MARSHMALLOW MACARONS

I wanted the first post in my second decade of blogging to be special. Macarons have a permanent spot in my heart. My fascination with these cookies made me persist after many failures, but what ultimately led me to conquer them was getting the perfect instructor to virtually hold my hand and show me the tricks to master these finicky creatures. Colette Christian is her name. Her class on Bluprint (former Craftsy) will turn ANY person into a confident macaron baker. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may notice that her recipe is my go-to. I sometimes venture into Italian and Swiss territory just for fun, but if I have a very important batch to make I don’t blink, Colette’s tried and true it is.  Her instructions are flawless, and if you have questions she always answers them. The inspiration for the flavor and looks of this batch came from Ettore Cioccia, an Italian patissier who works in Spain. I follow his beautiful productions closely online.

MARSHMALLOW MACARONS
(adapted from Colette Christian’s Craftsy version)

for the shells:
198 g powdered sugar
113 g almond meal
113 g egg whites at room temperature
a pinch of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
caramel food gel from Chefmaster
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

for the filling:

90g egg whites  (from about 3 eggs)
130g sugar (superfine if available)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

to decorate:
4 ounces (113 g)  70% chocolate
1 + 1/2 tsp coconut oil
white non-pareils sprinkles

Line 2 or 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar and almond meal   in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 15 seconds. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.

Slowly rain in the granulated sugar, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium-high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme. Add the gel color and the vanilla. Staying at medium-high speed, whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm.

Switch to paddle attachment. Add half the almond meal mixture, turn the mixer on low and mix for about 3 seconds. Stop and add the rest of the almond mixture, turn the mixer on low, and process for about 5 more seconds. It should still be reasonably thick, but the grains of almond should be more or less disappearing in the batter.  Remove the bowl from the mixer, and finish the macaronage by hand.  Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with one of the tips listed above. Pipe on the prepared baking sheets.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter. Then fist bump each end of the sheet’s underside twice. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. Ina dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide, then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. The macarons should release without sticking. Check one or two. If they stick, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

Decorate half the shells with chocolate. Place chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt gently, mixing well. Dip half of the shells into the chocolate, leave to almost set. Add the white sprinkles when the chocolate is still a bit sticky to the touch. Reserve.

Make the filling: Fill a wide pot with a couple of inches of water. Place over high heat until almost boiling, then adjust temperature to maintain a gentle simmer. Combine egg whites, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set over steaming water, stirring and scraping constantly with a flexible spatula, until egg whites reach 175°F. It should take less than 10 minutes. Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip at high speed until meringue is glossy and beginning to ball up inside the whisk, about 5 minutes.  Place the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a closed start tip. Pipe on the shells that are not decorated with chocolate.  Burn the surface with a torch, and immediately close the macaron with a decorated shell.  Press gently so that the burned design shows through the edge.

 Store in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These macs were a ton of fun to make…  I wasn’t sure how the Swiss  meringue would behave as I torched it, but the whole thing worked flawlessly. Remember that I cooked the egg whites to a slightly higher temperature than most recipes call for, resulting in a more stable meringue. I piped and torched four at a time.  More than that could be a bit tricky. The chocolate shell was still pretty nice after 2 days in the fridge.  You could use tempered chocolate or if you truly want to simplify, candy melts work too. However, real chocolate tastes a lot better and in this case there’s quite a bit of it on the shell. Just make sure to coat the shells carefully so that no chocolate drips to the side.

Although, I doubt anyone would mind a little chocolate insinuating its presence down the shell… Would you?

