When Steph Hooi first began her blog, Raspberri Cupcakes, she set out to document her food experiences during her travels. Luckily for us, she didn’t stop there. As an Australian-born, Chinese-Malaysian food blogger based out of Sydney, Steph creates incredibly unique desserts that are vividly colorful, elegant, and often quite playful. She was kind enough to answer our questions, share her favorite ingredients, and let us know which of her creations would send even the most seasoned dessert aficionado on a full-blown sugar high.
You are known for creating sinfully rich desserts such as the Fudge Brownie and Cookie Dough Cake that was inspired by Ben & Jerry’s “Half Baked” ice cream. What is the most decadent or over-the-top dessert that you have featured so far?
Whenever I combine a lot of really rich ingredients together it gets a little excessive, like that Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake! I knew it was going to be ridiculously over-the-top, but my friend who I made it for loves the Half Baked flavour and could handle (and appreciate) the insane levels of sugar, chocolate, and butter. Another crazy one was my Rolo Chocolate Brownie Cake. It tasted amazing, but you couldn’t have more than a tiny slice at a time. I try not to go too overboard too often. Those cakes are fun to make and look at, but you probably don’t want to eat them every week!
You fuse so many different cooking cultures into each of your desserts, making them quite unique! How would you say that your Malaysian and Australian heritages have influenced your culinary creations, and what are some of your favorite ingredients and flavors to use that are specific to those regions of the world?
My heritage has definitely had a huge influence on the things that I make on my blog. I always try to channel a bit of childhood nostalgia in my baking, and that means it tends to include a lot of Malaysian and Australian components. One of my favourite ingredients to use is Milo (a chocolate and malt drink powder) because it’s something that both Malaysians and Australians love.
You are practically a pro at the art of the macaron, and you have made almost every kind imaginable including Doughnut Macarons, gorgeous Violet and Lemon Curd Macarons, and even Caramel Koala Macarons! What are your top tips for creating beautiful and delicious macarons?
Start with just plain, round macaron shells first to get the hang of it. Do your research; there are so many great basic macaron tutorials online. Practice! Don’t give up if you fail on the first few attempts. There’s a lot that can go wrong when making macarons, but they are pretty easy to get right if you know the important steps that you cannot miss, and you get the hang of mixing the batter to the right consistency. Never eat your macarons on the same day that you make them, they need at least 24 hours in the fridge to mature.
You were married this past June, and it was so lovely to see what kinds of desserts you featured at your wedding, but what we haven’t heard about is your food adventures from your European honeymoon! What were some of your favorite desserts you tried during your travels in Europe?
There were so many! All the pastries in Paris were amazing, of course. The cream teas and homemade fudge in Arundel, England where we visited my husband’s nanna…the rich chocolate mousse with olive oil and sea salt in Barcelona…the fresh stroopwafels in Amsterdam…I miss Europe!
Many of your recipes require at least an intermediate skill level in baking. How did you first learn to bake, and what resources would you recommend to those who are just starting out?
It all started with my obsession with cupcakes. I was determined to perfect my cupcake-making skills and achieve the fluffy, buttery cupcakes that my Mum used to make. You learn a lot of important baking skills when you are trying to make basic recipes, like how to cream butter and sugar correctly or how to whip your egg whites to the right peak. It’s definitely good to start off baking some simple recipes from well-known cookbooks before you start experimenting with more complicated recipes that you come across on the internet.
Baking is clearly a labor of love for you, and anyone who reads your blog knows that you put your heart and soul into Raspberri Cupcakes. How do you spend your time when you are not creating masterpieces in your kitchen?
I work full-time as an engineer and spend a large part of my free time baking and blogging, so there isn’t a lot of time for much else! I love keeping my blog as a hobby; it’s the complete opposite of my day job, and there’s something really therapeutic about baking.
Keep up with Steph with the following links: