Baking

Strawberry Macarons

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Admittedly, I wasn’t planning on making strawberry macarons.  I wanted to make blueberry ones, as the colour of them is so vibrant and gorgeous!  However, I already had strawberries in the house and I needed to use them for something (I could have just eaten them as is, but where’s the fun in that?).  So, after a trip to Tesco for some more eggs (and I found some freeze-dried strawberries, so bought them, too!), I made these beauties.

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I know I say this a lot, but these taste delicious.  Mixing some of the freeze-dried strawberries into the shells gives them an extra boost of flavour – but I’m still trying to work on getting them smoother on top!

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Recipe (yields roughly 20 macaron):
For the shells:
– 
128g icing sugar
– 90g ground almonds
– 15g freeze-dried strawberries
– 2 egg whites
– 50g granulated or caster sugar (I haven’t noticed any difference if I swap between them)

For the filling:
– 85g icing sugar
– 65g ground almonds
– 45g powdered milk
– 55g unsalted butter, metled
– 26g freeze-dried strawberries
– 65g fresh strawberries
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– Pinch of salt
– Red gel food colouring (if you want it really vibrant)
– 1-2 tsp milk

Method:
Blitz the icing sugar, ground almonds and freeze-dried strawberries in a blender until smooth.  Sieve into a bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the 2 egg white until foamy.  Add half of the granulated/caster sugar and mix for another minute, or so, before adding the rest of the sugar.  Whisk to soft peaks and add your food colouring (preferably gel colouring, as it doesn’t change the texture of the macarons).  Whisk to stiff peaks.

Fold half of the almond mixture into your eggs, taking care not to remove any of the whisked-in air.  Fold in the rest of the almond mixture.  Fold the macaron mixture a few more times, until it falls off of the spatula like a ribbon (I just remembered I was going to take a video of that part just now!  Whoops!).

Pipe your mixture into a piping bag, fitted with a round tip and pipe out circles roughly 4cm in diameter, spacing them roughly 2cm apart to stop them from running into one another.  Leave to form a skin (sitting them in front of a fan helps!).

Set your oven to 150C.  Bake for ten minutes, turn the tray, and bake for a further 5 minutes.  Remove the macarons from the oven, run a tiny amount of cold water under the greaseproof paper, and leave the macarons for a couple of minutes, before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

I usually make the filling while I’m waiting for the macarons to form a skin.  To make the filling, blitz your fresh strawberries in a blender until they’re basically goo.  Spoon into a bowl, as you’ll need the blender again.

Mix the melted butter, icing sugar, ground almonds, powdered milk, freeze-dried fruit, vaniilla extract and salt in your blender until smooth.  Blend in half of the strawberry goo and blitz until smooth.  Mix in the other half.  If needed, add a couple of teaspoons of milk to make the filling easier to pipe.  Add food colouring, if using.

Spoon into a piping bag and pipe onto half of the macaron shells, topping with the other half of the shells.  Enjoy!

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Raspberry Ispahan Macarons

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I’ve definitely got the hang of making macarons – look at these beauties!  I took my inspiration from Pierre Herme’s Ispahan macarons but, instead of rose cream, I made a raspberry buttercream.  And can I just say, they are delicious.  I even managed to make a couple of normal (baby) macarons with the leftover mixture 🙂

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This recipe makes three big (roughly 7-8cm) macarons, and two normal (2cm) macarons.

Ingredients:
For the macarons:
– 128g icing sugar
– 90g ground almonds
– 2 egg whites
– 50g granulated sugar

For the raspberry buttercream:
– 45g butter
– 95g icing sugar
– 1 tbsp milk
– 1 tsp freeze-dried raspberry powder

For decoration:
– 200g raspberries

Recipe:
Blitz the ground almonds and icing sugar in a blender until they’re fine.  Sieve into a bowl and set aside.

Put the egg whites in a separate bowl and whisk until foamy.  Add half of the granulated sugar and whisk for another minute, before adding the rest of the sugar.  Whisk to soft peaks and then add the food colouring (I use gel food colouring, as it doesn’t change the texture of the macarons.  However, the red food colouring I have is really bright and I can’t seem to find a darker one.  If anyone knows, please tell me!).  Once the food colouring has been added, whisk to stiff peaks.

Carefully fold in half of the almond mixture, taking care not to remove the air that’s been whisked in.  Fold in the rest of the almond mixture.  Fold the mixture a bit more, until it starts to drop off of the spatula, like a ribbon (I keep meaning to take a video of this point, for reference, but I don’t remember until after the macarons have been piped out).

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain piping tip and pipe onto baking sheets lined with baking paper.  You’ll want to pipe circles roughly 7-8cm wide, with at least 3cm between them (to stop them potentially running together).  Bang the trays against your work surface, twice on each side, to remove any bubbles in the macarons (admittedly, I forgot to do this for these ones but, thankfully, it didn’t seem to affect them too much – although, my baby macarons split a little bit!).  Leave to sit for at least 30 minutes, so they can form a skin – sitting them in front of a fan helps.

Heat the oven to 150C (preferably a non-fan oven.  If you only have a fan oven, set it to 130-140C and keep an eye on them).  Cook the macarons for 10 minutes, turn the tray, and cook for a further 8-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and run a little water under the baking paper (don’t soak it!).  Leave for a few minutes, before removing from the paper and letting cool completely on a wire rack.

While the macarons are cooling, make the buttercream.  Beat the butter until soft and add the icing sugar.  I like to mix the icing sugar in by hand, as using a mixture causes a mini icing sugar explosion (seriously, it will go everywhere).  Add the tablespoon of milk and the raspberry powder and mix together.

To assemble the macarons, pair the similar sizes of macaron shells together.  Pipe some buttercream in the centre of half of the shells (about an inch wide), and place raspberries around the buttercream.  Top with the other half of the macaron shells and ta-da!  Gorgeous macarons!

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Pistachio Macarons

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Even though I don’t like pistachios by themselves, I love pistachio macarons.  These are definitely the flavour of macarons that I make the most and I thought that I would share my recipe with you guys.

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This recipe yields about 20 macarons.

Ingredients:
Macarons:
– 128g icing sugar
– 60g ground almonds
– 30g pistachios
– 2 egg whites
– 50g granulated sugar

Pistachio Filling:
– 50g Unsalted butter
– 33g icing sugar
– 20g ground almonds
– 15g finely chopped pistachios
– 20g pistachio paste (if you can’t find any, then you can do what I did and just use 20g of ground pistachios and about a tablespoon and a half of water and mixing until it becomes a paste.

Recipe:
Blitz the icing sugar, ground almonds and pistachios in a blender until fine.  Sieve into a bowl.

Put the egg whites in a separate bowl and whisk until foamy.  Add half of the granulated sugar and whisk for another minute, before adding the rest of the sugar.  If adding food colouring, whisk to soft peaks, add the colouring, then whisk to stiff peaks.  If not using food colouring, then just whisk to stiff peaks.

Carefully fold in half of the almond mixture, taking care not to remove the whisked-in air.  Fold in the rest of the almond mixture, then fold a bit more, until it starts to drop off of the spatula like a ribbon.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe onto baking trays lined with baking paper.  Leave to sit for at least half an hour (using a fan helps, if you have one).

Heat the oven to 150C and cook the macarons for 10 minutes, before turning the baking tray and cooking for a further 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven, run some water under the baking paper and leave for a few minutes before removing from the paper and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

While the macarons are cooking, you can make the pistachio filling.  Whisk the butter until it softens.  Add the icing sugar and mix to combine (carefully!  Icing sugar goes everywhere!).  Add the ground almonds, chopped pistachios and pistachio paste and whisk until incorporated.

Pipe the filling onto half of the macarons shells, then top with the other half of the macaron shells.  These are best kept in the fridge and enjoyed the next day (otherwise they’re really crunchy!)

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Cake Number 20: Kransekake (Norway)

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If this cake wasn’t so darn big, I’d make it all the time!  I love making Kransekake (and the fact that in the half-a-dozen, or so, times I’ve made it and it hasn’t gone wrong helps!).  This cake is easily a foot and a half tall – and I probably should have waited until my Dad’s home from offshore to make it, as it’s just Mum and me in the house.  Oh well – I might take it into work and hope they like it!

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This tastes a little bit like a macaron (it’s full of almonds) but has a chewier texture.  Most recipes I’ve found for it call for the marzipan to be ready-made, or shop bought (this book did!).  But, I decided to go back to my tried-and-tested method of making the marzipan from scratch.  There’s something so satisfying about making stuff from scratch and having it work!

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I’m so tempted to just keep making a bunch of mini-Kransekake – just so I can make Kransekake!!

Honey Macarons

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Ever since I first got my macarons just right, I’ve been making so many of them!  These little beauties happen to be honey flavoured (and immediately after this photo was taken, they were put in a tupperware box in the fridge, as the honey buttercream was starting to melt!).

This recipe makes roughly 20 macarons.

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Ingredients:
Macarons:
– 128g icing sugar (or confectioners sugar, depending on where you live)
– 90g ground almonds
– 2 egg whites
– 50g granulated sugar

Honey buttercream:
– 2 egg yolks
– 50g granulated sugar
– 3.5 tbsp milk
– 105g butter
– 3 tbsp honey
– 1/2 tsp vanilla

Recipe:
To make the macarons, blitz the ground almonds and icing sugar in a food processor until they’re fine.  Sieve into a bowl.

Put the egg whites in a separate bowl and whisk until foamy.  Add half of the granulated sugar and whisk for another minute, before adding the rest of the sugar.  If adding food colouring, whisk to soft peaks, add the colouring, then whisk to stiff peaks.  If not adding food colouring, just whisk to stiff peaks.

Carefully fold in half of the almond mixture, taking care not to remove the air that’s just been whisked in.  Fold in the rest of the almond mixture.  Fold the mixture a bit more, until it starts to drop off of the spatula, like a ribbon.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe onto baking sheets lined with baking paper (I find baking paper works better than silicon mats).  Leave to sit for at least 30 minutes (if you have a fan, using it on the macarons helps).

Heat the oven to 150C.  Cook the macarons for 10 minutes, turn the baking sheet, then cook for a further 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and run a little bit of water under the baking paper.  Leave for a few minutes before removing the paper and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

While the macarons are cooking, you can make the honey buttercream.  Put 2 egg yolks in a pan and whisk to break them up.  Add the granulated sugar and the milk and whisk to combine.  Place the pan over medium heat and whisk constantly for a few minutes (to stop the eggs from cooking), until it has a custardy consistency.  Remove from the heat and let it cool a bit before adding the butter, a bit at a time, and whisking in.  Whisk in the honey and vanilla extract.

Pipe the filling on half of the macaron shells and top with the other half and voila!  Honey macarons!  Enjoy!