Have you eaten yet?

It’s no coincidence the traditional Singaporean Chinese greeting is literally about food.  Cake Girl headed abroad earlier this year to Singapore.  It didn’t take long to conclude that shopping and eating are national past-times over there.  Shopping is exhausting so it’s not entirely unexpected that it be accompanied by eating.  The greater miracle is how the local people remain so slender.  Each day brought new anguish for Cake Girl.  All that glorious food and not enough meals in the day.  The fabulous Marina Bay Sands hotel was oblivious this plight, offering a staggering array of edible delights.  The breakfast options spanned multiple countries … 

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And no less restraint was employed with their canapé buffet that accompanied the evening cocktail session … 

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The canapé buffet even included sweet treats such as pannacotta topped with fresh guava fruit and gold leaf, no less …

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The bakery shops in Singapore pull out all stops to tempt over-stuffed tummies out for a some much-needed energy expenditure … 

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Cake Girl can confirm macaron mania is alive and kicking in Singapore …

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Too many of these divinely soft fruity brioche scoffed at breakfast …

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… meant intriguing sweeties like these, discovered when out working up an appetite, were regrettably not sampled …

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Oh well, it’s always good to save something to eat for next time!

Mooning over macaroons

Ever since making these macarons Cake Girl has been accumulating egg whites in the freezer (where they keep exceptionally well).  Last count was nine, signalling that some baking action was long overdue.  Good intentions don’t taste quite as yum as the actual thing.  

Initially content to recreate previous efforts, Cake Girl hit upon the idea of adding chunky orange marmalade to the basic macaron mixture of egg whites, sugar and ground almonds.  This was just the beginning of the slippery slope of modifications … also into the mix went toasted coconut and chopped dried apricots.  Thanks to the coconut, Cake Girl had turned macarons into macaroons but that extra O would hopefully translate into oh-so-good.  

On emerging from the oven, Cake Girl’s other half commented that the macaroons looked like fritters.  Perhaps not a compliment.  Okay, they were a shade beyond golden but that’s the oven’s fault.

The additional ingredients had been chosen with a dark chocolate bottom in mind.  But their tasty chewy yumminess was pretty darn good without the finishing touch.  That left only one logical course of action: leave some of the macaroons naked and smear the others with melted chocolate then compare.  Cake Girl’s vote went to the choccy-bottoms as the soft chewy macaroon contrasted deliciously with the firm snap of the chocolate.  

A macaron, by any other name

Cake Girl has been a trifle slow to latch onto macaron mania.  Put it down to chalky encounters with the fake flavours and sickly fillings that comprise the offerings to hapless tourists in Europe.  But I have recently discovered that not all macarons are created equal and scrumptious ones do exist.  The turning point was chancing upon this fine, immodestly-sized specimen.  Made by Bordeaux Bakery, it was soft and chewy thanks to plenty of ground almonds with a ganache filling, creating an edible tipping point.  

Clearly there is some mastery required to produce an aesthetically perfect macaron.  Cake Girl’s first efforts tasted the part but fell a trifle flat …

… and the next, using a patty tin, not much better although compensated by lashings of ganache cementing the ragged wretches together.  The recipe seems fine so more practice might be the answer.  

Not to be confused with the coconut-laden variant known as macaroons, in Italy macarons are known as amaretti.  Te Papa museum cafe apparently produces a very nice one using a beat-everything-together recipe that sounded too easy to ignore.  The proof was in the pudding and did not disappoint.  Crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle and chocolate-ty on the bottom.

Cake Girl did attempt to acquire the real McCoy (strictly for comparison purposes) and waited (im)patiently in the queue only to be foiled by the cafe’s “no take-aways” policy.  Clearly it was a mistake to assume one could pop into a Te Papa cafe to grab some sustenance and run.  In the absence of a comparator, it seems only fair to declare my version superior and you can save yourself a trip to Te Papa by whipping up your own batch.   

Post script (15 May): Cake Girl relayed her customer service experience to the Te Papa cafe manager, who remedied the matter by despatching this box of six amaretti cookies. 

Cake Girl was most impressed and can now confirm the real thing rivals the homemade replica with its especially chewy interior.