Cake

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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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!!

Cake Number 19: Accra Banana and Peanut Cake (Ghana)

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Admittedly, I thought this cake was going to be a disaster, as it just would not bake.  But, a bazillion hours later, it was finally cooked!!  As the title suggests, this is a banana and peanut cake (more like a banana and peanut loaf), but it has also got toffee inside it and it is delicious.

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The dried bananas on top give it a nice crunch – and I’ve now got a bag of dried bananas that I can enjoy 🙂  I’ve no idea why I added the peanuts because I despise peanuts, so I might give them a miss next time (I ate some but picked most of them out).

Cake Number 17: Macarons (France)

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I’m gonna be honest here – the recipe in the book calls for individual macarons.  But I’ve wanted to make a macaron cake for so long, so I thought that this would be the perfect time to try!  And I love it!  Admittedly, it doesn’t have feet (I don’t think I whisked my egg whites enough.  Sigh.  There’s always next time, though!)

And this is the first time I’ve flavoured my macaron shells (I know, I know – I shouldn’t just make plain ones but I’m still trying to get them just right, so I’m not really into fiddling with them too much just now).  I ground up some pistachios and added them to the mixture and they taste amazing (and I’m not even a fan of pistachios!)

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For this cake, I made one big disk and a big ring, as I wanted some fruit to go in the middle and I thought it might look weird if they were all piled on top.  Piping the cream onto the disk and them topping with the ring creates a nice well in the middle for the fruit to sit 🙂

Now, I just need to wait for my Mum to come home from work so that I can cut it (I can’t cut it before as many people as possible have seen that I can sometimes bake pretty things).

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