Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Extra, extra

I've received the occasional note over the past year from a few concerned folks asking me to return to "regular" blogging. Thank you very much, guys, for taking the time to write and express how you feel, but as every waking moment I spend in the kitchen these days is typically either in planning or preparation for a class - not that I'm complaining, because I am extremely fortunate to be doing what I love, elbow-deep in butter, eggs, sugar and flour - it's virtually impossible not to let my excitement and anticipation about the classes spill over onto these pages. Pages of what, to me, is essentially an online food journal, and the answer to the question of what one has been up to lately food-wise, what is foremost in one's food-related thoughts. From my perspective, I have to confess it's all "regular", if by "regular" we mean conforming to the most prevalent pattern in one's kitchen. Of course, that's not to preclude the this-is-what-I-cooked-last-Sunday-for-dinner variety of rambling altogether - believe you me, I'll happily and long-windedly get to that whenever I'm not otherwise preoccupied!

Anyways, in keeping with the most recent prevalent pattern (read: this particular Spring/Easter-themed affair on 15 March 2008 and 16 March 2008), I thought I'd put up a bit more detail about the handful of bonus recipes.
The Raspberry & Dark Chocolate Cupcakes are moist little keepers thanks to the generous inclusion of raspberry puree in the batter. They're at their best when topped with a Raspberry & Dark Chocolate Ganache - while I've specified Valrhona Equatoriale 55% in the recipe (because this versatile bittersweet is what I know most home bakers always have on standby in the pantry), and it works just fine, if you wish to go the extra mile, do try the recipe with Manjari 64%; the red fruit savours inherent in this particular gem from Valrhona really do pair beautifully with the raspberry puree.
And I simply had to include a recipe for Simnel Cupcakes - I couldn't resist the idea of a Mini Me version of the traditional fruitcake served on Easter (and also on Mothering Sunday). Much lighter than its dark, boozy Christmas cousin, Simnel cake has a generous seam of marzipan running though its centre, is covered with marzipan, and is conventionally finished with 11 marzipan balls representing the 11 good disciples. As much as I adore marzipan, I prefer to skip the last bit (which I think is overkill on a cake this diminutive) in favour of 11 gold dragées. The crowning touch is a yellow marzipan rose in full bloom (the petals edges have been finished with pink luster dust; I was after a tea rose effect).

Monday, March 03, 2008


I'd crafted this sugar egg case for the weekend just past. Easter Sunday falls on 23 March 2008, so the last 2 sessions have been scheduled for the weekend prior, on 15 March 2008 and 16 March 2008 (for all inquiries, please call +65 6479 8442 or email Besides cupcakes and cookies, the session also covers sugar moulding. It being a Spring/Easter theme, there was no question as to the chosen shape of the cases!

Whilst planning for this, I had initially toyed with the idea of chocolate egg cases. In the end, I decided to go the sugar moulding route instead - chocolate eggs are aplenty at the shops come this time of the year, so if you are going to spend the time and effort making something from scratch, why not make it something unexpected? And despite appearances, sugar moulding is one aspect of sugar art that is actually very easy to do, and is based on ingredients readily found in the pantry.
I can't think of a more charming addition to the Easter basket, absolutely occasion-appropriate. And it's not just purely ornamental (while theoretically edible, I really wouldn't suggest it!), because it makes for the ultimate handmade bonbonniere - the perfect receptacle for holding your choice of sweets, candy or chocolates. Me? I'm partial to sugar almonds, not least because they just so happen to be egg-shaped and come tinted in the most delicate of pastel washes.

The sugar egg case can be dyed any colour you fancy, and decorated any manner you please. The specimen here is edged with violet shells and topped with pansies, both piped from royal icing.
In terms of presentation, a nest is best...Pretty coloured raffia works a treat.