You can use already ground spices. It makes it a lot faster and easier, but it is a bit harder to balance the flavours. The spices are tastier lightly toasted, and they are easier to toast whole.

Condiments

2 small tomatoes, finely diced
Finely shredded lettuce
Sour cream
Hot chili sauce
Finely sliced spring onions or chives

Spice mix method

In a small frying pan gently toast the spices, they tend to make a popping noise once they are ready. Set them aside to cool. Add all herbs and spices to a food processor and process until you have a fine powder, the same effect can be achieved with a coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Sift the spice mix through a coarse sieve to remove any large gritty pieces from the spice mix and set aside ready for use.
I find the annatto seeds I buy are very tough and hard to grind. So I usually use a lot more as there will be a fair amount that won’t go through a sieve, these tooth hazards should be discarded. 

Chicken Method

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a deep, heavy-based frying pan. Fry off onions until nearly transparent, then add chicken and fry lightly to seal it, turn down heat and add the spice mix, add the capsicums and mix to coat the chicken thoroughly, brown the chicken but the inside should not be cooked yet.  Add about a quarter cup of stock and the tomato puree, try not to add too much liquid you need only enough to deglaze the pan and to allow the chicken to simmer and simmer gently for about 12 minutes.  Add a splash of wine or tequila, and cook out the alcohol, top up sparingly with stock to prevent the mix from drying out completely, there should only be a minimal amount of liquid which will thicken to a gravy-like consistency.  Prepare the condiments while the chicken is cooking. Add the broccoli and cauliflower To the and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the broccoli is cooked.

Serve the Chicken in a separate bowl and assemble your fajitas by putting the desired amounts of each filling and folding to eat.

 

Tortilla Ingredients

3/4 cup of warm milk

1 and a half teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of fine ground table salt

2 cups of plain flour

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, lard,  sunflower oil, olive oil or Vegetable oil

A couple of teaspoons of oil for cooking the tortillas.

Tortilla Method

Mix dry ingredients and oil together, this should result in a crumb-like mixture, pour in the warm milk and knead until smooth, place in a bowl covered with a damp cloth for 20 minutes, divide into small balls, 8 for big tortillas or up to sixteen for smaller ones, I prefer smaller tortillas, Leave the portioned dough to rest under plastic wrap for a further ten minutes. Roll into 3mm thick circles, small ones should be about 15-20cm wide, dust lightly with flour to prevent them sticking to each other and set aside under a plastic wrap until you are ready to cook them. cook one by one, take a flattened Tortilla.  Cook on a medium-high heat in a lightly oiled heavy-based frying pan until it puffs up a little and is toasted lightly on both sides.  Cook for about 1 minute each side, slightly less on the second side.  Be careful not to overcook or they will become crunchy. They need to be properly cooked, but still soft and able to be folded. They should be mostly light coloured and flexible with dark toasted spots where the bread bubbles during cooking.

The tortillas will sometimes blow up like pillows, just gently push most of the air out and turn over to cook the other side.

Repeat for the other tortillas.

Simple, Delicious Chicken Pate

My Fast Chicken Liver Pate Recipe

Pate is one of my favourite treats, fortunately it is also ridiculously cheap and easy to make.

This is my own recipe for pate, it has been cobbled together from trial and error, and a love of good pate. The recipe is very forgiving and allows for a lot of substitution and variance. While it is very easy to make, I recommend a good stick blender, or food processor and maybe a bit of patience as it can take a lot of processing to get a smooth pate.

Finding good quality fresh and well-cleaned chicken livers can sometimes be a challenge, but most good butchers will have them. Our local butcher sells them frozen by the half kilo tub for $5 which is a bit expensive for chicken livers but they are usually better quality than I can find in a supermarket. Occasionally I find good ones at the supermarket, but not that often…

Chicken livers should be a pinkish – purple colour ideally with little or no white connective tissue on them to make it easier to prepare them. They should not have any hint of yellowing, dispose of them if they are discoloured or do not smell fresh. 

Ingredients

500g Chicken liver
1 small onion very finely diced or substitute a few small brown shallots for added flavour.
120g of salted butter
A small amount of finely diced bacon (no rind) or very finely shaved pancetta (roughly equivalent to a heaped tablespoon when compressed, see photo)
2 tablespoons of Port,  Cognac, Cointreau, Sherry, or even Champagne, vary amounts to taste
Approximately 1/3 of a cup of cream. UHT cream helps increase fridge life a little, fresh is fine.
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
1 teaspoon of thyme, fresh or dry is fine, use slightly less if dried)
1/2 teaspoon of sage, fresh is best, but dry works fine
1 heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon of coarse cracked black pepper
1/8 teaspoon of salt more if needed

Additional butter for sealing the finished pate

Connective tissue removed, rinsed and patted dry.

Method

Rinse the livers under cold running water, and remove any white or connective tissue. Dry them off on some paper towel.

Heat butter in a large heavy-based frying pan on a medium heat. Add onions and begin to cook off the rawness.

Once the butter and onions are sizzling add liver and cook without turning to the point that they begin to get some colour on the underside (very light golden brown), about 5-7 minutes.

Turn the livers over and add the bacon, garlic, herbs, and spices. Cook for 5-7 minutes more, depending on the size of the livers. Turn the heat down and continue to cook on a gentle heat until the inside is just barely pinkish, the livers should be soft and should come apart easily to check how cooked they are if pressed with tongs. Add a few tablespoons of cream heat just enough to warm the cream through. Set the pan aside, allow to cool a little, it should still be warm but not too hot.

 

Perfectly cooked chicken liver, only just pink in the middle and breaks apart easily with light pressure from tongs.

 

 

 

 

 

To a food processor add a couple of tablespoons of the pan juices and hot butter. Add the liver and onion mix to the food processor and begin to coarsely blend, stop the processor regularly to scrape down the sides (and to prevent the motor getting too hot and burning out), if the mix is too dry add another tablespoon or so of cream. I’ve since found a stick blender works much better than the food processor attachment and gave a much smoother finish in half the time. 

At this point add two tablespoons of port or cognac and blend through. continue alternating between blending and scraping down the sides of the processor/bowl, adding tiny amounts of cream to keep the mix blending smoothly.

 

Once the mixture is nearly smooth, taste a little of it and add the salt if needed. The salt improves the flavour and balances the flavour of the liver. Add pepper and slightly more alcohol if needed. Add extra alcohol sparingly as it will overpower all the other flavours. Process until very smooth, the pate should not have a grainy texture, and the herbs and pepper should be small enough so as not to impart any noticeable texture. 

Pate should be silky smooth and velvety, never grainy or lumpy the only way to achieve this is with patient processing or by forcing the mix through an ultra-fine sieve; I don’t recommend starting with a sieve, it will take you forever, a basic stick blender works well, and in most cases it will not be necessary to sieve the mix.

*Wait for the pate to be cool completely before eating it, hot pate does not taste especially great, you should taste it while it is hot to get the seasoning (saltiness) and the alcohol content right in the final product.

Spoon the pate into ramekins, smooth off the surface with the back of a spoon. If the pate is not going to be eaten that week cover with melted clarified butter to seal the pate.

Place in the fridge until the butter cap hardens then cover with cling film, this way the pate will last in the fridge for up to two weeks, the alcohol and other fats preserve the cream, if the cream was cooked the fridge life is extended.
Pate lasts in the freezer for a few months.

 

To serve remove the butter cap and allow the pate to warm up to slightly below room temperature which will make it more spreadable.

 

Variations

Herbs and spices like bay leaves and chives and green peppercorns can be substituted or included to suit your taste. Bacon or smoked ham can be substituted for pancetta and different alcohols can also be substituted; brandy, sherry, dry muscat, port, red or white wine and champagnes work quite well. I like to fold a tablespoon of canned green peppercorns through the mix after it has been blended. 

Chicken breast or thigh can replace up to half of the liver. The regular meat needs to be cooked longer than the liver and is harder to process to a smooth pate, but it provides a lighter flavour that works well with champagne or dry white wine, bacon and green peppercorns.

For a fancier variation set some savoury flavoured jelly or aspic in the bottom of a mould before filling it with pate. Set the pate and turn out of the mould onto a cheeseboard for more attractive and delicious way of serving.

Experiment and have fun!

 

 

Macaron Recipe and Tips for Perfect Macarons

Macarons are still incredibly popular, they’re great with a cup of tea or a strong coffee, make an excellent cake decoration and can themselves be the centre of attention. Best of all, they can be made ahead of time and are one of the few foods that gets better after being frozen or left in a biscuit barrel for a couple of days.

A perfect macaron should be just set in the middle, with a soft and very slightly chewy centre and a thin layer of crispy outer shell. The surface should be smooth, almost shiny, and a macaron must have a clean “foot” where it expands and rises up from the tray while as it cooks, and it shouldn’t have large hollows or any cracks on the top surface.
I love making macarons. I have tried several different recipes and methods, this is my recipe and the tips I have picked up through a lot of research and testing.

I prefer to use a slightly modified Italian meringue macaron (hot sugar) recipe with a few tweaks that actively prevent failures and result in a much more stable mix and reliable result. I used to like using the French meringue macaron method (dry sugar whipped into raw eggwhites), it’s easier but I found it’s more prone to issues and can be affected too easily by humidity and other variables. The French method takes me longer due to the time it takes for the sugar to dissolve when making the meringue, they also have a chalkier texture and the finished product breaks down a bit too easily in humidity.

The majority of macaron recipes I’ve tried are either too small or make a nearly commercial quantity of macaron shells making the mix a little hard to work with. For larger batches you’ll normally need at least 6 or 8 large biscuit trays on hand and enough space to stack them while they form a skin prior to baking them.

The issue with working with such a large quantity is that once the almond meal is added to the meringue, the fat in the almonds begins to break down the meringue and continues to do so the longer it is in contact. I do occasionally do double batches, but they are harder to get perfect every time. 

Macaron shells are usually bland and very sweet, I like to put flavours on the outside of the macarons as well. A sprinkling of salted, roasted ground nuts adds interest and gives a bit of a flavour burst, a dusting of cocoa or instant coffee pushed through a sieve on one side of the shells also looks nice and adds to the flavour. The shells can have additional flavour added by adding a few drops of flavoured oil or essences like the ones used for chocolate and candy making. Or some of the almond meal can be replaced with ground hazelnuts or pistachios

Fillings

All the flavour of a macaron usually comes from the fillings, Jam and/or basic buttercream are the traditional fillings for macarons. Fillings are usually better if they are tart, salty or bitter to help balance out the sweetness of the. Salted caramel and roasted salted pistachio both make really great fillings, the salt boosts the flavour of the fillings, but also cuts the sweetness of the shells. 

Ganache is by far the most popular filling, dark and semi-dark chocolate ganache work well against the Macaron shells. White chocolate I would ordinarily find too sweet to be used in a Macaron, so I like to use sour cream salted white chocolate ganache with a tart berry jam or fruit filling. Sour cream in the ganache makes it taste similar to cheesecake.

The sour cream white chocolate ganache recipe included below the macaron recipe is very versatile as it’s not too sweet and can be used to ganache or fill a cake and even works well under fondant.

 

Macaron Shells

Makes approx 60 half shells for a total of 30 completed macarons

Some Recommended Equipment

Digital scale – this is an essential tool for making macarons.

Stand mixer – I have made macarons by hand just with a whisk, but I really don’t recommend it…  it’s pretty hard going even with electric handheld beaters.

2x glass sugar thermometers – able to be attached to pot while cooking

Large pastry piping bags with large round piping tips roughly 8-12 ml opening

3x very large biscuit baking trays, darker heavier metal is preferable, it helps cook macarons from the bottom faster, allowing a softer middle, cleaner more evenly cooked foot and easier removal from the paper.

Baking paper, eg: glad bake or multix bake

Printed piping guides to slip under the baking paper – make a few photocopies
Click here to download – A4 Macaron Piping Guide 

1x small electric desk fan – I use a 10cm Metal Desk Fan I got at Bunnings – this speeds up the curing process and helps to ensure a good skin forms on the top of the macarons, if the surface does not form a skin the tops will crack and the macarons will not form the “feet” that add to their appeal. 

Live baking Demo I did at Bakeboss

 

Macaron Shell Ingredients

110 grams egg whites

150 grams pure icing sugar (not icing mixture)

150 grams sifted almond meal

150 grams of caster sugar

37ml water (37 grams)

Pinch of salt

Americolor soft gel paste food colours

A splash of vinegar, for wiping over the mixer’s bowl and whisk. 

     

Shells Method

Preheat a fan forced oven to 145 celsius.

Wipe over the bowl of the stand mixer vinegar and a paper towel, this helps to stabilise the egg whites.

Weigh 150 grams of caster sugar and 37 grams of water into a medium sized heavy based pot. Attach 2 glass sugar thermometers to opposite sides of the pan, make sure the tip of the thermometers is in the sugar but not in contact with the base of the pot. I use at least two thermometers as the sugar syrup will heat at different speeds on each side of the pot, even in a small pot, and it helps if one thermometer slips down to contact the base of the pot and gives a falsely high reading.

Heat on a high heat on the stove top, do not stir, but it helps to gently swirl the contents of the bowl to equal out the heat when it starts to get close to boiling. Later the sugar will need to be taken off the heat just before it hits 118 degrees. It heats up fast so it needs to be watched closely once it starts boiling.

While the sugar is heating quickly separate and weigh out 110 grams of egg whites and place in the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Weigh out the egg whites at the start, before heating the sugar if it is the first time making this recipe, or if you’re not good at separating eggs under pressure.

When the sugar gets to about 110 degrees celsius turn the stand mixer on high speed to begin aerating the egg whites, they should have started to form soft peaks before adding the sugar. When the sugar hits 117 degrees celsius take it off the heat, a heavy based pan will continue to cook the sugar for a little while after the pot is off the heat, it will heat to desired 118 degrees on its own. The sugar must get to between 117 and 120 degrees; any less and the mix will be too runny and the macarons won’t form a skin as easily, any more and they will cook unpredictably.
In the meantime the egg white should be starting to form soft peaks, with the stand mixer still whipping the egg whites, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites in a very thin stream.  Continue mixing on high until it cools to about 50 degrees, this usually takes about seven minutes. The aim is a very smooth, glossy, dryish meringue.
While the meringue is still mixing and cooling, sift together 150 grams of pure icing sugar and 150 grams of almond meal in a large bowl. There will be a few grains of less milled almond meal left over, discard these and continue adding almond meal until you have exactly 150 grams of sifted almond meal.

When the meringue has cooled to a point where it is warm to the touch but not hot, mix a third of the meringue into the almond/icing sugar mixture and work into a thick paste using a spatula. Add another third of the meringue to the almond paste, continue to mix until the almond and meringue are combined smoothly. Gently fold the remaining meringue into the almond meal, continue gently folding the mixtures until there are no separate streaks of almond paste or meringue.

Separate the mixture into two small bowls, add a few drops of gel paste colour to each half.
Continue mixing with the spatula to deflate it until it has a lava-like consistency, it should very slowly flow from a spatula when lifted out, but not be runny. This is the part of macaron making that requires practice, too much mixing will give a thin batter and result in thin crunchy macarons, not enough mixing and it will be too thick, resulting in a rough surface on the macaron and the inside will be filled with large air pockets. If the consistency is correct before piping, the resulting surface of the macarons will be shiny, very lightly crunchy and the inside will be delicately soft, gently chewy and not too dense.

Line two large biscuit trays with baking paper, cut to size so that it lays flat. Slide printed macaron guides under the baking paper, this helps ensure the macarons are all piped the same size with even spacing.

Fill piping bags fitted with 10ml round pastry tubes with the macaron mixture and pipe onto the trays following the guides. Try to avoid leaving any “peaks”, round off peaks on the surface with the back of a spoon.
Remove the guides, then sharply tapping the trays on the bench to knock out any large air bubbles and aid settling, this will smooth the surface. Sprinkle on any desired toppings, like sprinkles, cocoa powder, coconut, ground and salted pistachio etc

Place macaron trays to one side, arrange a small fan so that there is airflow over all the macarons. This will force them to form a skin, ensuring the macarons rise and form “feet” correctly. Leave the macarons under the fan for at least 10 minutes or until the surface is dull and not sticky to the touch. 

Bake the macarons in an oven preheated to 140 -145 degrees Celcius for 14 minutes or until there are no dark patches on the bottom of the macaron, check this by lifting a corner of the baking paper to look at the underside of the macaron through the paper. I test to see if they are done by gently nudging the top of a couple of them sideways, if they resist, they are done. 

Cool on the tray. Brush the macarons with lustre dust or paint them, this can be done while they are still on the paper. Leave them for five minutes to cool, turn the paper over then peel the paper from the macarons. Pair up similar sized halves and pipe buttercream onto half of the macaron shells using a large fine star piping tip. Place the other half on top to form completed macarons.

While the macaron shells are resting under the fan and while they are cooking, prepare the buttercream fillings, like pistachio buttercream and salted caramel buttercream.

 

How to avoid a failure and guarantee the perfect macaron

 

When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues, there are benefits to making French macarons, but I found that external factors affect them more than Italian meringue macarons, so using the Italian method is a good place to start.

Warm or cold eggs make absolutely no difference at all, however older eggs do whip faster and create slightly more volume than fresh ones, but not so much that it makes a difference to the Italian meringue method recipe. My recipe whips more air in than is needed, so this small variation in egg freshness is negated.

Weigh everything! – the ratios are important, working by weight eliminates variations.

Don’t whip the meringue in a plastic bowl, use a clean glass or metal bowl wiped over with vinegar, the vinegar stabilises the egg whites. A pinch of salt or a pinch of cream of tartar has a similar effect.

The meringue must be mixed until it is dryish and glossy. It needs to cool to just above body temperature before adding it to the almond meal. If it is too hot, the fat in the almond meal will break it down too fast. 

The consistency of the mixture before piping is incredibly important. Working the almond and meringue mixture to break it down to the right consistency is called Macaronage. This mixing is important to getting the right texture inside the macaron and getting a smooth shell. Do not over mix it, it should never be runny. Just prior to loading the finished mixture into a piping bag it should have a “lava-like” consistency, kind of like wet cement, you should be able to lift a large amount out of the bowl with a spatula and it should slowly flow back into the bowl. If the mix is too stiff the resulting macarons will have rough tops with pointed peaks, too thin and they won’t form a skin easily and will spread too much.

I cheat the original recipe a bit, with my recipe I don’t split the egg whites – I don’t work half of the raw egg whites into the almond meal – instead I whip all of the egg whites then pour in the hot sugar syrup.
Using all the egg at the whipping stage creates more volume and less sugar splatter. More aerated eggwhites mean the resulting mixture needs more mixing to get it to a slow flowing “lava” like state, but it also gives much longer time to work with and pipe the final mix. 

Not giving the macarons time to form a skin, is one of the main reasons Italian meringue macarons fail. The tops must be dry to the touch or they will not form “feet”. If they aren’t dry on top, the tops of the shells will burst apart while baking or have large hollows. My house is usually warm and humid, some days it could take an hour to form a skin, or they may just not… To speed up and guarantee a skin on top I put the trays in front of a desk fan. The fast-moving air dries the tops out in around ten minutes and is a large part of why even if I mess up the sugar stage, I still get a great result. French macarons don’t need the skin to form, but they are much less reliable.

The other reason that Italian meringue macarons fail is the temperature of the sugar, use two, (or three) thermometers on different sides of the saucepan and keep the tips from touching the bottom. Take off the heat at 117 degrees and immediately start to pour it into the eggwhites in a slow thin stream, the temperature will continue to rise the extra degree in the pot while it is being poured. Don’t over heat and don’t under heat either scenario will result in issues. 

Do not cook on a thick silicone mat, these mats block the heat required to seal off the bottom of the macaron and will usually result in over baked macarons. Baking paper on a heavy baking tray gives the best result by far, if you do use a silicone mat, then use a very thin high-quality mat.

If you are getting big hollows in the macaron, the oven is too hot, turn it down by a few degrees or try cooking on a lower shelf in the oven, this depends on your oven. If the macarons are too dense increase the temperature by a few degrees.

 

Pistachio buttercream

Ingredients

Roughly 100grams of butter cubed.

Approx 5 tablespoons of icing sugar, to taste.

200grams of roasted, salted pistachio kernels ground to a paste.

Pinch of Maldon sea salt flakes

1/2 Teaspoon Concentrated natural vanilla extract.

 

Pistachio buttercream

Method:
Grind the pistachios to a fine powder in a food processor or spice grinder, sift out any large pieces.

Add ground pistachio to a small deep mixing bowl with roughly half of the cubes of butter and mix with electric hand beaters until a creamed together. Add more butter if needed to adjust the texture, mix in 1 tablespoon of icing sugar and a small pinch of crushed salt flakes and a little less than ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract, mix and taste.
Add more sugar until the desired sweetness is reached, continue beating to ensure the sugar is all dissolved. Finish by adding another few pinches of gently crushed salt flakes. Set aside in a fridge to firm up slightly, whip quickly for a few seconds to get it back to a pipeable texture.

 

 

 

Salted Caramel Buttercream

Ingredients

 Approx 100 grams of Caster sugar

100ml cream

¼ Teaspoon Vanilla extract

Approx 120 grams of butter

Maldon Sea salt flakes

Icing sugar 4 -5 tablespoons adjust to suit taste, compensate for the bitter caramel and provide stability.


Salted Caramel Buttercream

Method

Pour enough sugar into the bottom of a heavy based pan to cover the base to a depth of about 2mm.
Cook dry sugar over high heat to form caramel, stir to ensure even cooking. Cook until a deep golden colour is reached, then take off the heat, continue to let the residual heat from the pot cook the caramel, let it darken to a deep red colour, you might need to put it back on the heat briefly. Just as the desired colour is reached pour in cream and whisk vigorously for a few minutes to take some of the heat out of the caramel, be careful as this needs to be done quickly and the cream will boil violently. Add half the butter and stir until the melted. Transfer caramel to a large tray to help it cool faster. Place in the fridge, or freezer to accelerate the process. Once the caramel is cold, transfer it to a small deep mixing bowl whip until the colour goes pale brown using and electric hand beater. The caramel should be very bitter and not sweet, so icing sugar is added to sweeten and stabilise the mix. Add about ¼ teaspoon of vanilla and mix until light and fluffy, continue to mix, adding the butter to improve the texture. Add more sugar to balance the bitterness of the caramel until the desired flavour is achieved. Crush a few pinches of salt flakes in the palm of your hand, add to the buttercream, mix very briefly then taste, add more salt if needed. Set aside in a fridge to firm up slightly, whip for a for a few seconds before using.

