If you are a follower of my blog, you know I suffer from a macaron condition. Cannot stop baking them, and when I go into daydreaming mode, macarons flavors and colors are often part of it. One day, I was relaxing in my favorite armchair with a beautiful cookbook (Nostalgic Delights), when all of a sudden a recipe popped up… Dutch Macarons. Cute beyond description. They look like a macaron gone a bit wild, feet not as well-defined, instead their shells open on the top, revealing a similar inner structure. I could not wait to bake a batch. If you are afraid of baking macarons, these are in many ways easier. No macaronage stage to worry about, you mix the batter, pipe, and then exercise patience. They must dry for 12 hours before baking, which is a major difference. The outer skin has to be really dry, so that it can be cut with a sharp knife (I used a brand new razor blade) right before they go into the oven. That gives them the characteristic opening. I share this unusual recipe after getting permission from Chef William Curley. He is not only a fantastic patissier, but a very sweet person who patiently answered some
annoying pressing baking questions I had for him. He owns a shop in Soho, so if you are in London, pay him a visit. I am kicking myself for not doing that last year when I was busy upsetting Paul Hollywood. Bottomline is: I must go back. I meant to Soho, not the tent.
(printed with permission from William Curley)
for the shells:
175g powdered sugar, sifted, and divided (125g + 50g)
125g ground almonds, sifted
75g egg whites
50g superfine granulated sugar
for praline paste:
1 tsp hazelnut oil (I used grape seed)
for the praline ganache:
150g heavy cream
125g bittersweet chocolate (I used Lindt 70%), chopped in small pieces
12g butter, softened
40g almond praline paste
Ideally the day before, make the praline paste (you will make more than you need, but it keeps well). Heat the oven to 400F. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a heavy-bottom saucepan.
Cook over medium heat while gradually adding the sugar and stirring non-stop. Cook until the sugar turns into a caramel, it will take from 15 to 18 minutes. Pour the mixture over a baking sheet and allow it to cool. When the nuts are cold, place in a food processor or Vitamix and blend until it forms a paste, adding the teaspoon of oil to help emulsify.
Prepare the ganache: put the cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Put the chocolate in a mixing bowl and add the hot cream over it. Mix until emulsified, add the softened butter and the praline paste. Leave to set at room temperature for 2 hours, when it will reach a nice piping consistency.
Make the shells: Place 125g of the powdered sugar, the ground almonds and the egg whites in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid type mixer, and whisk for a minute or so, as you start preparing the syrup.
Make a syrup with the granulated sugar and water, cooking it to 240F (116C), then pour the syrup over the mixture in the KitchenAid bowl while it is whisking at medium speed. Beat for 5 minutes, then add the remaining 50g or powdered sugar.
Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 10mm round piping tip, and pie ovals of 3/4 inch x 1+1/4 inch. I made a little template to help me with consistency. Leave in a cool, dry area for about 12 hours to fully dry the macarons.
Heat the oven to 350F. Using a sharp knife, cut a slit in the center of each macaron, then bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until they have puffed up and turned golden. Allow them to get fully cool.
Spread ganache on one shell, top with another of similar size (hopefully they will all be very similar in dimension), leave to set for 30 minutes so that the ganache sets.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: This was a super fun and exciting bake for me, because the recipe was familiar and unusual at the same time. I was in mild hyperventilation mode up to the moment I opened the oven and marveled at those cute babies all plump and ready for the filling. Speaking of the filling, it is pretty spectacular: almond/hazelnut praline with chocolate. Need I say more? Addictive, truly.
As to the taste, they are indeed very similar to macarons, but with more substance, let’s say that in a regular macaron the filling definitely speaks louder than the shells. In the Dutch version, they share center stage as equal partners. I loved the texture. They reminded me of a sweet I used to enjoy as a child in Brazil called “AMANDITAS.” Interestingly enough, you can still buy those which proves I am not that old. HA! The filling in amanditas is harder, but there is a resemblance there for sure. I can tell you I’ll be making Dutch Macarons on a regular basis from now on.
Before I take you for a virtual tour of Chef Curley’s book, let me show you another recipe I made from it. These are called Rout Biscuits (I laugh inside imagining how badly I butcher its pronunciation). Just like Dutch Macarons, it is a recipe from a couple of centuries ago, and rarely seen these days. William Curley brings it back to life adding quite a few touches of elegance. A delicate hazelnut-almond biscuit base holds a hazelnut cream piped in a circle, and after baking, a dollop of jam is added to the center. I loved it so much that I made it twice in the same weekend. The second time around I used a bit of orange-chocolate ganache in the center instead of jam.
I took both batches to our department for my “Mondays with Sweetness”, and people were raving about them. Delicate, delicious, beautiful, just the right size… were some of the comments I got back. The biscuit base is wonderful on its own. I will share soon some cookies I made with that dough.
And now, time to review Nostalgic Delights….
First of all, I adore the name… Nostalgic Delights gives me a nice warm feeling inside, anticipating beautiful bakes of the past. And here’s what William himself has to say about it:
“The definition of nostalgia is – a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past”. Every individual has their own interpretation of nostalgia, and of course their own fond memories of food. I hope that within the recipes I have created for this book there is going to be a little something enabling every reader to capture their own bit of nostalgia”
Isn’t that beautiful? The book is just a complete delight (pun intended), and it was written with passion not only for the art of baking but for teaching it even to those of us without professional training.
