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Summer means fruit, and lots of it!

28 Jun

I love this heat, don’t you? You can leave you’re doors or windows open all day, and most of the evening too. The days turn into a blur, full of music and fruity drinks, and the evenings are filled with laughter, grilled food and more drinks (ones with a little more kick though).

In my opinion the summer hasn’t really arrived yet though. We have had a few good days, but we had better in April. Hmphh, well such is the way in the UK hey?!

But we all carry on with our summer ways, refuse to wear anything but shorts and sunglasses, even in the rain. I like that English spirit, we are usually so disheartened by everything else.

But anyways, this months Mac Tweet, Mac Attack Challenge is rather rushed, as I am off to Cornwall tomorrow with the Boy. I cannot wait.

Pussy cats are being tended to by the 17-year-old sister….I am not sure what else to say about a 17-year-old with a free house to herself for 3 days, I shall tell you when I get back. But I know what I would have done. Don’t you?

So, Mac Tweets. This months theme is anything fruity, which is fab. So much is in season right now so there was so much choice.

I was going to try replicate the amazing Cherry macaron I had in Laduree, but I didn’t want to pit a load of cherries. Then I came to me.

When my sisters and I were kids, our Dad loved raspberry ripple ice cream. Every year it was like a occation, you see, my Dad doesn’t really like sweet things (crazy I know) but raspberry ripple ice cream he couldn’t resist. I remember like clock work, as the days grew longer and hotter we would start getting raspberry ripple ice cream with tinned fruit for pudding. Sometimes peaches or clementines, but always raspberry ripple. To me this is the taste of summer.

So here is my macaron creations, especially for my Dad.

Mascarpone Raspberry Ripple Macarons

For the basic macaron shell, follow this recipe.

Just add swirls of red food colouring. Do this once your shells are piped out by dipping a cocktail stick in a little food colouring and swirling it around the top of the macaron.

Bake as normal.

Mascarpone filling

1 small pot of mascarpone

1 cup of raspberries.

Beat together until light and fluffy. Pipe onto one shell and sandwich together with another.

Enjoy.

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A french weekday in London.

30 May

This week I embarked on my little trip up to London.

I only had 2 days, and I had a lot to do, places to visit, and dear friends I wanted to see.

I had a quick lunch with a friend who just moved up to London. A little salad bar in Victoria was the setting for our catch up. Chatter about his new job, home, friends, business ideas etc. We managed to cover a lot of ground in that short hour. The salad was also good, especially as I hadn’t eaten all day.

Then on to Soho to meet some people I haven’t seen in almost a year. It was so good to see them. You start chatting and it doesn’t feel like a year has passed. More chatter about ‘whats going on in Soho’, family, music, new business ventures, bubble tea…once again, there’s never enough time.

Off to Covent Garden to meet my grandma for macarons and tea at Bougie Macaron and Tea.

We were greeted by the waitress who gave us a seat next to the window, lovely. The first thing that hit me when we first walked in were the decadent colours. The walls were painted in a metallic gold, and with the dark wood this could have been too dark, but they have a lovely big window which floods the place with light that dances off the painted walls.

They had a good menu, not just serving macarons, in fact, not just serving patisseries. With salads and light bites on the menu this is the perfect cafe for long lunch time catch up’s.

Their macarons mirrored Bougie’s metallic walls, each one was dusted with edible lustre. I did marvel at how the jeweled colours suited Bougie down to the ground.

We decided we would share 4 macarons between the 2 of us. It took us a little while to choose, but in the end we went for pistachio, raspberry, rose and salted caramel on recommendation. I had a lavender tea and grandma had an orange blossom.

The tea came in all sorts of unusual teapots, the aroma subtle but distinctive.

The flavour of the macarons was lovely, my favourite was the rose macaron.

Grandma and a rose macaron

Hello!

But the texture was not good. They were quite crisp, and the pistachio was so hard I couldn’t even cut it in half which was a shame.

In general I would visit Bougie again, maybe have a spot of lunch and a pot of tea, but I don’t think I would have their macarons.

 

The next day was a bit of a blur. It rained so hard all day. But we whizzed around London in the haze.

First to the Pierre Herme counter in Selfridges. It was beautiful, unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take a photo, but I sneaked this one in from afar.

I chose a Milk Chocolate and Passion Fruit macaron. Even though I only had the one macaron they still packaged it beautifully.

The colour was so vibrant and enchanting. Almost saying “Eat Me, I will change you’re life”.

And boy, did it!

As I bit through this beautiful morsel the shell softly crumpled into the centre exposing the moist yet structured almond interior. The ganache was UNBELIEVABLE! It was sweet and sour all at the same time. This experience was something else.

I finally popped to Laudree in Harrods, I didn’t have long as I had to catch my coach, but I quickly flew in. I hadn’t realised but they have a full-blown cafe there. It was gorgeous, extravagant. Once again I couldn’t get a photo, but I really recommend a visit.

I chose Laudree’s Cherry macaron.

The first thing that hit me was the scent. Cherry orchards in mid summer. Sweet and full-bodied, rich and light. Also the colour was fabulous.

Once again the centre was moist, the thin shell was deadly delicate. The flavour was sublime.

I ate this one on the coach on the way home, and when I took my 1st bite I couldn’t help but let out a long ‘mmmmm…’ The people sat near to me were looking over with curiosity as I enjoyed this moment, their eyes transfixed on this bright pink little piece of heaven.

It was different from the Pierre Herme macaron. In structure this macaron practically melted in my mouth, and the moister centre meant that it almost completely gave way to itself on my 1st nibble, but O-MY. Have you ever tasted flavours like this before, I can guarantee you no.

All in all it would be very hard to compare the two. Both unique, which seems complex when it comes down to it. They are just macarons, both almond, sugar and egg whites, both equally as good as one another, but somehow different.

I now know where I strive to be on my macaron journey, so even if I manage to capture 50% of a Pierre Herme or Laudree macaron in my own creations I will be thrilled to pieces.

The desperation to buy Pierre Herme’s book Macaron, and Sucre by Laudree is now at an all time high.

Until then, back to the kitchen!

I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from the fish counter at Selfridges, they are currently supporting Project Ocean which is a fantastic cause.


Big Mac-arons

19 May

Ballpark Snacks  is the theme for this month Mac Tweets Mac Attack Challenge. This is the 1st Mac Tweets challenge I have ever entered and I am rather excited.

I’ve never been to any sort of ball game before. Not in person anyway. So when this challenge came up I was umm-ing and ahh-ing over what to do. I had a few ideas, but non I could relate to my own experience.

Then I remember The World Cup last year. We spent most of that summer BBQ-ing in our little courtyard, summer sun beating down on our faces, friends drinking cold beer and always a World Cup game on the television. It then it came to me. Burger Macarons. We ate a lot of burgers that summer.

But what flavours? I had some vanilla sugar, so I went with simple vanilla shells. I wanted the centre to look like a burger, so chocolate ganache seemed only good and right. There was something missing though. They didn’t quite look the part. Hmmm.

Cheese! Not just any cheese though. It has to be that horrid plastic cheese that only comes into its own when slapped on a good burger.

But I’m not about to put cheese in a macaron, eww.

Peanut butter played the part very well. Plus peanuts are a Ballpark Snack right? And they go so well with chocolate. I used crunchy peanut butter as I can’t abide the smooth stuff, too sweet, plus a little crunch is nice. Honestly I didn’t quite know I was going to add the peanut butter when I started, but that is kinda how I cook. A bit of this, a bit of that…

I also was trying something else new today. I usually bake macarons using the Italian method of pouring sugar syrup into the egg white, but I’ve been wanting to try the French method of just adding sugar to the white instead. Today was the day. To my surprise and complete delight they worked. I was sitting next to my oven just waiting to see those little feet, and honestly when they popped up I did a little dance in my kitchen. Very pleased!

So there we have it.

Grab you’re Big Mac-aron and enjoy the game!

French Macarons

Almond flour

150g almonds finely ground.

150g icing sugar.

2 egg whites aged.

Meringue

2 egg whites aged.

150g granulated vanilla sugar.

Filling

100g chocolate broken into pieces.

100ml double cream.

Macaron Method

Sift icing sugar and almonds into a bowl, add egg white and mix to a paste. Put to one side.

Put the second batch of egg white in a very clean bowl and start whisking on a low-speed with an electric mixer.

Once the egg whites start looking like thick bubble bath, add the sugar, little by little, while still beating.

When you have added all the sugar, whisk for a little longer until the egg whites hold soft, glossy peaks.

Add a third of the egg whites to the almond paste and beat to knock some of the air out. Fold in the rest of the egg whites. The whole process should take no more the 20-30 folds. It should flow like thick magma.

Scoop the macaron batter into a piping bag ( I use disposable ones as they are really easy to use) fitted with a half-inch nozzle.

Pip little half-inch rounds onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment and give them a good few wraps on the counter. Leave to dry for around 30 minuets, or until you can touch the surface without it sticking to your finger.

Pre-heat you’re oven to around 150c. Put the macarons into the oven for around 15 minuets, but keep a watchful eye on them. You’ll know they are ready when you place you’re finger on top and move it from side to side, the macaron shouldn’t wobble.

Take them out and off the baking tray strate away, carefully peel them off the baking sheet and leave to cool.

Ganache Method

Put the chocolate in a heat proof bowl.

Heat the cream until almost boiling and pour over chocolate. Mix and leave to cool on the counter.

Once cooled completely, pip a small amount onto a macaron shell and attach another. Place you’re macarons in the fridge for 24 hours. This helps moisten them a little. Remove from fridge 20 minuets before eating.

Enjoy!!!!