Seventy thousand steps

Excursions, It's a Beautiful Life

As a child, I remember seeing a travel brochure — or maybe it was an advert in the newspaper — about ‘a holiday in Singapore’. Only a couple of decades or so later, I had the chance to live the experience 😉

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Day 0: To avoid dozing off after a 15-hour plane ride, I took a quick (and jet-lagged) stroll through Little India. Nearly Diwali time, the sights were worth it, and so was the daylight that kept me awake for a few more hours!

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India in Singapore felt eerily like India in India 😄 The vendors, the crowd, the colours, and most of all, the warm weather! Ah, I so didn’t miss the cold of California!

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Day 1: “You’ll get the best currency exchange rates from vendors in Chinatown”, the concierge tells me while giving a double thumbs-up. To Chinatown then!
A titbit about myself: I can get lost despite having a map in my hand.
How do the people who work in shops here not know about the HOHO (hop-on hop-off) bus?? They must see it everyday, no? Anyway, after unsuccessfully trying to locate the stop, I decided to walk it out. My disability of reading maps and directions led me to a nice jaunt around town.

The first thing one notices about this city-state-country is the incredibly efficient use of available space. The roads, shopping malls, office & residential buildings, hotels, bridges, all sitting tidy in their places. The second thing is the general cleanliness here… heck, the eye doesn’t see a single stray piece of paper lying around!

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Numerous sights- and sounds-filled Chinatown made me forget about lunch completely!

But wasn’t gonna set foot out of “Singapoor” without gorging on one of the specialities, right? So, what time was it? đŸ€€

What a lovely coincidence to find your friend/former roommate now living & working in the same country that you choose to frolic and have fun in! 😃 Meeting, greeting, chatting, getting nostalgic, eating, and of course, desserting… all happened at and around THE iconic, Merlion Park.

 

And thus, at 28,000 steps, I decided to call it a Day 1 😉

 

 

 

 

 


Day 2: 
All freshened up from the night’s sleep and all warmed up to Singapore, my eyes were set on viewing the city all at once… and what better than a panorama from a viewing deck? I accidentally entered the Marina Bay Sands hotel—through an accidentally open door—where the entry was restricted to guests only. I had to walk through the entire lobby to get to the ticketing office for the viewing deck. Wellll… what do you do? Just put your swag on <and pray that you don’t get caught>!

Oooh! Lovely views from up top!

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I had read somewhere that on a clear day, one can see the neighboring countries—Malaysia and Indonesia—at a distance. Thus followed a fun (and futile) experiment by the geographically-challenged girl 😆

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And then some views from below…

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The second thing planned for the day was Gardens by the Bay. Awe-just-inspiring!! Cloud Forest, where clouds appear three times a day 😎, and Flower Dome sounded tempting enough.

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Need I say more? 😍
Moreover, ask me how was the walk to the Gardens? Well, it was another huge garden! Pretty impressive views! 👏

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And so wrapped up Day 2 with a warm and taaaangy Laksa, at nearly 47,000 steps.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3: The day before my onward journey, I decided to take it slow. And since I’m that person who cannot get enough of flowers, the Botanic Gardens seemed like the perfect destination.

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Alas, it was such a hot day that I had to cut my flower mania short and retreat. Stopped at a shopping mall on my way back, got hopelessly lost in that maze (again), had a bite, and came back to base camp. A quick drink of tea, and I discovered that the closest post-office would be open till 7 pm! Thus began another trek, to the post-office and back again. Yes, I did take the wrong roads and ended up walking more than I needed to 😒 Nowww the idea behind the title of this post is unfolding, eh?

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An ice cream treat to compensate for the loss of calories concluded the day at nearly 61,000 steps.

 

Day 4: All packed, checked-out, and luggage left with the lobby staff, exploring the little lanes and by-lanes seemed like a good relaxed activity to undertake. The HOHO dropped me right by Haji Lane, which is one of the recommended picturesque places to see. And it was!

