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    My plan is to practice for my taalcoach's raspberry and blueberry mousse cake for December 28 order. Lately, I got bored with berries flavored mousse cake that's why I've decided to make tropical flavor for a change. As you notice the genoise was too thin and small because I used 8" square baking pan and used 5" ring to cut it. I should have used bigger ring instead. But anyway, as what I have said this is just a practice. Next time I will make this again it will be perfect. I also enjoyed using the chocolate transfer sheet, it's not perfect yet but hey it's my 1st time.

    from bottom: orange liqueur soaked genoise sponge, mango cream, passion fruit white chocolate mousse, mango mirror glaze, decorated with white chocolate and edible gold leaf.

    p.s. did I mention it was delicious? ♥

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    Something familiar? Haha yes! this is Ferrero Rocher's Christmas edition container that I got from Sinterklaas last Dec 6. The Sinterklaas feast celebrates the name day, Dec 6, of the Saint Nicholas (280–342), patron saint of children. Saint Nicholas was a Greek bishop of Myra in present-day Turkey.



    He is a dutch version of Santa Clause but taller and slim.

    Children in their Zwarte Pieten costume while patiently waiting for Sinterklaas to arrive.

    Sinterklaas is assisted by many mischievous helpers with black faces and colourful Moorish dresses. These helpers are called 'Zwarte Pieten' (Black Petes). During the Middle-ages Zwarte Piet was a name for the devil. Having triumphed over evil, it was said that on Saint Nicholas eve the devil was shackled and made his slave. Although the character of Black Pete later came to acquire racial connotations, his origins were in the devil figure.

    Zwarte Pieten are giving away candies and pepernoten to kids and adults. 
    There's my big boy Pieter.

    Back to my macarons. These are unfilled shells. Actually I made a macaron template which is the same size as ferrero rocher chocolate but after piping, the batter spread out and became too big for the holes. That is why I left them unfilled because if I do so it won't fit in the holes anymore.

    source: wikipedia

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  • 01/05/13--13:33: New Year, New Cakes
  • Photobucket
    My new year's resolution is to make new cakes for Taart etc. as many as I can. Yesterday I made this chocolate and hazelnut entremet. I am still thinking of a name before posting it into my online webshop.

    Perhaps you are wondering why the hell I always make entremets...well 1st, I love french pastries, I really admire their cakes/pastries with beautiful and elegant decorations made of chocolates and fruits ♥. 2nd, I dont have steady hands that's why I suck when it comes to piping and frosting cake. I tried but I am not satisfied with the outcome. 3rd, I am not a super big fan of buttercream I'd rather eat a cake covered with whipped cream frosting. And 4th, I dont like fondant or marzipan although I am amazed with Buddy (cake boss) everytime I watch him creating beautiful cakes. Fondant cake is indeed very nice specially for photos but I dont like the overly sweet taste and chewy texture.

    From top: chocolate glacage, milk chocolate mousse, crème brûlée, dark chocolate mousse,
    praliné-feuilleté, hazelnut dacquoise, decor: pearl dust, chocolate sheet and caramelized hazelnut.

    Mmmm...layer upon layer of various complementary flavours and varying textural contrasts.

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    I just want to share these photos with all of you. I made this greeting tart for my taalcoach's birthday. Sadly she didn't had a chance to try the tart. The recipe is from my new cookbook Richard Bertinet Pastry. The book is clearly illustrated with good photographs of step by step guide to making pastry. The recipes both sweet and savoury are wonderful. I really recommend this book.



    I am so annoyed with the line on the wood background and the raspberries look so flat. It was already getting dark when I took these photos that's why I was in hurry that I forgot to adjust many things. :-(

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  • 01/11/13--07:47: Homemade Salted Eggs
  • Photobucket
    (note: make sure your eggs are fully submerged in brine solution. I added more water after I took this shot.)

    I started making salted eggs using chicken eggs but lately Pieter became very adventurous and was eager to try duck eggs.
    In The Philippines we called this "itlog na pula" or "itlog na maalat" (red salted egg). A popular method of processing salted eggs in the Philippines is by mixing clay (from ant hills or termite mounds), salt and water and then coat the eggs individually with the clay mixture. The eggs are stored indoors at room temperature over the next 12 to 14 days to cure. I have read that the salted eggs from this process have more oily yolks than soaking in brine method. After boiling the eggs are then dyed red to distinguish it from ordinary eggs.

