Sunday, May 30, 2010

Milo Cupcakes with Condensed Milk Icing

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I am in LOVE with these cupcakes. How could I not be? They are full of milo-ey goodness and dripping with condensed milk. They are AWESOME. And if you are like me, and like Milo (and cupcakes), you have to make these. I grew up with Milo, as most Malaysians do. Did you know that in Malaysia, Milo supposedly has a 90% brand share of their market? That is a lot of Malaysians drinking Milo every day. Though over there you tend to hear it pronounced as 'Mee-low' rather than 'My-low', which I think is a much cuter name :)
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So it's been a while since I last made cupcakes. I've had the idea for this flavour sitting in my head for a little bit, and as soon as I ordered these adorable silicon tea cupcake moulds online I knew that I had to make these Milo cupcakes in them. (EDIT: For those wondering, I got my teacupcake moulds from Urban Outfitters, here) I wanted them to be chock full of malty chocolate flavour, with a sticky sweetened condensed milk buttercream on top. If you have not had the pleasure of enjoying a Milo with sweetened condensed milk, you haven't LIVED yet. I was a little nervous since I was just sort of making up the recipe as I went. But luckily, they turned out even better than I had hoped.
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The batter has quite a bit of sour cream which stops it from being dry. Because of the sour cream, I had the confidence to leave my cupcakes in the oven until they had a nice golden crust on top, so they had a little bit of crunch on the outside while still being fluffy and soft in the middle. And they smelt incredible. SO GOOD!!! And then I used some lightly salted butter for my buttercream, rather than just plain unsalted butter, which stopped it from being too toothachingly sweet from the sweetened condensed milk. And then on top of these cupcakes I drizzled a little bit of extra condensed milk and Milo. Even though I had only made a small batch and was supposed to save them so I could photograph them, I immediately scoffed one within minutes of icing them. And then I did a little dance around my kitchen.
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Milo Cupcakes with Condensed Milk Icing
(makes 10-12 cupcakes)
200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
150-200g Milo (adjust to taste, I take it by the bucketful)
1 tsp vanilla extract
180g sour cream
170g unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs

150g slightly salted butter (or unsalted + a pinch of salt)
300g icing sugar, sifted
5 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
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Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Fill cupcake tray with liners. If using a food processor, place flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb, Milo, vanilla, sour cream, butter, sour cream and eggs in the food processor and pulse until the mixture is combined and smooth.
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If not using a food processor, sift flour, bicarb and baking powder in a bowl and set aside. Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer in a large mixing bowl and then beat in eggs one at a time until combine. Add sour cream, vanilla and milo and beat until just combined. Add flour mixture and beat on low until just combined. Fill cupcake liners until 3/4 full and bake for approx 15-20 mins or a skewer inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. For the best texture, the cakes should be dark golden brown on top and firm to the touch and after cooling for 1 minute out of the oven. Cool on a wire rack.
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To make the icing, remove butter from the fridge 30 mins ahead of time. Beat butter until light and fluffy and then beat in icing sugar until combined. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat until combined.
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Pipe or spoon over the top of cupcakes when they are cooled and drizzle some extra condensed milk over the top. Finish with a sprinkle of Milo. Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge overnight.
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cupcake Croquembouche - Daring Bakers May 2010

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"What is THAT?!" You ask? That's what I have been asking myself while staring at this photo. It was supposed to be a chocolate and raspberry croquembouche, stacked into the shape of a cupcake. But things didn't quite go to plan, so it turned out a little messy. All I think when I look at the photo is PAIN. Burning. Mess. Ouch. Those of you in Australia who watched Masterchef last year will be more than familiar with the croquembouche, and the struggles the contestants had with it - flat choux pastry, sugar burns, collapsing cones. Let me just say, I have a renewed respect for those Masterchef contestants.
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The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

Life has gotten in the way of my participation in Daring Baker's challenges recently, but it was impossible to pass up this challenge. I've made choux pastry in the past with my eclair notdogs, but I've never assembled an entire croquembouche. And I always love to try something new. Even though...*whispers* I don't like them. Don't hate me! I've just always found choux pastry a little too close to cardboard in texture and flavour, and the combination of it with the hard , crunchy toffee doesn't appeal to me. Perhaps it's just because I experienced too many bad croquembouches at birthday parties, when I all I wanted was a big piece of cake.
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But I had to give it a shot. I was curious to see how difficult it would be to create one, without a mould like the metal cone they used in Masterchef. And I wanted to make one that looked like a raspberry cupcake (Get it?? Like me, Raspberri Cupcakes! *snort* yes I'm a total dork :P). So I set about giving it a go. Slow and steady, stress free. I spent one day making the pate a choux; I did one batch with added cocoa powder so they were chocolate, and another batch with pink food colouring. Then I whipped up two batches of pastry cream - one was a gorgeous chocolate crème patissiere and the other was flavoured with raspberry puree. I followed the recipe exactly, though I piped my choux a little smaller than normal as I figured that would make it easier to stack into a weird shape like a cupcake. The little choux puffed up perfectly, hollow and round. It is REALLY fun to bake choux pastry. I love the way they transform from lumps of gluey looking batter into these cute, crisp little puff balls.
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Then the next day rolled around. I was cool, calm and collected, filling my choux with pastry creme and dissolving sugar for my first pot of hard caramel glaze. Then it all went a bit pear-shaped. It didn't take long to get my first painful sugar burn while dipping those little choux into the caramel. After that I was wayyy too frazzled to care about how the damn thing looked. It started looking wonky, and the caramel was messily distributed over the choux, but I didn't care! I just wanted to get the thing finished so I could nurse my blisters. So I crankily rushed and finished it, practically threw some silver cachous on top, couldn't be bothered doing any spun sugar and flung a ribbon on it. Not made with love. But it tasted good. And it kind of looks like a cupcakebouche...I guess? Just not quite as pretty as I'd originally envisaged. And in the end, it was worth the 5 or so blisters I got, because it was a real challenge, it was new and it was fun. Next time, (not that I really think there will be a next time), I will remember to dip all my choux with the same amount of toffee so they look more uniform.
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Raspberry & Chocolate Cupcake Croquembouche
(based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri)
For the pâte à choux (Yield: About 28, or 40 smaller ones)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.
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Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs. As I added the last egg, I added about 3 tsp cocoa powder to one batch of batter, and made another batch with pink food colouring added (for the ones that would later be filled with raspberry pastry creams).
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Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets (mine were closer to 3/4 inch). Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.
Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).
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Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool. Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.
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For the crème patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla
For the chocolate pastry cream: 1/4 cup milk + 80g semisweet chocolate
For the raspberry pastry cream: 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries - pureed and strained

If doing chocolate pastry cream: bring milk to the boil in a small pan, remove from the heat and stir in chocolate until completely melted and combined. Set aside to cool.

Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat. Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook. Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter, vanilla, and chocolate mixture (if making chocolate pastry cream) or raspberry puree (if making raspberry pastry cream). Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.
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When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.
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For the hard caramel glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice
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Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately. Use the chocolate choux for the base of your 'cupcake' and the raspberry choux for the top. Decorate with sprinkles, cachous and ribbons. (Hopefully a little neater than I did) Thanks to Cat for this extremely fun challenge!
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Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Tea Room, Gunners' Barracks, Mosman

