VEGAN RASPBERRY MACARONS

Vegan baking fascinates me. It is challenging – to put it mildly – to bake things when you cannot use any dairy or eggs. Macarons are considered tricky to bake, but I tell you, vegan macarons are what nightmares are made of. I’ve had so many failures, it’s not even funny. But then… then this happened, and I am still thrilled!

VEGAN RASPBERRY MACARONS
(adapted from Pies and Tacos)

for shells:
110 grams almond flour
110 grams powdered sugar
75 grams aquafaba
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
66 grams granulated sugar
for vegan buttercream:

125g powdered sugar, sifted
3 tbsp freeze dried raspberry powder (about 18g)
56g vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
tiny pinch of salt

To decorate:
Royal icing (optional)

Process the almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor for about 20 seconds total using short pulses. Sift the mixture and reserve.

Place the aquafaba in the bowl of a mixer. Start whipping on low speed and add the cream of tartar. Whip for about 30 seconds, until the aquafaba starts getting white and thick like soup. Raise the speed to medium and continue to whip for another couple of minutes, until you are able to see streaks left by the whisk on the aquafaba.

Raise the speed to high, and start to add the granulated sugar, slowly, a bit at a time. Continue to whip until the aquafaba achieves stiff peaks, which can take 10 minutes or more, depending on your mixer.

Add the sifted dry ingredients to the whipped aquafaba. Start folding with a spatula slowly. Fold the batter forming a letter J with the spatula.

You will fold until the batter is flowing slowly but effortlessly off the spatula. To test it out, you can grab a teaspoon of batter and place it on a baking sheet, watch how it behaves for 1 minute. If the batter smooths out the top, it means you are ready to go. If batter forms a pointy tip, you have more folding to do. But be very careful. You also don’t want to overfold. Just fold a couple more times, and test again.

Transfer the batter to the piping bag. Pipe circles on a baking sheet lined with silicon mat. Slam the trays against the counter to release air bubbles. Let the trays rest for 30-45 minutes until the shells are dry.

Heat the oven to 285ºF. Bake one tray at a time for a total of 20 minutes, or until the macarons tops do not twist independently of the bottom if you try to rotate them. Let the macarons cool down before filling.

Make the filling: Sift the powdered sugar and freeze dried raspberry powder together. Whip the butter on medium for about 1 minute, until creamy. Add the powdered sugar and freeze dried raspberry powder and mix on low until combined. Raise the speed and cream for another minute, add the lemon juice and salt and continue whipping to incorporate it all. Adjust consistency with non-dairy milk or more powdered sugar, if needed.

Assemble shells, fill with some buttercream, and decorate with Royal Icing using a very fine icing tip, if so desired. Let the macarons sit in the fridge overnight before enjoying them.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Most vegan macaron recipes rely on aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas), others use potato protein powder instead. I have tried the potato protein but had two epic failures and decided to concentrate on aquafaba. Most recipes will instruct you to reduce the aquafaba by boiling it down, which adds an extra step that this recipe omits. Having made 11 batches of vegan macs with many horrific outcomes, I can tell you that three things really matter:

1. the extent of whipping the aquafaba (contrary to egg whites, you cannot over-whip it, so when you think you’ve done enough, whip some more).

2. stopping the macaronage a little short, never taking it to the smooth level you could with a regular egg-white meringue recipe.

3. Baking at a lower temperature, 285F worked well for me. It is highly advisable that you check the temperature of your oven with a thermometer.

The inspiration for decorating the shells came from another obsession of mine, earrings. I am a shameless collector of clay earrings. They are very light (never hurt your earlobes), very colorful, and the moment I got this pair, I knew I had to turn it into macarons… Nothing like joining two obsessions!

The color is a bit off, it is not easy to judge as it also changes a bit with baking, but I am glad with the overall look. These beautiful earrings were made by an artist in Canada, check her etsy store here. She is a sweetheart!

Now the most important question. How do they taste? I will be totally honest with you, I cannot tell any difference in the shells using egg white meringue or aquafaba. The off-putting smell of aquafaba totally disappears upon baking. The texture is perfect, the taste undistinguishable (to me). I do find the vegan buttercream less flavorful than one made with real butter, but it’s not a deal-breaker. These macs were a big hit with our colleagues and also at the homeless meal, I shared the batch 50:50.