     I wish I can also do that clay method because oily eggyolks is really, really delicious.

    salted duck eggs
    10 duck eggs
    1 cup salt
    4 cups water
    whole peppercorn
    • Wash and dry the eggs carefully. Set aside.
    • Put water and salt in a big pot, heat until salt is dissolved, turn off heat and add whole peppercorn. Let cool completely.
    • Arrange the eggs in a big jar. Pour the salted water into the jar make sure the eggs are completely submerged.
    • Keep it in a dark and cool place.
    • You can start checking after 2 weeks by taking out one egg and boil it to see if the egg is fully salted. If not salty enough soak for few more days.
    This was my November's salted duck egg project, it has been brined for 7 weeks. This is a traditional filipino way of eating salted eggs, with onion and tomato. Best eaten with fried fish, bbq and rice.

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  • 01/16/13--14:18: Mont Blanc
  • Mont Blanc finally! I have been planning to make this for quite sometime now but I couldn't make a perfect timing to buy the chestnuts. Last monday Pieter did the grocery and also bought 500 gm of raw chestnuts.
    This tart/cake is named after the tallest mountain in Western Europe. Mont Blanc meaning "white mountain" and speaking of white mountain this was covered with powdered sugar but damn! the powdered sugar dissolved quickly. Making the chestnut puree from scratch was really tiring. 1st, I cut a cross into the skin of each chestnuts, steamed, (yes I steamed it because I was so lazy to use the oven) peeled away the tough outer shell and skin, pureed and then pressed through a very fine mesh strainer to make sure it doesn't have chunks of chestnuts. It was tiring indeed. Lucky you if you can find a can of pureed chestnut.

    1st I used wilton 233 piping nozzle but it was too small and very messy. So I switched to small round tip. Piping was really fun but also gave me a painful hands because of pressure on the piping bag to squeeze the chestnut cream out. Oh well! as what they've said: no pain, no gain.

    sable breton
    128g plain flour
    1/2 tbsp baking powder
    113g unsalted butter, softened
    84g sugar
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 large egg yolks
    • Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside for the moment.
    • In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until it is soft and smooth. Add the sugar, followed by the salt, and continue to beat, scraping the bowl as needed. Mix until paleand fluffy. Add the yolks and beat until blended. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat just until incorporated. Do not over mix the dough.
    • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough a few times to bring it together. Form dough into a log (7.5 in diameter), wrap in cling film and refrigerate until firm (at least an hour).
    • Preheat the oven to 165C. Unwrap log and, using a sharp knife, slice the log into 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick cookies (depending how thick you want) Place each slice inside mousse ring or crumpet ring (if you have). Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are just firm.
    • Transfer to wire rack and let cool.

    chestnut cream (adapted from No Recipes)
    350g chestnut puree
    1/3 C cream
    1/3 C sugar
    1 tbsp rum
    1 large egg yolk
    1 vanilla bean
    • Slice the vanilla bean in half length wise and scrape the seeds into a small saucepan. Add the cream, sugar and whisk in the yolk. Heat over low heat, continually stirring until the mixture 
    • begins to thicken. Take the pan off the heat and allow the vanilla bean to steep while the mixture cools.
    • When the mixture is cool, remove the vanilla. put the mixture in a food processor along with the pureed chestnuts and rum. Blitz until smooth and creamy. Put a spoonful of chestnut cream in the double mesh strainer over a bowl and press through using a spatula. Strain the rest of the cream, cover and set aside.

    creme chantilly
    3/4 cup heavy cream
    3 tbsp powdered sugar (or more)
    • Combine cream and sugar in a mixing bowl, whip till soft peaks form.
    • Pipe creme chantilly on top of breton. Put in the fridge for a couple of minutes to firm up. Place the chestnut cream in a piping bag with a "spaghetti" tip and pipe the cream on top of the breton and creme chantilly.
    It was really delicious!