The book is divided in 7 chapters, as follows…
Chocolate Confectionery… Being an award-winning chocolatier, you can expect that his recipes in this chapter will take your breath away. It starts with a nice explanation on tempering, casting in moulds and dipping, which you will need to be comfortable with. The chapter opens with his Hazelnut Rochers, the recipe at the very cover of the book. His mother used to serve those at Christmas. Talk about nostalgia! He shared step by step photos of the process of making this beauty, which one day I shall take a deep breath and tackle myself. I have to say that every single recipe in this chapter had me dreaming. He starts from simple recipes (like Australian Cartwheels, popular in the 1940’s) and turns them into morsels of chocolate-coated art. His Matcha and Yuzu Teacakes are definitely something I will bake in the near future. But truly everything is just amazing and every recipe has detailed photos of the whole process so that even common mortals can attempt them. He closes this chapter with the really fun Curley Wurly, a 1970 classic made in a Bournville factory in an attempt to use leftover toffee. It is basically a braided toffee coated in tempered chocolate, and I tell you, the day I get rid of my braces I will celebrate indulging in a full batch. Mine, all mine.
Bakery Favorites… The chapter starts with tips for lining tins with pastry, blind baking, working with yeast, and rough puff pastry. Then he shares bakes in which these techniques are employed. His Chocolate Cherry Bakewells are just gorgeous, but you don’t have to take my word for it, here is a shot of that page. I am also quite smitten by the Marignons, because the basic component is a savarin, which intrigues me. I need to try and make it.
In this chapter, the classic Jam Tarts, Custard Tarts which most people are familiar with, but also some interesting bakes like one called Black Bun, a Scottish concoction to be enjoyed on the Twelfth Night of Christmas, much like Galette de Rois in France. Have you heard of Bee Sting? It is a German dessert with a ton of history behind it, and William shares his version, based on a recipe from the 15th century! I cannot tell you how much I love this type of stuff….
Patisserie Modern Classics… The introduction covers mousses, and I go immediately weak in the knees. This might very well be my favorite chapter. It starts with my most beloved type of dessert, a mini entremet type cake, this one called Tropical Snowball. If that does not have my name all over it, I don’t know what does. Mango, Passion Fruit and Coconut with a snowy white mirror glaze. In this chapter he does exactly what you expect, bakes the classics but all with a modernized twist. Black Forest Gateau, Charlotte Russe, Charlotte Royale, a Blackcurrant Cheesecake that is beyond showstopper lavel, a Chestnut Roll equally stunning, the most elegant presentation you can dream for Strawberry Shortcakes… Jaffa Cake Tarts, and a dessert I’ve been meaning to bake for a while now, Pont Neuf, designed in 1860’s to celebrate my favorite bridge in Paris (I am hopelessly romantic).
Ice Cream and Gateau…As William put it, desserts involving frozen components are always decadent, and associated with banquets and real fancy occasions, but they have gone out of fashion. In part because they do demand a lot of skill and attention to detail. Come to think of it, some of the most epic disasters in the Great British Bake Off involved frozen desserts. The initial tutorial in the chapter brings Ice Cream Anglaise and fruit sorbet. He starts with a bang, of course… Baked Alaska, in a Neapolitan fashion. Then Viennetta, his version is yet another masterpiece. Many wonderful things to try, but I would probably settle for his Prune and Armagnac Ice Cream. Prune and Armagnac was one of my favorite little desserts to order when we lived in Paris. So simple, and so delicious.
Afternoon Treats… The inspiration for this chapter was his Grandma, who taught him to bake and was the reason why he became a chef. In his words: “Even with all the decadence and luxury within my industry, you can’t beat a freshly baked homemade cake for a tasty afternoon treat”. I would gladly bake every single item of this chapter. I am totally fascinated by a trio of cakes called “Othellos, Desdemonas & Iagos”. They are a combination of sponge cake, custard, and fondant, what changes is the main flavor, Othellos are chocolate, Desdemonas are vanilla, and Iagos are coffee. I will take one of each, please and thank you. Rout Biscuits are in this chapter, Empire Biscuits (OMG they are adorable!), and the Dutch Macarons I shared the recipe with you.
Frivolities… These are those little petit-fours that fancy restaurants might bring you at the end of a meal. One adorable bake after another, I am definitely going to make his Allumettes a concoction made in Brittany in the last century. Allumettes mean matchsticks and his version joins almond praline and chocolate. Rocher Noix de Coco, Turkish Delight, Nougat and Marshmallow are all in this chapter, as well as something new to me, a concoction called Mou, a soft caramel that can be flavored in many different ways. Another delicious treat that was designed in Brittany. Those people know a thing or two about sweets, right?
Basics… The final chapter. It is pretty much a big lesson on patisserie, covering all the basic recipes you might need, from pate sablee to filo pastry, the three types of meringue, creme patissiere and its derivatives, frangipane, curds, glazes, icings, and even how to make chocolate decorations.
That’s it, my friends! I cannot praise the book highly enough. The amount of work that went into making Nostalgic Delights is hard to imagine. Many of the recipes have step by step photos, in addition to the finished product. Chef Curley truly wants you to succeed and bake at home the wonderful things that bring him joy. The book gives me peace, I think it does transports me to past times, in which life was far less complicated and stressful than it seems to be today.
Mr. Curley, thank you so much for allowing me to share the recipe for Dutch Macarons with my readers, and for your patience helping me figure out a few issues here and there in my Bewitching Kitchen.
To order the book, click here (I make no profit from your purchase)
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THREE YEARS AGO: Elderflower Macarons
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