If you are interested in vegan macs, I advise you to stop by Pies and Tacos (hosted by Camila, a Brazilian-American baker with a passion for these cookies) and watch her very detailed videos on the subject.

ONE YEAR AGO: Scary Good Recipes for your next Halloween

TWO YEARS AGO: Devil Wears Chocolate

THREE YEARS AGO: Slow-Cooker Pot Roast with Potatoes, Carrots, and Fennel

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Best, the Very Best Hummus

FIVE YEARS AGO: Cheddar Cheese Crackers

SIX YEARS AGO: A New Take on Cauliflower Puree

SEVEN YEARS AGO:
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EIGHT YEARS AGO:
 
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NINE YEARS AGO:
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TEN YEARS AGO:
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ELEVEN YEARS AGO:
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A FRUITFUL TRIO

Three fruits, three macarons… Watermelons, Blueberries and Apples, each using a slightly different technique for piping the shells. For the watermelon version, I share two styles for the shells, with the same buttercream filling.

APPLE CIDER MACARONS
(inspired by Broma Bakery)

for shells:
3 egg whites (check the weight, mine were 103g)
same amount of granulated sugar (103g)
same amount of fine almond flour (103g)
same amount of powdered sugar (103g)
1/4 tsp vanilla paste
pinch of cream of tartar
food gel color, yellow and green (8:1)

for filling:
113g unsalted butter (softened)
360g powdered sugar (about 3 cups)
4 tablespoons apple cider
pinch of salt

for decoration:
brown Candy Melts
air-brush color, red and orange

Mix 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar with the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer. Place over simmering water and whisk for about 2 minutes until sugar is dissolved (temperature should be around 150F).

Place bowl in the KitchenAid and whisk in medium-speed, slowly adding the rest of the granulated sugar. Whisk for about 4 minutes, until thick peaks form. Add vanilla and food coloring (I added yellow and green).

Pipe shells in shape of an apple, let it dry until a skin forms.  Bake at 300F for about 12 minutes, until the top does not move when you gently try to twist it around. Color half of the shell with airbrush, I used a mixture of red and orange colors, eye-balling to get the tone I wanted.

Make the stems by piping Candy Melts on parchment paper. Make more stems than you’ll need, as they might break.

Make the filling by creaming the butter for a couple of minutes, then adding the powdered sugar, cider and salt. Adjust consistency with milk if needed, or more powdered sugar.

Fill shells, match them, and add the stems. Let the macarons mature overnight in the fridge before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The macaron recipe is the one I’ve been playing with recently, from Broma Bakery. I just adapted it to make it in proportion to the weight of a given number of egg whites, because it simplifies everything quite a bit. I love how these turned out, air-brushing really adds a lot to the shells, but if you don’t have it, they will be fine without it. You can also make the macarons round and add just the stem, or maybe the stem and a little leaf, also piped with Candy Melts, dyed green.

Next time you want to make macarons, think about the size of the batch you need.
A small batch? Grab two egg whites, weigh them and add the other ingredients, all with the exact same amount by weight.
A regular batch (enough for about 24-30 macs?) Grab three egg whites.
A big batch? Four egg whites. That would probably be my limit, macaronage on a bigger batch might be tricky. 

BLUEBERRY CLUSTER MACARONS
(inspired by Veronika Gowan)

Macarons made with this recipe, using gel food dye purple, from Artisan Accents)

Macaronage kept a bit thicker than normal, so that shells can be piped without losing their individual circles. Most of the batter was placed in a bag with a regular icing tip for macarons (80-100mm), and a very small amount was placed in a bag without any tip, with a small opening cut with scissors. That was used to pipe the little round stem spots.

When you pipe the cluster, make sure each “blueberry” is kept small, so that the final macaron is not huge.

for the filling:
1/4 cup blueberry jam (store-bought or homemade)
113g butter, softened
240g powdered sugar
lest of 1 lemon
lemon juice to taste
pinch of salt

Pipe the cluster of three small berries. Tap the tray to release air bubbles, but be gentle, you don’t want the circles to join too much. Let the batter sit for 5 minutes, then pipe the round stem centers. Let the shells dry until a skin forms, then bake as normally (300F for about 12 minutes).

