An Edible Zoo for a Young Macaron Lover

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France

A young person is an honest and cruel critic of all things person-made even if artistic… The same intensity that young hearts turn towards the God-created beauties of nature with, defines their opinion about the art made by their fellow humans…regardless of what the art actually is, painting, drawing, collecting or baking… Baking, however, has an array of opportunities for creating, making and wowing the taste buds, eyes and nose of all people big and small… Baking is an art where people use the characteristics of ingredients and suggestions of recipes as inspiration rather than the letter of the law – ingredients are approached and adjusted depending on personal tastes. Measurements and timings are vague and rely on knowing appropriate textures, colours etc. Results are inconsistent until recipes have been tried many, many times, however, this inconsistency can be understood as uniqueness and personality…Fabricating personal messages via the art of ingredients, food and baking is a delicate art that needs a deep understanding of how foods link and how they affect each other under different conditions.

Apart from the obvious aim of eating, the edible art has many benefits and meanings: it teaches about sustainability, emphasizes  thoughtful consumption, driving the message that knowing where food comes and supporting local growth is critical in lowering people’s global carbon footprint. Baking  has the magic power to age-appropriately combine nature’s beuty with hand-made creations, whilst gloriously mixing art, food and fun…

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.” James Herriot

Ingredients
4 egg whites, at room temperature
200 g granulated sugar
130 almond meal
280 g confectioners sugar

Method
Sieve the almond meal and icing sugar together, set aside. Beat the egg whites over medium-high speed until they begin to froth, then add granulated sugar, gradually. Continue beating the mixture until eggs whites are glossy and stiff peaks form. Add half of the dry mixture to the egg whites, fold slowly until all ingredients are well combined, then repeat with the other half of the dry mixture. It should slowly dripping off the spatula back into the bowl and easily absorbing back into the batter at the bottom. Transfer batter into a piping bag, than pipe onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. When all the batter is piped out, firmly tap the baking sheet onto a hard surface. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C and bake the macarons for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, lift parchment paper with macarons onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” Martin Buber

A Tasty Hero: Kossuth Crescent

“And if you cannot remain indifferent, you must resolve to throw your weight into that balance in which the fate and condition of man is weighed.” Lajos Kossuth

Lajos Kossuth was a Hungarian lawyer, journalist, politician and Governor-President of the Hungarian Kingdom during the 1858-1849 revolution. He was an oral genius with extreme talent in rhetoric, leading political debates and public speeches. Kossuth emerged from a poor gentry family into regent-president of the kingdom. As the most influential contemporary American journalist Horace Greeley said about Kossuth: “Among the orators, patriots, statesmen, exiles, he has, living or dead, no superior.” Kossuth’s powerful English and American speeches impressed and touched the most famous contemporary American orator Daniel Webster so, that he wrote a book about Kossuth’s life. He was widely honored during his lifetime, including in Great Britain and the United States, as a freedom fighter and bellwether of democracy in Europe.

“It is the surmounting of difficulties that makes heroes.” Lajos Kossuth

As a young politician he often dined in Palugyay Jakab’s restaurant, the Ironspring in Bratislava (which was part of Hungary at the time, named Pozsony). The menu of the popular eatery consisted local delicacies. One of the area’s typical dishes was a sponge-like simple cake which had variations made with walnut, hazelnut and almond. As Kossuth loved the dessert, the culinary world just calls it the Kossuth Crescent. Kossuth, who lived in a simple household with a peasant kitchen, was not choosy or picky, he accepted and tasted all foods that were offered to him. This little gem is -despite of its simplicity – really tasty.

Ingredients
200 g butter
180 g flour
200 g icing sugar
4 eggs
1 pinch of baking powder
Zest of one lemon
100 g walnut or almonds, chopped fined


Beat the butter, eggyolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk the eggwhite into stiff peaks, then gently fold into the eggyolk mixture. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the batter, and carefully mix together. Pour it into a lined baking tray and scatter the chopped walnuts on top. Bake in preheated 180 degrees C oven for about 30 minutes. Once cooled, cut crescents with a round cookie cutter.

