Traditional Mooncakes 廣式月餅


Mooncakes.jpg

I made these traditional mooncakes two years ago with a 63g mooncake mold.  I’m posting this again with the ingredients for a 75g mold.  Please plan ahead of time as (i) the paste needs to be made and refrigerated (or you can buy the paste from a store), and (ii) the skin normally needs to rest for 2 days after baking to get the best texture,  called “回油” in Chinese.  If you have a sweet tooth, you may want to increase the sugar amount as my recipe is a healthier version – less sugar and less oil.

moon-cakes

Ingredients for Lotus Paste (yield: 17 pieces – 23g each paste ball):

400g
240g
200ml
2 Tbsps
2 Tbsps
1/4 tsp
Lotus Seeds
Sugar
Grape Seed Oil/Olive Oil
Honey
Condense Milk
Salt

Directions for making the lotus paste are in my previous mooncake recipe here.

Ingredients for making the dough:  (yield: 17 mooncakes – 52g each dough ball) 

200g All purpose flour
140g Golden Syrup (recipe courtesy of Christine Ho – here)
1 tsp Alkaline water
50g/ml Grape seed oil
Fillings:
900g Lotus Paste
9 Salted Egg Yolks
1 Tbsp Rose-flavored cooking wine (玫瑰露酒)
1 Egg (for egg wash)

Directions: (The dough/filling ratio is 3:7)

  1. Mix salted egg yolks with wine. Wipe dry the yolks with kitchen paper after a few minutes.  Cut each into two halves. Set aside.  (Note: if you don’t want to use cooking wine, you can use salt water to rinse the egg yolks to remove the excess egg whites).
  2. Place golden syrup in a bowl.  Add in alkaline water, stir to combine. Add in oil and mix well.
  3. Add flour into the syrup mixture and combine well. Gently knead the dough till smooth (takes 1~2 mins). Shape it into a round ball and wrap with cling wrap. Leave it in the fridge to rest for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Before making mooncakes, bring the dough to room temperature for 30 mins. Divide dough into 17 equal portions, each weighs 23g.  Roll each portion into a ball shape.  Divide lotus paste into 17 equal portions as well, each weighs 52g, the salted egg yolks are roughly 5g each half.  (Pictures 1-3)
  5. Take a lotus paste ball and poke a hole in the middle with your finger. Place egg yolk inside. (Picture 4).
  6. Flatten each dough into a small disc with a rolling pin. The dough is sticky, I suggest putting a piece of cling wrap on top and roll it out.  (Picture 5)
  7. Wrap the dough around the filling and shape it into a ball. (Picture 6)
  8. Lightly dust the stuffed dough with some flour and lightly dust the mold.  Place the stuffed dough into the mooncake mold.  Tip:  When wrapping the filling, the dough is thicker on the closing end, the thicker side of the dough should go into the mold first as you will get the pattern pressed on this side.  (Picture 7)
  9. Press the handle, then remove the mooncake from the mold.  Dust off any excess flour with a brush.  (Pictures 8-9)
  10. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and place mooncakes on top.
  11. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare the egg wash by whisking the egg, sift through a fine sieve.
  12. Lightly spray some water on the mooncakes. (Note: this step prevents the mooncakes from cracking during baking.)   (Picture 10)
  13. Position the rack in the upper third of the oven and bake for 10 mins. Remove from oven and leave to cool for 15mins (Note:  this step helps stabilizing the pattern on top).
  14. After 15 minutes, brush the top with very little egg wash (Note: too much egg wash, the pattern will disappear after baking). Return to oven and change the oven temperature to 325F and continue to bake for another 25-30 mins. (Picture 11)
  15. After baking, the skin doesn’t have the shiny look (picture 12).  Leave mooncakes to cool completely and store in air tight containers. Wait for 2 days before serving, the skin will become soft and shiny, called “回油” in Chinese.

mooncake-steps

This is the clear pattern before baking.

moon-cake-print

I ordered this customized mooncake mold in Hong Kong.  The disk can be removed for easy cleaning.  I personally do not like anything bigger than 75g or smaller than 63g.  However, you may like the 100g as it’s easier to work with.

hkg_4703

I also bought these containers and bags in Hong Kong.  They look nice and neat when giving them as a gift.hkg_4789

Pistachio Macarons with Pistachio Buttercream Filling


Pistachio Macaroons

Pistachio Macarons

Pistachio macaroons and almond Macaroons

Once you have a good handle on macarons technique, you can make different flavors.  Now these pistachio macarons are my favorite.  I added green food coloring to the macarons for my pictures, but the natural hue color is always healthier.

Choosing the right macaron fillings is important, my suggestion is to have the not-so-sweet fillings since the macaron shells are quite sweet.  For the pistachio macarons, I made the buttercream filling with pistachios which goes very well with the cookies.

Pistachio flour could be hard to find depending on where you live, when I spot the unshelled pistachios at Whole Foods (it’s pricey $29.99 per pound), I bought some and ground them myself with a food processor.  The extra pistachio flour can be used to make pistachio paste.  Below are the recipes for the pistachio macarons, pistachio buttercream filling and pistachio paste.  Hope you will get a chance to make these.

Ingredients for Pistachio Macarons:

100g
35g
200g
75g
45g
1 tsp
1 drop
Egg whites (3 eggs)
Caster sugar
Icing sugar
Almond meal
Pistachio flour
Cream of tartar
Green gel food coloring (optional)

Directions:

  1. Measure almond meal, pistachio flour and powdered sugar. Sift together to remove any clumps, sift twice if possible.  Discard any big clumps. (pictures 1-3)
  2. Weigh out the egg whites into a large stainless mixing bowl. Begin beating the egg whites on low speed then gradually adjust to medium until the egg whites are foamy.  (picture 4)
  3. Add in sugar as you beat.   Increase the speed from medium to high, if necessary. (picture 5)
  4. Add a teaspoon of cream of tartar and beat the meringue to stiff glossy peaks. (picture 6)
  5. Add the food coloring and mix until well blended.  Remove the whisk. (Pictures 7 and 8).
  6. Add about 1/3 of the almond/pistachio/sugar mixture to the egg white meringue. Fold in until no streaks remain. Continue to add the remaining mixture (1/3 of the mixture at a time), fold until you reach the proper batter.   (picture 9)
  7. It should take roughly 50 folds until the mixture is smooth and a very viscous liquid, not runny. Over-mixing the batter, your macarons will be flat and have no foot, under-mixing the batter, your macarons shells would be lumpy.  When you lift the spatula, the batter should drop down smoothly.  (picture 10)
  8. Pour the batter into your prepared piping bag.  You can place the bag into a measuring cup and cuff the bag’s opening over the top, this makes the bag easy to fill hands-free. (Picture 11)
  9. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.  Place a tiny drop of batter at each corner of the baking sheet to secure the parchment paper.  Pipe rows of batter (dollops a little bigger than a quarter) onto the baking sheets, giving them space to spread. (picture 12)
  10. Tap the pan on the counter several times to break any air bubbles (this prevents cracking). The little peak on the top of the macaron should go down after tapping the pan. However, if you still see the little peak, simply wet your finger and gently smooth the bump down. (pictures 13 and 14)
  11. If you want to sprinkle nuts on top, do it now so that they will stick to the top of the shells.
  12. Allow the cookies to rest on a level surface for 30-60 minutes.  Until they are no longer tacky to a light touch.
  13. Preheat your oven to 300F and bake the macarons for 16-20 minutes.
  14. You will see the macarons have lovely feet when they are done correctly. (picture 15)

collage

  • Use a piping bag to pipe your favorite filling to one side of the macaron and top with another half of macaron to form a sandwich.

sandwich

Directions for making Pistachio Paste (unsweeten version):

  1. You only need pistachio flour and water to make the paste.  I processed the nuts in a food processor  when I made the macarons at first.  (picture 1)
  2. Now return the pistachio flour to the food processor, then slowly add a bit of water (water amount depends on how much flour you have, just add a little bit at a time).  Process it until it is smooth and forms a paste.  That is it!!  We have our paste for the buttercream filling.  It’s super easy!  (pictures 2-3)

Ingredients for Pistachio Buttercream:

2
60g
30ml
60g
3 tsps.
Egg yolks
Granulated sugar
Water
Unsalted butter (softened)
Pistachio paste

