Archive for July 2013 | Monthly archive page

A mousse that is really “speedy” to make, and “speedy” to eat. This recipe is courtesy of the Australian “Delicious” magazine, and makes a rich, fluffy, chocolatey mousse.

Ingredients:

300g dark chocolate, chopped 3 eggs 1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar 1 Tbs. cocoa powder, sifted 300ml whipping cream

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (i.e. place a bowl over a pot of simmering water, gently heat the bowl using the steam). Stir the chocolate until melted. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Place eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat for 5 minutes with an electric beater, or until mixture is pale, thick and doubled in volume. Fold in cooled chocolate and cocoa powder until combined.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream (do not over-beat!). Use a large metal spoon to carefully fold the cream into the chocolate mixture, trying to keep the mixture as light as possible. Spoon or pipe the mixture into serving glasses or ramekins and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Remove from fridge 15 minutes before serving, then top with Nicoletta nonpareils, extra whipped cream or chocolate popping candy.

This recipe makes 6 large servings.

This frosting recipe is a cooked meringue (no Salmonella here thanks!). There are three techniques to making meringue (French/Swiss/Italian), and each can be used to create the perfect meringue for its purpose.

French Meringue – is an uncooked meringue, and the least stable of the three. Granular sugar is gradually added to the soft-peak-beaten egg whites, the result is a smooth, fluffy and light meringue, which is perfect for soufflés and pie toppings.

Swiss Meringue – is made by whipping sugar and egg whites vigorously over a pot of simmering water (the sugar and egg whites should be very warm to the touch before whipping them). This method creates a more dense, firm and fine texture, perfect for baking crisp meringues.

Italian Meringue –  this is made with a sugar syrup that has been heated to the soft-ball stage (112°C). The syrup is poured slowly into soft-peak-beaten egg whites to create voluminous, firm and glossy peaks. It is the most stable of meringues and makes great icings and mousses.

This mixture will happily adorn 24 cupcakes:

1 cup sugar 1/2 cup water 4 egg whites

Place the sugar and water in a heavy based pan. Slowly bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 8 minutes, or until reaching “soft ball” stage. If you are using a sugar thermometer this will be at a temperature of 112°C. Beat the egg whites until foamy, remove the sugar syrup from the heat and pour the syrup in a thin consistent stream over the beaten egg whites while beating. Continue beating the mixture until the icing is thick and glossy. Get ready to ice/ pipe this as a topping to cupcakes, baked Alaska or meringue pie.

We topped our meringue iced cupcakes with Nicoletta marzipan fruits and fondant fruits (made using Ready to Roll Fondant).

Check out our tips and tricks to making the perfect meringues. Here is a handy guide to heating sugar, whether you use a thermometer or the droplet method.

Sugar Stages

°C

Characteristics of Sugar syrup dropped into a glass of cool water – Thread stage 102 Forms a liquid thread that will not ball up. Soft Ball stage 112 Forms a soft, flexible ball. Firm ball stage 118 Forms a firm ball. Hard ball stage 121 Forms thick, “ropy” threads as it drips from the spoon, forms a hard ball in water. Soft crack stage 129 Forms solid threads that, when removed from the water, are flexible, not brittle. Hard crack stage 143 Forms hard, brittle threads that break when bent Clear liquid 160 At this temperature all the water has boiled away. The remaining sugar is liquid and light amber in colour. Brown liquid 170 At this stage the liquefied sugar turns brown in colour due to caramelisation Burnt sugar 176 The sugar begins to burn and develops a bitter, burnt taste.

 

This lemon meringue is the hero of desserts, it runs through the streets fighting crime and blasting villains with its Vitamin C super charged weapons of war. We love this recipe for its zingy lemon tart and fluffy meringue topping.

Ingredients:

1 packet tennis biscuits 3 Tbs. melted butter 1 tin Condensed milk 2 egg yolks 125ml lemon juice (2-3 small lemons) Zest of 1 small lemon 4 egg whites 125ml castor sugar

This recipe makes enough to fill a 20-25cm flan dish.

