Snowskin Mooncakes (Cheat)

Pros of living in China – holidays for the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节), which is on September 15 this year.

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I love the Mid-Autumn Festival, and not just because of the extra days off. My all-time favourite Chinese legends include the story behind the Mid-Autumn Festival, as well as the one behind the Dragon Boat Festival. I’m not going to explain the whole story, but basically there’s a lady with her bunny who are immortal and live on the moon. The bunny doesn’t really have much significance, but when the lady started flying up to the moon, she just decided to grab her bunny and bring her along…so that’s that (there are multiple versions of the story but that one’s my favourite).

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Another reason why I love the Mid-Autumn Festival – mooncakes! I love mooncakes – both traditional and snowskin ones. They’re just so unique and they taste amazing. When I was little, we made mooncakes at school, but all the doughs were made and you just had to mould the shapes. Ah, good times.

I haven’t yet made traditional mooncakes from scratch, because apparently you need alkaline water and I’m not sure where to get that? If anyone knows – please let me know!

But anyways, I decided to make snowskin mooncakes instead! Snowskin mooncakes look very similar to mooncakes, except their outside layer is very different. Also, traditional mooncakes often have a salted egg yolk in the centre, while snowskin mooncakes don’t. Both are delicious 🙂

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I’ve also provided you with a few step-by-step photo guides for how to make the mooncakes. There’s more than one set, but here’s one to start off with:

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Yup. It’s really not too difficult.

In terms of fillings – there are endless flavours that you can use. In traditional mooncakes, lotus seed is the best, but with these, black sesame and red bean are both amazing as well!

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I got my red bean filling pre-made. In the photo above, that dark package with the red lettering on it is the red bean filling that I got. It’s already sweetened, so I didn’t have to do anything to it. To make the the black sesame filling…well, let’s just say I got creative.

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On the left, we have a Chinese sweet treat. They’re these crumbly black sesame squares and I practically had boxes of them. They’re mostly just made from black sesame powder and sugar, so I just added a tiny bit of water at a time until it resembled the dough/paste on the right. Of course, if you have black sesame paste, it would probably be best just to use that, but nevertheless – this works!

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Lastly, go crazy with colours! The wonderful thing about snowskin mooncakes is that they come in all sorts of colours. You can even use different coloured doughs to achieve a marble-y effect if you’d like. I stuck with some pretty simple colours. You can choose to use food colouring or natural colourings (beetroot powder, spirulina powder, chlorella powder, açai powder etc.).

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Snowskin Mooncakes

Ingredients

  • 100g cooked glutinous rice flour (Gao Fen)
  • 120g powdered sugar
  • 25g vegetable shortening
  • 80ml cold water
  • Fillings of choice (e.g. lotus seed, black sesame, red bean)
  • Food colouring (or natural food powders such as beetroot, spirulina, chlorella, açai)

Method

  1. In a mixing bowl, sift together the rice flour and powdered sugar
  2. Rub the shortening into the mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs
  3. If using food colouring/coloured powders, combine a little with the cold water. If you want different coloured mooncakes, then separate your dough into however many colours you want and, to each dough, add a tablespoon of water at a time and knead until a soft dough forms (you may need more or less)
  4. Weigh out about 25g of dough and about 50g of your filling (there should be a 1:2 ratio for the dough and filling)
  5. (Next steps involve making the actual mooncake, and it’s easier to use pictures than to explain in words. In the following images, the pink/red ball is the dough and the black ball is the black sesame filling)

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Another set of photos (green is dough and black is filling)

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Chill the mooncakes 6 hours before serving and store in fridge. Enjoy!

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4-Ingredient Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (Clean)

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I’ve been making cookies a lot these days, and I’ll admit that I’ve been eating a lot of the raw cookie dough as well (*gasp* salmonella!), but hey – I’m not sick yet!

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Anyways, you can stop making excuses for eating the raw cookie dough (“I’m making sure the cookies will taste good…”). Instead – you may as well just make an entire batch of safe-to-eat cookie dough. Wait, no…sorry, I meant an entire batch of safe-to-eat healthy cookie dough!

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I swear, this healthy cookie dough is healthier than any baked-cookie dough you’ve ever had, but it tastes just as good. It has the same sweetness and flavor and texture and it’s studded with plenty of chocolate chips. Except, with this one, you don’t need to worry about raw eggs or raw flour or any other bad stuff.

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All you need is to grab 3 ingredients, throw them all into a food processor, throw on some chocolate chips, grab a spoon, and dig in!

