Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Weekend baking and macarons

All of last week had been bitterly cold and we even had snow very near us; the first in eight years.  You can imagine with snow being such an infrequent, rare beauty around here, that news spread quickly and thousand of people made the trip up the mountain to see and play.  For some it was a once in a lifetime experience, our nanny included.  She went home with some photos to show to the neighbors.  And the kids went to school with a bunch of photos too.  We absolutely loved the outing.

But now it seems that spring has finally arrived.  The trees and the birds are all showing signs of new life.  The greenhouse is full of orchid flowers and the Clivias are in full bloom.  If you know me, you will know that I am not a winter person.  I come alive too as soon as the chill leaves town.  I need heat to function at full speed.  

And so with the onset of spring, I returned to the kitchen, albeit a bit reluctantly.  I wanted to be outside, digging dirt and planting, re-potting, sowing...  However, I had promises to keep and so ended up baking a chocolate mouse cake with black cherries, two vanilla sponges (lemon curd and strawberries, carrot cupcakes and sweet potato cakes.  And of course macarons.  It has been a while since I have made these and we really craved them.  Just plain with sweet cream.  Perfect.

Almond Macarons with cream filling 

240 g icing sugar
180 g almonds
140 g egg whites (preferably age the whites for 5 days)
3 g meringue powder
80 g castor sugar
pinch of salt
a few drops of food coloring

Put the icing sugar and the almonds (raw, shelled) in a food processor and process for a few minutes until very finely ground. Sieve and blitz the almonds that did not go through the sieve in a coffee grinder.

Whisk the egg white and meringue powder on a medium speed until foamy and then start to add the castor sugar until well incorporated. Increase the speed and whisk until the egg whites reach the stiff peak stage. This is important, stiff peak stage! Now add the food coloring. Add all the almond flour mixture at once and stir a few times to break down some of the air bubbles. Then fold the remainder in (about ten folds).

Pipe onto a baking sheet lined baking paper or non-stick mat and let sit for about 40 minutes before baking for 15 minutes at 150°C. Let cool on the non-stick mat and spoon a teaspoon of softly whipped cream onto one half and add the other half.


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