 

About Chef Colette Christian

Chef Christian not only teaches SIX classes at Bluprint (Macarons, Miniature French Desserts, Croissants, Pain au Chocolat, Danish and other goodies), she also published a macaron cookbook that goes way beyond the basics to show amazing decorating techniques and cool things to bake using macarons as the basic method. To order your copy click here.  To visit her blog click  here.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Fujisan Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Air-Fried Tomatoes with Hazelnut Pesto & Halloumi Cheese

THREE YEARS AGO: Red Velvet Layered Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Lemon-Lavender Bars

FIVE YEARS AGO: Quinoa Fried Rice

SIX YEARS AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

SEVEN YEARS AGO: The Secret Recipe Club: Granola Bars

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

NINE YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

TEN YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

 

 

 

THE BEWITCHING KITCHEN TURNS 10! (AND A GIVEAWAY)

Ten years. I have a hard time even finding what to say. It is true that I tend to stick with routines, but I’m a bit surprised not only that I’ve reached the 10 year mark, but that I still love food blogging. More now than ever, actually. My interest in baking has a lot to do with it, obviously, but it goes beyond that. I like the feeling of having formed a community of readers, many of them food bloggers also, who always cheer me up with comments, feedback and inspiration. Ten years. More than 1,200 posts. It blows my little mind. To celebrate the occasion, a cake is obviously needed. It had to be special. I chose a cake I’ve been in love with for my whole life, but felt a bit intimidated until now to make it from scratch. Gateau Saint-Honore, a true classic in French patisserie. Light it is not, but festive? Festive is its middle name.

GATEAU SAINT-HONORE
(from Helen Fletcher’s Pastries like a Pro)

Lightened Pastry Cream
2 teaspoon gelatin
1 + 1/2 tablespoons cold water
2 + 2/3 cup milk, hot
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar (200 grams)
6 tablespoons flour (60 grams)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

Soften the gelatin in the water and set aside. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a non-reactive saucepan.  Whisk in the flour.  Add the milk slowly, whisking well and scraping the corners of pan with a rubber spatula to make sure all of the egg yolk mixture is incorporated.

Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, bring to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla.  Tear the gelatin into small pieces and stir it into the hot liquid (there is no need to liquefy it, the heat of the mixture will do this for you).  Pour into a storage container, cover the surface with plastic wrap, poke a few holes in it and refrigerate overnight to chill.

Slightly whisk the pastry cream to soften it.  Whip the cream to stiff peaks.  Fold into the pastry cream.  The mixture is ready to pipe.

Basic Choux Pastry
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons butter (60 grams)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sifted bread flour (100 grams)
3 whole eggs
1 + 1/2 tablespoons beaten egg (about half of a beaten egg)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw a 10 inch circle on one piece of parchment. Set aside.

Combine the water, butter and salt in a small, heavy saucepan.  Heat until the butter is melted and bring to a rapid boil. Add all the flour at once and stir rapidly until a large ball of dough forms that cleans the bottom and sides of the pan.With the pan still over heat, mash and flatten the panade with a spoon against the bottom of the pan.

Stir, bringing the bottom of the mixture to the top. Continue turning the panade and mashing it for 1 full minute. Remove the mixture from the heat and flatten it again in the bottom of the pan. Cool for 5 minutes. Place the panade in a food processor or the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle. Add the eggs and beaten egg. Process or mix until completely blended and a smooth paste forms.

At this point, gently wad up the parchment and soak in warm water for 5 to 7 minutes.  When finished, gently shake off some of the water, but not all of it.  Place on the baking sheet.  Fit a pastry bag with a #8 plain tip and fill the bag with the choux paste.  Pipe the choux paste on the inside of the circle. With the remaining paste pipe 20 walnut size puffs onto the second baking sheet after soaking it also. With a wet finger, lightly press down the pointy tops so they are round.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a deep golden brown. Cool completely.

Pate Brisee
3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour (85 grams)
1/3 cup sifted cake flour (35 grams)
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces and refrigerated (105 grams)
2 tablespoon beaten egg
1 teasoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons ice water

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a processor bowl fitted with the steel blade, combine the flours and salt; process briefly to mix.   Add the butter and place in a circle over the flours. Pulse until the butter is cut into large pieces.

Mix the egg, lemon juice and ice water. Pour over the flour/butter mixtureand pulse until it lumps together in its about the size of peas. Do not over-procress and especially don’t let it form a ball.  Pour it out onto a work surface lightly dusted lightly with flour and push together into a ball. Form into a thick disc.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling. Roll into a round about 11 inches. Trim the dough into a 10 1/2 inch round. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, dock with a fork and refigerate about 30 minutes or until it is firm. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden, firm and crisp. Cool completely.

