Monday, 16 January 2017

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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Happy birthday little r - Mrs A. B. Marshall's Cornets & Meringues

My how fast the year flies.  It only seemed like yesterday that I was busy in the kitchen mastering a violet croquembouche for little r's birthday when in a blink of an eye another birthday has arrived!

This year I've made something different.  Inspired by a woman that was quite the celebrity chef and entrepreneur back in the Victorian times - that coincidently shares the same surname as me - I decided to make some intricate little sweet fancies that would not only be just perfect for a little girls birthday party but would also withstand the scrutiny of aristocrats at a banquet table.  My sweet treats are perhaps not as perfect as Mrs A. B. Marshall's but nonetheless perfect for little r.
Mix together 113g ground almonds with 56g of caster sugar, and 56g of fine flour, a pinch of salt, one whole egg, 1/4 tsp of vanilla essence, and 1/2 tablespoon of orange flower water to form a paste.  

Note: I decided not to follow Mrs A. B. Marshall's method to make the cornets instead relying on the convenience of modern technology - cooking cornets in an oven is soooo one hundred & twenty six years ago! 

Heat a mini pizzelle iron.  To make the cornets, place a teaspoon of the mixture into the pizzelle.  Allow to cook for a few seconds then remove and roll into a cone.  Allow to cool then garnish the edges with pink and white royal icing (see recipe below).

Royal Icing

Mix 113g of icing sugar with 1 teaspoon of powdered egg white, two or three drops of strained lemon juice; and enough water to make icing that's stiff enough to pipe.  Divide into half.  Colour one bowl with a couple of drops of Queen's cochineal and mix thoroughly; and leave the remaining icing plain. Using a piping bag pipe alternate dots around the top of each cornet and allow to set. Note: I used powdered egg white because I didn't like the idea of making my gorgeous girls sick with the use of raw egg white!

Just before serving fill the cornets with some sweetened and flavoured whipped cream as detailed in Mrs A. B. Marshall's recipe above or alternatively follow her tips for other fillings for example ice cream, custard, sorbet, granita and/or fruit.
My Pizzelle iron
This cornet recipe is circa. 1888
Getting ready to garnish the cornets with Royal Icing
You can also roll the icing in coloured sugar for a different effect
Passionfruit sorbet
Lychee Sorbet was the favourite of the day - yum!
And, then we had meringues...

I followed Mrs A. B. Marshall's recipe but added a couple of drops of Queen's cochineal to the meringue mixture then painted the inside of the piping bag with Wilton orange gel paste and used a large star nozzle to achieve the pretty orange ruffle effect. We decided not to make them with cream as they're perfect just the way they are. I took a vote whether to flavour the meringue mixture or not but the girls decided they wanted them plain. If I were to make them for adults, I'd flavour them with some essences such as rose, violet, vanilla, orange, lavender and/or coffee and chocolate. 
I looove you little r - xoxooxoxox

Friday, 7 February 2014

Jamie Oliver's Strawberry Trifle topped with Italian Meringue

Each time we go to Jamie's Italian in Canberra we order the JI Trifle for dessert... fresh strawberries with strawberry jelly, custard and glazed Italian meringue.  Last time we went however, we were devastated because it wasn't available - one of the machines in the kitchen had broken down.  Seeing the disappointment in my daughter's eyes - it was her 18th birthday - a few days later I decided to make her my version.  

LM Trifle... fresh strawberries with raspberry jelly, vanilla creme patisserie, madeleines, dollops of double cream and luscious clouds of glazed Italian meringue lovingly placed in one of my favourite 1930's green depression glass dessert bowls and presented to my gorgeous girl for her 18th birthday and 1st year at University.  

Here's what you need:
250g strawberries
300ml double cream
1 quantity of raspberry jelly (see recipe below)
1 quantity of creme patisserie (see recipe below)
Enough madeleines to cover your bowl or mini madeleines for individual glasses (recipe below)
1 quantity of Italian meringue (see recipe below)
1 blow torch

Raspberry Jelly
3 gelatine leaves (gold strength) (soaked in cold water for 5 minutes)
115g caster sugar
250ml water
225g frozen raspberries

Heat sugar, water and 80g of the raspberries in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved.  Squeeze out the water from the gelatine leaves and add to the saucepan.  Blend with a stick mixer.  Ensure gelatine is fully dissolved before adding the remaining frozen raspberries.  Pour into a large fancy dessert bowl or into individual fancy glasses. Cover the surface with cling wrap and refrigerate.

Vanilla Creme Patisserie
450ml milk
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
50g egg yolks
50g caster sugar
50g cornflour
50ml milk (extra)
25g softened butter
1 drop of egg yellow food colouring (if desired)

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, food colouring (if desired) and vanilla seeds to the boil.
In a bowl, mix the sugar, cornflour and eggs and slowly pour in the extra milk whilst mixing. Sieve to remove any lumps.  You have just made the egg mix.
Pour some of the boiling milk into the egg mix then pour the hot egg mixture into the boiling milk. Turn on the stove and reheat until it reaches 80 degrees celsius.  Take off the heat and beat in the soft butter. Pour the custard into a stainless steel container, place cling wrap over the surface and refrigerate until firm. If it becomes too solid, put it into a bowl and use a hand mixer to make it soft and luscious again.

