Saturday, 6 April 2013

Lunch Party

This week is the much needed Easter break for me. The last term had been so hectic to the point that I literally couldn't find time to bake. Not surprisingly I was badly hit by my rebound baking tendency when term finally ended. I spent the first two days last weekend baking macarons, about 50 of them, that's 100 macaron shells. I did however manage to squeeze in a teeny bit of revision which I was extremely proud of. Anyway the short Easter break has culminated in the lunch party that I've just hosted today. I invited two of my friends and their parents. The menu was:

Starter: Salmon and Dill Quiche Lorraine
Main: Beef Rendang Curry served with home made crusty bread
Dessert: Double Chocolate Mousse with Bergamot

Overall, great company and food went down well. I was particularly happy with how my mousse turned out.

I love the combination of chocolate and bergamot but I'd perhaps add a couple more drops of the bergamot essential oil next time to make it more prominent as the dark chocolate mousse was pretty intense.

Double chocolate mousse recipe:

285g Heavy cream
184g Dark Chocolate 70% cocoa (Preferably Valrhona 70% Guanaja dark chocolate)
95g Egg yolks
29g Egg whites
108g Simple syrup (50% granulated sugar / 50% water)

Separate the eggs.
Prepare the syrup.
Whisk the heavy cream until soft peaks form.
Melt the chocolate.
Whisk the yolks and whites together with the syrup over a bain-marie until it reaches 80C or when it has thickened. Whisk constantly and be sure not to overcook it.
Take the egg mixture off the heat and whisk until barely warm. Add a few drops of bergamot essential oil or whichever flavour you fancy.
Add 1/4 of the whipped cream to the melted chocolate to loosen it up.
Add all of the chocolate to the egg mixture and fold.
Lastly fold in the remaining whipped cream.
Pipe or spoon into a cake/dessert ring and leave to set in the fridge for an hour.

Use the same recipe for milk and/or white chocolate mousse. Make sure the bottom layer is fully set before adding the next layer.

To release the cake gently heat the sides of the ring with a blowtorch et voila!

The mousse lasts well in the fridge so can be prepared a day or two in advance. To get a nice clean slice dip a knife in hot water, wipe it with a towel and slice. Repeat the above for the next slice. 

Forgive me for posting the zillion-th macaron picture. I just couldn't resist it. :)


  1. Macarons - my nemesis. I just can't get them to work in my oven (fine at cooking school). Am very impressed with yours. You've really mastered them.

    Tart looks great. I'm going to try that mousse soon - looks delicious!

    1. I don't claim to be an expert in macaron making but how I understand the development of a proper macaron in the oven:

      The air bubbles from the incorporated meringue will expand while baking and this gives the macaron the 'lift'. This, coupled with sufficient surface tension will create the feet. Too much lift (too much air in the batter, or if the air bubbles expand TOO quickly) or weak surface tension could result in a crack instead of the feet. For most student flat ovens the heating element is only at the top of the oven and thus could potentially cause very rapid air bubble expansion. What I do is I place an aluminium foil on the top rack to shield my macarons from the intense heat. Alternatively I sometimes bake it at lower temperature but I the height of the feet would be less impressive somehow.

      Many macaron recipes would call for stacking of two baking trays. I suspect this is because most European ovens' heating element is at the bottom so the use of extra baking trays would serve the same purpose of shielding the macarons from an intense direct heat source.

      Which method have you tried so far? I am an Italian meringue convert now. I first started macarons using the French method which worked fine but the Italian method is definitely more stable and requires no drying whatsoever prior to baking.

    2. I've tried French and Italian. I can get them to work sometimes with Italian. I had one success with French. I've read so many blogs, made so many batches, even been to a class where I was completely successful in her kitchen, but then failed again in my own. I even own three books on the subject including Pierre Herme and one entitled "Macarons: What the Recipes Don't Tell You". I must have read Mrs Humble's blog about 10 times too.

      I now also have a hygrometer in my kitchen, and I think after making about 20 batches, the problems are that my house is very humid (usually 60% humidity) because I live in a house with one wall built into a river. I also have a very fancy oven that is twitchy. On top of this, I think I was flooding the egg whites a bit when I made the meringue.

      My problem is that I get rumpled, waxy looking surfaces and the insides collapse. Once the weather is better, I'm going to try again and I think I'll do a post with my mistakes all over it. I'm determined to work this out!

  2. Gosh we really do have quite a bit in common. I always find myself reading A LOT about baking (not just cookbooks but also from blogs of seasoned bakers). I've never known what a hygrometer before but now I do (cheers Google). :) Humidity does sound like an issue at your place. I'm sure with a bit more experimentation you'll still ace macaron making just like how you've mastered all the other delicious creations on your blog!

  3. Looks delicious! I'm sure it all tasted divine :3

    Do you have a heavy workload when you go back, or will things be a little slower? { equalling more time for baking endeavours, yay!}

    1. Oh yeah the workload only gets heavier. My end of year exams are looming. BUT it will not stop me from baking for the time being. :) I'm going to bake croissants this weekend. I am going to try out a more well-developed dough this time in the pursuit of a lighter end product. I can't wait!!!!! Oh I've got some unfilled macaron shells as well. It has taken a week now to decide what filling to use for those shells. Olive oil and vanilla white chocolate ganache or milk chocolate and bergamot ganache? Or maybe even a green tea white chocolate ganache? (I don't have matcha powder but I do have some green tea tea bags, not sure if it'd produce enough flavour..) Decisions..

    2. D: Oh gosh. I really, really feel for you :s I've just handed in my dissertatio, so although my workload is pretty much over now, I had about three weeks of seriously minimal baking which was heartbreaking.

      I wish you much luck on your croissants! I honestly don't think I could tackle such and undertaking, so I'm going to live vicariously through your succes :3

      As for the macaroons, ohhh, that is tough! I would opt for the milk choc & bergamot flavouring though, I think. Simply because with this foul weather, a nice, floral, spring flavour would be rather welcome :')

      Oh! I was in London yesterday and FINALLY I HAVE TRIED MATCHA FOR THE FIRST TIME. I went to Japan centre and bought a matcha mousse, as well as a matcha & adzuki bean roulade, because I have been searching for matcha for goodness knows how long. So yes. I have tasted.
      It has a mild seaweed flavour, non? >_>'

      {also, this might excite you, although I don't think it would excite many non-foode folks, but I went to Paul A Young's shop in Soho! <3 Ohh....The beauty...}

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    4. I very much agree with you on the choice of flavour! Haha. I was undecided mainly because I've already used the same flavour combination in my mousse last week so I was thinking of trying something new. I just an idea of combining lavender and bergamot! What do you think of that?

      I think you should really try to make croissants one day. I'd go to the extent of saying that croissants are my favourite things to bake. The laminating process is sooo therapeutic. The intermingling aroma of yeast fermentation and butter. The beautifully golden exterior and the mesmerising honeycomb structure on the inside. As you bite into it the crispness of the outer layers give way to the soft and airy interior, all rounded off with a sweet buttery note.

      Sorry I just got a bit carried away there. :)

      I have never been to Paul's shop before but I really should one day! I think matcha may well taste a bit seaweedy but not in the fishy sense though. It should have a mellow bitterness to it which cuts through the intense sweetness of most desserts really well (thus it's so popular with those master pâtissiers) I'm no expert in matcha but it is quite a popular flavour in Asian bakeries.

  4. Lavender and bergamot is a definate go! Gosh, that could be such a delicate combination...definately perfect for macarons. The only other place I've seen the two working together, in fact, is for these mendient/thins {} so there is definately room for a few more bloggers to create some delights with them :3

    It's ridiculous how appetising you make croissants sound. I think too many childhood years of mediocre experiences have just detracted me from the area. Dry croissants. Shrivelled croissants. Bad croissants. Possibly I've just forgotton the joys of a perfectly made croissant!
    Either way, I'll be making them next year, as I'm enrolling into a patisserie course and it covers pretty much every baking/pastry staple. I still, however, doubt they will match up to the creations you post, which is a rather heartbreaking.

    There is no such thing as getting carried away with foodie raving :')

    Paul is quite the experimentalist with his flavours. I bought a marmite truffle, goat's cheese, lemon & thyme chocolate, and a black pepper & treacle truffle. {Hesistent to eat them though, so I've only tried the marmite one. It was salty, marmitey and so incredibly divine.}

    No, you're right, it's not fishy it's just the underlying flavour there. I think it might have something to do with the high amounts of chlorophyll found in both seaweed and matcha leaves? But yes, I have seen hundreds of recipes using it, and so it's been my personal vendetta for a while, to track it down and find it :3 Now I just really want to try pandan...


Comments and feedback are what keep me going! I'd always be happy to help you with questions you have regarding the recipes in my entries.