Miscellaneous

I’m back!

I’m still around, don’t worry!  It’s been, what, 3 and a half months since my last post?  My bad… In my defence, I haven’t travelled anywhere, plus I have had some stuff going on in my life (job stuff…ugh…).  But, this is just a quick post to say, I’m alive and I’m going back to Venice on Friday for the Carnival!!  (And then I’m off to Paris at the end of March – exciting stuff!!  🙂  )

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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