Assembling the cake.
Place the pate brisee base on a 10 inch round.   Set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a #2 plain tip. Make a hole in the bottom of each puff with a toothpick or cake tester. Enlarge it so the pastry tip will fit inside the puff.  Fill the bag with pastry cream and pipe the cream into the puffs.  Clean the bottom off so no cream oozes out.   Set aside. Reserve the remaining pastry cream.

Make the caramel below.

Caramel
1/2 cup water
2 cups sugar

Place the water in a small saucepan. Add the sugar. Bring to a boil. Wash down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water. Boil the syrup hard until it just starts to color. At this point you must work quickly.  The syrup will continue to color as you work. With a spoon dipped in the hot caramel, drizzle caramel around the edges of  the pate.

Quickly place the choux paste ring on top of the base. Working quickly and carefully, dip the bottom of the small puffs in the caramel and attach them to the top of the choux ring.  Quickly and very, very carefully dip the bottom of a small puff in the caramel and place it on the ring. Continue until the ring is covered with puffs.

Finishing the Gateau St. Honore
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar

Place in a small saucepan.  Prepare as above for the Caramel.  However, this time take it to a dark amber. Cool for 30 to 40 second and Immediately spoon it over the puffs.

Fill the inside of the ring halfway up with pastry cream.Fit a pastry bag with a #8 open star tip and fill with the remaining pastry cream. Pipe large swirls over the pastry cream. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I wanted to use a tried and true recipe from an author I trust. Helen Fletcher’s recipes never disappoint me. Keep in mind that there are quite a few variations of this amazing gateau. For starters, the base can be either laminated dough or a pate brisee. The former is obviously a lot more involved, and the method changes also, because when using laminated dough the whole thing is baked together at the same time – the ring and usually additional inner circles (think of them as a maize) piped over the base. They add a bit more pastry component under the creamy topping. When using pate brisee, the ring is baked separately and later “glued” to the base with caramel.  For my first attempt, I opted for pate brisee.  I made it in a particular weekend in which I went into crazy baking mode. It was…  intense to say the least. So pate brisee it was.

The traditional cream is a Chibouste, patisserie cream lightened up with what is essentially a meringue. That was how the cake was designed back in 1847 in the bakery at Rue St Honore in Paris. I used whipped cream, following Helen’s recipe.  It is – if you can believe it – a bit richer. But a 10th blog anniversary does not come often.  You do need something to lighten up the patisserie cream, otherwise the dessert would feel quite heavy and dense. Plus, you cannot really pipe “cream pat” (yeap, we are besties).

It is now full disclosure time. If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you should know that rarely patisserie stuff goes in smooth-mode with Sally.  Take a look at the central choux puff. It is bald. I had saved the sexiest of them all for the center stage, and of course that was the one who did not get the final caramel glaze.  I howled in shock when I noticed. But having been through a few ordeals with the preparation of the caramel, I could not bring myself to make more to coat just that one. Plus, I thought that some spun sugar carefully placed all over it would look nice and hide its nakedness.  Spun sugar.  Do you see ANY spun sugar on my gateau? No you do not. (pause to sob). I tried. I tried four times. I followed youtube instructions, I used thermometers, I burned fingers. The only thing spun was my brain. The mess in the kitchen? Unreal. I managed to come up with some abstract caramel thingie to stab on decorate the naked puff, and pretended that was my intention from the beginning. So I now desperately need to conquer the spun. I lose battles. But I refuse to lose the war.

Decoration messed up or not, it did not matter. The picture below shows all that was left from the cake by the time a get-together for some Tesla-afficcionados was over. The cake was delicious, even if I say so myself. It is of course, very rich, but it feels light and airy, not sure how that is even possible, having witnessed the amount of eggs, butter, and sugar involved. Let’s call it a French Miracle.

And now for the giveaway… It is a wonderful book that I believe will have even patisserie-phobes grabbing a whisk and marching to the kitchen with a big confident smile. The title says it all: Patisserie Made Simple. And it delivers what it promises.