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What happened after that was pretty straightforward—collect luggage, go to the airport, wait, wait more, and board your plane.

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Having splurged only on postcards, two fridge magnets, and a small maneki neko, and being left with only a few coins in change (hint: pretty good estimation of how much currency was needed to be converted 😉), but a lot of lovely memories, I am quite happy to have undertaken this fun, seamless trip—going around in a beautiful country in 70,000 steps!

 

 

 


Rule #1 of traveling– don’t even think of answering questions that contain the word “plan?”

Sanhita Baruah

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Do not try this at home

It's a Beautiful Life, Random Reveries

Do not try

I remember the time when I was a regular at our local swimming pool, come rain or shine. In the afternoon time slots, the pool water would be all warmed up by the sun â˜ș The location and the area surrounding the pool are both, worth mentioning and necessary for this account. Now, this pool is right by the sea… I mean there’s only a brick wall separating the pool area from the sea. The sea. Not a pond, not a lake… but the sea across a bay. Waves from the sea crash in during rains in the monsoon season, and winds blow right across the pool! Surrounding the pool are tall palm trees that wave gracefully and make a divine rustling sound in the calm breeze during summers; and sway so scarily during the storms of the monsoon like it’s nobody’s business đŸ˜±

One such monsoon afternoon, halfway through my swim, clouds started gathering and they quickly darkened the sky. A huge downpour with lightning and thunder ensued. Every single person, except me, quickly got out of the pool and took shelter inside the building. To this day, I haven’t the faintest idea as to why I chose to continue swimming. The heavy rain hitting the water in the pool created countless of these small droplets that splashed everywhere and took the visibility to near nil. Despite all of this, I struggle to find words to describe the thrill that I experienced that afternoon.

I decided to swim to the other side in zero visibility. Over water, all I could hear was the rain thrashing on the pool water, thunder, and the turbulent rustling of the palm trees. Every time that I went under water, there was an unimaginable calm, and a soothing hum of the water around me. Every time that I came up to breathe, the rain droplets hit my skin like minute needles, and the scary thunder was… well, incessantly loud and scary! And every time that I went under the surface again, I felt like I was being embraced by a calm presence, making me feel safe and protected from the turmoil above.

The story sounds fine; but looking back, I marvel at both, my bravery and stupidity! What’s the worse that could’ve happened? Drowning was a distant possibility, but swimming in a large body of water, right by the sea and tall palm trees, in a lightning thunderstorm?! You get the picture 🙄 I was just plain lucky.

But what if I had chosen to get out of the pool and never had experienced that thrill? Would my life be the same? Would I reminisce that swim with such excitement? On that particular day, staying inside and under the seemingly calm water was, in fact, the more risky thing to do; while getting out and running towards shelter in that violent thunderstorm was the safer option.

One always needs to play the hand they’re dealt; but like every coin has two sides, life is a balance between staying safe and taking risks, all you need is your head on your shoulders. After all, like they say, “To be absolutely safe is to never try anything for the first time”.

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Kung Pao Tofu

MainCourse, Recipes

Kung Pao Tofu

I’m a vegetarian for the most part. But I do enjoy a chicken dish or two. And ever since I tasted Kung Pao Chicken from a very popular chinese restaurant chain, I haven’t looked back. Plus, what’s more joyful than being able to recreate something that you ate at a restaurant, right in your kitchen? With Kung Pao, it’s an icing-on-the-cake situation since the recipe is so so simple! Also, it’s funny how one or a couple of ‘signature’ ingredients that go into a particular dish save the day even if you miss out on any ‘secret’ ingredients that chefs in a restaurant might use. In this case, it’s the humble peanut!

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ingredients

For the sauce ~

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1-2 dry red chillies, finely chopped or crushed
  • 1 tsp vinegar or Ajimirin
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp corn flour (dissolved in  2 tbsp water)

Other ~

  • Fresh firm tofu
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 tbsp peanuts
  • 3-4 stalks of green onion

** I haven’t included salt in the list of ingredients since soy sauce has a lot of salt which I usually find enough for the overall taste of the dish.

