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Penguin Macarons

16 Jul

As some of you will know, I belong to a book club. In our book club we choose books from Popular Penguins (those ones with the orange covers). So it was quite exciting for us when the 75 new titles were announced. Our reading list just got 75 books longer!

My friend Blair suggested I make white and orange macarons for our next book club in honour of the new titles. Now Blair likes macarons quite a lot, and I think her suggestion was not solely in honour of the new titles, rather a sneaky excuse to get more macarons, however it seemed like a rather good idea so I ran with it.

After making orange and white ones, I decided I needed to make them even more penguin-ish, so I painted on names of some of the new books (short titles only) and some cute little penguins (I used black food dye mixed with alcohol so it dried quickly).

Here’s what I came up with… (Oh yeah, they were lightly spiced shells with vanilla and orange filling)

P.S. I must say, I was quite excited when I found out Popular Penguins had linked a photo of my macarons on twitter…horray!

Monte Carlos

7 Jul

Australian Women’s Weekly has recently produced a lovely new book….with one slight problem. Its title.

‘macaroons & biscuits’

While on the front cover it has a lovely looking bowl of ‘macrons’. This troubled me, but it is a lovely book so on my own copy I added ‘& macarons’. I considered crossing one ‘o’ out, however the book does contain recipes for ‘macaroons’ as well as ‘macarons’ (‘macaroons’ are generally a chewy coconut biscuit, similar in ingredients to ‘macarons’, but really quite different). They seemingly differentiate between ‘macaroons’ and ‘macarons’ by calling ‘macarons’ ‘almond macaroons’….but having said that, they don’t consistently do so for all the recipes of ‘macarons’. Oh dear. But I’ll stop my rant and carry on with the post, but not before showing you this…

One day I’m going to go through the entire book and alter the spelling wherever the incorrect use occurs!

Moving on from ‘macaroons’ and ‘macarons’, I decided to make Monte Carlo Biscuits from a recipe given in the book….the picture was just so appealing, and they always were one of the best Arnott’s biscuit flavours (for those of you who’ve never had them, they’re a honey-coconut biscuit filled with vanilla cream and raspberry jam).

This is the picture from the Women’s Weekly cookbook…yup, very appealing!

So I made them. After making the mix I wondered why it was so extremely dry…I was suppose to roll it into ovals, and yet it was crumbling everywhere. Assuming there must be something wrong with the recipe (rather than my own culinary skills), I just added a bit of water to make the dough come together, and then I began to roll them…

Halfway through rolling the mixture (after the first tray was already in the oven) I decided to read the recipe to check the cooking time, and it was then that I realised that I’d forgotten the egg…opps! At least that solved the mystery of the crumbly mix…even if it did humble me just a little bit!

The biscuits in the oven looked like they were cooking just fine, but to ensure I didn’t stuff up the whole lot I added half and egg to the rest of the mix. When they were all finally cooked I couldn’t actually tell a great deal of difference between the two, apart from the ones with the egg were slightly better shaped (it was so much easier to roll the mix!). So in the end my inattention to the details of the recipe wasn’t too much of a problem, but it did remind me of something…READ THE RECIPE (most particularly if the mixture doesn’t look right).

Here are the two different mixes cooked to biscuits…

Without egg

With egg

After the biscuits were cooked and cooled, I filled them with a vanilla buttercream and a delicious raspberry jam (it was Rose’s raspberry conserve, particularly lovely).

The result…lovely! (and even better the next day when the filling set a little more)

P.S. When my mum tried them she enthusiastically told me they tasted like the ‘REAL’ biscuits…I laughed and said that they were more the real biscuits than the Arnott’s ones, but then, after looking up a bit about Monte Carlo biscuits I discovered this: They were created by Arnott’s in 1926 and were named after the city of Monte Carlo…and so in the end my mum was right. However I’d like to think these biscuits taste a bit better than the packet ones.

A macaron of the chocolate-orange variety

30 Jun

Recently I visited my lovely sister Bec and proceeded to raid her orange trees.

It was fun harvesting the fruit, but I may have gotten a little carried away, as I ended up with a gigantic bag full of oranges.

So now I’ve been pondering ways to use them.

So far I’ve made freshly squeezed orange juice and chocolate-orange macarons.

The macarons went something like this….

I started by weighing up the dry ingredients

And then I attempted to flavour the chocolate shells with orange zest by mixing zest in with the sugar to whip into the whites. I discovered this was a bad idea when my whites (or yellows with the zest) went super runny with the addition of zest….so I binned this step and started the whites again, this time with no zest.

Note the difference in textures below (the only difference being that zest was added to one). It’s amazing how a easily a meringue can be ruined!

After my second meringue was ready I mixed in the dry ingredients and then piped my batter onto a tray.

Then I proceeded to bake my macarons and was pretty happy with the over all result, however I overcooked the second tray quite a bit, which resulted in very chewy macaron shells.

I wanted to make them chocolate and orange, and since I was unsuccessful in adding orange flavour to the shells, I had to make the filling quite definite in flavour.

So I made orange curd (with Bec’s oranges), using both the zest and the juice of an orange. I added some cointreau from a tiny bottle we’ve had sitting in our pantry forever. And finally I melted in some dark chocolate….the resulting mixture was rather hard to stop myself from eating.

