Cracking the Chinese Code – Part 1

I’ve always wondered how Chinese and Korean restaurants manage to get the meat so very tender – no matter how hard I try, my results never even come close. I’ve had two attempts fairly recently to make Bulgogi, and while they were very tasty, the meat was still a little on the tough side. So, I’ve decided that 2016 is going to be the year that I crack this mystery. And it looks like I’m not the only one who’s wondered this!



New Years Planning

Only two days to go until New Year’s Eve!  I’m planning to host a molecular cocktail party and some of my best friends will be there so it needs to be epic.

Today is basically my last chance to buy anything that’s missing and I guess in order to figure that out I’ll need to make a definitive list of what I’m planning to make.  I had a molecular gastronomy dinner party back in January last year.  It was something of a qualified success since some of the recipes should have been started the day before, and I’d like to avoid that this time around.

The ‘must make’ items are:


I’d also really like to try:

I’m going to need to buy some ingredients since I don’t think I have quite everything; I also need a spherical mould for the frozen spherification but I think the silicone cake pop moulds they sell in Decobake should do the trick, and I can also pick up some more isomalt for the sugar blowing if I take a trip out there.

This is everything I’ll need:

Frozen Chocolate Wind

  • 2 grams soy lecithin
  • 85 grams dark chocolate
  • 1 cup water

Aperol Gel Cocktails

Aperol Cocktail Base Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 oz) Aperol liquor
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) Laphroaig Scotch Whisky
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) honey syrup made by bringing to boil ½ water, ½ honey
  • 1 rosemary sprig

Cocktail Gel Ingredients

  • 4/3 cups (315 cm3/ 10.7 oz) cocktail base
  • 2/3 cups (158 cm3 / 5.3 oz) water
  • 8 Platinum gelatin sheets

Other ingredients

  • 10 square ultra-thin edible films, cut in half (or round edible film)
  • 1 slice dehydrated orange cut into small bits
  • 20 small lemon balm leaves


  • iSi Whip
  • Standard loaf pan (9″ x 5″ x 3″ / 2lb pan)
  • Spray bottle

Carbonated Mojito Spheres Ingredients

  • 12 mint leaves
  • 170 g (6 oz) white rum
  • 170 g (6 oz) lime juice
  • 128 g (4 ½ oz) water
  • 6 tbsp white sugar
  • lime zest
  • small mint leaves to decorate
  • 4.7 g Calcium Lactate Gluconate
  • 0.8 g Xanthan

Alginate Bath

  • 1000 g (35 oz) of filtered or low calcium water
  • 5 g sodium alginate

Carrot Orange Mango Juice Spheres

Carrot Orange Mango Juice

  • 300 ml (10 oz) carrot juice (about 1 1/2 pounds of carrots)
  • 150 ml (5 oz) orange juice (about three oranges)
  • 50 ml (1.7 oz) mango juice (about half mango)
  • sugar to taste


  • 250g (8.8 oz) carrot orange mango juice
  • 5g calcium lactate gluconate (2%)
  • Extra juice to store the spheres if you are not planning to consume them within a few hours.

Spherification Bath

  • 1000 g (35 oz) distilled water
  • 5 g sodium alginate (0.5%)


  • Silicone hemisphere mold
  • Blender

Pisco Sour Marshmallows

Ingredients for Marshmallow

(for 8” x 8” cake pan, ~ 16 pieces)

  • 8 g powdered gelatin
  • 48 ml (1.6 oz) Pisco
  • 18 ml (0.6 oz) lime juice
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 40 ml (1.35 oz) cold water
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) sugar
  • 50 g (1.76 oz) light corn syrup
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt

Ingredients for Pisco Sour Dust

  • 250 g (8.8 oz) granulated sugar
  • 85 g (3 oz) water
  • 100 ml (3.4 oz) Pisco
  • ½ kg (1 lb) corn starch
  • ¼ tsp. powdered citric acid


  • Lime peel twists
  • Lemon Thyme leaves with flowers
  • Lime wedges

Espresso Pasta and Chocolate Sponge Cake

Espresso Pasta

  • 500 ml espresso
  • 30 g muscovado sugar
  • 40 ml  coffee liqueur
  • 5 g gellan gum

Chocolate Sponge Cake

  • 180 g dark couverture chocolate
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 130 g powdered sugar
  • 50 g wheat flour
  • 0.5 g salt
  • Non-stick spray

