Decisions decisions

Shhh.. don’t tell anyone, but I think I’ve got it sussed. Life, my friends, is just one big decision after another.

Unfortunately for me, this revelation is not particularly helpful as I’m pretty bad at making decisions. If life were as straightforward as one of those choose-your-own-adventure books, I’d be the one caught flicking forward to find out which storyline had the better ending, before taking that path. As a kid, we used to own quite a few of these books, but I think I completely missed the point of them.

So I’m sitting here, chewing on an extreme-seeded roll (my favourite Luneburger treat, aside from their pretzels) with avocado, browsing online for a swimsuit, and it strikes me that a) I never did decide who was sexier : Betty Rubble or Wilma Flintstone. Or Judy Jetson, and b) surely “sexy leather bikini” is a bit of a misnomer.

Either I’m falling between the cracks of any potential swimswear target market, or this life-changing decision is just beyond me. Is leather really an appropriate material for a bikini? A search for suede bikinis yielded too many serious results for me to make any jokes about them as well.

Anyway I’m hoping (praying) for some last minute inspiration, as I have yet to make up my mind about what to pack for the holiday B and I are taking next week.

Also this week, I am meant to be making an all important decision regarding my current job. But I’m baking instead.

Nougat, lime macaroon, or lavender berry teacake?

Decisions decisions!

Pistachio Nougat :
(This recipe comes from the Pier cookbook. If you try it and like it, feel free to let the Pastry Chef know 🙂 )

6 sheets sweet rice paper
3 egg whites from 55g eggs
375g whole pistachio nuts [I used a mixture of pistachios, almonds and dried cranberries]
400g caster sugar
100g honey
200g liquid glucose

Preheat the oven to 150’C.

Prepare a baking tray by lightly coating it with olive oil spray, then line it with baking paper, making sure you press the paper into the corners. Place three sheets of the sweet rice paper (or enough to cover the tray) over the baking paper.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer.

Place the pistachio nuts on another baking tray lined with baking paper and warm in the oven for 15 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, honey, glucose and 150ml water and cook until the mixture reaches 142’C on a sugar thermometer. When the syrup reaches 118’C, start beating the egg whites on medium-high speed until almost at the stiff peak stage. When the syrup reaches 142’C, pour the syrup into the beating egg whites in a slow steading stream (make sure not to pour the syrup onto the beaters). Turn the machine off and with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula mix in the pistachio nuts.

Spread the nougat quickly and evenly onto the prepared tray. Cover the top of the nougat with the remaining three sheets of sweet rice paper. Allow the nougat to cool to room temperature, then wrap it well in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Cut the nougat into desired shapes with a serrated knife and serve. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Lime Zest Macaroons :
(makes about 30; from HomeBaking by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid)

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups dried shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons pastry or cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
grated zest of 2 limes

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 148’C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the egg whites, sugar, coconut and flour. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, vanilla, and zest.

Immediately begin shaping the cookies : Scoop up a heaping teaspoon of the mixture and drop onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until the mixture is used, leaving nearly 1 1/2 inches between the cookies.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the coconut shreds have turned opaque and the cookies are very lightly browned on the bottom.

Lift the cookies, still on the parchment, onto a rack to cool and firm, then peel them off the paper and let them cool completely, so they crisp up a little. Store, once cooled, in a well-sealed container. These cookies keep beautifully.

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  1. Piggy said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 12:33 am

    wow, I love all your baked goods, look so yummy. Gorgeous pics as well, esp. the first berry teacake pic. 🙂

  2. pigpigscorner said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 1:06 am

    Lavender berry teacake for me pls! Life is full of decisions to make…which I hate…

  3. Sophie said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 1:08 am

    I’ll take all of the above :). Keep us posted about your job, in the meantime, enjoy your trip :)!

  4. Caitlin said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 2:31 am

    I consider baking to be a way to think while keeping my hands busy – perfect for working out all those life decisions 🙂 Have a wonderful trip, and good luck!

  5. Jillian said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 3:30 am

    I love nougat,and I had no idea how to make it. It looks perfect!

  6. foodlibrarian said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 4:22 am

    Baking is a great way to keep your mind off of life decision, isn’t it?! Everything looks delicious! Love it.

  7. HL said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 4:25 am

    Wow your nougat looks soo good! Just a question, can I substitute liquid glucose with powdered one?

  8. Kevin said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 5:36 am

    Look at all of those amazing treats!

  9. Shari said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 8:23 am

    Good luck with your decisions! Your tea cakes look delicious.

  10. Y said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 9:25 am

    Thanks guys! I had a fun baking day, and I think I actually managed to make a decision in the process.

    HL : Unfortunately I haven’t baked with powdered glucose before, so I can’t tell you for sure either way, unless you already know how to convert powdered to the equivalent liquid? If anything, I would probably try using corn syrup if you can’t get liquid glucose. The result might be a softer nougat, but I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with that! 🙂

  11. Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 10:38 am

    YAY some recipes 😛 I always liked Betty and Barney, Fred was always so grumpy. Sounds like we’re going on holidays the same time. And eeeek where does one even come across a sexy leather bikini? I always thought it was the domain of those dodgy little ads at the back of otherwise reputable magazines but I doubt you’ve been looking there! Don’t tell me they’ve gone mainstream?

  12. Tartelette said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 11:40 am

    You would make my grandmother proud, she was from the nougat originating town of Montelimar and it was always on the tea tray at her house!
    What a great array of goodies, I completely understand about making a choice!!
    The teacakes are gorgeous with the blueberries!

  13. Lisa said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

    I agree with you, but I am incredibly indecisive so decision making is unnecessarily hard for me! The nougat looks delicious. Any clue where I might find the sweet rice paper? I don’t have an oven at the moment unfortunately, so I can’t make the sweet little tea cakes, but they look absolutely gorgeous.

  14. Hannah said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 1:58 pm

    Yep, it’s true- Life is a series of decisions, and most aren’t at all easy or fun to make. Best of luck making yours… If they turn out nearly as well as your pastries, I’d say you’re in good shape! Fantastic sweets, as always.

  15. kayce. said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

    LOL, it’s so funny how i fave your pics on foodgawker w/ out even realizing they’re your pics… the lime macaroons look amazing, needless to say. and thanks for the recipes and for embedding all the links: lemon pi photos are hot! ^_^

  16. Elle said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

    They all look lucious, but I’ll take the tea cake please. As far as bikinis go, black is always chic. Having a wonderful time with you sweetie means he’ll like whatever you choose. Have fun!

  17. lili - pikeletandpie said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 6:00 pm

    Your pictures look so luscious, and that nougat looks terribly familiar (though I have never seen it so wonderfully photographed before!)
    I used to work with Katrina, the pastry chef from Pier, in a different restaurant. Nougat was the go-to petit four for a long time, which meant that there were always plenty of nougat offcuts to snack on (and the poor pastry chefs seemed to be making more nougat constantly). Delicious, but I think I may have overdosed – I haven’t eaten nougat since!
    The lavender and berry teacake sounds delish!

  18. Arwen from Hoglet K said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 7:19 pm

    Sounds like your procrastination produced some pretty delicious side effects anyhow. Those teacakes look divine. Good luck with the decisions!

  19. mir said,

    February 22, 2009 @ 9:22 pm

    Ooh they all look lovely, hardest decision would be which one to taste first. Glad that baking helped the decision making process along…I tend to sleep over mine and have less to show than your delicious creations 🙂

  20. cathy x. said,

    February 23, 2009 @ 1:05 am

    i’ve figured that if i have to take the time to sort out whether i want to continue doing something, it’s most likely not making me happy. i hope you’ll be happy.
    if you’ve decided to open your own patisserie on your return take me! take me! 😛 at the moment i’m seriously considering taking a combined baking and pastry course at tafe starting in july which lasts for 3 years ((>_<)). i wish i could afford taking a year off to study at le cordon bleu and get it over with (plus they have food styling classes). i want to know everything now damnit!

  21. grace said,

    February 23, 2009 @ 1:41 am

    i’m convinced that i’m the worst decision-maker in the world, but i say wilma’s the foxiest. it’s the red hair. 🙂
    bake on!

  22. lisaiscooking said,

    February 23, 2009 @ 1:46 am

    I’ll decide on the nougat, please! Looks fantastic!

  23. Leonor de Sousa Bastos said,

    February 23, 2009 @ 4:22 am

    Everything looks so good and deliciously beautiful…. hmmm

    There’s nothing like a well-thought-baked-decision!


  24. Y said,

    February 23, 2009 @ 7:39 am

    Thanks everyone again, for the lovely comments 🙂

    Lorraine : Believe me, I wasn’t even looking for it! Just kind of stumbled across it when I was looking in for Swimmers in general. I guess there’s something for everyone, out there!

    Hey Lisa, I got mine from Essential Ingredient, but I’m thinking Asian grocery stores might stock it too…? Chefs Warehouse or even Kitchen Kapers as well, if that’s more convenient.

    Cathy : I have a feeling you might learn more on the job, than at tafe! But food styling classes, you say……. ! 😛

  25. Chris said,

    February 23, 2009 @ 10:01 am

    I find baking to be a good thing to take solace in, particularly when decisions are hard and life-altering, and law assignments are harder!
    I’ll have to look at the nougat recipe next time my aunt comes over – she happily devoured a block of it last time!

  26. Aran said,

    February 23, 2009 @ 11:49 am

    i wish life was as easy as one of those pick your destiny books. i often thought of that. nothing better than baking therapy!

  27. Christie @ fig&cherry said,

    February 23, 2009 @ 5:07 pm

    Falling between the cracks? Pun intended? 😛

  28. the caked crusader said,

    February 23, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

    I love nougat – it never entered my head you could make it (not that I thought it grew on trees or anything!)
    You definitely didn’t waste your time – yummy photos!

    PS. I’d vote Betty Rubble.

  29. sugar chef said,

    February 24, 2009 @ 3:41 am

    I adore nougat and yours looks perfect. Have a fun vacation. Good luck with all those decisions.

  30. Vanille said,

    February 24, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

    Oh, this nougat looks so good !… And all your pictures are great !
    Wish you a good time for your holidays !

  31. Belle said,

    February 24, 2009 @ 11:26 pm

    Is it baaad that I love Nougat Limar (cherry cranberry pistachio)? Though yours looks fabulous, as always. (And Betty Rubble, with her blue dress and b/w necklace wins hands down).

  32. Jamie said,

    February 25, 2009 @ 3:01 am

    1. I am horrible at making decisions.

    2. That nougat is gorgeous!!!

    3. Judy Jetson hands down.

  33. Rachelle @ "Mommy? I'm Hungry!" said,

    February 25, 2009 @ 8:20 am

    The nougat looks wonderful! It sounds great with the pistachios & cranberries.

  34. Shari said,

    February 25, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

    Nougat has got to be one of the best things to nibble on. Forget the bikini search and enjoy the nougat! Life is short. Great photos.

  35. Vera said,

    February 25, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

    Good luck with your decisions, Y! And have the most wonderful trip! And your baked (and unbaked) treats look irresistible!

  36. Eva said,

    February 25, 2009 @ 5:35 pm

    Good luck with the decision making and enjoy your vacation! Just being on a holiday myself, I can really recommend it..;-)

  37. Katie said,

    February 26, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

    Lovely photos! I hope you have wonderful vacation.

  38. arfi said,

    February 26, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

    OH how I’d love to have a bite of those little cute tarts, Y!!!

  39. Marysol said,

    February 27, 2009 @ 4:45 am

    Oh, I must have puh-sychic powers, because I very recently started looking for a nougat recipe, like the one I used to enjoy as a kid. At any rate, I found a recipe in one of Jacques Torres’ books.
    But, now I stumble onto yours, and it looks far less complicated than Mr. Torres. And with results like that, I can’t lose. Thanks Y.

    I also love the cute little teacakes!

  40. edible forest said,

    February 27, 2009 @ 5:58 am

    wow, this blog is very nice!

  41. Christy said,

    February 27, 2009 @ 7:52 pm

    I could’ve sworn I left you a comment a few days ago, but the blogs do some funny stuff sometimes. I’m gonna try your nougat recipe, I’ve been craving for one since Christmas. I’ll let you know how it went. Your tea cake and lime macaroons are gorgeous!

  42. Foodie Froggy said,

    February 28, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

    Thanks ! I will make the nougat very soon. So glad I recently bought liquid glucose.

  43. Foodie Froggy said,

    February 28, 2009 @ 9:37 pm

    Hi ! Me again. I have a question about the nougat recipe : I don’t know about sweet rice paper, do you think I can use regular rice paper (the one used to make springrolls). I hope my question is not too stupid.
    Best regards,

  44. Julia said,

    March 3, 2009 @ 7:27 pm

    I was in a little store in Brisbane today called Petit Treats. I was eyeing off their nougat – I am quite partial. But when I have made nougat before – even though I followed the instructions strictly (particularly the temperature of the sugar) – I have not been so successful. It did not seem to set as firmly as I would like. I will definitely try this version and see if I have a better result. With all this nougat around me today, it must be a sign!

  45. Michelle said,

    April 14, 2009 @ 3:23 pm

    AHHHH I wish this were in cups and stuff… looks so damn good, my family loves nougat!

  46. Deon said,

    July 22, 2010 @ 12:00 am

    Hi Yu ching where can i get sweet rice paper plz advise, thank u v much

  47. Y said,

    July 26, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

    Hi Deon! Try Chefs Warehouse/Essential Ingredient. Also DJ’s Food Hall.

  48. Becky said,

    August 11, 2012 @ 7:11 am

    I know this is a old post but the nougat looks so amazing, i am being pestered to make nougat by my partner and work. I love it, thanks for a lovely (if slightly old) photo that has pushed me a little closer to making them both happy and finally making it.

  49. Y said,

    August 11, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

    Hi Becky, thanks for your comment. Hope you end up making some nougat – it’s well worth the effort!

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