Sour cream white chocolate ganache Ingredients: 
1 part sour cream to 3 parts white chocolate, a 1tsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and a half teaspoon of fine table salt.

Sour cream white chocolate ganache Method

I usually make 600g white chocolate, 200 g sour cream (full fat). 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and about half a teaspoon of fine table salt. Just heat them all together in the microwave in 30 second bursts mixing all the time until it comes together (roughly 2 and a half minutes in total) then chill until it has a thick spreadable consistency.  This is enough to cover and fill a double barrel 8″ cake or fill a couple of hundred macarons. I generally freeze the left over ganache from when I’m makingcakes to use it in macarons the following week. 

 

 

 

Macaron Recipe and Tips for Perfect Macarons
Extensively tested, detailed recipe complete with tips to ensure perfect macarons. Includes salted caramel and pistachio buttercream recipes and a recipe for lightly salted sour cream white chocolate ganache. Tips in the notes below the recipe.
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Macaron Shell Ingredients
  1. 110 grams egg whites
  2. 150 grams pure icing sugar
  3. 150 grams sifted almond meal
  4. 150 grams of caster sugar
  5. 37ml water
  6. Pinch of salt
  7. Americolor soft get paste food colours
  8. A splash of vinegar, for wiping over the mixer's bowl and whisk.
Pistachio buttercream Ingredients
  1. Roughly 100grams of butter cubed.
  2. Approx 5 tablespoons of icing sugar, to taste.
  3. 200grams of pistachios ground to a paste.
  4. Pinch of salt flakes
  5. ¼ Teaspoon Concentrated natural vanilla extract.
Salted Caramel Buttercream Ingredients
  1. Approx 100 grams of Caster sugar
  2. 100ml cream
  3. ¼ Teaspoon Vanilla extract
  4. Approx 120 grams of butter
  5. Sea salt flakes
  6. Icing sugar 4 -5 tablespoons adjust to suit taste, compensate for the bitter caramel and provide stability.
Sour cream white chocolate ganache Ingredients
  1. 1 part sour cream to 3 parts white chocolate, a touch of lemon juice and a large pinch of salt.
Shells Method
  1. Preheat oven to 145 celsius.
  2. Into a medium sized heavy based pot weigh 150grams of caster sugar and 37grams of water. Attach 2 glass sugar thermometers to opposite sides of the pan, make sure the tip of the thermometers is in the sugar but not in contact with the base of the pot. I use two thermometers, as the sugar mix will often heat at different speeds on each side of the pot, even in a small pot, and it helps if one thermometer slips down to contact the base of the pot and gives a falsely high reading.
  3. Heat on a high heat on the stove, do not stir, but you may want to gently swirl the contents of the bowl to equal out the heat. Later the sugar will need to be taken off the heat and slowly streamed into the eggs when it hits 118 degrees. It heats up fast, so it needs to be watched.
  4. While the sugar is heating, quickly wipe over the bowl of the stand mixer vinegar and a paper towel, this helps to stabilise the egg whites.
  5. Separate and weigh out 110 grams of egg whites and place in the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add a pinch of salt. Do not get any yolk in the whites or you will need to start again. You will probably want to weigh out the egg whites at the start before heating the sugar if it is the first time making this recipe.
  6. When the sugar gets to about 110 degrees celsius turn the stand mixer on high speed to begin aerating the egg whites. When the sugar hits 117 degrees celsius take it off the heat, a heavy based pan will continue to cook the sugar for a little while after the pot is off the heat, it will continue to heat to 118 degrees on its own. The sugar must get to between 118 and 122 degrees. any less and the mix will be too runny and the macarons won't form a skin, any more and it will cook unpredictably.
  7. In the meantime the egg white should be starting to form soft peaks, with the stand mixer still whipping the egg whites, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites in a very thin stream. Continue mixing on high until it cools to about 50 degrees C, less is preferable - usually takes at least seven minutes. You need a dryish, glossy meringue, if it is still bubbly looking like a coarse marshmallow, it needs to be whipped more.
  8. While the meringue is whipping and cooling, sift together 150 grams of pure icing sugar and 150 grams of almond meal in a separate bowl. There will be a few larger grains of almond meal left over, discard these and continue adding almond meal until you have exactly 150 grams of sifted almond meal.
  9. When the meringue has cooled, mix a third of the meringue into the almond mixture and work into a thick paste using a spatula. Add another third of the meringue to the almond paste mix, continue to mix until the almond paste and meringue are combined smoothly. Fold the remaining meringue into the almond meal, continue gently folding the mixtures until there are no separate streaks of almond paste or meringue.
  10. Separate the mixture into two small bowls, add a small amount of gel paste colour to each half.
  11. Then continue mixing with the spatula to deflate it until it has a lava like consistency, it should very slowly flow from a spatula when lifted out, but not be runny. This is the part of macaron making that requires practice, too much mixing will give a thin batter and result in thin crunchy macarons, or cracked tops not enough mixing and it will be too thick, resulting in a rough surface on the macaron and the inside will be filled with large air pockets. If the consistency is correct before piping, the surface of the end product will be shiny, very lightly crunchy and the inside will be delicately soft, and gently chewy, but not too dense.
  12. Line two large cookie trays with baking paper, cut to size so that it lays flat. Slide printed macaron guides under the baking paper, this helps ensure the macarons are all piped the same size.
  13. Fill piping bags fitted with 10ml round pastry tubes with the macaron mixture and pipe onto the trays following the guides. Try to avoid leaving any "peaks", round off the surface with the back of a spoon if there are any.
  14. Remove the guides, allow mixture to settle for a few seconds before sharply tapping the trays on the bench to knock out any large air bubbles, this will smooth the surface and spread them a little. Sprinkle on any desired toppings, like sprinkles, cocoa powder, coconut, ground and salted pistachio etc
  15. Place macaron trays to dry the tops, arrange a small fan so that there is direct airflow over all the macarons. This will help them to form a skin, which is essential to ensuring the macarons rise and form “feet” correctly. Leave the macarons under the fan for at least 10 minutes or until the surface is dull and not sticky to the touch.
  16. Bake the macarons in an oven preheated to 140 -145 degrees Celcius for 14 minutes or until there are no dark patches on the bottom of the macaron, check this by lifting a corner of the baking paper to look at the underside of the macaron through the paper.I test to see if they are done by nudging them sideways a little, if they resist they are done, if the whole top shifts with no resistance they need another couple of minutes.
  17. Cool on the tray. Brush the macarons with lustre dust or paint them, this can be done while they are still on the paper. Leave them for five minutes to cool, turn the paper over then peel the paper from the macarons. Pair up similar sized halves and pipe buttercream onto half of the macaron shells using a large fine star piping tip. Place the other half on top to form completed macarons.
  18. While the macaron shells are resting under the fan and then cooking, prepare the butter cream fillings, these will be pistachio buttercream and salted caramel buttercream.
Pistachio buttercream Method
  1. Grind roasted salted pistachios to a fine powder, sift out any large pieces.
  2. Add the powder back to the grinder and grind until it forms a thick paste.
  3. Add paste to a small deep mixing bowl with roughly half of the cubes of butter and mix with electric hand beaters until a creamed together. Add more butter if needed to adjust the texture, mix in 1 tablespoon of icing sugar and a small pinch of crush salt flakes and a little less than ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract, mix and taste. Add more sugar until desired sweetness/firmness is reached, continue beating to ensure the sugar is all dissolved. Finish by adding another few pinches of gently crushed salt flakes to taste.
Salted Caramel Buttercream Method
  1. Pour enough sugar into the bottom of a heavy based pan to cover the base to a depth of about 2mm.
  2. Cook dry sugar over high heat to form caramel, stir to ensure even cooking. Cook until a golden colour, then take off the heat, continue to let the residual heat from the pot cook the caramel, let it darken to a deep red colour, you might need to put it back on the heat briefly. Just as the desired colour is reached pour in cream and whisk vigorously for a few minutes to take some of the heat out of the caramel, Add the butter and stir until the butter is melted. Transfer caramel to a large tray to help it cool faster. Place in the fridge, or freezer to accelerate the process. Once the caramel is cold, use a bench scarper to transfer it to a small deep mixing bowl whip until the colour goes pale brown using and electric hand beater. The caramel should be bitter, so icing sugar is added to sweeten and stabilise the mix. Add about ¼ teaspoon of vanilla and mix until light and fluffy, continue to mix adding icing sugar and butter until the correct texture is achieved. Add more sugar to balance the bitterness of the caramel until the desired flavour is achieved. Crush salt flakes in the palm of your hand and mix in very briefly then taste, add more salt if needed.
Sour cream white chocolate ganache Method
  1. I usually make 600g white chocolate, 200 g sour cream (full fat). 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and about half a teaspoon of salt flakes. Just heat them all together in the microwave in 30 second bursts mixing all the time until it comes together then chill until it has a thick spreadable consistency.
How to avoid a failure and guarantee the perfect macaron
  1. When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m fairly cheap and very time poor, I really can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues
  2. Weigh everything! - the ratios are important.
  3. Don't whip the meringue in a plastic bowl, use a clean glass or metal bowl wiped over with vinegar, the vinegar stabilises the egg whites.
  4. The meringue has to be mixed until it is dryish and glossy. It needs to cool to just above body temperature before adding it to the almond meal. If it is too hot, the fat in the almond meal will break it down too fast.
  5. The consistency of the mixture is incredibly important. Working the almond and meringue mixture to break it down to the right consistency is called Macaronage, it is important to getting the right texture inside the macaron and to getting a smooth shell. Do not over mix it, it should never be runny. The "finished" mix, just prior to loading it into a piping bag should have a "lava-like" consistency, kind of like wet cement, you should be able to lift a large amount out of the bowl with a spatula and it should very slowly flow back into the bowl. If the mix is too stiff the resulting macarons will have rough tops with pointed peaks, too thin and they won't form a skin and will spread too much.
  6. I cheat the original recipe a bit, with my recipe I don't split the egg whites - I don't work half of the raw egg whites into the almond meal, I whip all of the egg whites then pour in the hot sugar syrup.
  7. Using more egg at the whipping stage means you get more volume and don't get as much sugar splatter. You have to mix the meringue for a little longer, until it's cool or it will set firm instead of being glossy and smooth, but I find it easier just to add meringue in steps to the almond meal/icing sugar mix. It means you've got to work the resulting mixture more to get it to a flowing "lava" like state, but also gives you a much longer time to work with the final mix.
  8. Not giving the macarons time to form a skin, is one of the main reasons for failure. The tops must be dry to the touch or they will not form "feet". If they aren't dry on top, the tops of the shells will burst apart while baking or have large hollows. My house is usually warm and humid, some days it could take an hour to form a skin, or they may just not... To speed up and guarantee I get a skin on top I put the trays in front of a desk fan. The fast moving air dries the tops out in around ten minutes and is a large part of why even if I mess up the sugar stage, I still usually get a great result.
  9. Do not cook on a thick silicone mat, these mats block the heat required to seal off the bottom of the macaron and will usually result in over baked macarons. Baking paper on a dark baking tray gives the best result by far, if you do use a silicone mat, then use a very thin high-quality mat.
  10. All the flavour of a macaron usually comes from the fillings, Jam and/or Classic crusting buttercream are the traditional fillings for macarons. These fillings are usually better if they are tart, salty or bitter to help balance out the sweetness of the shells and fillings. This is why salted caramel and pistachio both make really great fillings, the salt levels boost the flavour of the fillings, but also cuts the sweetness of the shells.
  11. Ganache is by far the most popular filling, dark and semi-dark chocolate ganache work well against the Macaron shells. White chocolate I would ordinarily find too sweet to be piped in a larger quantity in a Macaron. This is why I like to use sour cream salted white chocolate ganache and a tart berry jam filling, it makes the macarons taste similar to cheescake.
  12. The sour cream white chocolate ganache recipe included below the macaron recipe is very versatile and can be used to ganache or fill a cake and works well under fondant.
  13. Using a basic aerated buttercream allows a lot more filling to be piped onto the macarons and gives a much more pleasing visual effect, it can also have a more pleasant mouthfeel and is usually less sweet than white chocolate ganache or Italian meringue buttercream.
Some Recommended Equipment
  1. Digital scale - this is an essential tool for making macarons.
  2. Stand mixer - I have made macarons by hand just with a whisk, but I really don't recommend it....
  3. 2x glass sugar thermometers – able to be attached to pot while cooking
  4. Large pastry piping bags with round piping tips roughly 8-12 ml opening
  5. 3x large cookie pans, (approx 48.5x30.8cm). Dark heavier metal is preferable to aluminium, it helps cook macarons from the bottom faster, allowing a softer middle, cleaner more evenly cooked foot and easier removal from the paper.
  6. Baking paper, like glad or multix bake
  7. Printed piping guides to slip under the baking paper - download from google, just search macaron guides
  8. 1x small electric desk fan – I use a 10cm Metal Desk Fan, I got at Bunnings - this speeds up the curing process and helps to ensure a good skin forms on the top of the macarons, if the surface does not form a skin the tops will crack and the macarons will not form the "feet" that add to their appeal.
Robert's Cakes and Cooking http://robertscakesandcooking.com/