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     photo IMG_9423copycopy_zps39134460.jpg
    I am really thankful to all those bloggers who are kind enough to share and translate few recipes of Sadaharu Aoki. How I wish there's an english version of his cookbook. Valencia is a orange, nuts and chocolate entremet.

    If you google Sadaharu Aoki, Valencia you will see all these amazing, well presented rectangle shaped entremets both by Sadaharu and other bakers. Mine is just left over ingredients (hazelnut dacquoise and almond cocoa sponge) from my previous cake project that is why I made it round. I also run out of milk chocolate so I used Valrhona 66%. Actually I am saving the Valrhona chocolate for special purpose and I'm glad I used it in this recipe.

    According to Pieter this was one of the best cakes he ever tasted. By the way he also tried this with milk chocolate, I made it last week for his colleague's bday. He was indeed correct! Orange and chocolate is a good combination.

     photo IMG_9412copycopy_zps15da9d57.jpg
    layers from top: light orange mousse, almond cocoa sponge, chocolate mousse, hazelnut praline feuilletine, hazelnut dacquoise

    For the recipe pls visitdaily delicious. She has a very nice blog with delicious recipes and step by step instruction photos.

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    If there is one place in our apartment that I would love to sit the whole day that would be in the kitchen. Seriously, I spend most of the day in the kitchen than in the bedroom or living room. Even I dont have any baking or cooking project I will just sit in the kitchen drink tea or coffee, chat with my family and friends, fold the laundry (haha I do it in the kitchen as well) while listening to relaxing Bach. Oh yes! I'm into classical, instrumental kind of music lately. It relaxes me specially while I am baking or cooking.

    This was the result of staying in the kitchen the whole day :-P Smoked salmon cheesecake...savoury cheesecake to add to my Taart etc. menu for a change. This cheesecake was really good and it's not super rich because I used mascarpone cheese. I find the salted pretzel sticks around the cheesecake really nice.


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  • 02/01/13--11:22: Black Sesame Macarons
  •  photo IMG_9520copycopy_zps14412f19.jpg
    I am really looking forward to try black colored macarons eversince I lay my hands on the black powdered food coloring. To be honest the powdered food coloring I ordered online is more expensive than the ground almonds and in this recipe I almost finish the tiny (3 gm) container but I'm still not satisfied with the color. They look brownish black to me. Anyway, I am so happy to see those pretty ruffled feet once again, because these past few attempts the macaron baking fairy has left me for others. I ended up alone in the kitchen with cracked, overcooked, short feet sometimes feet-less macarons and shattered soul.

    If you succeed at first congratulations! But keep your fingers crossed everytime you make them again because macarons are notorious for being extremely temperamental little divas even though they are only made up of four ingredients. Indeed 100% no fool-proof. So practice, practice and practice. ;-)

    ispahan macarons photo IMG_9334copycopy_zpsb59504f1.jpg
    Example of a not so happy feet macaron.

    ispahan macarons photo IMG_9342copycopycopy_zps7eed4cc1.jpg
    See what I mean?

    I am really thankful to my mother in-law for the never ending supply of ground almonds. I can pratice making macaron anytime I want.

     photo IMG_9507copycopy_zps6feeaa7b.jpg
    Now this is better!
    Black sesame with black sesame white chocolate ganache. Delicious!

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  • 02/01/13--12:53: Caramelized White Chocolate
  • This is for my next week's cake project. For the recipe and instructions please check David Lebovitz  website. My caramelized white chocolate is not deep golden brown like David's but it tastes really awesome! I am looking forward to use this next week.

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    Next to macarons, sponge cake is my worst enemy as everytime I bake it, it always shrink, with lots of air bubbles and bits of flour in it. I mentioned in my previous post that I finally found the perfect sponge cake recipe. Again thanks to YouTube's Cooking With Dog. This was the 3rd time I used the recipe and it was 3rd time the charm.

    If you google Japanese roll cake you will see all these colorful, cute decorated sponge roll cakes. The French invented joconde imprimé, the Japanese took the existing creation and made it more playful and colorful decorated sponge roll cakes. They are very easy to make. You can make your own designs, use stencils or trace a photo of cute cartoon characters like these ones. You can either freeze or bake the design pattern. The idea is to let the design set before spreading the sponge batter. Go on and try it! It is really fun to make. It will brings out the artistic side of you.