Make the lemon buttercream by whisking the softened butter for a couple of minutes in a KitchenAid type mixer. Add the lemon zest and whisk another 30 seconds, then the powdered sugar in a few batches in very low speed. Slowly increase the speed once the sugar is starting to get incorporated, add the lemon juice, salt, and whisk at high speed for a couple of minutes. Adjust consistency with more lemon juice or powdered sugar, as needed.

Fill the shells with a dollop of jam in the center and lemon buttercream around, as shown in the picture below.  Let the macarons mature in the fridge overnight before enjoying.

Comments: Veronika Gowan makes incredible macarons, perfect examples of fruits and even vegetables (she recently made unique and exquisite chanterelle macarons). I need to practice my piping skills for very delicate features, but in the case of blueberry clusters, next time I will add the stem decoration by painting. I think they will be more delicate and maybe more realistic that way. You can click on her instagram feed to see many of her amazing productions.

WATERMELON MACARONS, TWO WAYS
(piping inspired by Pies and Tacos)

for shells:
same recipe as Apple Cider macarons above, separated in three batches: green, light green (or left un-dyed), and watermelon (pink and red 2:1)

for filling:
200g powdered sugar
60g unsalted butter softened
1/2 tsp Amoretti watermelon emulsion (adjust to taste)
milk or heavy cream to adjust consistency of buttercream
pinch of salt

to decorate:
edible food marker, black

You will pipe the shells in three concentric colors, starting with the dark green, then light (or un-dyed), then watermelon After that you tap the tray to release bubbles as normally, just don’t be too harsh.

Once baked, you can fill them and do the final decoration with a black marker. You might have leftover batter of one or two colors (I had both green colors leftover). In this case, use them as the back of your macaron, or come up with a totally different design. Go with the flow, dance to the Macaron Music… 

To make the watermelon buttercream, follow the general method of the lemon buttercream above, but use watermelon flavor added to the butter after it is creamed. Then proceed with the powdered sugar addition and milk or cream, if needed.

Alternative design for watermelon macarons

You can simplify things and pipe shells of two different colors, matching one green and one watermelon-color. I air-brushed some pink luster on the shell, but that is just a bit of icing on the cake…  😉

After filling the macarons with watermelon buttercream,  make little seed markings with black food marker, and as always, let the macarons sit in the fridge overnight for proper maturation of the shells.

I hope you enjoyed these variations on my favorite cookie. I have been practicing with different shapes, and results are not always that great, but I still have fun trying…

ONE YEAR AGO: Halloween Entremet Cake

TWO YEAR AGO: Pork with Prunes, Olives and Capers

THREE YEARS AGO: Kansas Corn Chowder

FOUR YEARS AGO: Impossibly Cute Bacon and Egg Cups

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pulling Under Pressure

SIX YEARS AGO: Cooking Sous-vide: Two takes on Chicken Thighs

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Miso Soup: A Japanese Classic

EIGHT YEARS AGO: On my desk

NINE YEARS AGO: A must-make veggie puree

TEN YEARS AGO: Vegetarian Lasagna

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  Brazilian Pão de Queijo

 

 

CHOCOLATE BONBONS WITH MANGO-GANACHE FILLING

It’s been a long time since I tried my luck with bonbons. Six months, to be precise. Every weekend I kept adding it to my list of little culinary adventures, but somehow postponing it to that uncertain time called “near future.”  But it finally happened. I tricked myself by making the filling first, so that I had to put it to use. Psychology 101. It worked. If you are not interested in making bonbons, consider the filling for macarons or sandwich cookies. I had some leftover and made a small batch of macarons to take care of it. They turned out into “Funky Rose Macarons” and I share photos in the end of this post.

CHOCOLATE BONBONS WITH MANGO-GANACHE FILLING
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from several sources)

for the shells:
300g dark tempered dark chocolate for shells
100g cocoa butter
1/2 tsp titanium oxide
two colors of fat-soluble dye of your choice
gold pearl dust (optional)
150g tempered dark chocolate for closing bonbons

for the filling:
160g dark chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt 70%)
56g heavy cream
35 g mango purée
7 g light corn syrup
7 g butter,  soft   ⅛ ounce
1/8 tsp ground coriander

Start by making the filling. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-size bowl. Pour the cream into a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the mango purée and corn syrup.   Cook over medium-high heat until the cream mixture reaches a rolling boil. Pour onto the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 2 minutes undisturbed, then stir slowly to incorporate.  Once the ganache cools to about 95F add the butter and the coriander.  Place the ganache in a piping bag, and it can be piped into tempered shells once it is at 88F. You can make the ganache in advance and warm gently to use.

