Conquering the Macaron

My sister SMS-ed me a few days ago and said, “Is there a recipe u wanna try that uses almond flour?” I immediately answered, “Yes! Macarons!” and the next day, she had dropped off a 1kg bag of almond flour at my house. It goes without saying that my sister is pretty awesome — thank you, manang!

French macarons are often confused with coconut macaroons because of the one-letter difference in their names, but the two could not be any more different from each other. Macarons (mah:kə:roh) are delicate and elegant almond-meringue sandwich cookies made with almond flour, egg whites, and sugar, filled with buttercream, ganache, or fruit curd, while macaroons (mah:kah:roon) are soft and chewy cake-like treats made with shredded or desiccated coconut.

The idea of making macarons has always intimidated me because it’s a fancy cookie and anything fancy is always finicky. They are temperamental and require great finesse to get just right. Unlike other cookies which textures you could alter to suit your preference, i.e., crunchy/crispy or soft/chewy, a macaron must come out a specific way.  A quintessential macaron cookie or shell must have a smooth, egg shell-like top, a textured ridge (that ruffled bottom edge called “feet”), and a flat base. It should have a soft, somewhat moist and nougat-like texture that melts in your mouth. Bottomline, it’s a difficult cookie to make, but Jam loves a challenge (and her sister is expecting macarons 😜), so bring it on!

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My First Time To Teach Baking

A few weeks ago, I was invited to be a speaker and to teach baking to high school students of my elementary/high school alma mater, Assumption College. It was for an annual event called Kakaibang Klase (KKK), where students are offered alternative courses they could attend in lieu of their regular academic classes. KKK is basically an enrichment program which aims to holistically develop students and to give them a glimpse of what it’s really like to be in a particular profession. My class was called “Baker For A Day” and I talked about my life as a baker and cake artist, shared some practical tips and tricks of the trade, did a quick demo, and taught the girls how to bake S’mores cupcakes!

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Truth be told, I was a bit apprehensive about agreeing to be a speaker. Sometimes I still feel that I’m not all that qualified to be teaching baking, but hey, it wouldn’t hurt to try, right? I have to start somewhere and this blog ain’t called Jam Tries Everything for nothing!

I taught two three-hour sessions which meant that I was on my feet for close to six hours; walking around to check each group’s work and talking non-stop. By the end of the afternoon session, I was beyond spent, but was super happy! My students had fun and they absolutely enjoyed the cupcakes.

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Jam vs. Sugar Cookies

With the amount and the types of pastries I’ve baked or bake on a weekly basis, you’d think I would nail something as simple as sugar cookies, right? Wrong. For some reason, I couldn’t get sugar cookies right! It’s ridiculous. I’ve gone through numerous recipes (which is silly because it’s so shamefully simple that really, most of the recipes online are basically the same 😂) and have done several batches, but somehow I couldn’t seem to get the perfect dough and/or finished product.

My dough is either too soft and sticky to roll out, or too dry that it cracks when rolled. I’ve managed to troubleshoot most of the time, but surely there must be a foolproof way? When the dough is too soft, I chill it for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out. I then find myself working at lightning speed lest the dough becomes sticky again and that’s just stressful! I’m pretty sure there’s an easier way other than frantically rolling and cutting the dough like a crazy person. I end up picking up the cut pieces with a wide spatula because it either sticks to the counter–making it impossible to pick with my fingers–or it doesn’t hold its shape (the spatula acts as a support). I guess that bit isn’t so bad, but I end up ruining the shape of a good number of them by doing that, so I’d have to re-roll and re-cut again. It’s so counterproductive!

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Fresh From the Test Kitchen: Matcha Blanca Cookies

We have been very busy working on orders that recipe testing/making took a back seat for a while. Yesterday, however, was a very rare light day for me so I had time to experiment and bake these delicious Matcha Blanca (matcha green tea + white chocolate) cookies.

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I used my own base cookie dough recipe and just added matcha powder and white chocolate.

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A New Cake Flavor + My First Ensaymada

It was Father’s Day last Sunday and I wanted to create a cake especially for dads.

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The Sugar Daddy

I thought about flavors most dads (or maybe it’s just my dad?) tend to gravitate to based on my observations and came up with the Sugar Daddy: three layers of moist chocolate chip cake with dark chocolate crumbs, coconut curd, and coffee buttercream in between. This cake is complex, robust, and a little rough around the edges, just like our fathers. 😉 Once my mom had given her thumbs up, we’ve made it available for all to order through Sweet Mamita.

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Dressed them up with bow ties for Father’s Day

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Now onto the next recipe: Ensaymada. I’ve been wanting to make ensaymada for so long now, but never got around to it until a few days ago because a) every time I would remember to make some, I wouldn’t have time to do it, b) every time I would have some spare time, I would forget about it, and c) every time I’d have time and remember to do it, I’d have at least one missing ingredient.

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