    Japanese Roll Cake

    batter to make the pattern on the cake (omit cocoa powder and use few drop of food coloring if you want colorful design)
    2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
    1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
    1 egg white, room temperature
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons cocoa powder, sifted
    • Preheat oven to 180C.
    • Line 8 square pan with wax or parchment paper
    • Beat butter and confectioner’s sugar on medium-high speed until very fluffy.
    • Beat in egg white until well combined, Add flour beat until combined.
    • Divide batter into two. Leave 1st mixture as plain and then add the cocoa powder on the 2nd mixture.
    • Transfer into parchment piping cone. Pipe the batter onto prepared pan with parchment paper in alternating color and then bake at 180C for 1-2 minutes.
    sponge cake adapted from Cooking with Dog
    150g eggs
    100g sugar
    90g cake flour
    15g unsalted butter
    1 tbsp milk
    1 tbsp instant coffee
    • In a metal bowl beat eggs with hand mixer, add sugar at once and beat for 30 seconds. Placed it over the pan of hot water and beat on high speed for 1-2 minutes. If it's warm enough remove from hot water and continue beating.
    • In a small glass bowl combine milk, butter and instant coffee. Then dip into warm water. Continue beating the eggs on high speed until the mixture is thick and pale and beaters leave a thin ribbon. Switch to ballon whisk and whisk the eggs evenly to set the texture.
    • Sift in flour and fold together with spatula about 30 times. Pour the pre-heated milk, butter and coffee to the batter, fold gently about 50 times.
    • When the batter become glossy and smooth, pour the batter and spread evenly over the baked design, then drop the pan lightly on the counter to break big bubbles in the batter.
    • Bake at 180C for 11-12 minutes till lightly brown.
    • When it's done, drop the pan lightly to prevent shrinking. Remove the sponge cake from the pan and let cool completely before filling.
    simple chocolate cream filling
    200ml fresh cream
    2 tbsp. powdered sugar (add more if you prefer sweet)
    3 tbsp cocoa powder
    • Combine fresh cream, cacao powder and powdered sugar in a dry, clean bowl. Float the bottom of the bowl in ice water, whisk the cream until it forms a soft peak.
    • Coat the surface of the sponge cake evenly with the chocolate cream. Leave an inch at both ends.
    • Wrap the cake in the parchment paper and put in the fridge to set.
    • Slice and serve!

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     photo IMG_9568copycopycopy_zps0fe95075.jpg
    Months ago I posted my homemade dried strawberry powder recipe here. Believe it or not it was still in my cupboard and still ok to use. I searched online about the shelf life of dehydrated fruits, it say it can last up to 6-12 months so there I used it to make these macarons. My only regret was I didn't add enough strawberry powder that's why the specks was not visible, but the strawberry scent and flavor was wonderful. And speaking of dehydrated fruits, my dehydrator has arrived and I am ready to enter the world of dehydrating food. Orange, lemon, apple, berries and herbs those are on my list. I also can't wait to use dried raspberry powder to decorate my cakes.

     photo IMG_9573copycopy_edited-1_zpsd07725f3.jpg
    110g powdered sugar
    110g ground almonds
    40g egg whites, aged
    110g sugar
    35g water
    40g egg whites, aged
    powdered pink food coloring
    powdered strawberry
    • Place the ground almonds, powdered sugar, powdered strawberries and food coloring in a food processor and give them a good pulse. Sift the mixture in a clean mixing bowl. Stir the 40g egg whites. Mix until you get a paste consistency and cover with cling film while you make the Italian meringue.
    • Bring the water and sugar to boil at 118C. As soon as the sugar reaches 115C start whisking the 40g of egg whites to soft peaks.
    • Pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites. Whisk and allow the meringue to cool down to 50C, then fold it into the almond/sugar mixture.
    • Spoon the batter into the piping bag and pipe on baking tray lined with baking paper. Let it dry at least 20 minutes or until a skin forms on the surface.
    • Preheat oven to 165C. Bake for 12 minutes.
    • Cool and remove from parchment very carefully once fully cooled. 