 

 

 

Lace Mat Chocolate Mousse Cake

Lace JacondeLace mats have become more and more popular with cake decorators but they are a unitasker. Most of us might use them a few times a year to make edible lace, but that’s it. Kevin from Bake boss made a great video showing how to use them to create decorative patterned jaconde sponge layers. The recipe is what most people use for a piped or combed patterned jaconde sponge.  

Check out his original video here. Or look up the Bake Boss YouTube channel and search for their ” baking in a lace mat” video. 

This cake is a combination of a few different ideas and recipes I have collected together from a few different sources. 

blog2The decorated sponge outside is made by spreading jaconde sponge mixture onto a silicone lace mat. The inside of the cake is made with a dark chocolate roulade sponge recipe from Kara’s couture cakes check out her incredible blog here.

 

Decorative mix for jaconde

Decorative part – enough for two mats.

40g melted butter
40g icing sugar
50ml egg whites
10g cocoa
25g flour
Lace mat spongeMix with a fork until lump free. Do not incorporate air, butter needs to be warm or you’ll incorporate air. Swap cocoa with cornflour and add gel colours if you want some variation other than brown.

Place 2 silicone lace mats on a baking sheet, spray lightly with oil, scrape the jaconde mix into the pattern and remove any excess with a bench scraper or angled palette knife. Place the trays in the fridge to firm up the mixture.

Alternatively, you could pipe the pattern onto the smooth side of the mat.

 
Jaconde – Thin almond sponge

Makes the Background of the decorative jaconde
Enough for two mats

30g ground almonds. 

80g semi-melted butter

3 yolks

3 whites

pinch of salt

80g castor sugar

30 grams plain flour

20 grams cornflour. 

Whisk the butter and yolks into the almond meal.

Beat the egg whites with the salt, slowly add the sugar and whip until soft peaks form.

Carefully fold some of the meringue mix into the butter mix, continue adding until a roughly equal amount of meringue has been added to the butter mix, then fold the butter mix into the remaining meringue mixture.

Sift the flours in on top and very gently fold in until there are no more streaks of flour.

Divide the mixture into two equal parts and spread very thinly and evenly over the chilled lace mats, run your finger around the edge of the mats to allow some room for spreading and to help prevent the sponge mix running off the edge.

Bake in a 150C oven for 5-7 minutes, or just until set. Avoid overbaking, this is a very thin sponge, it quickly goes from being a flexible thin sponge sheet to a very brittle crunchy biscuit.

Once set, cover with a sheet of nonstick baking paper, turn upside down to cool on the baking paper with the silicone still attached, this helps to seal in the moisture.

Cool for 5 minutes before gently peeling off the silicone lace mat backing.

 

Black Cocoa Roulade original recipe from Kara’s Couture cakes. 

Make two or three cocoa roulade sheets depending on how many layers you want the cake to have, two works nicely. 

8 eggs, separated
225g (8oz), caster sugar 
70g (2.5oz) dark, dutch process cocoa powder. (The Cadbury Bournville cocoa is not quite right but still works). 

 

Make a meringue with the egg whites and sugar- whip egg whites, slowly add sugar a few spoonfuls at a time and beat until it is all dissolved.

In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks briefly then pour onto the meringue. Fold through until just, combined quickly sift the cocoa onto the meringue mix and quickly fold through until combined.

Spread into large, well-greased sheet pan and bake at 170 until the edge shrinks away from the pan, or a skewer comes out clean,

When cooked cover the top with baking paper leave to cool five minutes then turn out on a bench or onto another baking sheet to cool, both sides should have the baking paper on them still to lock in the moisture. This sheet of cake can be easily filled and rolled, this is a super easy, incredibly versatile recipe

 

Stabilised chocolate cream 

600ml whipping cream, 

2 teaspoons gelatine

1/4 cup water,

3 tablespoons of cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons of icing sugar

 

Combine water and gelatin in a microwave safe mug let sit for 10 minutes then heat for a 30 seconds stirring every 15 seconds, continue to heat and stir in 10 second intervals until all of the gelatine is melted.

Allow the mixture to cool, but not set, it can’t be hot when it is added to the cream.

Whip the cream to soft peaks, pour the gelatine and vanilla in a steady stream while beating at a medium speed, then sift in the cocoa, icing sugar and salt. Mix until the cocoa and sugar are combined, taste and add more sugar or cocoa to suit your taste. whip until firmer peaks can be formed from the cream. Store in a covered bowl the fridge until ready to use.

 

Cherry jelly,

1 Jar of pitted morello cherries, with juice, check each cherry to ensure there are no left over pits. Roughly 670g

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

3 tablespoons of sugar.

Add juice, sugar, gelatine, and cherries to a saucepan. Heat just enough to melt the sugar and gelatine.

Once melted, blend everything together with a stick blender.

Pour into one or two baking trays lined with clingfilm, then place in the fridge to set.

For a more fancy finish, set in two trays and turn them out onto the cake while assembling it.

I’m too impatient for this so often just scrape it out of the tray and spread it on in a messy jelly layer.

 

Assemble by starting with one layer of decorated sponge, spread it thinly with the cream, lay on the first cocoa roulade, then add a thicker layer of cream, lay on the jelly layer, then roulade, cream, and printed sponge, vary the layers to suit. Chill the assembled cake in the fridge for a few hours, or freeze for an hour prior to trimming off the outside edge for neatness and then cutting into generous rectangular slices to serve. 

 