“The unspoken word never does harm.” Lajos Kossuth

The Perfect White: Swiss Meringue Buttercream

“Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.” Coco Chanel

The colour white is colour at its most complete and pure, the colour of perfection. The psychological meaning of white is purity, innocence, wholeness and completion, the colour of new beginnings. It is the blank canvas waiting to be written upon. While white isn’t stimulating to the senses, it opens the way for the creation of anything the mind can conceive. White contains an equal balance of all the colors of the spectrum, representing both the positive and negative aspects of all colors. Its basic feature is equality, implying fairness and impartiality, neutrality and independence. New lives come into the world with a perfect balance of white, ready to imprint their lives with all the colors of the spectrum from all life experiences.

The colour of snow, white is often used to represent coolness and simplicity. White’s association with cleanliness and sterility makes it pleasing to the human eye, a bright and brilliant colour that can present the perfect elegance on a cake: pleasing to the eye, pleasing to the needs…really is a thing of beauty….

“Black and white, oldest of the vintages, newest of the last season.” Vikrmn

Ingredients
3 large egg whites
250g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
Few drops of vanilla extract
300g unsalted butter, softened

Method
Tip the egg whites into a bowl and add the sugar and salt. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk the mixture, preferably using a table-top mixer, until it becomes a thick meringue and whisk in the vanilla extract. Cut the butter into chunks and whisk it in – the mixture may collapse and go runny, but keep whisking it at full speed and it will combine together to give a fluffy buttercream. Use this buttercream to frost any cake or cupcake. It can be frozen stored in an airtight container for up to a month.

“A lie has many colours, while white is the only faithful colour of truth.” Munia Khan

Cupcake Dress for the Hungarian Somloi Galuska

“I’ve never met a problem a proper cupcake couldn’t fix.” Sarah Ockler

One of Hungary’s best known delicacies is the decadent sweet dish known as somlói galuska (shom-loh-ee gah-loosh-kaw)…The name translates as “Somló dumpling” in English, Somló being a town near Lake Balaton, well-known for its wine. Calling the dessert a dumpling is a little misleading, as the mixture of the three different flavored sponge cakes, pastry cream, raisins, walnuts, chocolate sauce and whipped cream is technically a trifle, far from anything what is known as dumpling. Rum is traditionally used in the form of a simple dressing syrup on the sponge layers.

It was first made for the World Exhibition of 1958 in Brussels by József Béla Szőcs. It won the professional price and became an instant favourite. The confectioner simply named the cake after the town where he had lived and worked. The original recipe is still a secret, but many people tried to recreate it which is why many variations of the recipe exist. However, one can tell when eating the real deal…

“Life is short. Eat dessert first.” Ernestine Ulmer

The traditional presentation is created by scooping three balls of the assemble sponge layers into a bowl or on a plate, with a dollop of whipped cream and chocolate sauce garnish, however, it makes a charmingly romantic looking, light cupcake with layers of flavour surprises.

Ingredients
For the cakes
4 eggs
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp ground walnut
6 tbsp milk
Vanilla extract
2 handful of raisins soaked in rum
For vanilla cream
300 ml low-fat milk
3 egg yolks (about 100 g)
45 g cane sugar
1-2 tbsp vanilla extract
10 g maize starch
zest of half untreated lemon
For the assembly
2 tbsp rum
250 ml whipping cream
50 g dark chocolate
A handful of walnuts

Method
Soak the sultanas in rum.
For the vanilla cream heat the milk with the lemon zest and place in vanilla extract. Beat the egg yolks with the cane sugar until white and creamy. Mix it with a ladle of warm milk, until incorporated it well. Put this mixture into the remaining milk, then heat gently, stirring it until thickening.
For the sponge cake beat the egg whites with the half of the sugar to a meringue-like stiff peak foam, then set aside. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and shiny , then carefully fold the sieved flour into the egg white with a flexible spatula. Divide in three parts. In one of them mix the grounded walnuts with 3 tbsp milk, in another mix the cocoa powder with 3 tbsp milk, whilst the third one will be plain. Pour all three mixtures into a piping bag with a plain, wide nozzle. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases, and pipe the three batters, alternating the different mixtures, scattering in some soaked sultanas in between, filling each case two-thirds full and smoothing the top with gentle shaking. Bake in preheated 175°C oven for 18-20 minutes, then set aside to cool. When cool, cut the cupcake tops in an angle to create a hole and fill with the vanilla cream. Place the top back. Once it has set, brush rum on the top, and decorate with whipped cream, walnut chunks and melted chocolate.