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. (Picture 4)
  2. In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar and heat it over medium heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then bring it to a boil and cook until the syrup reaches 250°F.  Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature. (Picture 5)
  3. Slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg yolks and run the mixer on low. Increase the speed to medium high, and beat the mixture until well combined. You can use the egg yolk/syrup mixture now but I always like to take one more step to set a bowl of mixture over a pot of simmering water.  Keep whisk until the mixture registers 160°F.  Meringue becomes very smooth at this point.  Remove from heat and let cool. (Picture 6)
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat butter until whipped and white.  Add in pistachio paste and food coloring (if desired), continue to beat the cream until well combined.  (Picture 7)
  5. Add in meringue and beat until well bended.  (Picture 8)
  6. Transfer the pistachio cream into a pastry bag and fill the macarons. Pipe the filling to one side of the macaron and top with another half of macaron to form a sandwich.  (Picture 9)

pistachio paste

macaroons 2

Holiday Snowball Cookies


Holiday snowball cookies

My full time job has been keeping me very busy these months but now that the holiday season has approached, I am having a little break with my family on the mountains which means I have time to bake again!  I remember a friend gave me these holiday snowball cookies last year and they tasted sooo good so I searched for the recipe and found it on the ‘Very Best Baking by Nestle’ website.  It was such a simple recipe and didn’t take too much effort.

Ingredients:

1½ cups (3 sticks) Butter (softened)
¾ cup Powdered sugar
1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
½ tsp Salt
3 cups All purpose flour
1 2/3 cups (10oz pkg) Nestle Toll House Holiday Morsels
½ cup Finely ground almonds
Extra powdered sugar (for sprinkling on top)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375◦F.
  2. Beat butter, sugar, vanilla extract and salt in a large mixer bowl until creamy.  Gradually beat in flour; stir in morsels and nuts.  Shape level tablespoons of dough into 1 1/4-inch balls.  Place on ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cookies are set and lightly browned.  Remove from oven.  Sift powdered sugar over hot cookies on baking sheets.
  4. Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar, if desired.

snowballs steps

Nestle chocolates

Easter Fondant Cookies


Easter Cookies

I was asked to make these cookies for my son’s Easter party at school.  It took me 5 hours to make 32 cookies but it was quite fun to decorate them.  I chose to use fondant for decoration as the results are beautiful.   Please refer to my Fondant Cake with Strawberry Filling post for the marshallow fondant recipe.  Happy Easter!!

Ingredients for Sugar Cookies:

1 cup (2 sticks)
1 cup
1
3 cups
¼ teaspoon
1 teaspoon
Butter, softened
Sugar
Large egg
All-purpose flour
Salt
Vanilla Extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla extract, beat until blended.
  2. Combine flour and salt, gradually add to butter mixture, beat until just blended, don’t over mix it.
  3. Divide dough into 2 equal portions.  Cover and chill for 30 minutes or longer.
  4. Place 1 portion of dough on a lightly floured surface, and roll to 1/8-inch thickness.  Cut with a cookie cutter (I did not have an easter egg cookie cutter, so I cut the dough with a round cookie cutter and shape cookies into an egg shape).  Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Freeze shaped cookies for 10 minutes before baking.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Cool cookies on wire racks.
  7. Roll out fondant and decorate your cookies after they are completely cool.

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Linzer Cookies


Linzer Cookies

I was asked to make cookies for the Valentine’s day party for my son’s class.  I though about linzer cookies as they are so pretty.  As you may know, the main ingredients for linzer cookies are butter, flour, ground nuts and jam.  Nowadays, a lot of people are allergic to nuts and I did not want to take the risk, especially when I bake for little kids.  I made two batches, one with ground nuts, one with no nuts (basic butter cookies).  Below is the traditional linzer cookies recipe which was adapted from Joy of Baking.  Please go to my Halloween Witch Fingers Cookies post for the butter cookie recipe.  Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Ingredients:

2 Sticks (1 cup)
260g (2 cups)
150g
150g (1 cup)
¼ tsp
½ tsp
1 Tbsp
1 tsp
2
½ cup
¼ – ½ cup
Unsalted butter, softened
All purpose flour
Granulated sugar
Whole almonds (blanched)
Ground cinnamon
Salt
Lemon zest (from one small lemon)
Vanilla extract
Egg yolks
Strawberry jam
Powdered sugar (for dusting)

How to Blanch Almonds:

  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil (good enough to cover your almonds).
  2. Place your raw almonds into the boiling water and boil them for just ONE minute.  To avoid almonds from getting soft, one minute is sufficient.  (picture 1)
  3. Drain the almonds in a colander and rinse them with cold running water immediately.  Pad dry the almonds with a paper towel.  Skins will be slightly wrinkled.(picture 2)
  4. Use your fingers to gently squeeze each almond out from the skin.  (picture 3)  Let almonds dry completely and discard the skins. (picture 4)
  5. To ground the almonds, preheat oven to 350 ◦F.  Place the almonds on a baking sheet and bake about 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Place almonds in a food processor after they are cooled, along with 50 g of granulated sugar (save the remaining 100g sugar for making cookie dough).  (When sugar is added, the mixture tends to loosen a bit, it won’t be too pasty). (picture 5)  Process almonds until finely ground.  (picture 6)

blanch almonds

Directions:

Making cookie dough:

  1. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, and lemon zest.  Set aside.  (Picture 1)
  2. Beat in a mixing bowl the butter and remaining 100g sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg yolks. (Pictures 2-3)
  3. Add in ground almonds and then the flour mixture. (Picture 4)
  4. Divide the dough, form 2-3 balls and cover each ball with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm (30-60 minutes, or overnight). (Picture 5)
  5. Preheat oven to 350 ◦F.   Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Remove one ball of dough from the refrigerator.  On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick (you can make it thicker, but not any thinner). Using a cookie cutter of any shape to cut out the cookies. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet.  (Picture 6)
  7. Use a smaller cookie cutter to cut out the centers of half of the cookies on the baking sheet.  Reroll any scraps and cut out the remaining cookies.  Repeat with the second ball of dough.   (Picture 7)
  8. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Assemble Cookies:

  1. Place the cut out cookies on a baking sheet and lightly dust the tops with powdered sugar.  (Picture 8)
  2. Spread a thin layer of jam on the bottom surface of the full cookie (top of cookie will face out).  Place the cut-out cookie on top and gently sandwich them together.  (Picture 9)

Linzer Cookies

Notes:

  • Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the freezer for about 10 minutes to chill the dough. This will prevent the cookies from spreading and losing their shape when baked.
  • The filled cookies will soften when stored.  If you want the cookies to stay crisp, assemble the day of serving. The assembled cookies can be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for several days.

Raisin and Walnut Biscotti


Biscotti

Biscotti is Italian and literally means twice baked, this is how you get their dry, crisp texture.  Biscotti is traditionally served with a cup of coffee or tea.  Some people like dipping it into hot chocolate, no matter how you like to eat them, they can be found  in all sorts of flavors.

Ingredients:

120g
120g
2
1 tsp
220g
1 tsp
¼ tsp
75g
120g
1
Unsalted butter, melted
Sugar
Eggs
Vanilla extract
All purpose flour
Baking powder
Salt
Raisins
Walnuts, chopped
Egg white, lightly beaten (for brushing)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350◦F.
  • Beat melted butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large mixer bowl.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt, stir until just combined.
  • Add in walnuts and raisins, stir well to combine.

Biscotti dough

Form mixture into a log or divide mixture into two smaller logs.

Biscotti dough

  • Place on a lined baking tray and brush with egg white.
  • Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until light golden.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.
  • Place the log on the cutting board, using a sharp knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet.  Return biscotti to the oven and bake until they are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Biscotti dough

  • Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.

Spritz (Norwegian Butter Cookies)


Spritz

These Norwegian cookies are typically made with a cookie press.  The cookie press comes with a variety of discs to make various shapes of cookies and children love to help make them.  Spritz are crisp, fragile and buttery tasting, great for Christmas goodies.  Your Christmas holiday cookie plate won’t be complete without these cookies!

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350◦F .
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Beat together butter, sugar and extracts in a large mixing bowl at moderately high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add egg and beat well.  Add flour mixture and mix at low speed until just combined.
  5. Quarter dough and put 1 piece into cookie press.  Holding press slightly above ungreased baking sheets, squeeze out dough to form cookies (follow manufacturer’s instructions).  Form more cookies with remaining dough in same manner.  (see picture below)
  6. Freeze shaped cookies in the freezer for about 10 minutes before baking.
  7. Bake cookies in batches in middle of oven until edges are golden, 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool.

cookie press

I added sprinkles to make the cookies more festive.

Spritz cookies

Notes:

If you don’t have a cookie press, you can flatten dough to 1/3 to ½ inch thick and cut with a cookie cutter.  Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 weeks.