Lace Mat Mousse cake
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Decorative mix for jaconde -Decorative part - enough for two mats
  1. 40g melted butter
  2. 40g icing sugar
  3. 50ml egg whites
  4. 10g cocoa
  5. 25g flour
Jaconde - Thin almond sponge - Makes the Background of the decorative jaconde - Enough for two mats
  1. 30g ground almonds
  2. 80g semi-melted butter
  3. 3 yolks
  4. 3 whites
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 80g castor sugar
  7. 30 grams plain flour
  8. 20 grams cornflour
Black Cocoa Roulade - make 2 batches - original recipe from Kara's Couture cakes. Make two or three cocoa roulade sheets depending on how many layers you want the cake to have, two works nicely
  1. 8 eggs, separated
  2. 225g (8oz), caster sugar
  3. 70g (2.5oz) dark, dutch process cocoa powder. (The Cadbury Bournville cocoa is not quite right but still works)
Stabilised chocolate cream
  1. 600ml whipping cream
  2. 2 teaspoons gelatine
  3. 1/4 cup water
  4. 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  5. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. pinch of salt
  7. 2 tablespoons of icing sugar
Cherry Jelly
  1. 1 Jar of pitted morello cherries, with juice, check each cherry to ensure there are no left over pits, roughly 670g
  2. 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  3. 3 tablespoons of sugar
  4. Enough gelatine to set 600 ml of liquid just under 3 teaspoons
Decorative mix for jaconde
  1. Mix with a fork until lump free. Do not incorporate air, butter needs to be warm or you'll incorporate air. Swap cocoa with cornflour and add gel colours if you want some variation other than brown.
  2. Place 2 silicone lace mats on a baking sheet, spray lightly with oil, scrape the jaconde mix into the pattern and remove any excess with a bench scraper or angled palette knife. Place the trays in the fridge to firm up the mixture. Alternatively, you could pipe the pattern onto the smooth side of the mat.
Jaconde - Thin almond sponge (background) Enough for two mats
  1. whisk the butter and yolks into the almond meal.
  2. Beat the egg whites with the salt, slowly add the sugar and whip until soft peaks form.
  3. Carefully fold some of the meringue mix into the butter mix, continue adding until a roughly equal amount of meringue has been added to the butter mix, then fold the butter mix into the remaining meringue mixture.
  4. Sift the flours in on top and very gently fold in until there are no more streaks of flour.
  5. Divide the mixture into two equal parts and spread very thinly and evenly over the chilled lace mats, run your finger around the edge of the mats to allow some room for spreading and to help prevent the sponge mix running off the edge.
  6. Bake in a 150C oven for 5-7 minutes, or just until set. Avoid overbaking, this is a very thin sponge, it quickly goes from being a flexible thin sponge sheet to a very brittle crunchy biscuit.
  7. Once set, cover with a sheet of nonstick baking paper, turn upside down to cool on the baking paper with the silicone still attached, this helps to seal in the moisture.
  8. Cool for 5 minutes before gently peeling off the silicone lace mat backing.
Black Cocoa Roulade - original recipe from Kara's Couture cakes - Make two or three cocoa roulade sheets depending on how many layers you want the cake to have, two works nicely
  1. Make a meringue with the egg whites and sugar- whip egg whites, slowly add sugar a few spoonfuls at a time and beat until it is all dissolved.
  2. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks briefly then pour onto the meringue. Fold through until just, combined quickly sift the cocoa onto the meringue mix and quickly fold through until combined.
  3. Spread into large, well-greased sheet pan and bake at 170 until the edge shrinks away from the pan, or a skewer comes out clean,
  4. When cooked cover the top with baking paper leave to cool five minutes then turn out on a bench or onto another baking sheet to cool, both sides should have the baking paper on them still to lock in the moisture. This sheet of cake can be easily filled and rolled, this is a super easy, incredibly versatile recipe
Stabilised chocolate cream
  1. Combine water and gelatin in a microwave safe mug let sit for 10 minutes then heat for a 30 seconds stirring every 15 seconds, continue to heat and stir in 10 second intervals until all of the gelatine is melted.
  2. Allow the mixture to cool, but not set, it can't be hot when it is added to the cream.
  3. Whip the cream to soft peaks, pour the gelatine and vanilla in a steady stream while beating at a medium speed, then sift in the cocoa, icing sugar and salt. Mix until the cocoa and sugar are combined, taste and add more sugar or cocoa to suit your taste. whip until firmer peaks can be formed from the cream. Store in a covered bowl the fridge until ready to use.
Cherry jelly
  1. Add juice, sugar, gelatine, and cherries to a saucepan. Heat just enough to melt the sugar and gelatine.
  2. Once melted, blend everything together with a stick blender.
  3. Pour into one or two baking trays lined with clingfilm, then place in the fridge to set.
  4. For a more fancy finish, set in two trays and turn them out onto the cake while assembling it.
  5. I'm too impatient for this so often just scrape it out of the tray and spread it on in a messy jelly layer.
Cake Assembly
  1. Assemble by starting with one layer of decorated sponge, spread it thinly with the cream, lay on the first cocoa roulade, then add a thicker layer of cream, lay on the jelly layer, then roulade, cream, and printed sponge, vary the layers to suit.
  2. Chill the assembled cake in the fridge for a few hours, or freeze for an hour prior to trimming off the outside edge for neatness and then cutting into generous rectangular slices to serve.
Notes
  1. Lace mats have become more and more popular with cake decorators but they are a unitasker. Most of us might use them a few times a year to make edible lace, but that's it. Kevin from Bake boss made a great video showing how to use them to create decorative patterned jaconde sponge layers. The recipe what most people use for a piped or combed patterned jaconde sponge.
  2. Check out his original video here. Or look up the Bake Boss YouTube channel and search for their " baking in a lace mat" video.
  3. This cake is a combination of a few different ideas and recipes I have collected together from a few different sources.
  4. blog2The decorated sponge outside is made by spreading jaconde sponge mixture onto a silicone lace mat. The inside of the cake is made with a dark chocolate roulade sponge recipe from Kara's couture cakes check out her incredible blog here.
  5. Decorative mix for jaconde
  6. Decorative part - enough for two mats.
  7. 40g melted butter
  8. 40g icing sugar
  9. 50ml egg whites
  10. 10g cocoa
  11. 25g flour
  12. Lace mat spongeMix with a fork until lump free. Do not incorporate air, butter needs to be warm or you'll incorporate air. Swap cocoa with cornflour and add gel colours if you want some variation other than brown.
  13. Place 2 silicone lace mats on a baking sheet, spray lightly with oil, scrape the jaconde mix into the pattern and remove any excess with a bench scraper or angled palette knife. Place the trays in the fridge to firm up the mixture.
  14. Alternatively, you could pipe the pattern onto the smooth side of the mat.
  15. Jaconde - Thin almond sponge
  16. Makes the Background of the decorative jaconde
  17. Enough for two mats
  18. 30g ground almonds.
  19. 80g semi-melted butter
  20. 3 yolks
  21. 3 whites
  22. pinch of salt
  23. 80g castor sugar
  24. 30 grams plain flour
  25. 20 grams cornflour.
  26. whisk the butter and yolks into the almond meal.
  27. Beat the egg whites with the salt, slowly add the sugar and whip until soft peaks form.
  28. Carefully fold some of the meringue mix into the butter mix, continue adding until a roughly equal amount of meringue has been added to the butter mix, then fold the butter mix into the remaining meringue mixture. Sift the flours in on top and very gently fold in until there arr no more streaks of flour,
  29. Divide the mixture into two equal parts and spread very thinly and evenly over the chilled lace mats, run your finger around the edge of the mats to allow some room for spreading and to prevent the sponge mix running off the edge.
  30. Bake in a 150C oven for 5-7 minutes, or just until set.
  31. Avoid overbaking, this is a very thin sponge, it quickly goes from being a flexible thin sponge sheet to a very brittle crunchy biscuit.
  32. Once set, cover with a sheet of nonstick baking paper, turn upside down to cool on the baking paper with the silicone still attached, this helps to seal in the moisture. Cool for 5 minutes before gently peeling off the silicone backing.
  33. Black Cocoa Roulade - original recipe from Kara's Couture cakes.
  34. Make two or three cocoa roulade sheets depending on how many layers you want the cake to have, two works nicely.
  35. 8 eggs, separated
  36. 225g (8oz), caster sugar
  37. 70g (2.5oz) dark, dutch process cocoa powder. (The Cadbury Bournville cocoa is not quite right but still works).
  38. Make a meringue with the egg whites and sugar- whip egg whites, slowly add sugar a few spoonfuls at a time until it is all dissolved. in a separate bowl beat the egg yolks briefly then pour onto the meringue. fold through until just, quickly sift the cocoa onto the meringue mix and quickly fold through until combined, spread onto large, well-greased sheet pan and bake at 170 until the edge shrinks away from the pan, or a skewer comes out clean,
  39. When cooked cover the top with baking paper leave to cool five minutes then turn out on a bench or onto another baking sheet to cool, both sides should have the baking paper on them still to lock in the moisture. This sheet of cake can be easily filled and rolled, this is a super easy, incredibly versatile recipe
  40. Stabilised chocolate cream
  41. 600ml whipping cream,
  42. 2 teaspoons gelatine
  43. 1/4 cup water,
  44. 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  45. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  46. pinch of salt
  47. 2 tablespoons of icing sugar
  48. Combine water and gelatin in a microwave safe mug, heat for a minute stirring every 15 seconds, continue to heat and stir in 10 second intervals until all of the gelatine is melted.
  49. Allow the mixture to cool, but not set, it can't be hot when it is added to the cream.
  50. Whip the cream to soft peaks, pour the gelatine and vanilla in a steady stream while beating at a medium speed, then sift in the cocoa, icing sugar and salt. Mix until the cocoa and sugar are combined, taste and add more sugar or cocoa to suit your taste. whip until firmer peaks can be formed from the cream. Store in a covered bowl the fridge until ready to use.
  51. Cherry jelly,
  52. 1 Jar of pitted morelleo cherries, with juice, check each cherry to ensure there are no left over pits. Roughly 670g
  53. 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  54. 3 tablespoons of sugar.
  55. Enough gelatine to set 600 ml of liquid just under 3 teaspoons.
  56. Add juice, sugar, gelatine, and cherries to a saucepan. Heat just enough to melt the sugar and gelatine. Once melted, blend everything together with a stick blender. Pour into one or two baking trays lined with clingfilm, then place in the fridge to set.
  57. For a nicer finish, set in the two trays and turn them out onto the cake while assembling it.
  58. I'm too impatient for this so often just scrape it out of the tray and spread it on in a messy jelly layer.
  59. Assemble by starting with one layer of decorated sponge, spread it thinly with the cream, lay on the first cocoa roulade, then add a thicker layer of cream, lay on the jelly layer, then roulade, cream, and printed sponge, vary the layers to suit. Chill the assembled cake in the fridge for a few hours, or freeze for an hour prior to trimming off the outside edge for neatness and then cutting into generous rectangular slices to serve.
Adapted from Kara - Kara's Couture Cakes, Kevin Martin - Bake Boss NZ
Adapted from Kara - Kara's Couture Cakes, Kevin Martin - Bake Boss NZ
Robert's Cakes and Cooking http://robertscakesandcooking.com/

 

 

 

Orange Dark Chocolate Mud Cake Recipe

This is a variation of the Australian Women’s Weekly mud cake recipe.
675g Dark eating chocolate – chopped,
400g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of very finely zested orange zest, (at least 3 or 4 big oranges).
390 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon of natural vanilla extract.
275g brown sugar
260g plain flour
75g self-raising flour (Or 1/2 cup plain flour and 1tsp baking powder).
4 large eggs
Method:
preheat oven to 155C (140C fan forced) line and grease a 19cm square pan.
Stir chocolate butter orange juice, zest, water, sugar and vanilla in large heavy based pot over very low heat until smooth, then cool for 15 minutes.
Whisk in sifted flours and lightly beaten eggs, pour into the pan and bake for about 2 1/2 hours or until a thin skewer comes out dry with just a few moist crumbs on it. Cool in the tin for about 15 minutes before turning out on o a cooling rack.

This is a super dense recipe, usually made with coffee liqueur, coffee granules and water, I find the alcohol and coffee flavour overpowering, so I made it a dark chocolate orange mud cake by omitting the coffee, and replacing the water and liqueur liquid measurements with the same amount of freshly squeezed orange juice and zest which gives it a brighter, fresher flavour. I also add very finely zested orange zest to the cream when I’m making the ganache to complement the orange mud cake.

This is not an especially groundbreaking recipe and it is the very least cost effective way to make a mud cake, but it tastes awesome and the texture is always great. the mixture can be doubled or tripled, and cooked for longer at a lower temperature. 

Original recipe called for 310ml water, 80 ml coffee liqueur and one and a half teaspoons of instant coffee granules, but this results in a really bitter slightly overbearing coffee flavour. 

Mexican Paste – Sugar Paste – Flower paste

Sugarpaste roseMexican paste is great for making fine flower petals. If you mix it with fondant it creates a great paste for sculpting figures. This is my favourite paste for making sugar flowers, it is fast to make, cheap, super reliable and lets me roll paper thin petals for flowers.

Ingredients:
3 teaspoons CMC or Tylose powder
250 grams of pure icing sugar
35 ml hot water (35g)
2 teaspoons Crisco or other solid vegetable fat
1 rounded teaspoon light corn syrup

Rub the bowl and paddle attachment of a strong stand mixer with a thin film of crisco. Sift in the icing sugar and CMC powder, turn the mixer on low for two turns to ensure the CMC and icing sugar are mixed. 
Heat the corn syrup, Crisco and water together in a microwave safe mug until the Crisco starts to melt, usually 40 seconds or so will do it, alternatively heat in 10 second intervals and stir until the Crisco is fully melted. 

Start the mixer on low then pour the hot liquid in in a steady stream, turn up the speed to medium and beat for a minute, stop if/when the mixer sounds like it is starting to struggle. 

Turn the still warm sticky mixture onto a lightly greased bench and knead for a few seconds. Seal in zip lock bags and keep covered until ready for use. Leave the mixture to rest and cool for at least an hour before using it.

I find it easiest to make triple batches, I vacuum seal them in small amounts and freeze them until I’m ready to use them. 

I make super brightly coloured Mexican paste by weighing the colour and the water together to make up the total weight of the water.