Crush the tennis biscuits and mix in the melted butter, flatten the crumbs into an ovenproof flan dish.  Mix the condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice and zest; and pour into the biscuit base. Beat 4 egg whites to soft peaks and add 1 Tbs. at a time of sugar till the meringue is voluminous, glossy and white; the meringue should have stiff peaks and no sugar granules present. Spoon the meringue onto the lemon tart and spread to create snowy peaks/ pipe the meringue using a piping bag. Use these tips and tricks to create the perfect meringue.

Decorate your meringue with cake crystals/ confetti; we used heavenly heart wafers that don’t disintegrate in the oven! Bake at 160°C for 10 minutes. The baking process is to cook the meringue and caramelise the top. Once your peaks are golden remove the lemon meringue from the oven.

Allow it to cool and then place in the fridge till the lemon tart is set. Do not leave in the fridge overnight, as this leads to a soggy meringue.

Enjoy your sweet, lemony, mouth watering piece of satisfaction.

Soggy, discoloured, collapsed, grainy, sweating meringue? We address some worries and let you in on some secret weapons for dealing with meringues.

Meringue (egg white and sugar) is a fussy animal. Creating a stable, fluffy, glossy and white meringue is all about incorporating air and keeping the bubbles intact.As egg proteins denature during the whipping/ heating process, and form a protective film around the incorporated air bubbles.

Certain techniques and ingredients can work to destabilise the protective film/ enhance the formation of a stable texture.

 

 

 

 

Here are 14 tips to make the perfect, no-flop meringues.

One of the most important rules of meringue making is that all of your equipment must be squeaky clean, without any water or oil present. (Metal or glass mixing bowls are best for yielding voluminous beaten egg whites as plastic can retain fat and grease.) Cream of tartar/vinegar/ lemon juice – work to stabilise egg whites, increasing their heat tolerance and volume; as well as prevent sugar syrups from crystallising; they also help the meringue to be white & crisp but remain fluffy and sticky on the inside. Use an automatic mixer, unless you want to do it by hand (in which case you will have 1 arm of steel, and your new nickname will be “the claw”). Use caster sugar as the small grains dissolve easily in the foamy mixture. Add the sugar in a painfully slow manner – tablespoon by tablespoon at the soft-peak stage. (When you have added all the sugar, spoon a little meringue onto your finger and rub to feel any undissolved sugar crystals).  Undissolved sugar will weigh down the meringue and attract moisture  to form beading, the formation of water droplets on the surface. Do not make meringues that have less than 2 tablespoons of sugar per egg white. If you use any less, the foam will not set and the meringue will shrink.  Soft, chewy meringues are usually made with equal parts sugar and egg white, while hard meringues uses 2 parts sugar for every egg white. Cold eggs separate easily, but eggs whip to a higher volume when at room temperature. The solution is to separate the cold eggs, and then set them aside for 10 or 15 minutes. Be careful not to drop any yolk into your whites. If you lose any bits of shell, scoop them out with a clean spoon rather than your fingers. Even a small amount of yolk can deflate the egg whites, so be careful. Don’t under-whip as the meringue will weep and become soggy, similarly, don’t over-whip as the meringue will collapse. Soft peaks are fine for a pie topping, but for a dessert base such as a pavlova, you need stiff, glossy peaks. Wedge open the oven door during cooking to develop crisp dry meringues and prevent overheating; use a low temperature and long baking time. Allow the meringues to remain in the oven after baking. This helps dry them out. Try and avoid making meringues on a humid day. The sugar in the meringue attracts moisture and makes it chewy. It may take longer for the meringue to bake and dry out in the oven. Don’t undercook your meringue as it may weep (water-loss), similarly, don’t overcook your meringue as this causes syrup beading. Meringues are finished baking when they are crisp on the outside, and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Once ready to bake, add other ingredients. Fold through cocoa/spices /flavourings, or roll the meringues in nuts/ sprinkles.