I love this book, and if you would like a copy, I will enter you in the giveaway if you leave a comment. No matter where you live, I will ship it to you if you win it. I will reveal the winner on June 30th.

I want to thank all  who  enjoy hanging out here in this virtual spot, and invite you to follow with me as I start my  second decade of food blogging. Ten years… oh, my!

ONE YEAR AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns 9!

TWO YEAR AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns eight!

THREE YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns Seven!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Bewitching Kitchen Turns Six!

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns Five!

SIX YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns Four!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns Three! 

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  The Bewitching Kitchen turns Two!

NINE YEARS AGO:  Bewitching Birthday!

TEN YEARS AGO: Welcome to my blog!

 

MEMORIES of PASTEIS

Dad left us 15 years ago today. But he did not really leave. This is a post from 9 years ago, which I re-blog today.
(comments are shutdown)

Bewitching Kitchen

When traveling to a country for the first time, it’s a good idea to pay special attention to their “street food.”   In Paris, for example, the tiny shops selling crepes (sometimes slathered with Nutella!) are a delight as one strolls along the avenues.   Many big cities are filled with  such delicacies, and in fact, one of my favorite cookbooks revolves around this topic.

On the streets of Brazil, you might stop to buy a “pastel,” and after sampling it, immediately return to the vendor for a couple more (plural = pasteis).    These fried savory pastries are sold at the entrance of street markets: every week on the same day a few blocks of a neighborhood street close to traffic, while farmers sell their produce from early morning until slightly past noon, with prices dropping as the hours pass.  You’ll smell the pasteis from a distance…

View original post 1,102 more words

SUNDRIED TOMATO TWIST BREAD

Since they say confession is good for the soul, here is mine: I’ve been cheating. Big time. Not only I’ve been baking bread with commercial yeast, but I went one step further down the path of debauchery and grabbed a bottle of “rapid rise” to play with. Just for the fun of it. This bread was ready in less than 3 hours. It had a wonderful texture and tasted amazing too. Sourdough will never leave my world, but I see some other “quickies” in my future.

SUNDRIED TOMATO TWIST BREAD
(adapted from several sources)

3 + 1/2  (420 g)  cups all purpose flour, divided
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) fast acting yeast (about 7g)
2 teaspoons sugar
1  teaspoons salt
1 + 1/4 cup (280 g) water
1/4 cup (53 g) canola oil
1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4–1/2 cup sundried tomato pesto (store-bought or homemade)
1/3 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (eye-balling is ok)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 + 1/2 cups (300 g) flour, yeast, sugar, and salt with a whisk.

Heat water and canola oil until warm (100 F). Add to flour mixture. Add vinegar. Mix roughly with a wooden spoon, then switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour in small amounts until you get a dough that is smooth and barely sticks to the sides of the bowl.  You might not need the full amount of flour, I had just a little bit left.

Knead for about 5 minutes in low-speed. Place in a bowl lightly coated with oil, and let it rise until almost doubled.  If using fast-acting yeast, it will take less than one hour.

Grease a 9-inch springform pan, and line bottom with parchment; grease paper. Place on top of a baking sheet. Set aside. Punch down the dough. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a thin rectangle, as thin as you can without tearing it. Spread a thin layer of pesto on top of the dough, leaving a small border without any pesto. Spread the Gruyere cheese all over the pesto.  Starting at the long edge, roll it tightly and gently into a log.

Use a bench scraper to cut the dough in half lengthwise. Cross the two halves (layers facing up) to create an X shape; braid top and bottom of dough by laying the left piece over the right keeping the cut side up, until pieces of dough are tightly twisted. Pinch ends together.