KPT

recipe

  1. Chop bell pepper and zucchini into cube-like pieces, and steam/microwave along with broccoli florets for about two minutes. Leave the vegetables a bit crunchy.
  2. For the green onions – chop the white bulbs into small discs; chop the green stalks in a slanted manner to give “diamond” shapes pieces. Save the greens for garnishing.
  3. Cut the tofu into cubes or small strips roughly an inch long. Add a teaspoon of oil in a cast iron pan or skillet and shallow fry the pieces on a low-medium flame until golden brown on both sides.
  4. To prepare the sauce:

– Heat vegetable and sesame oils in a pan. Add ginger, garlic, dry red chillies, onions, and peanuts. SautĂ© for a couple of minutes on a low-medium flame taking care not to let the ginger and garlic burn.
– Add vinegar, soy sauce, tofu. Then add 1-2 tbsp water, and sugar. Stir well. Let cook for minute.
– Now turn the flame to low and add the corn flour-water slurry to the above mixture. Mix thoroughly and quickly as the mixture thickens into a sauce.

5. Now add all the vegetables, and mix gently until all the vegetables are coated with the sauce.

Garnish with green onions, and serve hot with riceÂ đŸ‘ŒđŸŒ

Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.
Alan D. Wolfelt

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Stir-fry noodles

MainCourse, Recipes

Stir-fry Noodles

Now of course there are times in one’s life when one is torn between eating tasty junk and eating healthy. And I’m definitely not the first to say that eating tastebud-tickling food needn’t mean eating junk food. So, what’s warm, slurpy, salty, has protein, and lots of veggies as well?? Noodles… good old noodles! Or well, a dish made with noodlesÂ đŸ’đŸ»

Ginger-garlic-soy sauce, in my opinion, bring that restaurant-like taste to homemade noodles. To top that, the amount of salt, vegetables, or the corn starch added for that glossy look can all be really micro-managed to one’s liking and needs. And yes, not to forget the red chilies.
Ohhkhayy! Time to head out and stock up some nooddals!

leafy-1

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ingredients

  • 2 servings Lo-mein noodles
  • 1-2 dry red chilli, finely chopped/crushed
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1-2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 onion, julienned
  • 1/2 cup tempeh or tofu, cubed
  • 2 cups vegetables of choice –
    • julienned carrots, green/orange/red bell peppers
    • sliced mushrooms
    • shredded cabbage
  • 3-4 stalks of green onion
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp vinegar or Ajimirin
  • 2 tsp corn flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp + 1 tbsp oil

** I haven’t included salt in the list of ingredients since soy sauce has a lot of salt which I usually find enough for the overall taste of the dish.

SFN

recipe

  1. In a skillet or a cast iron pan, heat a teaspoon of oil on low-medium heat and shallow fry the tempeh/tofu cubes on both sides until golden brown. Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, heat oil, and add the onions. Sauté for a minute on medium-low heat.
  3. Add the dry red chillies (I used Chile de årbol), ginger, garlic, and chopped white bulbs of the green onions, sauté for minute.
  4. Add rest of the vegetables and mix everything thoroughly. Cover and let cook on medium-low heat for a couple of minutes. Leave the vegetables a bit crunchy.
  5. While the vegetables are cooking, cook the noodles in a separate pot as per directions on the pack. Drain and keep aside.
  6. Add soy sauce, vinegar, sugar to the vegetables in the pan. Stir.
  7. Make a paste of corn flour in about 1/8 cup of water, and add to the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high, mix everything well for a few seconds until the mixture thickens. Turn heat off. Add 2-3 tbsp of water if the paste thickens too much too quickly.
  8. Now add the tempeh/tofu cubes and noodles to the pan and toss them around until they are well coated with the sauce.

Garnish with chopped green onions, and serve hot!

The secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.
Mark Twain

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DoppelgÀnger

It's a Beautiful Life, Random Reveries

Doppleganger

A few months ago, there was an article in the news about a woman who found more than one of her look-alikes around the world. I found it quite interesting, and it suddenly reminded me of an incident that happened about nine years ago.

I was studying at PennState University back then, and would walk to & from my department and the housing on campus everyday. On the way, I would normally pass the building where my roommate worked.

A conversation between me and my roommate one evening:

Roommate (Rm): “Hey, ‘A’ thinks you are a very rude person”. [‘A’ is Rm’s colleague whom I got acquainted with].
Me: “Oh?”
Rm: “‘A’ saw you walking by, called out to you several times, but says you ignored”.
Me: 😳

Now, let me get a few things straight: Firstly, I’m quite certain that I did not hear anyone calling my name. It was past five o’clock, not many people were around, and this was the quieter part of the campus. Nope! Didn’t hear it.

Secondly—although not the best testimony at this point—I would never ignore someone calling out my name, that too, several times!?
Well, even my roommate was a bit puzzled by the whole thing. Anyway, concluding that the colleague in question was probably mistaken, we put the incident behind us, and forgot all about it.

A few months later, I made friends with a girl, S, who was a student in the same building as I was.

Part of the very casual conversation between us:

S: “… yeah, I saw you in the ES building at the beginning of Fall semester, at their orientation get-together”.
Me: “Oh?… no, I’ve never been to that building… or to any get-together anywhere near that building”.
S: “Nooo… I’m sure it was you! You had your hair in two plaits…”

By this time, I was sure that it wasn’t me who my friend had seen, because the last time I had my hair in two plaits was two years before I finished high school! For the next five minutes, she tried her best to convince me that she was right and I tried my best to convince her otherwise. And the topic ended there.

Today, as I look back and think about it, I find the two events very intriguing. Two different people saw me – or, did they? – in two different places, at two different time points and were absolutely sure that they saw me.

Hmm… I would’ve loved to meet the doppelgĂ€nger!

But for now, this entire incident makes a very good narrative and I shall continue to consider it as a fine coincidence unless proven otherwise!

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Swiss Roll

Desserts, Recipes

Swiss Roll

It’s a cake, albeit a very funny looking one. Sheets of cake rolled into a log, with a layer of whipped cream inside rolled with the log. As a lover of cakes, I had this one on my “to-make” list for a long time, but I was quite intimidated by even thinking about the process of how it’s done. But then, I had to… I wanted to… desperately wanted to try making it. And I did… only to realize that the process is much more easy than it seems. Ah bliss! It’s a different kind of joyful experience when you can (make it on your own) have your cake and eat it too! 😀

Although I used a simple & ‘sweet’ whipped cream recipe for the filling, the one that I used for the sponge and the pattern on the cake is by SORTEDfood. Except for substituting all-purpose flour with cake flour, I followed the rest of the recipe to a T, and it worked perfectly!

leafy-1

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ingredients

For the pattern on sponge ~

** If measuring butter in tablespoons, then measure it before melting.
      If measuring cake flour in cups, then measure it after sifting once.

  • 1 egg white
  • 40 gm cake flour (1/3 cup)
  • 30 gm caster sugar (~2 tbsp)
  • 20 gm un/salted butter, melted (1.5 tbsp)
  • 2-3 drops gel food color of choice

For the sponge cake ~

  • 3 eggs, separated into whites & yolks
  • 90 gm cake flour (0.9 cups)
  • 90 gm caster sugar (~6.5 tbsp), divided into two equal parts
  • 45 gm unsalted butter, melted (~ 3 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling ~

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract, optional

recipe

For the pattern

  1. In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the pattern until smooth. Use a bit of more gel food color than the desired shade since it tends to fade while baking. Fill the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip.
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Pipe out your design directly onto the paper. You may use a design template, and place it under the parchment paper as a guide and trace it with the pattern mix… or go freehand! 🙂
  3. After finishing with the pattern, place the tray in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