Make the shells. Clean your mold with alcohol and rub every cavity very well with a cotton ball or a make-up pad. Heat the cocoa butter very gently, preferably don’t let it go over 115F. Add titanium oxide and blend it vigorously with an immersion blender. In the composite photo below, you’ll see that melted cocoa butter is translucent, yellow. Once you add titanium oxide it will turn white and opaque, that’s what you need as a starting point to add any color you want.  Divide the cocoa butter in two portions, add the color you want (make sure it is fat-soluble or your cocoa butter will seize). Add each color to a piping bag (do not cut the tip).  Now, gently roll the bag on a surface, back and forth, back and forth, so that the cocoa butter cools and tempers.


Check the temperature every few minutes, it will cool reasonably fast. If you have an infra-red thermometer, that’s the easiest way to do it. Once the temperature drops to 92F it will be ready to add to the molds. Simply use a gloved finger and paint each color inside the cavities. If you want to add some gold tones to it, once the cocoa butter sets, you can brush lightly with pearl dust.

Temper 300g of dark chocolate and fill the cavities. Tap the mold to release any air bubbles, then invert the mold to let the excess chocolate drip (do that on top of plastic wrap so you can collect the chocolate to use again later, or to do some decorations while it’s still tempered. I made some spider webs, because…. that’s the spirit!

Let the mold sit inverted and suspended over your countertop (the easiest way to do it is to use those silicone dough strips so that the mold does not touch any surface. After one hour at room temperature, you can flip the mold and fill the cavities with your prepared ganache (make sure it is not over 88F so that your shells won’t be melted and lose temper). Make sure to leave a little space for the chocolate that will seal the bonbons.

Now temper 150g chocolate and use it to cover the shells. Right before you pour the chocolate, heat the surface of the mold with a hairdryer very very briefly. You do that to melt just a bit the edge of the shells. Pour the chocolate and place a sheet of acetate covering the whole mold. Hold the top with one hand, and use the other hand to scrape the acetate very hard, so that all excess chocolate will drip out and the acetate will be stuck to the mold.


Ideally, wait for 12 to 24 hours to un-mold, but you can also leave it for 1 hour at room temperature and then place it in the freezer for exactly 15 minutes. The shells will contract and be ready to un-mold then.  Be brave and bang the mold hard on a countertop, the shells should pop out. Full crystallization of the chocolate will happen over time, just leave it at room temperature.  Marvel at the random pattern of colors you got.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I had some issues with the painting of the mold, my colored cocoa butter kept forming a puddle at the bottom instead of painting nicely on the sides, although the temperature seemed “spot on” (to quote Paul Hollywood). So I kept cleaning it all with cotton balls (it was nightmarish) and trying again, and again. Finally, in complete despair, I stuck the clean mold in the freezer for 5 minutes and that worked like a charm, because the cocoa butter then set exactly where I wanted it to be.  Of course, when making bonbons you are “in the dark” about the whole process until the very end – the thrilling moment of un-molding the beauties.

If you read my first adventure with bonbons, at that time I had some problems closing the shells. This time I used a different method, much more efficient. Pour the tempered chocolate on the filled molds, and press a sheet of acetate (cut to size) right on top of it, then scrape it firmly using one of these tools of a cake smoother. The chocolate will crystallize beautifully on the acetate, giving a nice shine to the bottom of the bonbon.

I wanted to dye the shells orange and red, but realized I did not have fat-soluble orange dye, so I went with pink and red, which would be more appropriate for a raspberry filling. But I am so happy with the results, the shells turned out super shiny and not a single bonbon cracked during un-molding. The gold dust did not show too well, I was afraid of over-doing it, next time I will add more.

The bonbons had a very thin and delicate shell, very uniform all the way around. All in all, it was a successful project. The kitchen looked like the aftermath of a paintball fight, and I was that player who was killed 9 times, but it was all worth it!