Mexican Paste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican Paste (Flower Paste)
Mexican paste is great for making fine flower petals. If you mix it with fondant it creates a great paste for sculpting figures. This is my favourite paste for making sugar flowers, it is fast to make, cheap, super reliable and lets me roll paper thin petals for flowers.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 teaspoons CMC or Tylose powder
  2. 250 grams of pure icing sugar
  3. 35 ml hot water (35g)
  4. 2 teaspoons Crisco or other solid vegetable fat
  5. 1 rounded teaspoon light corn syrup
Instructions
  1. Rub the bowl and paddle attachment of a strong stand mixer with a thin film of crisco.
  2. Sift in the icing sugar and CMC powder, turn the mixer on low for two turns to ensure the CMC and icing sugar are mixed.
  3. Heat the corn syrup, Crisco and water together in a microwave safe mug until the Crisco starts to melt, usually 40 seconds or so will do it, alternatively heat in 10 second intervals and stir until the Crisco is fully melted.
  4. Start the mixer on low then pour the hot liquid in in a steady stream, turn up the speed to medium and beat for a minute, stop if/when the mixer sounds like it is starting to struggle.
  5. Turn the still warm sticky mixture onto a lightly greased bench and knead for a few seconds. Seal in zip lock bags and keep covered until ready for use. Leave the mixture to rest and cool for at least an hour before using it.
  6. I find it easiest to make triple batches, I vacuum seal them in small amounts and freeze them until I’m ready to use them.
  7. I make super brightly coloured Mexican paste by weighing the colour and the water together to make up the total weight of the water.
Notes
  1. Dust surfaces with cornflour to stop sticking. Can be refreshed with a tiny smear of crisco, or copha.
  2. Can be mixed with fondant or pastillage to make very good paste for modelling detailed figurines etc.
  3. It is easier to work in larger quantities I usually make this in kilo - 1.5 kilo batches and freeze in small portions in vacuum sealed bags.
Robert's Cakes and Cooking http://robertscakesandcooking.com/

Modelling Chocolate Recipe

How to make perfect Modelling chocolate and how to work with it.

I am in awe of the smooth detailed work done by cake artists like Liz Marek. I noticed a lot of my favourite cake artists were using modelling chocolate instead of fondant, or they were using modelling pastes that have cocoa butter, giving the paste the properties of fondant and modelling chocolate; pastes like Cake Duchess, Daisy Paste or Saracino.

I was attracted to working with modelling chocolate because it doesn’t dry out and it sets very solid after a few minutes/once it’s cool allowing sculps to be built quickly. Best of all, edges blend perfectly so there are no seams and details can be remodelled and reworked, built up or shaved down repeatedly until they are perfect.

I experimented a lot to get a modelling chocolate recipe that performs well for me, is cheap to make and can be consistently and quickly made in large quantities to use on the same day.

Ingredients:

The recipe I use is a simple ratio of 4.5:1 by weight of white compound chocolate to light corn syrup. This makes a very firm, all-purpose modelling chocolate. I’ve found it’s easier not to use expensive couverture chocolate, a good white compound chocolate works best for texture and still tastes pretty good.
If the piece is designed for eating I use a 50/50 mix of Cadbury white chocolate and compound chocolate, this gives the best mix of flavour and texture, adding the eating white chocolate will make the mixture grainy and a lot harder to work with. I do also use all eating chocolate, but it is a lot harder to make and work with and a lot of eating chocolate is just not suitable.

I’ve found that in general corn syrup produces smoother, stretchier sugar products than glucose. Fondant I made with corn syrup was stretchier and smoother, than with glucose which seemed to be “shorter” and more brittle. I found it was similar for modelling chocolate when I was testing my recipe. Karo corn syrup was the best, but it’s super expensive, it’s $17 at my local cake shop.
I experimented to find an alternative when a friend suggested Korean corn syrup. You can find Korean corn syrup at most local Asian grocers for a lot less, and nearly every Korean grocer will have it. I buy 5 litres for $15 and every brand I have tried has performed better than glucose, been a cheaper than glucose and performs as well as the more expensive Karo Corn syrup.

Bulk compound white chocolate is the best way to lower the cost. You can get 15kg of Callebaut white compound chocolate for $90 on special at most baking shops and likely cheaper again elsewhere. This makes a moderately firm, easy to work with modelling chocolate that tastes really good. Mixing at a ratio of 4.5:1 means you can potentially make 18Kg of modelling chocolate for around $105.

Gru-Zinkerbell cake. Modelling chocolate and sugar lace

Method:
Weigh the white compound chocolate out in grams, divide the weight by 4.5 and weigh out that amount of corn syrup.

If you have 600 grams of white compound chocolate you will need to weigh out 133 grams of corn syrup.

Or an easier ratio: 450g white chocolate to 100g of corn syrup.

Weigh the chocolate and break it up into a clean, dry microwave proof bowl.

Microwave in bursts of no more than 30 seconds stirring in between blasts. The time in the microwave will need to be reduced if you are working with smaller portions. I usually work in batches of 600 grams or more, so can put the chocolate in for longer stretches. 600 grams usually only takes a total of 2 minutes.

Do not overheat the chocolate. Ideally, use the residual heat from each interval in the microwave to melt the chocolate by stirring it.  A plastic bowl can help to prevent “hot spots” that sometimes happen from a glass bowl getting too hot, but I like to use the residual heat from a glass bowl to finish melting the chocolate and have it in the microwave for less time. 

Ensure the chocolate is completely melted and all the lumps are gone. Do not try to rush the melting.

In a smaller bowl weigh out the correct amount of syrup for the amount of chocolate you’re using. Warm the syrup in the microwave for a few seconds, do not overheat it and never boil. It just needs to be slightly warm to the touch, but not hot. Scrape thesyrup into the melted chocolate and gently, but thoroughly fold through using a spatula. Scrape the chocolate off the sides and bottom folding through carefully until there are no large streaks of unmelted chocolate left. Ensure nearly all the chocolate has been mixed through, it is crucial at this stage not to over stir. The chocolate will begin to seize up very quickly. It only takes a few strokes through the chocolate and in just a few turns the mixture will lose its shine start to look rough and slightly crumbly. Do not stir any further, or the fat will separate, it’s better to stop stirring earlier.
Transfer the mixture to a large ziplock bag and press flat. 

 

Other recipes suggest the chocolate should now be wrapped and put aside to cool and set overnight, but I rarely have the time so I speed up the process – interestingly, my impatience and need to speed up the process resulted in a better product.

I usually make and use a large quantity of modelling chocolate on the same day. The only way to do this is by using a freezer. Once mixed I spread the mixture into a thin sheet inside a very large zip lock bag (or a couple of them) and lay the slabs of chocolate in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, or until most of the mix is firm and leathery. Once the chocolate has fully set it willbe very firm and a little crumbly, knead it until you have a smooth plasticine like mixture. If the chocolate is too firm to knead, pop it in the microwave for 3 or 5 seconds to soften it up slightly. If the mixture has a few small lumps you can work them smooth by pinching them flat with your thumb against the work surface, melting them a little with the heat from your hands and working through the modelling chocolate. If there are a lot of lumps, pop the whole mix in the microwave and heat gently for a few seconds at a time until the mixture is soft, knead it just enough to mix the now slightly melted lumps through and again set the chocolate aside in a zip lock bag to set up before using it.

Occasionally I have had to repeat this process a couple of times to remove lumps or because I have overheated/overworked the chocolate with my hands at the kneading stage, which makes the oils start to separate, but the freezer fixes everything.
Using a combination of the microwave and freezer I can get excellent modelling chocolate made in well under half an hour while I’m doing other things.

NB: When you are making the modelling chocolate, if the oils start to come out of the mixture, you have likely overheated the syrup or the chocolate or over stirred the mixture or kneaded it too much while warm. When you see oil come out of the mixture, stop immediately, transfer it to a zip lock bag and put it in the freezer and repeat the setting and kneading process until the mixture is smooth, or if you’re working on a piece and it starts to get oily stop and let it cool down, or pop it in a fridge for a few seconds before continuing. 

Some recipes recommend squeezing the oils out of the chocolate and soaking them up with paper towel – Do not do this, the cocoa fats/vegetable oils are what makes modelling chocolate so amazing to work with, if you remove it you have not made modelling chocolate, you’ve made sugar paste, it will not smooth and blend as well as real modelling chocolate.
The main and most important two things to remember when making or working with modelling chocolate are to never overheat and never overwork the mixture when it’s warm. Additionally, use tools instead of hands where possible and have a shelf in the freezer set aside so you can pop the piece/pieces you are working on in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up before you continue to work on it. Be careful not to leave the piece in the fridge/freezer to get too cold as you’re working or it might start to sweat, if too much water gets mixed through it won’t set as well.

 

Colouring Modelling chocolate:

Modelling chocolate takes gel paste colours extremely well. I get more vibrant and dark colours in modelling chocolate than I ever have with fondant. 

A few drops of gel paste colour will work through easily and give a very 

Counterintuitive texture fix: I often make white modelling chocolate with “real”/eating chocolate, made with cocoa butter instead of vegetable fat. This results in a dryer, rough textured paste. A couple of drops of water kneaded in smooths the mix out and makes it easier to work with. This is particularly useful with dark chocolate and occasionally even some brands of compound chocolate. Just a few drops of water will smooth the mix and make it less crumbly. Do not add the water until the mixture is made, and be very sparing with the amount of water added, you can always add more, but can’t remove it.

 

vibrant result. However, for very dark colours like bright reds or black it can help to mix in a bit of fondant, it’s not essential, it just allows the chocolate to take a lot more colour without getting soggy.
For bright white modelling chocolate add a few drops of Americolor white, some food grade titanium dioxide colouring powder or just use compound chocolate, it tends to be whiter. For race-car red or jet-black knead in about 1.5-2 tsp of gel colour to 150g of white modelling chocolate then set it aside in a cool place or the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up again before kneading to use. The colour darkens after a few minutes resting.

Hot hands/hot climate:

If you have extremely hot hands and want a more stable mixture that needs to stay flexible for longer, then add a little fondant to the mixture, just keep the ratio to or below 5:1 modelling chocolate to fondant. Modelling chocolate mixed with fondant in a roughly 5:1 ratio has some interesting and handy properties: it can be smoothed and joined seamlessly by applying gentle heat or with little water, it’s also easier to paint with liquid colours or lustre dust/alcohol paint than straight modelling chocolate and it holds its shape longer before melting when you are modelling pieces with your hands.

 

Ratios to use for different kinds of modelling chocolate.

I prefer a very firm setting modelling chocolate, often stabilised with a little fondant because I have super hot hands, and I live in Perth, WA, where the weather is insanely hot nine months of the year and it’s still hot inside for the other three months because everyone else in the house actually feels the “cold” and insists on heating the house… I don’t want my figures to droop in the heat or melt too quickly while I am trying to shape them, so I make a slightly firmer mix than most people would.

For firm white modelling chocolate, the ratio should be between 4.5 and 5 parts white chocolate to 1 part corn syrup.

Medium setting white modelling chocolate: 3.5-4 parts white chocolate to 1 part corn syrup.

Soft white modelling chocolate: 2.5-3 parts white chocolate to 1 part corn syrup. 

Firmer modelling chocolate is more structural, I prefer using a 4.5:1 ratio as it provides the structural integrity I like and is still just soft enough to be able to add detail to and smooth the surface. 

I would only ever make soft modelling chocolate if it is going to be used to very thinly cover another surface or a firmer part of a figure, the softer chocolate is easier to smooth, and easily takes a lot of detail but it is not useful for structural parts or pieces. Medium to soft setting modelling chocolate is nice to cover cakes with instead of fondant.

Ratios for dark modelling chocolate:

I use Cadbury Old Gold dark chocolate (40% Cocoa product) for best taste and smoothness, and because I don’t have much call to make a large amount of dark chocolate modelling chocolate. It’s really nice to work with and tastes great.