In light of current research on gluten and its effects on the body (outside of the coeliac aversion to gluten), we have put together some information on gluten-reduced baking techniques.

Firstly, what is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, triticale (cross between wheat and rye), kamut and spelt (ancient forms of wheat). Oats are usually put in this category because they may contain cross contamination with wheat. The gluten protein is responsible for the glue-like elasticity that is present in batters and doughs.

Why are people choosing to avoid gluten?

People suffering from wheat allergies, coeliac disease, gluten intolerance / sensitivity are affected by the protein in a way that stimulates an allergic response, causing uncomfortable symptoms and reduced optimal health.

Wheat allergy – is one of the rarer common food allergies, whose symptoms include exercise / aspirin induced anaphylaxis as well as skin rashes.

Coeliac disease – is a genetic autoimmune disease that creates inflammation throughout the body, and progressively destroys the nutrient-absorbing villi in your small intestine. Gluten exacerbates this response in coeliac patients. This chronic digestive disorder leads to the malabsorption of minerals and nutrients. Coeliac disease has wide-ranging effects across all organs and joints.

Gluten intolerance/ sensitivity – is reactivity to consuming gluten. Although it poses less severe symptoms when compared to coeliac disease; these symptoms include bloating, abdominal discomfort or pain, diarrhoea, muscular disturbances and bone or joint pain.

“Gluten sensitivity” represents a completely different condition from coeliac disease, and most of the people who suffer from gluten sensitivity will never develop coeliac. Research into gluten sensitivity is evolving rapidly and the differences between these two conditions stems from differing immune system responses.

It has been noted that gluten is not only responsible for allergic reactions, but has been known to “provoke” a number of diseases (according to a review paper in The New England Journal of Medicine), such as osteoporosis, irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease, anaemia, cancer, fatigue, canker sores, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and almost all other autoimmune diseases. Gluten has also been linked to many psychiatric and neurological diseases, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, dementia, migraines, epilepsy, and neuropathy (nerve damage).  It has also been linked to autism.

Gluten free baking techniques

Gluten free grains include rice, maize/corn (polenta /maizina), quinoa, millet, buckwheat, oats, and sorghum. These grains can be made into flour and are useful to replace gluten flour in baking. Many people who struggle to process wheat find that spelt is acceptable. Also, there is trend toward using almond meal/ nut flours and coconut flours as well as bean/ legume flours in baking (as grain alternatives).

Gluten free Grain flours Other Gluten free Flours Gluten free Starches Corn flour Coconut flour Tapioca/ cassava flour Rice flour Almond/ Hazelnut flour Potato starch (not flour!) Millet flour Chickpea flour Arrowroot flour Sorghum flour Buckwheat flour Corn starch Oat flour Bean (garbanzo/ flava) flour

Often the final baked product (when using gluten free flour) may have a denser texture due to the reduced presence of elastic proteins that stretch to allow aeration of the baked goods.  The texture may be gummier and the mixture may require more cooking time/ added moisture and fibre. Gluten free baking seems to be about trial and error – whether the chosen flour is right for your recipe – one will have to find out?

If baking with gluten free flours (rather than altering a current recipe), look for gluten-free recipe alternatives (at least these recipes have been tried and tested)! There are also recipes for Gluten-Free Flour blends that can be found online, this blend can be used to substitute gluten flour in a favourite recipe. Alternatively look out for gluten free pancake or muffin mixes, and then use these as a flour substitute, since they have already been blended to give a good baked texture.

Once your gluten-free goodies are baked, try our range of Non-Wheat/ Non-Gluten cake decorations (Ready to Roll Fondant, Cake Confetti, and Cake Crystals, Stationery for Cakes, Heavenly Hearts, Chocolate Popping Candy, Chocolate Hearts and Buttons, Shimmer, Writing icing, Soft centred pearls, Soft silver “bling” balls).