As I mentioned, I had leftover ganache. I kept it at room temperature, and next day whipped it with a handheld blender so that it was easier to pipe. Macarons were made using the Broma Bakery recipe (Swiss-meringue based), and orange food dye.  Half the batter I did the macaronage to the normal level and piped round shells. Half the batter I kept a lot thicker and piped with a Wilton 1M tip in rosette shape as I did in the past. I painted the edges of the petals with black, gold, and copper pearl dust dissolved in vodka. In some shells I used an air-sprayer with black dye, but I thought those turned out a bit too dark.


The tempered spider web decorations were also put to use on cupcakes.  I will be making a blog post in the near future (yes, that time frame I am so fond of!).

I hope you enjoyed my third adventure int the world of chocolate bonbons.
I have the feeling it won’t take me six more months to try again…

ONE YEAR AGO:  Giant Cookie Meets Mousse

TWO YEAR AGO: The Brazilian Battenberg

THREE YEARS AGO: Salzburg Sourdough

FOUR YEARS AGO: If I had One Hour

FIVE YEARS AGO: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake

SIX YEARS AGO: Sourdough Rye Bread with Flaxseeds and Oats

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Apricot-Raspberry Sorbet: A farewell to Summer

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Marcela’s Salpicon

NINE YEARS AGO: Pork Kebabs

TEN YEARS AGO: Fondant au Chocolat

ELEVEN YEARS AGOGot Spinach? Have a salad!

LET’S GET SPOOKY!

I realize Halloween will not be the same this year, and that  makes me sad. But it is impossible to resist baking all kinds of spooky things, and with this post I share six options for your socially-distant Halloween celebration.

All macarons were filled with a chocolate ganache, but in the Devil and Mummy macs the ganache was made by steeping the cream with smoked tea. Bat Cookies are a hazelnut-almond dough, and the others are regular sugar cookies.

DEVIL MACARONS

I used my default recipe which you can find here (and also a video tutorial in case you’d like to bake along with me). The idea of the decoration came from a brand new cookbook (The Wicked Baker) by one of the most fascinating contestants of the Great British Bake Off, the one and only Helena Garcia. She used a similar decoration for donuts, but I adapted it for macarons. The ears were made with Royal Icing dyed black, and piped on parchment paper in the appropriate format. Make more ears than you’ll need, as they break easily.  The same Royal Icing was used to pipe the devilish tail. Once you assemble the shells with the filling, quickly add the ears, while the ganache is still soft.

Recipe for the smoked chocolate ganache:
150g heavy cream (you won’t use the full amount in the ganache)
1 bag smoked black tea (Lapsang Souchong)
2 tsp corn syrup
230g semi-sweet chocolate in pieces

Start by making the filling, as it must cool down before using. Bring the heavy cream to a gentle boil, add the tea bag. Turn the heat off, close the pan and leave the tea infusing for 30 minutes. Squeeze the tea bag and remove it. Bring the cream to a gentle boil again, then pour 115g of it over the chocolate. Leave it for 5 minutes, gently whisk until smooth, add the corn syrup. Cool it until it gets to a good consistency for piping on the shells.

MUMMY MACARONS

Also made with my default recipe, and filled with Smoked Chocolate Ganache. Once the shells are assembled, simply use white Candy Melts to make a random drizzle on the surface, and quickly add store-bought candy eyes (from Wilton).

Those were made in fact two years ago, and I totally forgot to blog about them. Back then, there was a thing called “Halloween Party” with guests and all (sigh). Bogey approved the macs, but was a bit spooked by a special version I made at the time.

Isn’t that pup the most adorable being in the universe? Noticed the paw?

 

SPIDER MACARONS

The shells were made with a new (to me) recipe. I used the Swiss meringue method, in a version that is super easy to memorize: 100g of every ingredient. All details in this recent post from Broma Bakery. I really like the way the shells baked with tall feet, and I did not even passed the almond flour + powdered sugar through the food processor, which made the whole process even simpler.

I loved making the spider decorations. I used marzipan dyed black, and then formed the head and the body of the little spiders, glueing them to the shells with candy melts. A little food-safe black pen to make the spider legs, and that was it! If you prefer less marzipan on the shells, roll the marzipan thin, and cut circles, one bigger for the body, one smaller for the head. It will have a similar look, but for those who are not wild about marzipan, even better to enjoy!