Start at the thinner edge and slowly and very gently, roll the braid into a giant snail shell or a very large cinnamon bun. Be careful to keep all the layers facing up.  Carefully pick up the shaped bread and place in the prepared springform. Cover; let rise in warm place until almost double.  If using fast-acting yeast, it will again be ready in about 40 minutes, or even less, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

Heat the oven to 400 F as the bread is in its final proofing stage.  Bake at 400º for 10 minutes, lower oven temperature to 350º and bake for an additional 30 minutes. When the bread is out of the oven lightly brush olive oil on top and sides. Let cool completely on a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Amazing how fast that yeast works. Being used to working with sourdough it almost scared me when after what it felt like the blink of an eye I caught the dough almost an inch above the rim. Unreal. A really nice dough to work with thanks to the addition of oil, handles very smoothly, not threatening to tear while rolling out and shaping.

I used store-bought sundried tomato pesto, because I made this bread in a weekend of intense baking and taking a little shortcut was my only real option, but of course making the pesto from scratch would be even better. So many other fillings will be great also. Black olives, pieces of ham or crispy bacon, you can take this bread in many directions. Just try to roll tightly and thinly, so that you get as many little layers as possible.

If you are a novice at bread baking, don’t let the shaping scare you, this is the type of dough that is very forgiving and even if you mess up the shaping a bit, it will look great. You don’t even have to do the twisted shape, you could braid the two halves of the dough, join the ends and call it a day.

Leftovers are superb toasted!

ONE YEAR AGO: And now for something completely different….

TWO YEARS AGO: Parsnip, Coconut, and Lemongrass Soup

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2016

FOUR YEARS AGO: Paleo Moussaka

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2013

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Crimson and Cream Turkey Chili

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Taking a break from the nano-kitchen

NINE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies

COMMON TABLE, SOMETHING NEW IN MY LIFE

It is quite obvious that I love to bake. From cakes to cookies, from bread to pies, I love it all. Last year I got a lot more serious about my hobby, as I went through the process of screening for the Great American Baking Show (you can read about it here, in case you missed it).  When that did not materialize I kept searching for an outlet for my baking, something that would keep me focused on it and help me improve. It took a bit long, but I’ve finally found it: Common Table, a meal for homeless people organized by volunteers and churches from our town.  They serve meals a few times each week, I’ve been taking my bakes on Fridays. It is the most rewarding and satisfying thing I’ve done in a while. I enjoy everything about it, planning what to take, baking, and finally delivering my bakes in the meal room, at 17:45hs, when folks are starting to arrive. I had no idea so many people rely on this type of charity to get by. Probably the only chance they have for a decent meal. I feel lucky to be able to help.

I share today the recipe I took on my first participation (April 26th) and after that a list of what I’ve made so far.  It would be pointless to blog on each of them, unless I wanted my blog to turn into a baking site at the expense of general cooking, which is not my intention.

COCONUT TRES LECHES CAKE
(adapted from this recipe)

for the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour (130 g)
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 whole eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, divided (215 g)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk (82 g)

for soaking after baking:
6 oz coconut milk (1/2 can, well-shaken)
1 can sweetened, condensed milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

for the icing:
1 pint heavy cream
3 Tablespoons Sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.

Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high-speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.

Beat egg whites on high-speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry. Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.

Combine condensed milk, coconut milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1/3 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.

Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. I actually allowed it to sit in the fridge overnight, lightly covered with aluminum foil. To ice the cake, whip the heavy cream with the sugar until thick and spreadable.

Spread over the surface of the cake, you might not need all the amount made, but a thick layer of icing should be your goal. Decorate cake if you like, with toppings of your choice. Cut into squares and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I chose this cake for my first contribution to Common Table because it was by far the most popular cake I’ve ever made to our department. I was curious about adding a hint of coconut to it, and when I tried a bit of the cake trimmings, I knew it was going to be another winner.  It was very well-received in that meal. If you like Tres Leches, try this version, you won’t be disappointed.