And there you have it….chocolate orange macarons.

*I used the chocolate macaron recipe from the very clever Mr David Lebovitz

Spiced Macarons

25 Jan

When looking back over my past blog entries I realised something, it’s been way to long since I last made macarons!

And so I decided it was time I gave them another go.

I particularly love chocolate and spices together, so I decided that this time I’d make spiced macarons with a spiced chocolate ganache filling.

I gathered my ingredients.

And then began the process of making them.

And so then the mix was ready to pipe on to trays and let sit to form a shell.

After the resting I put them in the oven to bake.

The first tray I think I slightly undercooked because they were difficult to get off the tray. To ensure the next lot didn’t stick I made sure I left them it a fair amount longer…and thus managed to over cook them (well done Emily). Luckily they didn’t burn, they’re just extremely crispy macarons.

I think I’m going to have a do a tad more macaron research (you’d be surprised at how much information there is out there about them). Find out what (apart from undercooking) makes them stick.

But enough of that, they were not destroyed and I think they ended up looking and tasting quite lovely once they were filled with the spiced chocolate ganache. I got a little carried away photographing them.

Here are a few of the better photos I took (there would have been even more if I was better at actually getting my camera to focus).

Macarons…I love you.

19 Dec

Although my posting on this blog has been somewhat limited, it has already been made evident that I LOVE macrons.

Food is so much more fun to make when the end result is just lovely to look at.

My current favourites (yet to be made) are Helen’s candy cane macarons, they’re beautiful!

My most recent attempts have been happily successful! I thought the previous time I made them (the orange and poppy seed ones) I had done a pretty good job, but then I made them again and they were marvelous!

I made David Lebovitz’s chocolate macarons and used a ganache with butterscotch schnapps for the filling, and then I made pink berry macarons and green lime macarons. I think the chocolate ones tasted the best and the green ones looked the best.

Here’s a lovely picture Bec took of my macarons.

An afternoon tea

7 Dec

Recently, my lovely sister Hannah got engaged to her boy, Dan.

Sunday was their engagment party afternoon tea (yay for afternoon tea)! I was responsible for mostly all the sweet food (others pitched in). So for the few days leading up to the party I basically lived in the kitchen. It was quite tiring, but also quite fun. To help be along I had the lovely Christmas music of Sufjan Stevens to listen to!

So what did I cook?….

Yo-yo’s, fruit tarts and forcer biscuits

Vanilla cupcakes and eclairs

Chocolate cases filled with mascopone and berries

Profiteroles (and the eclairs make another apperance)

Mini carrot cakes

And finally….Macarons (I’ll post more about them later since I was so happy with how they turned out)

And that’s about all for now….oh yeah, I made honey joys and cinnamon rolls too…and although they are some of the most lovely types of food in the world, I didn’t photograph them individually.

Happy times with Macarons

30 Nov

Macarons are delightful.

Well, making them is anyway (I only really like eating a small selection of flavours).

Now I must stop to make myself clear. When I talk about macarons, I mean french macarons and not macaroons (which are those chewy coconut food items).

Recently I’ve become slightly infatuated with reading about them, making them and looking at them (they’re really quite attractive).

(Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/45436569@N00/429127415/)

One day, when I visit France I’m going to visit the shop (or one of) of Pierre Herme, because apparently he makes amazing macarons, and I desperately want to try one (or all) of them.

I’ve attempted making macarons a few times now.

The first time I tried a recipe I found on David Lebovitz’s blog. It was for chocolate macarons and was remarkably delicious, however I think I was a little too gentle with the meringue and so they ended up being a little too puffy. Also, at this stage I didn’t have a food processor, so my almond meal wasn’t at all ground fine enough, making the surface of the macarons look like they had a terrible skin disease (it wasn’t catching). Although the overall apperance of the chocolate macarons left much to be desired, they got consumed in a remarkably short period of time. Next time I make them, for my sister’s engagement party, they’ll look and taste wonderful…I hope.

My second attempt I used a recipe I found randomly on the internet (I cannot remember where it was from). At this stage I hadn’t worked out I was being too gentle with the meringue and so again I had puffy macarons (this time purple coloured blueberry ones and orange coloured orange ones). These ones actually looked quite comical (sorry I have no photos) as they were small, puffy and brightly coloured (like obese, floosie cookies). Although they didn’t come out quite right they were again consumed almost immediately.

After becoming slightly frustrated that my macarons weren’t coming out like the pretty pictures I so admired (glossy with a little foot), I did a great deal more research before I attempted them again. I found the article by Helen Dujardin very helpful and also there was some handy tips over at the blog Kitchen Musings. After lots, lots more reading I decided to try again. This time success!

I made them again (I can’t remember which recipe I used), this time I made orange and poppy seed ones. I ran my almond meal through the food processor so it was fine, I mixed the mixture a lot more this time and I artifically aged my egg whites by giving them 10 seconds in the microwave on a really low power level (I couldn’t be bothered waiting 24-48hrs! Overall I was very happy…yay for macarons!

See pictures of my successful macaron attempt below.

Before cooking…

And after cooking…