For the sponge

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the egg yolks and half of the sugar. Beat until it is pale yellow and fluffy.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. In another bowl, place the egg whites and add a pinch of salt. Whisk until the egg whites to soft peaks, then gradually add the remaining half of the sugar and continue whisking until it is glossy.
  4. Now fold in the egg whites into the yolk mixture, then add melted butter and flour. Stir gently until combined taking care to retain as much air as possible in the mixture.
  5. Take the patterned baking sheet out from the freezer and spread the above cake mixture evenly onto the frozen pattern. Make sure to do this step quickly so that the patterned design does not start melting and integrating into the cake mixture.
  6. Bake at 400°F for 5-6 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Meanwhile, place another piece of parchment paper of the same size onto a slightly damp kitchen towel. Keep this assembly ready and at hand.
  8. When the cake is golden brown, take it out of the oven, gently lift it along with the parchment paper and place it upside down on the above assembly. Peel the paper to reveal the pattern. Once again, lift the sponge cake and flip it over. Now, gently roll the cake along with the damp towel into a loose roll and set it aside to cool.

For the filling

  1. In a bowl, start whipping heavy cream and gradually add sugar until the cream is light and fluffy. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and whip once to mix it in. Cover and refrigerate.

Assembly

  1. Once the sponge cake has cooled, unroll it and spread the whipped cream filling over it in an even layer. You could even spread chopped strawberries or raspberries on the cream layer.
  2. Roll the cake and slice a little off both ends to give a nice finishing touch to the swiss roll!

Dig in! 🙂

Stressed spelled backwards is desserts. Coincidence? I think not!
Unknown

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Chocolate Éclairs

Desserts, Recipes

PĂąte Ă  choux. PĂąte Ă  choux. Paataashoo! The last time I was making chocolate Ă©clairs, I must’ve uttered this word out loud at least a million times, it’s just that cute and fun a word to say 🙂

I distinctly remember where and when I first tasted chocolate éclairs. Everyday, my friend and I used to walk from our college to the nearest railway station to take a train back home. And everyday, we walked by an old Iranian cafĂ©, which also happened to be a bakery and a restaurant, and which I now know is considered Mumbai’s oldest surviving Iranian cafĂ©. And every single time, we walked by, I couldn’t help ogling all the cakes and desserts displayed behind the glass counters. Those were the days when the culture of spending money right and left on store-bought food (or spending in restaurants and cafĂ©s; more so as non-earning, college-going kids) was not very prevalent. And hence, after resisting the temptation of buying any desserts for quite a long time, I finally bought a chocolate Ă©clair for 10 Rupees a piece (about 20Âą at the time).

Fast forward a few years, after not having eaten a chocolate éclair since, I finally made it at home! This is one marvelous dessert! 🙂

leafy-1

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ingredients

For the choux pastry ~

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt

For the filling ~

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract, optional

For the chocolate ganache ~

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate

Chocolate Eclair 1

Chocolate Eclair 2

recipe
Éclairs

  1. Sift flour and set aside.
  2. In a shallow saucepan, heat together water, milk, sugar, and butter. Stir intermittently.
  3. When the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat to minimum and quickly add salt and all-purpose flour. With a flat wooden spatula, mix until all the flour is well incorporated.
  4. Place the pan back on low heat and keep stirring the mixture thoroughly until it appears a bit shiny. The dough comes together and no longer sticks to the pan.
  5. Transfer the dough into a medium/larger metal bowl and let it cool for 3-4 minutes. The mixture should not get cold but should not be too hot so as to avoid the added eggs getting cooked in the mixture.
  6. Once the dough cools a bit, start adding eggs one at a time. After each addition, stir the dough vigorously to incorporate the egg in completely. Repeat with the remainder of the eggs. At this point the dough is tacky but is smooth & shiny.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  8. Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a round tip or a big star tip (or smaller ones if you desire to make mini Ă©clairs!); if it’s a plastic piping bag, just cut off the tip part and use directly.
  9. Pipe out the dough in long strips on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  10. Bake the éclairs at 400°F for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350°F and continue baking until the éclairs are golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  11. Once the éclairs are baked, leave them on a wire rack to cool.