“Dessert is to a meal what a dress is to a woman.” Béatrice Peltre

The Cake Business That is Worth Making Cheese for…

“Life is great. Cheese makes it better.” Avery Aames

Good cheesecakes are based on simple recipes… Although some might think it is a craft difficult to master, when the balance of soft cheese, eggs, sugar and a few flavourings is right, making cheesecake is a straightforward confectionery affair. Cheesecakes are technically baked cheesy custards on beds of cookie base. There are different  fundamental types of cheesecake, caused by the variety of cheese affecting the texture and taste: curd cheesecake, ricotta based Italian cheesecake, quark in the German cheesecake, cream cheese founded New York cheesecake and the unbaked French cheesecake. They all have different origin, however going back to the same roots: the ancient Greeks made the earliest known cheesecakes, consisting of patties of fresh cheese pounded smooth with flour and honey and cooked on an earthenware griddle. In the late medieval Europe the cheesecake reformed in tart form with a pastry base. For the following five centuries, almost every subsequent English cookbook contained at least one cheesecake recipe.

“Dessert without cheese is like a beauty with only one eye.” Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Preferring one or the other is simply a result of personal taste, rather than a choice being based on the existence of an “ultimately perfect cheesecake” – there is no such recipe… However, homemade cheese definitely makes any cheesecake more of an unforgettable culinary experience than any other version.

Making cream cheese
Ingredients: 500 ml whipping, pasteurized and 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Preparation: In a heavy saucepan, bring  the cream to 87 degrees C, stirring often. It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles (all that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, covering the  back of the wooden spoon thickly). Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.

Making the cheesecake
Ingredients: 180 g leftover biscuits, 75 g butter, 360 g cream cheese, 100 g mascarpone, 100 g natural yogurt, 180 g sugar, 4 tbsp plain flour, 4 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla extract, zest of two lemons and two oranges


Method: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line the base of a 20 – 22 spring form cake tin. Place the biscuits in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin to fine crumbs. Melt the butter and add the biscuit crumbs, stir to combine. Add the zest of a lemon and an orange. Place in the base of the cake tin and spread in an even layer, then flatten tightly. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden. Remove and leave to cool while preparing the filling. Reduce the oven to 160 degrees C. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, mascarpone, yogurt and sugar until smooth then add flour, vanilla and eggs, beating well between each addition. Add the zest of a lemon and an orange. Act quickly, as beating too much air in adversely affects the surface of cheesecake. Pour the cream cheese mix on to the biscuit base then bake in the oven for 60 minutes. The cheesecake should be just set with a slight wobble and should still be cream on top with just a slight golden hint around the edges. Once the cheesecake is cooked, turn off the oven and prop open the door so that it is slightly ajar and leave the cheesecake to cool in the oven for another hour or so. Once the oven is cool you, remove the cheesecake to cool completely before removing from the tin. Decorate with fresh fruit and sugar.

“The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” Gilbert K. Chesterton

The Scent of Spring: Sweet Violet Ombre Cake

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” Mark Twain

In mythology Zeus had a lover named Ione, from which the word viola is derived. His wife, Hera was jealous and turned her into a white heifer. Zeus created violets to give her something lovely to graze upon. Wherever Venus and Adonis lay together a bed of violets was said to have sprung. Persephone, the daughter of the Earth Mother Demeter, was picking violets when Pluto kidnapped her to live with him in the underworld. Athens was once known as “the city of violets.” The leaf and flower have been used for thousands of years by millions of people as an antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic agent. Violets have been applied and eaten to improve acne, anger, asthma, bronchitis, colds, eczema, fever, grief, headache, heartbreak, sore throat, ulcers whooping cough and many other problems. The flowers are eaten by some as a breath freshener. Violet flower essence helps those that feel lonely, despite being surrounded by others. It increases openness and helps shy aloof people that want to share but feel overwhelmed. Is there a better reason to make a cake?

Violet syrup
40 to 50 g Sweet violets (about 3 to 4 handfuls)
150ml Boiling water
300g White caster sugar
Directions: Remove all of the stalks, green “peeps” in the middle of the violets and the leaves before putting all of the flowers into a clean bowl. Pour the boiling water over the flowers, then cover with a tea towel and allow the violets to infuse overnight or for 24 hours. Next day, put the violets and water into a suitable sized sauce pan on top of larger pan with water underneath and proceed then add the sugar and stir well. Bring the water in the pan to a rolling boil and keep stirring the violet mixture until the sugar has completely dissolved. Strain the violet mixture through a fine sieve, then bottle it. It keeps for up 12 months.