    vanilla white chocolate filling
    3 ounces good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
    1/3 cup cream
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1 vanilla pod
    • Place the chopped chocolate into a bowl.
    • Split vanilla pods lenghtwise, scrape all the caviar.
    • In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, butter, vanilla caviar and pod.  
    • Bring to a slow boil, remove vanilla pod and immediately pour over the chocolate. Let sit for a few seconds then stir until smooth and no chocolate lumps.
    • Chill in the refrigerator until thickened.
    • Fill macaron shells and chill for 24 hours.
         photo IMG_9576copycopy_zps90baddf2.jpg
        Preparing dried foods at home is easy with the sunbeam food dehydrator. It allows you to naturally dry a variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs without added preservatives.
         photo IMG_9551copycopy2_zpsff5e786c.jpg
        Of all the macarons I made this was the best combination ever!

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      • 02/11/13--07:10: Dehydrated Fruits
      •  photo IMG_9613copy_edited-2_zps79b8b3d8.jpg
        This is what I did last sunday. I dehydrated few pieces of orange, orange peel, raspberries and strawberries. The strawberries, oranges and peel took 8 hours, the raspberries was 22 hours.

         photo IMG_9601copy1copy_zps2c764efd.jpg
        I grind the orange peel into powder and since I sliced the strawberries too thin, few of them has been broken into pieces so I also grind them to make a new batch of strawberry powder. The color of the strawberries that has been dried in the dehydrator is more brighter than the ones I dried in the oven, and I think the lemon juice also helps retain its color. But next time I will make it slightly thicker so it won't be too fragile.
         photo IMG_9607copy1copy_edited-1_zps162b2053.jpg
        The orange peel powder is perfect for Pieter's baked potato with butter, garlic and fleur de sel Yum! I will also make orange flavored macarons.
         photo IMG_9580copycopy_zps0ca1a189.jpg
        Next week I will dehydrate apple, banana and kiwi. Haha I would love to have a shelf full of dehydrated fruits, veggies  and herbs.

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         photo IMG_9633copycopy_zps37b4ddb6.jpg
        I made Rouge Amour mini dome mousse cake for Pieter and this was the leftover raspberry mousse. Rouge (red) Amour (love) is a combination of rose and raspberry and obviously red which is perfect for Valentines day. The recipe is from daily delicious but I tweaked the raspberry mousse and for this dessert I added rose water in it. The red powder on top is the raspberries I dehydrated last sunday, I grind a few pieces and then sifted to remove the seeds. Tastes really delicious I just hope my mini cake will look good tomorrow.
         photo IMG_9624copycopy_zps0e75a85a.jpg

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      • 02/13/13--14:50: Rouge Amour
      •  photo IMG_9639copycopy_zpse270425b.jpg
        This was the mousse cake I mentioned in my post yesterday. Rouge Amour, the mousse cake I saw from daily delicious blog.
        Vibrant red is very tempting indeed that is why I've decided to make this as a Valentine's cake for Pieter. Guess what? He liked it and he is now officially fan of rose flavored cakes and desserts.
         photo IMG_9656copycopy_zps165a5e4f.jpg
        The things that makes me feel nervous everytime I make entremet is 1st, pouring the glaze because the glaze can turn really messy if not dealing properly. As you can see my glaze isn't perfectly smooth because the glaze wasn't thick enough when I poured it so I redo it again. Good thing I made that heart chocolate to cover the mess haha...shhhh. And 2nd transfering them from the wire rack to the cardboard base or cake stand after glazing without damaging or dropping it.
         photo IMG_9670copycopy_zps46725e29.jpg
        Components from bottom: almond biscuit joconde, rose cream, raspberry mousse and raspberry milk glaze.
         photo IMG_9654copycopy_zpsddaad5c7.jpg
        Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

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      • 02/14/13--15:34: Ponche Pistachio Macarons
      •  photo IMG_9700copycopy_zpsbd2b9412.jpg
        Smooth shiny shell, ruffled foot, foot doesn't poke out, filling stay within the border of the shell. That is how people describe a perfect macaron. Today I tried French meringue method macarons and these was the end result...overly happy feet that the top of the shell look small because the feet poke out too much ugly hé? This was also my first time to use buttercream filling. French meringue method is easy but I think I will stick to Italian meringue method because I had successful batches using this method. I bake my macarons on this non-stick liner and I've read that you will get different outcome if you use silpat or parchment paper. Hmm...I will try silpat then.
         photo image_zps78c3c312.jpg
        Update: Me in bed munching on macaron. The texture was soft and chewy (that's how I like my macaron) and the ponche buttercream isn't too sweet. 