Firm: 3-3.5 parts Dark chocolate to 1 part corn syrup
Medium: 2.5-3 parts Dark chocolate to 1 part corn syrup
Soft: 2 parts Dark chocolate to 1 part corn syrup

 

Tips for working with Modelling Chocolate:

The key rule is to not work on warm modelling chocolate. Once it’s warm stop moving/sculpting it, leave it alone or the oil will squeeze out. Chill or leave to rest for a while if the surface becomes greasy or oily while working to stop too much fat from escaping.

Modelling chocolate can be rolled very thinly, just dust the surface and the rolling pin with cornflour to stop it sticking. This is perfect for making letters with Clickstix and Tappits, dust the chocolate and the cutters with cornflour and they’ll pop out easily, place them in the fridge to set and they will release from the moulds more easily.

Use a gas gun or barbecue lighter with a focused flame to gently warm the back of the letters they will then stick firmly to fondant, chocolate or modelling chocolate. You can get a focussed flame (windproof) gas lighter from a hardware store, they work like a mini crème brûlée torch, but they’re a lot more accurate and gentle for detailed chocolate work, and they’re cheaper.

Surfaces can be shaved down, built up and smoothed with your hands or very basic tools, once the surface is near smooth it can be further smoothed by applying gently heat with your hands or by passing a mini blowtorch over the surface a few times quickly then use hands or tools to finish smoothing. Once the surface is very smooth passing a torch over the surface a few more times will bring fat to the surface and start to crystallise the sugar in the chocolate forming a tough shiny shell.

Impression mats and moulds work well with modelling chocolate, and most are a lot faster and easier to use with modelling chocolate than with fondant. Dust the mould with cornflour, press the chocolate in with a palette knife, smooth off the excess with the knife then peel/pop the piece out. Freeze more complex or detailed work for a few minutes to make removing the mould easier.

Modelling paste

Mix a small amount of firm modelling chocolate into fondant to create a modelling paste with similar properties to saracino, cake duchess or laped daisy modelling paste. Weigh out ready to roll fondant then knead in roughly between one fifth and one quarter the fondant’s weight in modelling chocolate. It will depend on the fondant used, as to how much chocolate is needed. Do not add any additional tylose or the mix will become very rubbery and unusable

 

Making modelling chocolate start to finish in real time 

Modelling chocolate hand.

Hand – Home Made Modelling Chocolate and Americolor Ivory Gel colour

My Experiments with white modelling chocolate.

Testing a few different white chocolate brands.

I’m a home – hobby baker, I don’t have time to source specific couverture chocolate or search for a specific brand, so I tested a few of the chocolates that I can get at a local supermarket at short notice if I need to. Another bonus of this is that Cadbury chocolate goes on special regularly, so do the nestle baker’s choice white melts and a few others so it was worth testing to see what I should stock up on when I can. I tested for taste, how easy it is to get a smooth and seamless shape and how crumbly they are when reshaped. Chart of results below:

I tested Cadbury Dream white chocolate, Cadbury Melts white chocolate, Nestle Baker’s Choice white melts (these are a kind of candy melt not actually white chocolate), and Nestle Milky bar.

In short, the best texture and moldability was the Nestle baker’s choice white melts, but they tasted pretty average. Just slightly behind for texture was the Cadbury white chocolate melts, these had the best flavour by far and had an okay texture but the oils separate out easily making it more temperamental. The Cadbury dream was almost identical to the Cadbury melts for taste texture and usability. The milky bar had horrible texture, would not set and didn’t taste good as modelling chocolate. The milky bar was so bad, I repeated the experiment to make sure it wasn’t just a result of bad preparation, it still did not set, had horrible texture and tasted gross… which was pretty unexpected as I normally like this chocolate bar…

I concluded that for structural elements that aren’t designed just to be eaten, Nestle baker’s choice melts are a good option. For element’s that will be eaten, add some Cadbury, the flavour is the best and the texture is all right. For structural elements that will be eaten, but need to be super smooth a blend of Cadbury and a small amount of fondant gives a great tasting and great textured product.  For very smooth and very firm setting structural elements that still taste good a mixture of the Cadbury and Nestle melts gives the best-textured product with an acceptable flavour. 

The best way to become good at making modelling chocolate is to buy a few blocks of different kinds of chocolate and experiment 200grams at a time. I have tried a lot of different recipes including ones with glucose instead of corn syrup, ones with water and a glucose and all sorts of other variations. Generally, I avoid candy melts, but the nestle bakers choice ones just happened to be excellent. This recipe works for me, give it a go. Experiment, keep notes and find what works for you. 

My experiments by weight:
180g Nestle Milky Bar : 38g Corn Syrup
182g Cadbury Melts Real White Chocolate : 40g Corn Syrup.
182g Nestle Baker’s Choice Melts – white : 39g Corn Syrup.
182g Cadbury Dream white chocolate : 40g Corn Syrup

Modelling chocolate test chart

Modelling chocolate test chart

 

DreamCadbury-White-Choc-Melts-250g-HRNestle Melts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modelling Chocolate Recipe
A fast, simple - reliable modelling chocolate recipe.
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Ingredients
  1. 4 - 4.5 parts White Compound chocolate or Nestle Baker's Choice Melts. (Or 50/50 mix of Cadbury white chocolate and compound chocolate for a better flavour, but harder to work with).
  2. 1 part corn syrup.
  3. Gel paste colour
  4. Americolor - White Colour - optional
  5. Fondant - optional. 1/5th the total weight (or less) of the modelling chocolate.
  6. eg: black modelling chocolate: add 1 tbsp americolor superblack to 300g of modelling chocolate, 60 grams fondant and 1/2 tsp cmc. (Absolute max 1/2 tsp, dont add too much CMC it goes rubbery!)
Instructions
  1. Weigh the chocolate out in grams, divide the weight by 4.5 and weigh out that amount of corn syrup. If you have 600grams of chocolate you will need to weigh out 133grams of corn syrup. Weigh the chocolate and break it up into a microwave proof bowl.
  2. Microwave in bursts of no more than 30 seconds stirring in between blasts. The time in the microwave will need to be reduced if you are working with smaller portions. It's easier to work in batches of 600grams or more. Do not overheat the chocolate or get any moisture in it or it will seize too early and become unusable. Take time with this stage, depending on the temperature in the kitchen it can take quite a few intervals in the microwave, ideally the bowl will get warmer than the chocolate and you can use the residual heat from the bowl to get the chocolate to melt by stirring it. Ensure the chocolate is completely melted and all the lumps are gone, but don't try to rush the melting, minimise the time in the microwave and use residual heat to melt the chocolate - you can always add more heat if it's not warm enough, but you can't save burnt chocolate so take time with melting. Using a plastic bowl can also help to prevent hot spots.
  3. In a separate, smaller bowl weigh out the correct amount of syrup depending on the chocolate you're using and what it will be used for. Warm the syrup in the microwave for a few seconds, do not boil or overheat, it just needs to be slightly warm to the touch. Scrape the syrup into the melted chocolate and gently, but thoroughly fold through using a spatula. Scrape the chocolate off the sides and bottom folding up carefully until there are no large streaks of unmelted chocolate left. Ensure all the chocolate has been mixed through, but It is crucial at this stage not to over stir. The chocolate will begin to seize up very quickly. It only takes a few strokes through the chocolate and in just a few turns the mixture will lose its shine start to look rough and slightly crumbly. Do not stir any further, or the fat will separate, it's better to stop stirring earlier, transfer the mixture to a large zip lock bag and press flat.
  4. Leave to cool and set over night, or drop in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  5. Once the chocolate has set it will be very firm and very crumbly, knead it until you have a smooth plasticine like mixture. If the chocolate is too firm to knead, pop it in the microwave for 3 to 5 seconds to soften it up slightly. If the mixture has a few small lumps you can work them smooth by pinching them flat, melting them a little with the heat from your hands and working through the modelling paste. If there are a lot of lumps, pop the whole mix in the microwave and heat gently for a few seconds at a time until the mixture is soft, knead it just enough to mix the now melted lumps through and again set the chocolate aside in a zip-lock bag. Do not over heat or knead while the mix is too warm or the fat will separate.
Notes
  1. The main and most important two things to remember when making or working with modelling chocolate is to never over heat and never over work the mixture. Additionally, use tools instead of hands where possible and have a shelf in the freezer set aside so you can pop the piece/pieces you are working on in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up before you continue to work on it.
  2. I am extremely impatient, I usually make and use a huge quantity of modelling chocolate on the same day. The only way to do this is by making the most of my freezer. Spread the mixture into a thin sheet inside a very large zip lock bag and lay in the freezer for 5-15 minutes, or until most of the mix is quite firm. Then knead the mixture until it is smooth, pop it in the microwave for 5-7 second intervals if it has set too hard. Occasionally I have had to repeat this process a couple of times to remove lumps or because I have overheated the chocolate or overworked it with my hands, but the freezer fixes everything. Using a combination of the microwave and freezer I can get excellent modelling chocolate made in under about 40 minutes while I’m doing other things.
  3. NB: When you are making the modelling chocolate, if the oils start to come out of the mixture, you have likely overheated the syrup or the chocolate or over stirred the mixture at the initial combination stage. When you see oil come out of the mixture stop immediately and transfer it to a zip lock bag and put it in the freezer and repeat the setting and kneading process until the mixture is smooth.
  4. A few drops of gel paste colour will work through easily and give a very vibrant result. However for very dark colours like bright reds or black it helps to mix in a bit of homemade fondant and a small amount of tylose to further stabilise the mixture. This way the chocolate can take a lot more colour and give a very, very vibrant finish. Weigh the modelling chocolate you are going to colour then add between 1/8 and 1/5th the weight of the modelling chocolate in fondant if desired. Keep the ratio to 5:1 modelling chocolate to fondant or less. If the mix goes above about a quarter fondant it loses the qualities that make modelling chocolate so great to work with, and will it will behave more like fondant. For bright white modelling chocolate add a few drops of Americolor white, some food grade titanium dioxide colouring powder or use nestle Baker’s choice white melts instead of chocolate.
  5. Ratios Guide
  6. For very firm white modelling chocolate, the ratio should be between 4.5 and 5 parts white chocolate to 1 part corn syrup.
  7. Medium setting white modelling chocolate: 3.5-4 parts white chocolate to 1 part corn syrup.
  8. Soft white modelling chocolate: 2.5-3 parts white chocolate to 1 part corn syrup.
  9. Firmer modelling chocolate is more structural, I prefer using a 4.5:1 ratio as it provides the structural integrity I like and is still just soft enough to be able to add detail to and smooth the surface.
  10. I would only ever make soft modelling chocolate if it is going to be used to thinly cover another surface or a firmer part of a figure, the softer chocolate is easier to smooth, and easily takes a lot of detail, it’s also nice to cover cakes with instead of fondant, but does not work well as a structural part of a figure.
  11. Ratios for dark modelling chocolate: Use eating chocolate like Cadbury Old Gold dark chocolate (40% Cocoa product) for best taste and smoothness.
  12. Firm: 3-3.5 parts chocolate to 1 part corn syrup
  13. Medium: 2.5-3 parts chocolate to 1 part corn syrup
  14. Soft: 2 parts chocolate to 1 part corn syrup
  15. Important tip for texture: I often make white modelling chocolate with real/eating chocolate, made with cocoa butter. This results in a dryer, rough textured paste. A couple of drops of water kneaded in smooths the mix out and makes it easier to work with. This is particularly useful with dark chocolate and some compound chocolate. Just a few drops of water will smooth the mix and make it less crumbly. Do not add the water until the mixture is made, and be very sparing with the amount of water added.
  16. If you have extremely hot hands and want a more stable mixture that needs to stay flexible for longer, then add a little homemade fondant to the mixture as above, just keep the ratio to or below 5:1 modelling chocolate to fondant. I make my own fondant. Modelling chocolate mixed with fondant in a roughly 5:1 ratio has some interesting and handy properties: it can be smoothed and joined seamlessly by applying gentle heat from hands, it can also be smoothed and joined with a little water, it is easier to paint with liquid colours or lustre dust/alcohol paint than straight modelling chocolate and it holds its shape longer before melting when you are modelling pieces with your hands.
  17. Karo corn syrup is great, but you can find Korean corn syrup at your local Asian Grocer for a lot less, I buy 5 litres for $15.
  18. Bulk compound white chocolate is a good way to lower the cost. You can get 15kg of Callebaut white compound chocolate for $90 on special at Bakeboss Australia. This makes a very firm, easy to work with modelling chocolate that tastes really good. Mixing at a ratio of 4:1 means you can potentially make 20Kg of modelling chocolate for $105.
  19. Video of this process is available at http://robertscakesandcooking.com
  20. Say Hi on Facebook facebook.com/robertscakesandcooking
Robert's Cakes and Cooking http://robertscakesandcooking.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Modelling Paste Recipe (Pastillage)