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I've been looking forward to this for a long time. If you have been following my blog long enough, you will know of my love for afternoon teas, in particular my obsession with scones. I very badly wanted to visit Gunners' Barracks for my birthday last year, but unfortunately they were fully booked and we ended up having those horrible, cheesy fail scones at Sir Stamford. So as soon as we could, we were booked in for a table at The Tea Room. I had visited the QVB Tea Room, which was the best high tea I'd had in Sydney so far, so I had a good feeling that these would make up for the last cheesy scones. The location is gorgeous - a popular wedding venue, and with the Royal Albert china, I knew I would like the setting for this afternoon tea.
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As we walk in, we can see the other tables enjoying their afternoon teas. The room looks warm, cozy and inviting on this particularly cool day. Unfortunately for us, our table is out on the balcony, exposed to a rather chilly sea breeze. On most other days I would have LOVED to be outside, with the stunning view over the water and sunshine, but unluckily for us the wind was biting and our fingertips were soon icy. The staff were as helpful as they could be, pulling an outdoor heater closer to us, and providing us with these fantastic thick shrugs to wrap around us.
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I had been planning to use this outing as an excuse to try out my borrowed DSLR for the first time, but annoyingly I forgot it so you will have to put up with the usual point & shoot photos. We quickly decided what teas we wanted from their wide selection, eager to get something steamy and hot to drink. The service was wonderful, efficient and friendly and it doesn't take long for our tea, plates and tiers of food to be whisked over to our table.
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The three tiers of sweets elicits the expected coos and squeals from the girls. Because we are quite a large table, the sandwiches, scones and warm savouries come out on separate plates. I'm pleasantly surprised by the serving sizes - there's definitely more food than what I had at the QVB tea room.
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Blueberry Muffin Tea
The cold weather is quickly forgotten once the tea and food arrives. It didn't take me long to pick my tea, how could I choose anything else after seeing they had a blueberry muffin flavoured tea?! It was lovely, it really did smell like freshly baked blueberry muffins without being too sweet or artificial and I finished my first pot quickly. The staff were more than happy to top up our emptied tea pots with more hot water.
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Finger Sandwiches - Roast Beef, Egg Salad, Smoked Salmon
Excuse me if I'm a little vague on the descriptions of all the food we ate, we never actually had anyone explain exactly what we were served. But it wasn't too hard to guess, the sandwiches were quite large for finger sandwiches. So large that I only managed to eat one of the three that I was given. The one I ate was tasty, with moist roast beef and nice slathering as horseradish cream. Though I do kind of wish they had my favourite cucumber sandwiches on offer.

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Samosas with yoghurt dipping sauce and asparagus puff pastry tartlets (behind)
The warm savoury food was quite nice, better than many of the savouries I've had at other high teas. The samosas had a nice big sprinkling of sea salt on top which went with with the lightly fragrant filling. The bite sized puff pastry was light and flaky, with a nice asparagus filling.
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Scones
The most important measure of a good high tea, the scones. The were HUGE!! Though they were as beautifully golden and crunchy on the outside and fluffy and soft in the middle, I kind of wish they were a little bit smaller like their QVB cousins. They filled me up so much that I could barely finish mine and it stopped me from eating other things.
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The scones came served with cream and blueberry jam. It was interesting to see them serving something other than strawberry jam, and though this might have bothered me any other day, it went well with my blueberry muffin tea so I was happy. The scones went cold very quickly thanks to the wind, but there was not much anyone could do about that :(
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Cheesecake and glazed apricot cakes
After a short break to recover my appetite, I eagerly tucked into the sweets that sat prettily on the three tiered stand. The cheesecake was quite nice, the base was a little soggy but the filling was soft and fluffy. I think it may have been mascarpone, which went well with the slice of glazed strawberry on top. We weren't sure what the little cakes were, at first glance they almost looked like profiteroles sitting inside patty cake cases, but they were actually these gorgeous buttery peach cakes and I gobbled mine up.
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Chocolate and orange macaron and a layered chocolate sponge cake
The little chocolate gateau sounded like it tasted delicious, apparently with coffee and chocolate but there were also nuts in one of the layers so I had to give it a miss. Though I tend to avoid eating macarons these days since I make them often enough to be sick of them, this was one macaron that I could not skip. It was perfectly baked, not cloyingly sweet like many macarons thanks to the orange flavour and a rich chocolate ganache. It was perfect to nibble on while sipping at my tea. I've had issues with getting the temperature right in my oven while making macs recently and I was wishing I could make mine this well.
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Without knowing it, we had saved the best part for last. Sitting on the top of our trays were these adorable little ramekins full of silky smooth mango pudding and sago. The mango pudding was so moreish, with a good punch of mango flavour. The light, smooth pudding went perfectly with the little bubbles of tapioca, and I was scraping my ramekin to get every last morsel.
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Mango pudding with tapioca
We didn't stick around too long after, since the warmth from the tea and scones was wearing off and the wind was still rather gusty. I didn't realise they had a weekend surcharge, so our afternoon tea ended up costing $44 per person, which is pretty darn expensive for afternoon tea in Sydney. But you are paying for the quality and the location, and I was quite happy to pay it. It was a shame that it had been so windy, otherwise I would have definitely enjoyed the view a lot more and would have not wanted to be indoors. I think next time I will have to come on a warmer day, or specifically try to get a table inside. If you are going to visit Gunners' Barracks, make sure you book well ahead of time to avoid disappointment, they are always booked up. Even though nothing can beat a freshly baked homemade scone, the scones served up at both the Tea Rooms are probably the best you'll find around Sydney, and the desserts at Gunners' Barracks are some of the best I've had at an afternoon tea.
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Ooh sailboats!
The Tea Room Gunners' Barracks
End of Suakin Drive,
Off Middle Head Road,
Georges Heights, NSW 2088