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      • 02/16/13--00:08: Choux Pastry
      •  photo 582668_415556101795853_829491605_n_zps99e0e0c8.png
        A lot of things I missed in The Philippines: My family, friends, weather (not always but I need it now coz it's cold here in Holland), foods, big malls, the apartment I rented in Las Piñas for almost 6 1/2 years and most specially my sky cable. Believe me I can sit infront of the tv the whole day watching cooking shows and travel channel.
        The video below is one of my favorite episode of Laura Calder's French Food at Home. I watched it again today then suddenly remember the Croquembouche in my draft that I forgot to post. This was my very 1st croquembouche that's why It's not perfect yet. You can see the gap all over plus I did not dip the whole choux in sugar syrup like Laura did. But yes! Pieter, Coco and I enjoyed it haha it's like we are plucking fruits from a tree and pop it straight in our mouth.

        Laura made 3 desserts in this episode: Coffee eclairs, Profiteroles with chocolate sauce and Croquembouche. Even though I half the ingredients I still had leftover. So the next day I made savory ones. Cherry tomato, cream cheese and smoked salmon filled profiteroles.
         photo 6426332a-0f8f-4ff1-ba94-7006d9466771_zps3703db21.jpg
        For the Choux Pastry recipe please check here. Omit vanilla if you are going to make savory profiteroles.

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      • 02/17/13--15:32: Homemade Coffee Extract
      •  photo IMG_9747copycopy_zps470ae9e8.jpg
        The advantage of making your own food at home allows you to control and use natural ingredients. The disadvantage is since it has no preservatives it will spoil fast. But according to the recipe this coffee extract can be keep at room temperature indefinitely. Oh well, let's see! Anyway I only made a small jar so most probably it won't last that long haha. By the way this coffee extract is thick and sticky. It is also perfect to drizzle on top of your desserts if you want a strong coffee flavor.

        My beloved Melitta caffeo solo machine.
        homemade coffee extract
        1/2 cup hot espresso
        1 tbsp water
        1/2 cup sugar
        • Combine the sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed pot or pan.
        • Place over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar begins to melt. Swirl the pan over the heat until the syrup darkens to a medium amber color. Careful not to burn it.
        • Remove from the heat, and gently stir in 2 tablespoons of the hot espresso. Beware of splatters.
        • Add the espresso, little by little, until it is all incorporated, stirring well between additions. Return to a boil then remove from the heat.
        • Let cool. Store in a glass jar at room temperature.

           photo IMG_9721copycopy_zps20c299ff.jpg

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      • 02/20/13--23:41: Kefta Tagine
      • Please don't laugh. Last month I bought this super cheap electric tagine from one of the kitchen appliance store here in Holland. Actually I have a terracotta tagine but it was too big and until now I haven't season it. This electric tagine is not ceramic or terracotta pot, it's just a heat resistant coated pot with plastic lid. Althought the heat is automatic I am still not sure if it's good for long hours of cooking because I am afraid that the plastic lid might melt or something. Anyway, I made Kefta Tagine, this was my first use and so far it was still ok. Haha
         photo image_zpsd4353868.jpg
        Kefta Tagine is a Moroccan meatballs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce and top with eggs. Pieter and I ate it with fresh baguette, it was so delicious that we finished the whole pot.

        kefta tagine -

        kefta meatballs 
        1 lb. (about 1/2 kg) ground beef or lamb (or a combination of the two)
        1 medium onion, chopped very fine
        2 tsp paprika
        1 tsp cumin
        1 tsp salt
        1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
        1/4 tsp pepper
        1/4 tsp hot paprika (or 1/8 teaspoon ground hot pepper)
        1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
        1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
        • Combine all of the kefta ingredients, using your hands to knead in the spices and herbs. Shape the kefta mixture into very small meatballs the size of large cherries – about 3/4 inch in diameter.