Modelling pasteThe pastillage recipe after the photos is extremely simple and cheap to make. I’ve found it fairly easy and pretty reliable. The recipe is essentially an old fashioned version of pastillage. I have been using this recipe for years to create everything from sugar paste flowers to simple figurines. Best of all it is gluten free and has just three ingredients and water, all of which you can get at any supermarket. This is perfect for structural pieces like the soles and heels of sugar shoes, wired centres for sugar flowers or very thin structural decorations. 

Because of how fast this mix dries I do not recommend it for flower petals or for super detailed modelling. Mexican paste, fondant or modelling chocolate are better options, however this does create a paste that sets super hard like concrete, is super strong and you can even file or sand it to smooth pieces.

This is my wedding cake. It was the first wedding cake I made on my own. After quite a bit of searching, my wife found a picture of a cake she liked online. We changed the design to suit us, increased the overall scale of the cake, and changed the colours to match our theme.

The cake was layered chocolate with dark chocolate ganache, all covered in ganache and then fondant.

sugar paste recipe

I struggled with the flowers due to insane humidity and evaporative air conditioning… Also, just about any other medium would have been a better option, I now use homemade Mexican paste for flowers.

I ended up going to my parent’s house and making the day before, taking advantage of their good air conditioning…

This was also a few years ago, before I had discovered petal cutters, veiners and before I understood that sugar flowers usually take a few days to make… and petals on bigger flowers need time to dry before assembling… And that a pinch of tylose or CMC or tylose would have conquered the humidity, fixed the texture and set the petals up in about half an hour and removed the struggle…. *sigh*

However I muddled through pretty quickly and I was very happy with the final result, and more importantly so was my wife.

This recipe is great for STRUCTURAL, SIMPLE modelling that needs to be quite tough. Use Mexican paste or fondant for detailed work.

 

 

Modelling paste recipe (Pastillage)

Ingredients

2 teaspoons powdered gelatine –  approx 8grams (or 4 leaves of sheet gelatine)
35 ml of water
1 rounded teaspoon (10grams) glucose syrup or corn syrup. (Corn syrup gives a better texture).
One and a half cups (200grams) of pure icing sugar, sifted 
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar will help the paste to set up faster, and helps preserve the mix.
A tiny amount of white vegetable shortening like Crisco will make the mix more manageable, but makes the mix weaker and slower to dry.

This recipe is easier to work with in slightly larger quantities, I recommend making a double or triple mixture.

The paste can be made to set/dry much faster with a pinch of tylose, although this is rarely necessary pretty much only in high humidity. It can also be refreshed with a tiny bit of crisco. Crisco will refresh scaly modelling paste and improve the overall texture. I never used to use vegetable shortening with this, but it improves the usability quite a lot.

Combine gelatine, glucose and water in a small saucepan and heat very gently. The aim is to gently melt all of the gelatine and combine it with the glucose and water to form a perfectly combined and homogeneous mixture. Do not boil or overheat. Use a chopstick or similar implement  to stir the mixture very gently, avoid making bubbles or getting gelatine up the sides of the saucepan.

Place half of the sifted icing sugar (3/4 cup) into a small mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the icing sugar and pour in the warm gelatine glucose mix. Use a blunt butter knife to mix the icing sugar to a smooth paste. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest at room temperature for at least an hour.

Once rested, knead in the remaining icing sugar bit by bit until you have a smooth clay like modelling paste mixture this will require quite a bit of effort and the mixture will be a bit rough and lumpy, but keep at it, it seems like it will not all combine, but it does… eventually. Place into a plastic bag, or ziplock bag and leave a few hours or overnight in a cool place then knead before using.

After resting a few hours the mixture will be smooth like plasticine. The most important part of this recipe is the resting time. It will be easier to work with if it is warmed very slightly, so pop it in the microwave still in the ziplock bag for a burst or two of 3 – 5 seconds. Like fondant, the modelling paste can be conditioned by working in a very tiny amount of Crisco, but do not work too much in or it can interfere with the hardness of the finished product. If the mixture is too dry and brittle you can work more water into the mixture, just dampen your hands and knead the water through a few times. 

The mixture dries out very quickly, so I keep any modelling paste I am not currently using in a sealed ziplock plastic bag, and keep a lightly damp paper towel nearby to cover and keep the pieces I am working with soft and pliable, but generally pastillage is best fir quick modelling not for super fine detailed work. Pieces of modelling paste glue together very well with stiff royal icing. 

My best advice is to give it a go. This is a very cheap recipe to make and after making a few batches you will be familiar with how to get the best results for nearly any project that requires modelling paste or sugar paste.

The modelling paste sets hard, almost like fine bone china. Once dried it is structurally very sound and can be painted with liquid colours watered with alcohol for super vibrant colour, or dusted with petal dust and lustres. Flowers made this way will last for years if they are kept away from excessive humidity and bugs.
I like to add vanilla extract, rosewater or other essences to my mixture to give the modelling paste a pleasant fragrance, not that many people would eat sugar paste toppers, but they could eat this and the flavours improve the taste as well.

Modelling paste recipe My beautiful wife and me Wedding cake table

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Modelling Paste Recipe
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Ingredients
  1. 2 teaspoons powdered gelatine - approx 8grams (or 4 leaves of sheets)
  2. 35 ml of water
  3. 1 rounded teaspoon (10grams) glucose syrup or corn syrup. (Corn syrup gives a better texture).
  4. One and a half cups (200grams) of pure icing sugar, sifted
  5. Optional: 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar will help the paste to set up faster, and helps preserve the mix.
Instructions
  1. This recipe is easier to work with in slightly larger quantities, I recommend making a double or triple mixture.
  2. The modelling paste can be made to set/dry much faster with a pinch of tylose, although this is rarely necessary pretty much only in high humidity. It can also be refreshed with a tiny bit of crisco. Crisco will refresh scaly modelling paste and improve the overall texture. I never used to use vegetable shortening with this, but it improves the usability quite a lot.
  3. Combine gelatine, glucose and water in a small saucepan and heat very gently. The aim is to gently melt all of the gelatine and combine it with the glucose and water to form a perfectly combined and homogeneous mixture. Do not boil or overheat. Use a chopstick or similar implement to stir the mixture very gently, avoid making bubbles or getting gelatine up the sides of the saucepan.
  4. Place half of the sifted icing sugar (3/4 cup) into a small mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the icing sugar and pour in the warm gelatine glucose mix. Use a blunt butter knife to mix the icing sugar to a smooth paste. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest at room temperature for at least an hour.
  5. Once rested, knead in the remaining icing sugar bit by bit until you have a smooth clay like modelling paste mixture this will require quite a bit of effort and the mixture will be a bit rough and lumpy, but keep at it, it seems like it will not all combine, but it does... eventually. Place into a plastic bag, or ziplock bag and leave overnight in a cool place then knead before using.
  6. After resting overnight the mixture will be smooth like plasticine. The most important part of this recipe is the resting time. It will be easier to work with if it is warmed very slightly, so pop it in the microwave still in the ziplock bag for a burst or two of 3 - 5 seconds. Like fondant, the modelling paste can be conditioned by working in a very tiny amount of Crisco, but do not work too much in or it can interfere with the hardness of the finished product.
  7. The mixture dries out very quickly, so I keep any modelling paste I am not currently using in a sealed ziplock plastic bag, and keep a lightly damp paper towel nearby to cover and keep the pieces I am working with soft and pliable. Pieces of modelling paste glue together very well with stiff royal icing. Royal icing, vodka, water or a thin film of sticky liqueur will glue petals around the modelling paste buds as you are creating them.
Notes
  1. My best advice is to give it a go. This is a very cheap recipe to make and after making a few batches you will be familiar with how to get the best results for nearly any project that requires modelling paste or sugar paste.
  2. The modelling paste sets hard, almost like fine bone china. Once dried it is structurally very sound and can be painted with liquid colours watered with alcohol for super vibrant colour, or dusted with petal dust and lustres. Flowers made this way will last for years if they are kept away from humidity and bugs.
  3. I like to add vanilla extract, rosewater or other essences to my mixture to give the modelling paste a pleasant fragrance, not that many people would eat sugar paste toppers, but they could eat this and the flavours improve the taste as well.
Robert's Cakes and Cooking http://robertscakesandcooking.com/

Homemade Roll out Fondant Icing Recipe

The fondant created with this recipe is soft and pliable, with just the right amount of stretch, it is perfect for sealing and decorating cakes. The fondant will store for a couple of weeks in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer. 
I also use it for coarsely modelled flowers and to model figures.
For flowers, you should use modelling paste, flower paste or Mexican paste, but I occasionally get lazy and find it works surprisingly well with a pinch of tylose and a small amount of vegetable shortening. A ratio of 4:1 fondant to Mexican paste makes excellent paste for sculpting super detailed figures.

On a side note, the weather gets pretty interesting December through to February in Australia. As a general rule do not try to cover a very cold cake straight from the fridge with fondant on humid or overly hot days and never with an evaporative air conditioner in operation as the extra moisture in the air will turn your icing to slush.  All the cakes pictured on this post have been decorated using my homemade fondant recipe.

The best tip for perfect fondant every time is weigh everything, this removes the variation and ensures consistent results. Due to differences in eggs and how compact the icing sugar is in the cup measure, I was getting mixed results until I started weighing the ingredients and recording results.
Weigh everything, it is the key to making a consistent product.
Using actiwhite powdered egg whites also produces a more uniform product that is shelf stable with none of the potential issues of fresh egg whites, but I still use fresh egg whites for family cakes if I have them left over in the fridge. Fondant made with powdered whites and stored in an airtight container will last a very, very long time in the fridge and even longer if vacuum sealed and stored in the freezer. 

Recipe Below

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