“The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.” Tennessee Williams

Crystallised violets
20 violet flowers with about 2-inches of stem attached
1 egg white, beaten until frothy
2 tablespoons powdered or confectioner’s sugar
Directions: Beat the egg white until it is frothy all the way through, but not stiff. Place the sugar in a small bowl. Pick up a violet flower by the stem. Dip the flower into the egg white, twirling it gently to coat the entire flower. Shake off excess egg white then dip the flower into the sugar. Twirl the flower stem between the thumb and forefinger of the hand that is holding it so that the flower gets evenly coated with sugar on all sides. Place the violet on a paper towel. Repeat the egg and sugar steps with the rest of the violet flowers. Transfer the sugared flowers to a shelf in your refrigerator for 24 hours. As the flowers dry most of the sugar will be absorbed by the egg white, creating a glaze on the petals. Snip off the stems and discard them. Transfer the candied violets to an airtight container and store at room temperature.

Cake
360 g butter, softened, plus a little extra for greasing
690 g plain flour
430 g golden caster sugar
9 medium egg
50 ml violet syrup
3 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3 tsp vanilla extract
Edible purple food colouring
Icing
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 x 250g tubs cream cheese or mascarpone
350g icing sugar
50 ml violet syrup to brush

“When you talk to me I smell violets.” L.M. Montgomery

Method
Heat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease 6 x 20cm round sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment. Tip all the sponge ingredients, apart from the food colouring, into a mixing bowl, then beat with an electric whisk until smooth. Add a couple of drops of food colouring and fill one tin. Then add a couple more drops, and fill the second sandwich tin smooth as much as possible, then carry on until all six tins are filled and there is no batter remaining. At each addition, keep going until happy with the colour! Bake each cake for 12 minutes or until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean. Gently turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool. When cooled, brush with violet syrup. To make the icing, very briefly beat the vanilla and cream cheese or mascarpone with an electric whisk until smooth. Sift in the icing sugar and gently fold in with a spatula. Smear a little icing on the cake stand to stick the first sponge. Repeat sandwiching, from the light up to the dark sponges. Spread the remaining icing thickly all over the sides and top of the cake. To make the purple ganache, heat 100 g double cream, the slowly stir in 300 g of white chocolate and a couple of drops purple food colouring. It needs to be layered on the top, so it slowly drips down the sides.

Spring Love: Flower Gem Cupcakes

“The earth laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Like a secret, rarely made treat, the so called “white cake” does not sound as an old recipe, it seems rather modern and fresh… When made, it is elegant and ladylike. Making this peculiarly white and light sponge lacks any fanciful technique, yet it is quite remarkable…Until I have found it in my late grandmother’s old handwritten recipe book, I associated her with heavier dessert but this is soft as a feather.
The white cake is a the perfect lover of the spring bloomers…Fresh flowers can be employed in a number of ways in cake making and decorating, from delicate flavour enhancing, through being garnishes to all-out cake-topper flower arrangements…But why not to have it at all levels…

“A weed is but an unloved flower.” Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ingredients
For the cakes
4 eggwhites, 120 g sugar, a pinch of salt, 10 g chopped walnuts, 10 g fruit gummies, chopped, 10 g chopped chocolate chips, 80 g flour, 4 g baking powder
For the frosting
150 ml coconut milk, 1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract, 50 g of caster sugar, 30 g of cornflour, 150 g dairy free spread, 50 g shredded coconut
For the jelly gems
200 ml elderflower cordial, 20 g gelatin powder, ox eye daisy flowers

Methods
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg whites and sugar into stiff peaks. Mix the rest of the ingredients, then fold into the eggwhites gently. Divide batter among 12 paper lined muffin cups, filling each cup nearly full. Bake in preheated oven 18 – 20 minutes until golden and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool completely then pipe frosting over cupcakes.