Filling

  1. In a bowl, start whipping heavy cream and gradually add sugar until the cream is light and fluffy. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and whip once to mix it in. Cover and refrigerate until the éclairs cool.

Chocolate ganache

  1. Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. In a small pot, heat heavy cream until it just starts boiling. Remove from heat and add the cream to the chocolate. Let rest for 2 minutes, the mix well.

Assembly

  1. When the éclairs cool, gently cut each éclair longitudinally on the sides into a top half and a bottom half. Spoon out and spread the cream filling on the bottom half of the éclair. [Alternatively, fill a piping bag with the cream filling and fill the éclairs through a hole made by poking the piping tip in the bottom or on the side (at one end) of the éclairs]. 
  2. Dip the top half of the éclairs into the chocolate ganache to coat the entire surface.
  3. Put both the halves together and keep on a wire rack for 5 minutes to set.
  4. Refrigerate the eclairs.

Serve the éclairs chilled. Decorate with sprinkles or whipped cream or chopped nuts… Just get creative! Well, garnished or not, prepare to be blown away when they just melt in your mouth!

Chocolate: Here today… gone today!
Anonymous

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French Macarons

Desserts, Recipes

French Macarons

Before I write anything in this post, let me take a moment to salute anyone who has been successful in making perfect macarons in their first try… Well done, take a bow! đŸ‘đŸŒ

After reading up recipes and watching numerous videos of other people making macarons, it did not seem like macarons were difficult to make. I was so confident about getting them right; Oh boy! Now I know how over-confident I was! They don’t say it’s a finicky cookie for no reason! Personally, it took me three attempts to get them right.

In retrospect, I think I have, at least partly, figured out the reasons for the failed attempts. Further, since I’m used to working in a laboratory – using as well as setting up protocols for experiments – I devised a small “foolproof” protocol for myself for making macarons! I say foolproof because I made two more batches of macarons on different days, and got them right 😎

My second attempt, I believe, failed after I added a natural, plant-based gel food coloring to the meringue that I whipped up. I happened to notice that the meringue had ‘curdled’ a bit and could see little granules that had formed. Thus, the macarons turned out miserable because of the altered structure & stability of the meringue. The same thing probably happened during the first attempt, except that I did not notice it. Below is a comparison photo of ‘not-really-macarons’ and ‘wow macarons’:

Macaron Comparison.png

In the tens of recipes that I perused through, I found many variations in many recipes, although the end products of each turned out fine. For example,

  • using granulated sugar v/s caster sugar
  • varying ratios of almond flour to sugar
  • adding all the sugar at once v/s adding it slowly
  • adding all of the almond meal-sugar mixture to the meringue at once v/s adding in batches
  • using varying amounts of egg whites with a fixed amount of almond flour
  • aged egg whites v/s fresh egg whites
  • Italian meringue v/s French meringue
  • resting the macarons after piping v/s baking them immediately

Phew! And it was when I came across somebody’s “mini thesis” on the science of macarons, did I decide that it would be fancy to write one for myself and confirm its validity in practice 🙂 So, after carefully assessing and dissecting a few different recipes, I came up with a formula that I decided to try out.

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And this is what I ended up with 😃

Macarons

So, the ratios that I used for both the successful attempts are as follows:

Ratio table

Considering you want to make small batch of macarons, i.e, using whites from a single egg, these are the steps to be followed:

  1. Weigh the egg white. Let’s say it is 35 gms.
  2. Weigh almond flour/meal 1.2 times of the weight of egg white. So, 35 x 1.2 = 42 gms.
  3. Next measure granulated sugar for meringue as per the weight of egg whites: 35 x 0.7 = 24.5 gms.
  4. Finally, measure out icing sugar for the cookie according to the weight of almond flour: 42 x 1.2 = 50.4 or 50 gms.