(02)8962 5900
Morning tea served daily from 11am-12pm
Afternoon tea served daily from 11am
Tea Room Gunners' Barracks on Urbanspoon
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Matcha Mousse with Honeycomb

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I have a lot of pet peeves. Most of them are the typical ones that I think a lot of people have - I can't stand people who can't figure out the difference to between you're and your (this seems to be a disease spreading rapidly through the pointless fan pages of Facebook). I cringe at people who drag their feet across the ground rather than picking them up and taking proper steps. I contemplate bloody murder when someone attempts to blast their awful music from the tinny speakers on their mobile phone, subjecting the rest of the train/bus/waiting room to their bad taste. I'm sure there any many others but then this post would get reeeeeally long.
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One of my pet peeves in the kitchen is watching leftover baking ingredients go bad. I somehow always end up with a little bit of cream, or a couple of egg yolks sitting sadly in my fridge, begging me not to waste them. And it happens SO often, because there are just days where I will have complete mind blanks when it comes to thinking of a good, quick recipe to use them up. Luckily for me, a good recipe came to mind the other day.
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Of course, as soon as I thought of what I wanted to make, I realised I was missing a key ingredient and had to run down to the petrol station in the rain to grab it, but it was totally worth it. Half an hour later I had whipped up these dreamy green tea & white chocolate mousses, using up the extra cream and egg whites I had sitting in my fridge (after using up more of the cream and egg yolks to make carbonara for dinner that night, YUM).
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I decided to make some homemade honeycomb to go with it, which had the perfect crunchy texture to go with this light, fluffy mousse. Crunchy bubbles versus soft bubbles. Plus the sweetness from the honeycomb was just what was needed to balance out the slight bitterness from the matcha. In case you haven't noticed, I've had a little bit of an obsession with candy recently, making marshmallows and lollipops. I've always wanted to make honeycomb, and this recipe worked out pretty well. The honeycomb was golden, bubbly and super crunchy, though like any honeycomb after you eat it for a little while it sticks to your teeth like crazy! Even so, I ate SO much of it. Anyway, this dessert had my sugar cravings satisfied and had the added bonus of using up my extra cream :)
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Matcha White Chocolate Mousse with Homemade Honeycomb
(adapted this white choc mousse recipe from bill's food and this honeycomb recipe from Best Recipes, serves approx 6)
For the green tea mousse:
250g white chocolate
80ml milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, separated
375ml pouring cream
1-2 tsp matcha (green tea) powder, adjusted to taste

For the honeycomb:
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup golden syrup
1/3 cup water
2 tsp bicarb soda, sifted
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Line a medium cake tin with baking paper, I used a 28 x 18 slice tin but a 20cm square tin would work as well. Place white chocolate, milk and vanilla in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Heat until the chocolate is just melted, stirring regularly. Cool for 5 minutes, then beat in egg yolks one at a time until well combined. When beating in the last egg, add matcha powder. (Adjust amount of matcha depending on how strong you want it to be, I like mine strong)

Whip cream to soft peaks in a separate bowl, and then gently fold into warm mixture until just combined. In a separate clean large mixing bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold in the rest of the mixture into the egg whites until just combined, and then pour into serving glasses. Chill for 3-4 hours or overnight in the fridge.
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For the honeycomb, place golden syrup, sugar and water in a heavy based pan with high sides with a sugar thermometer, and place on low heat. Stir continuously until the sugar dissolves completely and the mixture boils. Increase the heat until the mixture reaches 132 degrees C, and then maintain this temperature for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, until most of the larger bubbles have disappeared.