To make the frosting bring the milk and vanilla to the boil in a saucepan then remove from the heat. Mix the sugar and flour together until thoroughly incorporated. Pour 1/3 of the warmed milk over the flour mixture and whisk vigorously. Pour the mixture into the saucepan with the milk and continue to whisk over a medium heat. Cook until the mixture boils and thickens being careful not to let it burn on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat, mix in the coconut and allow to cool then cream together with butter.
To make the jelly gems heat the elderflower cordial, mix in the gelatine and let it cool slightly. Pour onto a shallow tray with short sides, then push in the flowers upside down in a random arrangement. Place in the fridge. When set, cut circles with a cookie cutter and move from tray and place on top of cupcakes gently.

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.” Iris Murdoch

Against Traditions: Dairy(milk and egg)-free Croissant

“Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.” Margaret Peters

Flaky, crumbling, crispy croissants at small cafés offer a bite  of timeless luxury when the warm-hearted pastry-lover explores through the shattering layers of buttery heaven… With small sips of strong coffee, the majority reaches for a second piece stored in the always-full baskets on the Parisian counters. The richness of the butter stays long in the memory and in the stomach, but never enough to stop the consumer wanting more. The real croissants are rather small, narrow, brittle on the outside and airy inside, filling the streets of Paris with a romantic sent of the bakers’ dawn…

Many would state the secret of the real croissant is in the combination of using good quality butter and following the time-respecting lamination technique, and to some extent, it is certainly true. I am a baker who truly admires traditional baking techniques, however, when food allergy meets craving, something has got to give…but that should not be the taste, the smell or the eating experience…

“We are our choices.” J.P. Sartre

The lamination technique is swapped by an express stacking/layering method in this dairy and egg-free croissant but in every bite it gives the full pleasure..it is light and airy with a soft interior, inside a crunchy crust…

Ingredients
120 ml lukewarm water
3 tbsp sugar
25 g yeast
350 g flour
30 ml vinegar
20 ml oil
A pinch of salt
1/2 banana, mashed
130 g dairy-free margarine/spread
2 tbsp oil to glaze

Method
In a large bowl combine the lukewarm water with sugar and yeast and set aside until it starts to froth up. Mix in flour, vinegar, salt, oil and mashed banana, and knead into a soft, smooth dough. Cover with clingfilm and rest in the fridge overnight.
Divide into eight equal pieces and roll each out on a floured work surface. Grate the margarine is hard. Spread an equal amount of margarine on seven of the dough pieces and layer them onto each other. If margarine become too soft, rest in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
Roll out the chilled dough and cut into eight triangles/wedges. Take each triangle in turn and pull the two corners at the base to stretch and widen it. Starting at the base of each triangle, begin to gently roll into a crescent/croissant, being careful not to crush the dough. Continue rolling, making sure the tip of each triangle ends up tucked under the croissant to hold in place. If adding any fillings, place across the widest part of the triangle before rolling up. If so desired, bend the ends of the croissants inwards, then transfer to baking trays lined with baking parchment, spaced well apart. Cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave to rise for 2 hrs, or until doubled in size. Heat oven to 180-190 degrees C. Generously glaze the croissants with oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes until risen and golden brown, then cool on wire racks.

“The healthiest response to life is joy.” Deepak Chopra

A Baked Queen: Marvelous Marlenka Magic

“The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.” Henry David Thoreau

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Marlenka’s story goes like that…Marlenka is an ancient Armenian recipe that recently came to light in Czech Republic, where an Armenian pastry chef, Geyorg Avetisjan became famous making this honey cake  in 1995, that he called Marlenka – after his wife and daughter. The heavenly dessert is similar to ethnic Hungarian honey cakes with a little bit more nuts. Also similar to another cake from the area, Medovnik,  Marlenka has luscious layers of nuts, creamy filling and soft cake, however, the thing about Marlenka is that its icing and layers are made from something very close in flavour to caramel, and that touch of luxury is the secret. It is incredibly popular in Czech Republic, Slovakia and neighbouring countries like Hungary.
My story goes like that… I have got a fantastic Slovekian Godmother, whose equally fantastic daughter will soon be the godmother of my own little princess. Their showering visit seemed like the perfect occasion to make Marlenka, and my partner in crime, my sister Eva and I have rolled our sleeves up…

“Love is like honey; you cannot share it without getting some on your heart’s fingers.” Matshona Dhliwayo

I give anyone that: making Marlenka is not for the fainthearted…but Oh my Good God it worth all the effort – every bite and every bit is sheer magic!