Espresso Foam

  • 325 ml espresso
  • 75 g muscovado sugar
  • 2 gelatin sheets
  • 125 ml heavy cream


  • iSi Whip Siphon 0.5 L (1 pint)
  • 2 N2O charges
  • 5 paper cups

Holly Shots

  • 1(3-ounce) box cherry gelatin dessert
  • 1(3-ounce) box lime gelatin dessert
  • 3 packets unflavored gelatin
  • 1(14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla vodka
  • 36 dollops whipped cream (for garnish
  • 36 mint leaves (for garnish)
  • 72 small red candies (or 36 if using just one for garnish)

Hot Baileys Ice Cream

Ingredients for Hot Ice Cream (2 servings)

  • 80 g (2.8 oz) cold espresso coffee
  • 50 g (1.8 oz) milk
  • 70 g (2.5 oz) Baileys
  • 10 g (0.35 oz) sugar
  • 7 g (0.25 oz) methyl cellulose SGA7C (3.2%)

Ingredients for Oat Crunch

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts


These are the lead times for each recipe:

  • Frozen Chocolate Wind – no prep, start at least an hour before we want to eat it, eat immediately
  • Aperol Gels – 12 hours to dehydrate the paper, allow gels to set overnight, will keep until ready
  • Mojito Spheres – prepare baths the previous day, begin carbonating at least 2 hours before we want to eat them
  • Carrot Spheres – freeze spheres overnight, prepare bath the previous day, will keep until ready
  • Blown Sugar – no prep, will keep
  • Marshmallows – 24 hours drying time to prepare sour dust, then prepare marshmallows and let set overnight.  Will keep for up to a week.
  • Espresso pasta – 2-4 hours resting for cake mix; note this requires the whipper so can’t be done at the same time as carbonating the mojitos.  Then 1-2 hours for the foam, also in the whipper.  The recipe suggests doing the cake first then the foam.
  • Holly shots – set for 2-3 hours or overnight, will keep.


Based on this, it looks like I need to start the sour dust prep today and as soon as possible, then do a lot of the gelatine related things tomorrow.  Finally on Thursday I should make the cakes in the morning and the espresso foam in the afternoon before people arrive.  That will leave the following for during the party:

  • Making the chocolate wind and freezing it
  • Making the espresso pasta, serving and eating the cake
  • Making the mojito spheres and setting them to carbonate
  • Making and eating the carrot spheres
  • Making the blown glass spheres and messing around with them for a bit
  • Drinking and eating all the things

Sounds like a plan.  I’d better get shopping.

Icing the Christmas Cake

Having left myself not enough time to ice the cake before Christmas, I needed to figure out how to get a classic look without waiting for the marzipan to dry.  So, I decided to try an experimental approach to icing the cake.

First, I rolled out a single packet of white marzipan as thin as I could manage, and used it to cover the cake fondant-style.


Normally the next step would be to cover the whole thing in Royal Icing.  The problem here is that the oil from the marzipan is liable to seep into the Royal Icing if it hasn’t had enough time to completely dry between steps.  Ideally the marzipan would be done a week ahead of the final icing, but I was doing this the day before Christmas Eve so I didn’t have many options.

I decided to use some red fondant that was left over from Hallowe’en.  There was clearly a possibility that the red would seep through rather than the marzipan oil, but it seemed at least worth a try – the idea being that the fondant would form a buffer between the marzipan and the Royal Icing.

Again, I rolled it out as thin as I could manage, and covered the cake in a single piece.  I brushed the marzipan layer with some warmed up honey to help the fondant to stick.  Sieved apricot jam is more traditional here, but I was working with what was to hand!


It looked pretty awesome, although it wasn’t a very traditional Christmas cake style.

The next step was the Royal Icing; I’d normally be inclined to make this from scratch, but being short on time I used a just-add-water packet.  I was very glad of the Kenwood mixer for the beating and stirring phases.

I made up the icing according to the packet, but it seemed to be aiming for a consistency that could be rolled out, so I ended up adding quite a lot more water to get a much softer icing which was closer in consistency to buttercream.  This meant that I could use a palette knife to apply it with a nice textured finish.


It stuck to the fondant easily and pretty soon it was looking very much like an old-school traditionally iced Christmas cake.


The final touch was to get out the cheesy decorations, and the end result brought me right back to being 5 years old.



Christmas Cookies

Not long before Christmas, a new biscuit tray turned up in our kitchen – a Wilton sandwich cookie pan to be exact.  Now anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for gadgets, so I had to try it out and see what kind of results I could get from it.

Wilton 12-Cavity Sandwich Cookie Pan 2105-0896

The packaging had some pretty inspiring pictures of interestingly coloured biscuits, but the actual recipes were not so inspiring.  The first one I looked at called for something like a cup and a half of vegetable oil, and some butter flavoured essence, which sounded pretty revolting.

I did some searching and had a look in my recipe books and settled on this recipe:


  • 125g Stork margarine
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 250g plain flour
  • Red food colouring powder


  • Beat margarine and sugar together until white and fluffy
  • Slowly add egg, beating thoroughly
  • Mix together flour and food colouring and fold into mixture
  • Roll out into cookies and bake at 180 C


I used the red food colouring powder that I bought for making our red velvet wedding cake – it gives a great vivid red colour without having much impact on the texture the way some of the liquid food colourings do.  The recipe above gave a fairly stiff dough which was the perfect consistency for rolling out.

For the first batch, I rolled it out to about half a centimetre thickness and cut circles that were the size of the outer lip in the tray.


When I put them into the tin, they basically filled the indentations, with a slight bulge to the top.WP_20151220_16_59_13_Raw

I baked them for 10 mins, but they were a little bit darkened on the outside when I took them out of the oven.  Although they hadn’t really risen, they were clearly much to thick to sandwich together properly, and had quite a big lip around the outside.


Since there was plenty of dough left over, I had another attempt.  This time I rolled it much thinner, maybe 2 millimetres, so that it sat quite low in the tray and only came up to the top of the inner lip.

This second batch took only 5 mins to cook, and were still a lovely red colour when they came out.  They were solid and crispy all the way through, and just the right size for sandwiching.


This batch is filled with a salted caramel buttercream – I took inspiration from and adapted it fairly drastically to suit my objectives.  The one in the picture above also has some green food colouring added for a more Christmassy effect.
  • 100g Granulated Sugar
  • 50g Demerara Sugar

  • 25ml Cold water

  • 1 tbsp of golden syrup

  • 25ml Double cream (gently heated in the microwave for 40secs)

  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

  • 25g Stork for caramel

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil

  • 125g Stork for buttercream


  • Stir the sugars, water and syrup over a low heat until completely dissolved.  This takes a long time so be patient and keep stirring!
  • Increase the heat and bring it to a gentle boil – watch it carefully at this stage, it’s likely to burn very easily.
  • Once it has darkened slightly, remove from the heat and add the warmed cream, stirring continuously.
  • Add the salt, 25g of Stork, and coconut milk and stir until it is well blended.  At this point you have essentially a nice salted caramel sauce.
  • Once it has cooled completely, soften another 125g Stork and slowly beat in the salted caramel to create a thick buttercream filling.


I discovered an intriguing recipe at – I’ve never seen these before but they appear to be a fairly popular Christmas cookie in the States.

Given that they’re dairy-free anyway and this page has a gluten-free variation also, I just had to try them out.

The recipe basically involves making a meringue, then mixing in melted chocolate.  This gives a stiff dough which is rolled into balls and coated in icing sugar – when you bake them they flatten out and give a ‘crinkle’ effect.  They look very impressive even though they’re so simple to make, and they were very popular with the family when I took them visiting.


Hello and Welcome!

Welcome to the Crafty Rogue, dedicated to all kinds of Art and Crafts, as well as the MMORPG World of Warcraft.

I’m a complete craft addict. I’m better at some than others, whether due to time invested, available materials, or aptitude, but the power to create something useful and beautiful out of some pretty basic items has always fascinated me.  I particularly love sewing, knitting, spinning, cooking, baking, sketching, painting and sculpting, although I’m always willing to try my hand at anything at least once.

I’m also a keen WoW player. I like to try all classes and roles; I believe the key to being a better team player is understanding what everyone else us going through so I have a variety of different classes at max level. At the end of the day though, my rogue is my oldest and most familiar character. She’s not the easiest to play; compared to my arcane mage there’s a lot more going on. And yet getting in the rogue frame if mind is like slipping back into my own skin. I can get in a flow state in a way that just doesn’t happen with the others.

I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures in these different worlds, although I’m sure I’ll have more fun living them!