        tomato sauce
        2 lbs. (about 1 kg) fresh, ripe tomatoes
        1 medium onion, very finely chopped (optional)
        1 1/2 tsp paprika
        1 1/2 tsp cumin
        1 1/2 tsp salt
        1/2 tsp hot paprika or 1/4 teaspoon ground hot pepper
        3 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
        3 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
        3 cloves garlic, pressed
        1/3 cup olive oil
        3 or 4 eggs (optional)
        • Peel, seed and chop the tomatoes in half, seed them and grate them. (I used food processor)
        • Mix the tomatoes, onions (if using) and the rest  of the sauce ingredients in the base of a tagine or in a large, deep skillet. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. (Note: if using a tagine, place a diffuser between the tagine and burner and allow 10 to 15 minutes for the tomato sauce to reach a simmer.)
        • Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low, just enough to maintain the simmer but low enough to avoid scorching. allow the tomatoes to cook for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
        • Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce, along with a little water 1/4 cup (60 ml) is usually sufficient  and cover. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the sauce is thick.
        • Break the eggs over the top of the meatballs, and cover. Cook for an additional 7 to 10 minutes, until the egg whites are solid and the yolks are partially set. Serve immediately.
        • Kefta Mkaouara is traditionally served from the same dish in which it was prepared, with each person using crusty moroccan bread for scooping up the meatballs from his own side of the dish.
         photo image_zps8f046d3b.jpg
        By the way, I also dehydrated some fruits yesterday. :-D

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      • 02/24/13--09:39: Orange Praline Macarons
      • This macaron was inspired by Sadaharu AOKI's Valencia, orange, nut and chocolate combo. For the orange flavor I added dried orange peel to the macaron shell and then sprinkled more on top for decoration as well. For the filling I used milk chocolate and my homemade praline. My first plan is to add orange marmalade but since orange peel is concentrated I find the flavor strong already. And one more thing, I am not really crazy about hazelnut so I only used a small amount of praline paste, just enough to get the taste but not overpowering. Next time I will make pecan or macadamia praline paste instead of hazelnut and add more food coloring because it wasn't orange enough to my liking ;-). But you can substitute half of the ground almond to ground hazelnut if you are really into hazelnut.
        Macaron once you've mastered it the possibilities are endless...colors, flavours and fillings. One basic recipe but once you change the colors and fillings you'll get new macarons.
         photo IMG_9784copy2copy_zps908976c0.jpg

        110g powdered sugar
        110g ground almonds 
        40g egg whites, aged
        110g sugar
        35g water
        40g egg whites, aged
        1 tsp dried orange peel
        powdered orange food coloring
        • Place the ground almonds, powdered sugar, dried orange peel and food coloring in a food processor and give them a good pulse. Sift the mixture in a clean mixing bowl. 
        • Stir the 40g egg whites. Mix until you get a paste consistency and cover with cling film while you make the Italian meringue.
        • Bring the water and sugar to boil at 118C. As soon as the sugar reaches 115C start whisking the 40g of egg whites to soft peaks.
        • Pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites. Whisk and allow the meringue to cool down to 50C, then fold it into the almond/sugar mixture.Spoon the batter into the piping bag and pipe on baking tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with finely chopped dried orange peel. Let it dry for at least 20 minutes or until a skin forms on the surface.
        • Preheat oven to 165C. Bake for 12 minutes.
        • Cool and remove from parchment very carefully once fully cooled. 

        100g milk chocolate
        80g heavy cream
        15g butter, softened
        2 tbsp praline paste
        • Chop the milk chocolate into small pieces. Combine chocolate and praline paste in a bowl.
        • Boil the heavy cream and pour over chocolate and praline. Stir until incorporated and the ganache forms. 
        • Wait a couple of minutes for the ganache to cool a bit and add the softened butter. 
        • Stir until it emulsifies. Let set a little and fill the macarons. Let the macarons mature at least 24 hours in the fridge.
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        Almond, orange and chocolate...indeed a nice contrast of flavor.

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