Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Macaron Challenge

Yippeee! Finally I am a member (proud one I must say!) of the Daring Bakers community. The Daring Kitchen is community started by some very impressive cooks who have achieved in making this website a great resource and inspirational outlet.
For the month of October the challenge is, voilà: Les Macarons. Its funny or is it destiny as I made 4 different macarons on Sunday and its Tuesday today!
For the challenge, I will be making Cheesecake Raspberry Dark Chocolate Macarons and my favourite Vanilla Fig Goat Cheese Macarons. It was essential to make this batch as the challenge needed me to follow the recipe by Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern.
Hopefully tomorrow I should be able to put up the detailed recipe! Over and out for now..

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Macaron-athon Autumn Run

More than Autumn, I feel Winter's here.. although I did get to see a bit of sun! One shouldnt complain..
I made some chocolate macarons this week, not a good turnout, the shells were great but the ganache.. oh la la.. disappointing.. But, the key is - not to give up, but keep trying and getting better and better.. And So I Did!

The macarons I made today:
Cardamom Chocolate Garam Masala 

Maple Hazelnut

Vin Chaud spices with Gingerbread (pain d'épices) ganache

Dark Chocolate with Candied Ginger

Basic Macaron recipe

I thought it'd be good to lay out my preferred recipe for making macarons. I swear by the recipe stated by Syrup and Tang, and I think this recipe has yielded the best results so far. This is my base recipe for all the macarons I make except the chocolate ones, for which I refer to David Lebovitz's recipe, which by far is the best of its kind!

I will keep adding some tips and recommendations, and on basically what makes it right and more so lining out what it takes to mess it up, which believe me has happened more than once! It is better to follow one standard recipe and then to add different flavours, colours and other powders (like green tea, lavender, etc)

  • 65 grammes almond powder 
  • 80 grammes icing sugar 
  • 50 grammes egg whites 
  • 40 grammes sugar 
  • Pinch of salt

  • Take the almond powder and the icing sugar, pass it through a mixer. 
  • Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt to begin with, and gradually add the sugar. Beat untill stiff peaks are formed.

  • Sift the almond flour and sugar mixture over the beaten eggs. 
  • Fold in the powder with a light yet firm hand. Mix in circular motions until the powder is well incorporated. Take a small portion of this mixture in a bowl and add the colours or flavourings. Then incorporate well into the main mixture. 
  • Mix well only untill the mixture is smooth, shiny and glossy. 
  • Spoon batter into piping bags and pipe small (or large) circles on a baking sheet.
  • Bake at 150°C for 10-11 minutes.
  • Cool the sheet once out of the oven and gently release the macaron shells from the paper. 

Funky Fig Jam

This recipe came from my indulgent shopping in the open market that takes place every Tuesday and Friday on Avenue Daumesnil. They were cheap, ripe and calling out to me..!

This recipe is very easy and the most important utensil needed in any jam or preserve making is the large pot. If you have one, you can use any jar or any old jam jar to store the jam.

• 1 kilo ripe figs
• 2 cups chopped pineapple
• 1 cup pineapple juice
• 1 (1-inch thick) fresh ginger – peeled and sliced
• 1 whole cinnamon stick
• 3 star anise
• 1 kilo sugar
• ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
• 1 lemon zest

• On high heat cook all the ingredients together in a pot and bring to boil.
• Reduce the heat and cook till mixture becomes glossy and thick.

This happens after 1 hour of slow cooking.

• Turn off the heat, take out the cinnamon stick and the star anise.
• Spoon the hot fig jam into hot, sterilized jars. Seal immediately.
• Prepare a hot bath in the large pot (the one I was talking about earlier)
• Place the jar in this pot and make sure that the jar is well immersed in the pot.
• Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and take off the heat after 30 minutes.
• Cool in a dry place.

This jam is tangy, crunchy and very earthy. Enjoy it on a warm scone or a toasted bagel on a cold wintery day!