80g sugar
2 eggs
120g plain flour
25g milk
60g butter (melted)
3g baking powder

Preheat a conventional oven to 190 degrees celsius and grease the madeleine moulds. Alternatively you can use patty pan tins.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs.  Sift in the flour and stir to incorporate.  Add the milk and the melted butter.  Lastly, add the baking powder and stir gently to combine.

Pour into the madeleine moulds and cook for approx. 7 minutes or until golden and turn out onto a cake rack to cool.  Store in an airtight container.

Italian Meringue
150g sugar
37g water
60g egg whites

Place the egg whites into a bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.  Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan.  When the syrup reaches 118 degrees celsius remove from heat and pour into the egg whites.  Whisk on high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy.  Remove from bowl and place into a piping bag with a large star nozzle.

Remove raspberry jelly from fridge.  Wash, dry and slice 250g strawberries so that they look like love hearts.  Place strawberries on top of the jelly and against the side of the bowl or glass in a single layer to create a decorative border.
Dollop a thin layer of creme patisserie over the jelly and against the strawberries.  Place the madeleines on top.  Cover with the remaining creme patisserie.
Next dollop a thin layer of double cream.
Pipe the Italian meringue on top and using the blow torch glaze to your liking.

No idea what Jaime put in his trifle but my girls absolutely loved this.  Just a word of warning though, keep your portion sizes small as it's very rich - enjoy!

p.s my daughters joined in on the fun and decided to assemble their own individual glasses.  Here's how they turned out.

Aguille Du Midi

Friday, 18 October 2013

Recipe to Riches Rosie's Almond Meringue Biscuits Gluten Free

Decided that I'd visit Woolworth's today all excited to buy Rosie's Kitchen Almond Meringue Biscuits. After all, I have to support my fellow contestants. But upon looking at the picture of the biscuits on the front of the box a wave of disappointment came over me. Why? Well, because these almond meringue biscuits looked too much like bad macaron shells!  Mmmm, somehow I think Rosie has been ripped off and come to think of it maybe someone else too! But, on the other hand I was also glad.  Glad, that these bad almond meringue biscuits weren't mine ha ha ha ha! 

Anyway, you be the judge as this is what my box looked like.
Mmmm, is that an attempt at 'pied'?
OMG, there is so much oxygen inside the biscuits that it comes complete with an oxygen absorber - lol!
For those lacking in education with quality Italian and French biscuits I'm sure these will be a hit but for those who know better sadly, they just don't cut it! 

Initially, I was really excited and proud to have appeared on the show but after seeing this I've since changed my mind!  Categories seem to be blurred and I don't really know what to make of the rules (if there are any).

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Recipe to Riches Australia - Something Sweet - Karen Marshall - Macarons made with Edible Perfume!

Soooo thrilled to bits that I made it on to Recipe to Riches Australia in the 'Something Sweet' category! To make it into the top 3 within my category and to appear on national TV was crazy, exciting and one of the best experiences I've ever had... loved every minute of it!  A big thank you to Darren Robertson (Chef), David Nobay (Ad Man) & Carolyn Crewel (Entrepreneur).  I'd also like to thank Fremantle Media and Channel 10.
Assembling my French macaron
Violet Parfum French Macaron
My friend and competitor Garth Midgley won the show with his product Chocorn.  Garth's product was very innovative and creative and is now available for purchase at Woolworths supermarket.
I taught myself how to make perfumed French macarons and experienced failure after failure before finally mastering them. When the going got tough, however,  I would remind myself of Oprah Winfrey's quote below: 
Think like a Queen.  A Queen is not afraid to fail.  Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.
I love making French macarons because I can create wonderful colours, flavours and textures.  For me, making them is more than just cooking it's also about science and art.  

There is a market for luxury perfumed French macarons but it's not in the supermarket!  

My daughter Ruby who is only ten helped me considerably in the kitchen and I think that she is the most amazing taste tester in the whole world! Ruby Marshall I love you to bits! 

Here's what the Recipe to Riches Contestant page said about me:

Week 6 Contestant

Karen Marshall
State: Canberra
Occupation: Public Servant
Product: Violet French Macaron

Karen's chocolate ganache-filled, violet macarons are much more than a mouthwatering sweet.  For Karen, they symbolize her power to overcome adversity.  The mum-of-two lost her sense of smell and taste after a mild head injury. Violet is important to her as it's one of the scents she can sometimes detect.

And, to the guy that took a bite of one of my macarons at auditions and said,'... it just felt like I'd been kissed...' - thank you as you made my day! 