Ingredients
For the cake layers
100 g butter
3 tbsp honey
300 g icing sugar
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp vinegar
2 eggs, beaten
700 g flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
For the caramel
1000 ml milk
300 g sugar
vanilla extract
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the cream
250 g butter
300 ml milk
300 ml cream
100 g cornflour
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp sugar

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Method
Place the butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently. Immediately mix in 2 eggs, stir until it dissolves into runny, homogeneous liquid and take it off the heat. Cool it slightly, then add bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. It will start to froth up. Mix in the flour and the cocoa powder and knead it into a smooth dough. Divide into 6 equal balls. Roll them into thin, equal sized rectangles on separate sheets of floured baking paper. Place a layer on the back of a baking tin, together with the baking paper. Prickle with fork randomly and bake on preheated 170 degrees C oven for 6-8 minutes. Repeat with all layers. Place them on a large wooden board. After a minute of cooling, turn upside down, take off the baking paper, trim the edges so the become straight and save the trimmings. Cool for a couple of hours, placed on each other.
To make the caramel, place the milk, sugar, vanilla and bicarbonate of soda into a heavy saucepan and stirring constantly, bring into boil. When boiled take the heat to absolute minimum and simmer for two hours, stirring frequently. Half of its volume will evaporate and it will become creamy and dense. Cool then cream together with the butter. Make the pastry cream mix cream with 200 ml of milk and bring into boil in a saucepan. Whisk cornflour, yolks, sugar and vanilla extract together with 100 ml milk and stirring constantly pour it into cream mixture. Cook until thickened and cool. When the pastry cream and the buttery caramel are both cool, whisk it into a smooth, silky cream filling and assemble the cake. Place alternating pastry and cream layers onto each other. Leave enough cream filling to cover the cake and top it with the pastry trimmings broken into fine pieces.

“It is the honey which makes us cruel enough to ignore the death of a bee.” Munia Khan

Eating Your Brew: Green Tea Macarons with Lemon Balm White Chocolate Ganache

“Tea … is a religion of the art of life.” Kakuzō Okakura

Tea is an ancient treat of life that hosts a variety of joys among the nations of the entire world… tea is about warmth, about needs, about social togetherness, about refreshment, vitalization, and – for some might surprisingly – tea is about health…especially unwilted, unoxidized green tea.

No matter how green tea leaves are consumed, whether brewed, in powdered form or in capsules, the evidence stands that tea is a very potent source of antioxidants. Most significantly, the catechins found most abundantly in green tea are the antioxidants that give tea leaves their health-boosting punch. Consuming tea helps people to slow down and relax, Reardon says. A natural chemical called theanine found in green tea can provide a calming effect.

“A cup of tea would restore my normality.” Douglas Adams

That, itself, would be enough excuse to eat food with tea as colouring, flavour infuser or ingredient. The green tea macarons with lemon balm are fragrant, fresh and delightful. Their sexy mixture of sweet, tangy and bitter create heaven on the palette, and once tried, definitely never to be forgotten…

Ingredients
Macarons
4 egg whites, at room temperature
200 g granulated sugar
130 almond meal
280 g confectioners sugar
3-4 tsp lemon green tea leaves
For the lemongrass ganache
115 g white chocolate
65 ml cream
A handful of fresh lemon balm finely chopped

Method
Sieve the almond meal and icing sugar together, mix in dry green tea leaves (chopped fine) set aside. Beat the egg whites over medium-high speed until they begin to froth, then add sugar, gradually. Continue beating the mixture until eggs whites are glossy and stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients until well blended. Add half of the dry mixture to the egg whites, fold slowly until all ingredients are well combined, then repeat with the other half of the dry mixture. It should slowly drip off the spatula into the bowl and easily absorbing back into the batter at the bottom. Transfer batter into a piping bag, than pipe onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. When all the batter is piped out, firmly tap the baking sheet onto a hard surface. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C and bake macarons in oven for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, lift parchment paper with macarons onto a wire rack and let cool completely before filling. To make the ganache filling, melt white chocolate combined with cream gradually in the microwave on low power until chocolate has melted. Mix thoroughly and set aside until firmer.Chop lemon balm leaves finely and fold into ganache. Once the macarons have cooled, pipe a generous layer of icing between two halves.

“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.” Lin Yutang