Chocolate Ganache Filling

100 g heavy cream
220g dark chocolate, chopped finely (I used Lindt 70%)
15 g butter
15 g honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Gently melt the chocolate with the butter in a double-boiler or microwave at 50% power. Set aside.

Pour the cream together with the honey and vanilla into a small saucepan and place over medium heat until it reaches almost boiling point. Pour slowly over the chocolate-butter mixture, mix until homogenized.  Keep at room temperature for about 3 hours before using to fill the shells. You can make also make it the day before.

BAT COOKIES

Another decoration idea from The Wicked Baker, Helena’s cookbook. She used sugar cookies, I went with a slightly different recipe for the cookie base.

HAZELNUT-ALMOND CUT-OUT COOKIES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

188g butter at room temperature, cut in small cubes
78g powdered sugar
63g eggs
250g all-purpose flour
42g ground hazelnuts
42g ground almonds
1/4 tsp salt

In a Kitchen Aid type mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter with powdered sugar until soft and smooth. Gradually add the eggs, and keep beating until fully emulsified.

Add the flour, hazelnuts, almonds and salt, mixing gently to a homogeneous mixture. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, pat as a disc and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

Roll out and cut in any shape you like. Freeze the cut cookies for 10 minutes before baking at 350F for about 12 minutes, until edges start to get a little color. Decorate with Royal Icing or serve plain, they are delicious even without decorations.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

A little Royal Icing, sprinkles, and food pen to finalize the bat-look…  Very simple to decorate, and the hazelnut-almond base really adds a lot to the cookie.

SPOOKY SUGAR COOKIES

I love using these cookie cutters that make the design for you, because I’m not that good at piping fancy designs (I am working on it, but well, you know how it goes). For the houses, I wanted a “granite” look, and it was easy to do with food gel diluted with a bit of vodka (or lemon extract). You need to eye-ball the dilution factor, so that the color is a little faded and does not cover the surface of the cookie completely. I used purple and dark blue from Artisan Accents, and completed the decoration with Royal Icing dyed orange or black.

For the sugar cookie basic recipe, I followed Bakeat350 to a T. I love that you don’t need to refrigerate the dough before rolling it out. All recipes I’ve tried from that site worked wonderfully, and I’ve tried plenty, as every week I include a small batch of sugar cookies in my donations to Common Table.

FRIENDLY GHOST MACARONS

I used my default recipe for these, and the same chocolate ganache used for the Spider Macs, posted above.  All you need is a template to pipe your little ghosts, and to make sure the macaron batter is not too thin, stop shorter in the macaronage, so that when you pipe the design it stays as it is.  There are many templates available in the net, I used this one. The only issue I had with these macs is the slight browning in the oven. It is pretty tricky to keep the white color unchanged. In a batch I made earlier, I painted some pearl dust all over the surface, but it used up so much pearl dust, I am not sure it was worth it.

For more recipes to inspire you, click on this link from last year. Amazing how we had no idea how much our world would be changed 365 days later.

ONE YEAR AGO: Miso and Sesame Roast Chicken with Revelation Quinoa

TWO YEAR AGO: Incredibly Simple Times Four

THREE YEARS AGO: Parsnip, Coconut and Lemongrass Soup

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2016

FIVE YEARS AGO: Paleo Moussaka

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

SEVEN YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2013

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Bourbon and Molasses Glazed Pork Tenderloin

NINE YEARS AGO: Crimson and Cream Turkey Chili

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

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

DUTCH MACARONS, AND WILLIAM CURLEY’S NOSTALGIC DELIGHTS

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.

DUTCH MACARONS
(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
20mL water

for praline paste:
100g hazelnuts
100g almonds
200g sugar
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.

ENJOY!

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.

TEASER RECIPE

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)

ONE YEAR AGO: Yogurt Tart

TWO YEAR AGO: Grilled Lamb-Stuffed Pita Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Elderflower Macarons

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Duet of Sorbets

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sobering Peach Sorbet

SIX YEARS AGO: Spiralizer Fun

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Beer-Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Secret Recipe Club: Corn Chowda

NINE YEARS AGO: Page-A-Day Calendar (Pits and Chief 5 minutes of fame…)

TEN YEARS AGO: Home Sweet Home (our beloved Pits in one of his last photos)

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Marbled Rye