Quickly beat in bicarb soda into mixture with a wooden spoon, the mixture should froth up quickly. Pour mixture into prepared tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove from tin and line all sides with extra baking paper, wrap in a kitchen towel and gently break up into smaller pieces using a rolling pin. Serve over the top of matcha mousse, with extra pieces on the side.
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Mousse can be stored for a couple of days in the fridge, the honeycomb in an airtight container.
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Quince Sherbert Marshmallows

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It's funny how my appetite is nearly completely ruled by the weather. But in weird ways. For some reason I want to eat more ice cream when it gets colder. And salads! On the flip slide, I'm craving all those lovely fuzzy, warm things like soup and hot chocolate that you would expect to crave in winter. This is part of the reason why I had to make some marshmallows at home. I've never made them before, but have always wanted to. The leftover syrup from my slow baked quinces was the perfect flavouring for these marshmallows, as well as the leftover fizzy sherbert powder from my beetroot lollipops. So if you happen to try either of those recipes, here's a great way to use up your leftover stuff.
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Consider this post the second part of my magical quince rant. I had a few pieces of leftover quince, enough to puree and add to my marshmallows for a punchier flavour. When I whipped them up in my food processor they turned into a very light, frothy paste, which was kind of perfect for adding to the marshmallows without affecting their texture. You need to take care with the moisture coming out of the marshmallows, as you can guess-any moisture will screw up the fizzy sherbert powder. It's best to only add the sherbert right before you serve it, just in case.
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I was surprised by how easy and fun it was to make marshmallows, and they turned out so fluffy and delicious! I adapted the recipe from a Gourmet Traveller recipe, adding the quince puree and the spiced quinced sugar syrup instead of making new sugar syrup. The taste of quince was unmistakable, making these so moreish! The flavour of all the spices gave the marshmallows a lovely fragrance and the sherbert added a great zing. Marshmallows are just so fun!
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My one regret is that I was in such a rush to cut these up that I ended up cutting them as cubes and not using a fun cookie cutter to make them even cuter. But I'll just have to save that idea for my next batch ;) Yep I'll definitely be doing more marshmallows from now on...

Quince Sherbert Marshmallows
(adapted from this Gourmet Traveller recipe)
25g gelatine powder
1/2 cup quince puree
200ml spiced quince sugar syrup (substitute with 200ml water, 500g caster sugar + 1 cinnamon stick, 4 star anise, 2 black pepper corns, 1 vanilla bean split and scraped)
1 tbsp liquid glucose
2 large egg whites
Snow sugar or 1/2 cup icing sugar + 2 tbsp corn starch for dusting

For the sherbert powder:
75 g citric acid
95 g pure icing sugar
1 tbsp bicarb soda

Line a 20cm square baking tin. Combine quince puree and gelatine in a small saucepan on low heat and stir until the gelatine dissolves. Set aside. Place sugar syrup and liquid glucose in a medium saucepan and gently heat with a sugar thermometer inserted. Heat until it reaches 125 degrees C.
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In the meantime, beat eggwhites in a large mixing bowl to stiff peaks. While continuing to beat, add gelatine mixture and sugar syrup mixture to the eggwhites at the same time, in a steady, thin stream. Place thermometer in bowl, and continue to beat until the mixture cools to 37 degrees C. Pour into lined baking tin and leave to set overnight at room temperature. Remove from tin, cut up and toss snow or icing sugar mixture. To make the sherbert powder, mix all three ingredients together and dust over marshmallows. Serve immediately with lots of extra sherbert. Both marshmallows and sherbert can be stored in separate airtight containers.
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