First off I would like to thank all of you for your condolences last post. I am over whelmed by the love and support I received by complete strangers over the Internet. It really does prove that good people still exist in this world. SO… Thank you to all you kind souls who left such supportive words in the past two weeks; it not fully past me yet but your kindness has made it a bit easier to tolerate.
Depending if you are a keen reader of food writing; I am guessing the emphasis you place on the blurb before the recipe varies from person to person. While some of you guys may think these short stories are a more acceptable way of complaining on social media; when I read a recipe this is part I count on to give me the “feel” of the recipe.
I believe food is littered with possibilities for emotion; come to think of it all food that I have cooked so far has some kind of emotion or experience attached to it. From happiness to anger; food has been there to be the guiding force to return myself back to normality (as much as possible at least)
Take for instance food that we know as “dude food” are often accompanied by a story of disorderly conduct with a booze bottle in hand and a waking up with regret or two about what was eaten or downed in a feast the night before. We all know that duck fat brioche rolls with smoked duck sausage and black truffle do not just happen out of nothing.
Think of the sprinkle or confetti cake, the traditional yellow cake covered in a pure white frosting and perfectly piped old fashion sugar work. Yes, those decorations may not be the tastiest or the most attractive but that crawling sweetness has still worked itself into contemporary culinary creations.
I know macarons may be a recent contemporary food trend but to me they are one of the desserts that remind me of my father.
To be really honest with you guys, it has been incredibly hard for me to start baking again since his passing. Did I ever tell you that this was the one thing my father really believed in me to achieve? NO not the “have to” parental support but the “omg, they can actually cook” support.
It might seem cheesy but my father was everything to my baking. The disappointment and encouragements thrown about when failing a recipe that you tried numerous times; to the support and love when you finally churn out your first successful pastry and eat together over an afternoon cuppa.
My father was not emotional man but as we ate pastries together; I think we both got a dose of emotional therapy.
If you think macarons have come to end, like a good choc chip cookie; I am obsessed with achieving the unattainable perfection. The one problem that I have come across since getting quite skilled in macrons is the nut problem. I am a fully in to nuts but honestly almonds really do not have a lot of flavour, also the nut allergies that I have discovered ( I am now slightly sensitive to peanuts and walnuts) meant that I have to be weary of adding them to food.
There is a little but of science behind changing a nut recipe to seeds. One seeds have more of a “sticky” property when wet. Two the fat content of seeds varies a lot more than nuts; meaning you need to get the percentage of fat in macrons just right to get it to work. Thirdly the drying properties of seeds are not as high as those in nuts; meaning bad news for poorly beaten meringues and macarons.
I am not an expert at this but taking on broad Stella’s (bravetart) recipe and my own adaptations; I have achieve a perfectly balanced macaorns that is nut free and that does not have a soft shell. Instead you are rewarded with a light shell, chewy interior and the trade mark straight foot. I love chocolate but I have discovered an addiction to the berry infused chocolates; they make for the best ganache you will ever taste in your life (hands down).
The slightly tangy hit from the strawberry flavour helps to off the set the sweetness often delivered by ganache. In addition you can add this dried fresh blueberry puree I made; from dried blueberries the tang is another texture and taste layer to the macarons. Completely optional but try a something different! Macarons deserve it!
Nut free macarons with Berry Choc Ganache and Dried Blueberry puree.
Recipe adapted from Stella nut free macaron recipe; but recipe written by Stella herself.
60g sunflower seeds
230g powdered sugar
140g egg whites
72g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scrapped
Pre heat oven to 150C. Line two flat baking trays with baking paper
Toast your flax and sunflower seeds in a pan over low heat. Toast them until fragrant and cool. After grind them in your coffee grinder until you get a fine powder ( you may have bigger bits up to 2 tablespoons). Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, vanilla bean (not the extract), and salt and turn the mixer to medium (4 on a Kitchen Aid). Whip for 3 minutes. They will not seem especially foamy at that point.
Increase the speed to medium-high (7 on a Kitchen Aid) and whip another 3 minutes, then crank the speed to 8 for go another 3 minutes.
At that point, turn the mixer off and add in any extracts/flavor/color and whip for a final minute on the highest speed.
At the end of this minute, you should have a very stiff, dry meringue. When you remove the whisk attachment, there will be a big clump of meringue in the center, just knock the whisk against the bowl to free it. If the meringue has not become stiff enough to clump inside the whisk, continue beating for another minute, or until it does so.
Fold in the dry ingredients all at once and fold them in with a large rubber spatula. Use both a folding motion (to incorporate the dry ingredients) and a pressing motion, to deflate the
Transfer about half the batter to a piping bag.
Pipe the batter into2.5cm circles.
After piping your macarons, take hold of the sheet pan and hit it hard against your counter. Rotate the pan ninety degrees and rap two more times. This will dislodge any large air bubbles that might cause your macarons to crack.
Bake for about 18 minutes, or until you can cleanly peel the parchment paper away from a macaron.
Once the macarons have baked, cool thoroughly before peeling the cooled macarons from the parchment. Use a metal spatula if necessary.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with the ganche of your choice, and pipe a quarter sized mound of buttercream into half of the shells. Follow this with puree then sandwich them with their naked halves. Allow to age in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours in sealed air tight container.
Berry dark chocolate ganche
200g strawberry infused dark chocolate
150g pure cream
20g butter, soften
In a large sauce pan melt butter and chocolate over medium heat. Stir this with a spatula continuously until half melted.
Add cream and melt until all chocolate is melted into the cream. Scrap the bottom of the bowl well to prevent burning. Once heated remove from heat.
Add the glucose and butter, stirring continuously as you add each ingredient. The butter and glucose help it become glossy. Transfer to a bowl and cover with cling film, store in the fridge when cool. It should be ready to use in 4 hours.
Dried blueberry puree
Barely adapted from Instructables
150g dried blueberries
2 tsp sugar
Put the dried fruit, spices, water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over low heat
Allow berries to absorb the water. It takes about 15 minutes. Be wary you may need water.
Take off the heat, Cool and mash up to your liking
Use immediately or place in an air tight container and store in the fridge.