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4-Ingredient Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Ingredients

  • 1 (400g) can white beans or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, crunchy or smooth
  • 2 tbsp honey (can sub with any liquid sweetener of choice)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Method

  1. In a food processor, process the beans, peanut butter, honey, and vanilla extract until fully combined and smooth
  2. Stir in the chocolate chips
  3. Eat! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

Vegan Chocolate Truffles (Clean)

Last week, I posted a recipe here for these amazing silky chocolate truffles. God, that’s got to be one of my absolute favorite recipes. It’s not very healthy, but treating yourself to a little delicious melt-in-your-mouth chocolate truffle every now and then doesn’t hurt.

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Nevertheless, it’s definitely not vegan, and wouldn’t it be great if there was a healthy version of those truffles…chocolate truffles so healthy that you could eat multiple at a time and not feel bad about yourself? Not that I ever feel guilty about overeating chocolate truffles, but y’know, for the people who do.

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So now, I present to you…healthy, vegan, and naturally sweetened chocolate truffles!!! Ooh – and they come together using just 5 main ingredients.

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These are actually very similar to the other chocolate truffle recipe. They melt in your mouth as long as you keep them at room temperature (they weren’t at room temperature when I took these photos, so if they don’t look super duper smooth and velvety in the photos – that’s why. Trust me, they were silky AF later on!)

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Oh, and there’s a bonus element to this recipe. Thanks to the dates, you get this touch of caramel flavor next to the chocolate. Win!

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Vegan Chocolate Truffles

Adapted from Harriet Emily

Makes 24 little truffles

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (165g) medjool dates (about 16 dates), pitted and roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup (185ml) boiled water
  • 1/2 cup (90g) extra virgin coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (90g) raw cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon powdered stevia (or 1/2 teaspoon liquid)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Toppings of choice (e.g. cacao nibs, shredded coconut…) (optional)

Method

  1. Soak the pitted and chopped dates in the boiling water for 5-10 minutes to soften them
  2. Add both the dates and the water into your food processor, along with the coconut oil, and blend until smooth
  3. Add in the cacao powder, stevia, vanilla, and salt. Blend until smooth
  4. Transfer mixture into a container with a removable base, or a container lined with parchment paper/plastic wrap, smoothing it out
  5. Chill in fridge for at least 4 hours
  6. Remove from container, slice into squares, and serve. They taste best when served at room temperature

Éclairs (Cheat)

Éclairs!

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Éclairs are super fancy and although they’re not the “easiest” to make, they’re so worth it. To be honest, I found the process to be quite enjoyable. I love making choux pastry and pastry cream. Am I the only one? I mean, beating together a few ingredients and then watching the choux pastry cook into such a soft dough that doesn’t stick to the sides of your saucepan is almost magical. Then there’s whipping the heated cream mixture slowly into the egg yolk mixture to prevent the yolk from scrambling, before pouring the whole lot back into the saucepan and watching it thicken into a sweet, aromatic pastry cream. I sound insane. Okay, I’ll stop.

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You can experiment with so many flavors when it comes to éclairs, but I decided to stick with a pretty classic pastry cream and finish it off with chocolate ganache and melted white chocolate.

…I know I said I’d stop, but don’t you love making ganache too? Letting the hot cream sit with the chocolate and letting heat energy go back and forth between the two and disrupting bonds as the chocolate melts and becomes one with the cream…ok ok, I’m done.

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Well, what are you waiting for? Go make these delicious pastries for Mother’s Day!

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Éclairs

Adapted from Will Cook For Smiles

Ingredients

For the pastry cream:

(This will need to be prepared a few hours ahead, or the day before you assemble the éclairs)

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • ⅔ cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 vanilla bean

For the Choux pastry:

  • 1 cup of water
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs

For the ganache:

  • 110g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
Method
  1. For the pastry cream, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and salt until combined
  2. Whisk in the flour until smooth and set aside
  3. In a saucepan, gently heat the milk, heavy cream, and butter together. Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into the milk mixture and add in the empty vanilla bean as well
  4. Heat until simmering, and then remove the vanilla bean and slowly whisk the milk mixture into the egg mixture, making sure that the egg doesn’t scramble
  5. Pour all of the mixture back into the saucepan and heat while constantly stirring until thickened. This should take a few minutes
  6. Pour the cream into a bowl or onto a plate and allow to cool before covering it with plastic wrap (with the plastic touching the surface of the cream) and placing it in the fridge for at least 4 hours
  7. For the Choux pastry, preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  8.  In a saucepan, heat and mix the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and water together until the mixture is lightly simmering
  9. Beat in the flour using a wooden spoon until combined and the mixture doesn’t stick to the sides of the saucepan
  10. Transfer the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer, or using an electric mixer, and beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure that each egg is fully mixed before adding the next
  11. Transfer the batter into a piping bag and, on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pipe thick lines of pastry about 4cm (1.5 inches) in width and 8cm (3 inches) in length. They should also be about 2cm (almost 1 inch) tall
  12. Bake for 25-28 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool before filling
  13. For the ganache, place the chopped chocolate into a small mixing bowl.
  14. In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream to simmer
  15. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and allow to sit for a few minutes before stirring together with a whisk until smooth
  16. To assemble the éclairs, fill a piping bag with the cold pastry cream. Gently insert the tip into the cooled pastry and squeeze cream into it. Alternatively, cut the pastries lengthwise and fill the insides
  17. Dip each filled pastry in the chocolate ganache and drizzle a bit of melted white chocolate over it, if desired. Keep refrigerated.

Silky Chocolate Truffles (Cheat)

You know those reallllyyy good Japanese chocolate truffles? I’ve figured out how to make them at home.

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I still remember the batch of chocolate truffles that made me fall in love with chocolate truffles. To be honest, it was only a year or two ago, and I don’t mean Lindt chocolate truffles, I mean pure, silky, squares of chocolate that literally just melt in your mouth. My friend had just gotten back from Japan and he gave me a box of Royce Nama Chocolate.

My life changed.

The box of truffles was gone within a day.

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Luckily for me, I always manage to get my hands on more Royce Nama Chocolate, but even then, the chocolates don’t last very long (I mean in terms of storage, although true, I do end up finishing them all in a very short period of time), so I needed to figure out a way to make them myself.

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I used very few, simple ingredients for this. I didn’t want anything to overpower or affect the pure flavor of chocolate. Thus, the truffles are mostly made from high-quality chocolate, along with cream, butter, and a bit of liquid sweetener to give it that irresistible silky texture.

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Not to mention, this recipe is super easy to make. It literally takes like 10 minutes to throw together, and you just wait a bit for it to set and voila – you have a perfect Mother’s Day gift. I’m being totally serious when I say that these taste way better than any store-brought version. Plus, it saves you the trouble of running around looking for gifts, and of course, homemade goods are always so much better gifts that store-brought ones.

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Notes: The recipe can easily be doubled if you want a larger batch of chocolate truffles, which I recommend (because c’mon…12 truffles is not enough 😉 )

Silky Chocolate Truffles

Makes 12 truffles

Ingredients

  • 250g high quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 200g heavy cream
  • 20g light corn syrup or honey
  • 60g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 50g cocoa powder, for dusting

Method

  1. Add the chopped chocolate into a food processor
  2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the heavy cream and corn syrup/honey, and heat over medium heat
  3. When the heavy cream mixture is almost boiling, turn on the food processor to process the chocolate
  4. With the food processor on or off, add the heavy cream mixture to the chocolate and process until it just comes together
  5. Add in the butter and process to combine until no butter streaks remain
  6. Pour the mixture into a baking pan lined with parchment paper or plastic wrap and spread evenly
  7. Allow the mixture to cool for a few hours, until set, before placing it into the refrigerator for 20 minutes
  8. Remove the ganache from the baking pan and remove the parchment or plastic wrap. Cut into cubes and roll in cocoa powder
  9. Serve truffles at room temperature

Chocolate Macarons with Silky Chocolate Ganache (Cheat)

I’ve done it.

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Macarons.

The #1 thing on my Baking Bucket List, which I proudly crossed off on January 1, 2016. Yes, it takes me a long time to sort through and edit the photos for my posts, but that doesn’t really matter…right?

Point is, I was terrified by macarons – just like every other baker in this world. Then I made them, and I was like, huhThat wasn’t so bad.

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All the “tips” for getting perfect macarons can be a little overwhelming. In the end, just make sure that you weigh things out and that you follow directions closely, and it’s really not difficult at all. The only struggle I went through was deciding what kind of macaron to make! If you’ve been here before (or if you know me), you should’ve been able to predict what I’d settled on: chocolate (duh).