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Not Quite Bernard Chu - MasterChef Lolly Bag Cake

Today, was no ordinary day.  It was the day that I planned to make Bernard Chu's Masterchef lolly bag cake.  My vision was of perfection... gorgeous even layers of silky lolly loveliness lying on my kitchen table waiting to be dressed in a luxurious cloak of rich velvety raspberry Redskins.  I was super excited and my mise en place was meticulous.  I weighed out my mint leaves even though it said 300g on the packet - there was one too many so I ate it.  I learned that 200g of egg yolks equates to eleven eggs exactly (if you use the free range eggs from Woolworths Select xlarge min 700g).  I'm full of optimism and I take simple delight in watching the 100s and 1000s bouncing around as I measure them out. Everything looks so pretty and I just can't resist putting the lollies into gorgeous vintage coloured glass bowls.  
These lollies are special as they take me back to my childhood.  I think it's quite appropriate to use vintage bowls as my daughters think that I'm now vintage too!
Thankfully, I wasn't under the watchful eye of cameras like the Masterchef contestants and had the luxury of time.  Sure, I could try and complete my cake in a mere three and a half hours but the thought of mucking up just one layer after spending so much time and money sorting out my ingredients made me baulk at the idea.  Instead, I decided to devote the whole day to my task but of course this also included disruptions. I still had to feed my knight in shining armour and two gorgeous girls...  although the thought of letting them just eat cake was pretty tempting.   
Anyway, I took lots of photo's and this is how it went.

Mandarin Jaffa Ganache
Preparing the silicone mat with spray oil and go-between.
Gold strength gelatine after soaking in cold water.
Mandarin jaffa ganache just placed into the freezer.
Musk Mallow
Musk sticks, water and sugar on the boil to make a sugar syrup.
The musk stick sugar syrup.
Whisking the musk mallow till light and fluffy.
Don't be shallow, here's my mallow - musk!
Mint Paste
Mint leaves and water.
Mint Paste
 Spearmint Leaves Buttercream
Mint paste and egg yolks ready to be whisked.
Silly me, I prepared the food colouring then spilt it. 
Oh yay, now I've got a green thumb - literally!
The hot milk is added to the mint paste and egg yolks.
If you add the food colouring whilst the buttercream is whisking it blends better. 
Gently folding the buttercream and meringue.
Freckles Crunch
All measured out and ready to go.
100s & 1000s, Pink Murray River Salt & Paillete Feuilletine
One giant square freckle!
Banana Syrup
The banana syrup is brushed onto the almond joconde.
Almond Joconde
Almond joconde in the making.
Ready for the oven.
After 8 minutes on 220 degrees celsius in a conventional oven.
Almond joconde with the chocolate coating.
Everything in Bernard's recipe seemed to work perfectly and I found each element fairly easy to make. However, as I've just received a new commercial quality kitchen blow torch the most terrifying thing for me was trying to use it!  When I turned it on it sounded like a jet plane taking off and because it doesn't have an automatic on and off switch it scared the bejesus out of me.  This is when I started to panic as I had the flame going whilst I was trying to sort out my layers - yikes.  The whole time I was thinking, "oh, please oh please don't burn the house down or burn a hole in the wall, or worse burn myself"!  Anyway, I got my third layer done and then went to reach for my mandarin jaffa ganache only to find out that it hadn't set and was more like chocolate sauce - damn! This broke my heart as I'd worked sooooo hard and everything was going so well.  

Anyway, minor hiccup - so I made the decision to turn off my smokin' hot blow torch and wrap all the other lovely lolly bag cake layers in go-between and I popped them back into the freezer.  I've decided that enough is enough this weekend and it will now have to wait.  I should have known better as the concentrated mandarin puree that I made clearly wasn't concentrated enough and there was too much liquid in the ganache for it to set.  I'm going to finish off the cake next weekend and I'm going to replace the mandarin puree with mandarin zest and orange oil instead.  This should work fine and I'll be back on track.  Now the only problem I'll potentially have is sorting out the layers of the cake with the blow torch whilst they're frozen and not melting the buttercream when I apply the Redskin glaze.  If a lesson can be learned from me, it's that all is not over if one of your layers doesn't work out.  Preserve your other layers and try again.  Still super excited and can't wait to get the glaze on and play with the isomalt as this bit will be fun - oh yeah!  Watch this space...

Back again.  Today, I made another batch of Mandarin Jaffa Ganache and I'm much happier with the result.   I also gained more confidence with using the blow torch.  But, this time I turned it on and off each time I needed to use it without putting myself under undue pressure.  Soooo happy with how it's all starting to come together.
Mandarin Jaffa Ganache - lovely jubbly!
Almond Joconde with Banana Syrup
Hot or not? 
Not finished yet but already, I'm dancing in the kitchen!
Chinese cleavers are perfect for cutting Red Skins!
Preparing the Red Skin Glaze
The Red Skin Glaze splits but then comes back together. 
Playing with Isomalt 
Applying the Red Skin Glaze
Lots of hard work but it was worth it!
Let them eat cake!
My girls thought this was yummylicious!
How many kids go to school with home made lolly bag cake for morning tea?
Thanks MasterChef for creating such a wonderful challenge as I absolutely loved it but oh, you are soooo cruel and evil only giving the contestants three and a half hours to do this... Christina you're a super star in my eyes - would love to visit your "Nostalgia" restaurant when it's open!  And, Bern (Bernard Chu) a big thank you for providing me with advice via twitter whilst I made this!

Now, I just need to perfect my cake slicing skills as I think we'll be eating cake for a month of Sundays.