Like I said above, there may be other ratios of the ingredients that may work very well, but since these worked for me, I will be sticking to these numbers. Also, they are fairly easy to remember. Rest of the procedure is a matter of practice and getting it technically right, what’s with the ‘molten lava’ like consistency and all… “not that I have seen molten lava”, as someone had commented on a macaron tutorial video 😋

French Macarons.png

leafy-1

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ingredients
For the amounts of ingredients, please refer to the table above.

  • Egg whites
  • Almond meal/flour
  • Caster sugar (for meringue)
  • Icing sugar (for macaron shell)
  • Salt, a pinch

recipe
The recipe is for basic macarons without food colors or flavors.

  1. Weigh out all the ingredients. Take the egg whites in a medium mixing bowl, cover the bowl, and let the egg whites rest for about 10 minutes until they are at room temperature.
  2. Mix together the almond meal and icing sugar. Pulse in a blender till both ingredients are mixed well and the resulting powder is fine. Try not to blend for long durations as it may release oil from the almonds, the powder mixture should be finely ground but dry.
  3. Sift the above mixture through a fine sieve. If there are any bigger chunks remaining in the sieve, collect all and pulse them again in the blender. Try to get as much mixture through the sieve as possible. A few almond pieces might still remain, snack on them! Set the mixture aside.
  4. Cut parchment paper to the size of the baking tray. Using a quarter dollar coin, mark out circles with a pencil. Line the tray with the parchment paper with the marked side facing down.
  5. For the meringue, start whipping room temperature egg whites from Step 1. until they turn frothy. At this point, add a pinch of salt (I have always used salt in place of cream of tartar and it has worked well for me). Continue beating until soft peaks form (I cannot exactly say when soft peaks will form, this is achieved by trial-and-error 🙂 ). Now add 1/3rd of the granulated sugar, beat for 40-45 seconds. Gradually add the sugar in 3-4 batches and continue beating the whites and stop just before it forms stiff peaks. Easier said! But keep checking the peaks intermittently while beating and stop when the peaks just stand straight up and are no longer droopy or hooked. Add gel food coloring at this point, mix once. Avoid water-based food colors as they are said to alter the consistency of the meringue.
  6. Now add all of the sifted almond meal-sugar mixture to the meringue. Start folding the mixture with a spatula. Also, ‘cut’ the mixture with the spatula in a ‘mashing’ kind of manner to knock out some of the air from the mixture. Continue folding gently until the mixture becomes ‘wet’ and resembles the consistency of ‘molten lava’Â đŸ€”  Basically, when you take some batter with the spatula and drop it in the bowl, it should fall in a continuous ribbon, the shape of which should hold for 3-4 seconds.
  7. Once the batter is ready, fill it in a piping bag, cut the tip of the bag such that the batter can easily be piped out. Pipe the batter out on the parchment-lined baking tray.
  8. Rest the batter at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, after which gently touch the batter to check if it has dried on the surface. If not, let rest for a few more minutes.
  9. Preheat the oven to 300°F. (For my oven, I finally standardized the temperature to 270°F). Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes. They should form ‘feet’, a bubbly looking ridge at the bottom along the circumference of the cookie.
  10. If the cookies look baked or have just started turning golden, take them out and let cool completely. If you’re not sure, it is better to let them cook for 5 more minutes rather than taking them out under-baked.
  11. After the shells have cooked, they come easily off the parchment. Pipe the desired fillings on half of the shells and top them with the remaining ones.

Ooh-la-la! 👌

A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.
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The Joy…

Random Reveries

Rainbow little girl

… of sitting on a stone boundary wall of an orchard, eating a mango with both hands, tossing the skins away just about anywhere, and drinking fresh water from a spring nearby.

… of drinking milk, unpasteurized and all, that was milked from the cow only half a minute ago.

… of looking up at the sky just in time to “catch” that shooting star zoom across.

… of flowers being tossed down on you from a tree by the wind, right when you walk under it.

… of being a seven-year-old erupting in laughter when mom’s scolding, and still being guiltless about it.

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