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One important thing that I learned from my first batch of macarons, is to use a silicone baking mat! I can’t say how “controlled” the two different batches are, but from what I can tell, there’s a pretty big difference. I’ll just leave these photos with you…

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Yeah. I’d use a silicone baking mat.

The shells are only part you have to actually be precise with. The filling is a simple chocolate ganache, but oh my god, maybe it’s just me, but chocolate ganache is so good. I love chocolate ganache – don’t ask why, I just do.

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While I was snooping around the internet for a good chocolate ganache filling for these macarons, I noticed that some of them have butter, and others don’t. So, I did some further snooping, and discovered that although the butter is optional, it does leave the ganache silkier and shinier than without, so I used a bit of butter in my ganache and I’d recommend you to do the same 🙂

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Chocolate Macarons with Silky Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients

Macaron shells

  • 100g almond flour (almond meal)
  • 170g powdered sugar (confectioner’s/icing sugar)
  • 15g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 100g egg whites, room temperature*
  • 35g caster or superfine sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Chocolate ganache

  • 120g dark chocolate (at least 60%)
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) unsalted butter

*I’ve read a lot about whether or not to “age” egg whites, and I honestly haven’t determined a personal stance on this, but if you want to age your egg whites (I’d still recommend you do so), then place them in a bowl, covered in plastic, for at least a few days, or up to three days, before using

Method

  1. For the macaron shells, combine the almond flour, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder in a food processor and blend until well combined (about 30 seconds).
  2. In a dry, clean, and oil-free bowl, use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to beat the egg whites until foamy. Add in the caster sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  3. Sift 1/3 of almond flour mixture into the egg whites and fold together very gently until fully combined. Repeat this process with another 1/3 of the almond flour mixture, and then with the final 1/3.
  4. Prepare a baking sheet and line it with a silicone baking mat. Fit a pastry bag with a round tip (about 1 cm/0.5 inch in diameter) and fill the pastry bag with the macaron batter. Pipe circles (about 4 cm/1.5 inch in diameter) onto the silicone baking mat. Gently tap the baking sheet on the counter to break any air bubbles.
  5. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius, or 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and let the macarons sit at room temperature for 45 – 60 minutes. The shells should form a slightly dry shell so that they don’t feel sticky when you lightly touch them.
  6. Bake the shells (one or two sheets at a time) for 10 minutes, before rotating the pan, and baking again for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  7. For the chocolate ganache, break the chocolate into pieces and place into a bowl.
  8. In a small saucepan, combine the cream and butter, and heat until just boiling. Pour the mixture over the chocolate and let it sit for a few minutes, before stirring until completely combined. Let the ganache sit at room temperature or in the fridge until it’s thickened enough to be piped*
  9. To assemble, take a macaron shell (if any of them have cracked or are less pretty, use them as the bottom shell!) spoon or pipe chocolate ganache on top of it, before covering it with the other shell. You can serve them immediately, or leave them in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge. Bring them to room temperature before serving.**

*When I first started assembling the macarons, the chocolate ganache hadn’t had any time to set, so the chocolate shell on top kept sliding around! I speak from experience guys – let your ganache set!

**They actually taste better after being left (in an airtight container) in the fridge for a day or two 🙂 patience, my friends ~

Rose Meringues (Cheat)

A long time ago, I made my first ever batch of meringues. They were shaped like roses and crossed between pink and white. They were perfect.

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I made them for a bake sale, actually, and let me tell you now, that they are possibly the best things you could sell at a bake sale. Input – 3 egg whites and some sugar. Output – $$$. They’re actually insanely easy and cheap to make, and you can sell each one for a decent profit.

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Rose Meringues

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) fine sugar
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pink food coloring (preferably powdered)*

*Meringues call for preferably powdered food coloring, as it keeps them dry. If you use liquid-based food colouring, as long as you keep them in an airtight container in the fridge, you should be fine. I’ve also had success using beetroot powder as colouring.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 90 degrees Celsius or 200 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a medium bowl with an electric hand mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until you get soft peaks. Add in the sugar a tablespoon at a time, and then turn the mixer to the highest speed and whip until meringue is stiff and glossy. This should take a few minutes. Beat in vanilla extract.
  3. Divide the meringue into bowls and tint them using food coloring of your choice. Transfer into a piping bag with a 1M piping tip and pipe roses (spirals that start from the middle and circulate outwards) onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake both trays until crisp, but not browned. This can take anywhere from 1-1.5 hours depending on the size and humidity. You should be able to remove the meringues from the parchment paper without them sticking. Store in an airtight container in the fridge