And now, let me share the bakes I’ve made since then…

Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars
(May 3rd)

 

Raspberry-Rose Petit Fours
(May 10th)

 


Chocolate Cake Pops

(May 17th)

 

Chocolate Raspberry Celebration Cake
(a smaller version of this one)

(May 24th)

Chocolate Blood Orange Curd Cake
(May 31st)

 

Come to think of it, it’s clear I’ve been playing the chocolate tune quite strongly…
Must add a bit more variety from now on.
😉

ONE YEAR AGO: The Daisy, a Bread with Brioche Alter-Ego

TWO YEARS AGO: Pork Tenderloin, Braciole Style

THREE YEARS AGO: Raspberry Buckle

FOUR YEARS AGO: Seafood Gratin for a Special Dinner

FIVE YEARS AGO: Cooking Sous-Vide: Sweet and Spicy Asian Pork Loin

SIX YEARS AGO:  Farewell to a Bewitching Kitchen

SEVEN YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen. June 2012

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Goodbye L.A.

NINE YEARS AGO: 7-6-5 Pork Tenderloin

 

PURPLE STAR MACARONS

When it comes to macarons, people are divided in two teams, those who think the color of the shells should match the type of filling, and those who could not care less. I can go either way, but with this bake I joined the rebels. Shells are purple, filling is strawberry-based. My goal was to make macarons with the colors of KSU (purple and silver), but I wanted to use my made-from-scratch jam as part of the filling. So there you go, purple macarons with a strawberry-balsamic-black pepper buttercream.

PURPLE STAR MACARONS
(adapted from Colette Christian’s Craftsy version)

for the shells:
198 g powdered sugar
113 g almond meal
113 g egg whites at room temperature
a pinch of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
purple food gel from Chefmaster
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

for the filling:
3 tablespoons (40gr) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (100gr) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons heavy cream
2 tablespoon strawberry jam (I used this recipe)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

to decorate:
white candy melts dyed purple
silver pearl dust
vodka or lemon extract

Line 2 or 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar and almond meal   in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 15 seconds. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.

Slowly rain in the granulated sugar, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium-high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme. Add the gel color and the vanilla. Staying at medium-high speed, whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm.

Switch to paddle attachment. Add half the almond meal mixture, turn the mixer on low and mix for about 3 seconds. Stop and add the rest of the almond mixture, turn the mixer on low, and process for about 5 more seconds. It should still be reasonably thick, but the grains of almond should be more or less disappearing in the batter.  Remove the bowl from the mixer, and finish the macaronage by hand.  Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with one of the tips listed above. Pipe on the prepared baking sheets.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter. Then fist bump each end of the sheet’s underside twice. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. Ina dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide, then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. The macarons should release without sticking. Check one or two. If they stick, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

Make the filling:  Whisk the butter with the powdered sugar until creamy, slowly add the heavy cream and continue whisking until fluffy and smooth. I used a hand held electric beater. Add the vanilla, salt, and finally the strawberry jam. Whisk to incorporate, keep in the fridge until needed.  Place it in a piping bag fitted with a star tip like Wilton 1M.

Paint each shell before assembling.  In a very small bowl, mix silver pearl dust with vodka or lemon extract until it has a nice consistency to brush on the shells. Use a fan brush to get a nice effect. Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and add a good amount of buttercream filling on top of one shell, close with the other, and squeeze gently.

To make the stars, dye a small amount of melted candy purple. Spread on a piece of parchment as a thin layer. Let it set at room temperature, cut star shapes.  Right before using, add a bit of silver pearl dust and shake them gently around to cover lightly. Glue one or more stars to the top of each assembled macaron using candy melts.

Store in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The stars can be a bit tricky to make because the points are very fragile and tend to break, so make more than you think you’ll need.  I coated them with a bit of silver pearl dust, the same one used to brush the shells, except that I added them dry to the candy melt stars.

The strawberry jam is absolutely delicious, and I’ve used it in two other desserts that should be featured in the near future. The recipe comes from the most trustworthy baking website in the known universe: Pastries Like a Pro, from Helen Fletcher. If you want to improve your baking skills, you must follow her. Making the jam was a lot less complicated than I expected, so I see other jam adventures in my horizon. I have plans for a mango version to materialize in the Bewitching Kitchen sometime soon.

ONE YEAR AGO: Smoked Salmon, Fait Maison

TWO YEARS AGO: Kouign-Amann, Fighting Fire with Fire

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, Yin and Yang

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

SIX YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

NINE YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls