July 2013 archive

Temperamental Twats: The Macaron.

Yes, this is yet another post about macarons. If you haven’t noticed (minus my last two recipes) I hadn’t blogged in a while. Why not? Well whilst I did do some making and baking, which I quite frankly, was too lazy to type up, I was busy perfecting my ‘macaronage’. Or trying to anyway.
As I mentioned in my post ‘Macaron Madness‘, these have become as popular as the teenage obsession with Zayn Malik’s hair. (I’m not going to lie, I think he is gorgeous!) They’re like a little French delicacy I guess. Existing in a variety of flavours, fillings and colours, there’s just something about them that I cannot get enough of. 
I am obsessed.
They’re pricey and they’re scarce where I live, so I thought I’d rise up to the challenge and make them myself.
Now let me tell you this straight mate. Unless you have magic hands or an enormous stroke of good luck and chance by your side, you will NOT get these right the first time. Like the title of this suggests, these idiots are far too temperamental. Do mind my language, I only use such terms when I’m annoyed. And oh boyyy have these buggers frustrated the hell out of me!

So in my recent trials, I’ve had around one fail. One okay. One awesome-oh-my-god-I-am-a-baking-queen and one good attempt (in that order.)

It takes practise, patience and persistence to get these right. Each time you make a mistake, you learn and you know better for the next time, so don’t be disheartened. I mean, if you’re an emotional lass like me, I actually got rather disappointed. BUT I WILL KEEP MAKING THEM UNTIL I CONSISTENTLY GET THEM TO BE AWESOME. *Breathes* Let’s start with the recipe perhaps…

Oh, before we begin, I used the Italian meringue for this (that’s what produced the awesome and good batches) as the French one’s didn’t work quite as well for me. Apparently they create more consistent results as you don’t end up over-whipping the macaron mixture. The italian meringue involves heating sugar to a controlled temperature, whereas the French version doesn’t. [Thank you BakerSt Cakes for this tip :) Do check out his lovely baked goods guys!]

As my macaron book (Macarons by Annie Rigg) uses only the French method I decided to google an Italian version. This lead me to annies-eats: How to Make Macarons Step by Step, (thank you annie-eats), which I then took and adapted.
Ingredients
215g almond powder
215g icing sugar 
82g and 90g egg whites, divided 
236g normal granulated sugar, plus a pinch 
158g water


Makes around 140 shells. Bear in mind not all batches will come out perfect if it’s your first time!

Method:
  • In a food processor, process away the icing sugar and almond powder, to make sure they are combined and extra fine.
  • Sift this into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre (we don’t want any lumps ‘n’ bumps folks!)
  • Pour in the 82g of egg whites and mix until it is pastey and thick. This may take some strength to do, or maybe I’m just weak, whatever..
  • Place the granulated sugar in a saucepan with the water on medium heat along with a sugar thermometer. When the temperature reaches around 200˚F – okay fine you can cheat and start a bit earlier like I did, I can get impatient sometimes – take another clean bowl and whip the other portion of egg whites, adding a pinch of sugar.

  • Continue with the egg whites until they reach soft peaks, whilst checking on the sugar. When the sugar reaches 248˚ F take it off the heat.

  • Pour this sugar syrup down the side of the bowl while whip-whip-whipping away on a higher speed until they are stiff and glossy! My mixture wasn’t as stiff as it could have been, but they turned out fine so don’t worry.
  • This is the time to get creative. If you want to colour your macarons. Do it NOW. For these I added red food colouring gel to achieve a dark pinky colour. I use a cocktail stick to do this. I also added freeze dried raspberry pieces/powder to give it a bit of flavour. 
  • Fold in the meringue with the almond paste, being careful not to over-mix.
  • Pop the mixture into a piping bag with a plain round nozzle and pipe small rounds on baking paper on a baking tray. To help you get perfect circles draw small rounds on the paper and flip the paper on the other side. Conversely, you could buy a silicon mat! If the mixture is too thick it will stay the size you’ve piped, too thin and it will spread too much. You want it in between.
Bang the mat/tray on the table to let out air bubbles.
  • Annie’s version says you don’t have to let them rest, but it is important that you do let them rest until a skin forms at the top and they are not wet to touch. This is to avoid cracks as the air will then escape from the bottom ‘feet’ of the macarons. Again another tip from BakerSt Cakes!
  • Now you’re supposed to put them in a preheated oven and then turn it down to 160degrees C. I didn’t do this as my macarons ended up cracking. Instead I switched on the fan oven to 150 and placed them in straightaway. They took longer to bake, 15-25 minutes, but it meant that they wouldn’t crack and I wouldn’t have to waste my efforts and end up sulking at a failed batch. I say you just keep experimenting with your oven. If you can put it higher then go for it, I’m not a fan of waiting around for too long to be honest.
  • Keep a close watch on them though, they are unpredictable fools.
  • And there ya go me lovlies. They should come out smoooth, shiny with risen feet. You can fill em up with whatever you like! I used white chocolate and dark chocolate ganache (separately): Simply melt 200g of choccy in a bowl over simmering heat, add 150ml double cream, 5 tbsps butter and whisk away! Then pipe them on a shell and leave to set.

 
The end product: Raspberry and Chocolate Macarons.

They’re just one of the best things I have tasted and created! They should be crisp on the outside yet soft on the inside. Ideally, you should put them in the fridge for a day for the flavours to mature.

I then tried making these again but in more flavours. Mango with a mango crème filling. Peanut butter with a peanut butter and choccy filling and strawberry with chocolate ganache.
I’m going to have to admit, not all of these worked as well as I hoped. I had to keep them in the oven for agess and they ended up being more crisp than expected. Nonetheless, they were still devoured!

Boxed up for friends!

So have a go! They’re dainty, yet fab. I’m still going to be perfecting my technique and trying out other recipes until I get them to be constantly immaculate. The next time you hear from me, I may complain that I have gone half bald..

I guess they really are ‘bad boys.’

Au revoir mes amis.

Dainty Cook x

Get Loose: Chocolate and Honeycomb Mousse

A chocoholics paradise, this decadent mousse packed with rich honeycomb pieces will surely drive you and your taste buds wild!
Cooling, chocolate fixing, ‘I want more’ you will be gagging.
I love choccy mousse. I can’t even tell you why. It’s just so mmmmmmm *slowly sinks down on the sofa and licks lips* The smooth texture, the rich taste, the sweet fusion of the crunchy honeycomb. It’s just overly seductive for the tongue. Can you get these in the supermarkets? No.

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Simply Strawberry Gelato (and a bit of Italy).

Simply Strawberry gelato.

 

 

When I think of gelato I instantaneously refer back to my lovely memories of Italy. Prior to my first visit in 2009, I heard a great deal about their gelatos by many who had been there. My dad would go every year for business and would always return praising their food, particularly their creamy confections.
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