Macaron Madness: Pistachio, fig and rose

Making ice cream and creme patissiere means one has a tonne of egg whites left over. Those lonely egg whites, sitting in my fridge were begging to be made into something amazing. I tried to resist the macaron lure, but it was futile. There were pistachios in my cupboard, and over 1 kg of figs so I decided to take a risk and sub half of the almond meal for pistachio meal. I was prepared for failure, and was more than pleasantly surprised with the results. Sure I got a few cracked shells but no more than usual, so the substitution held up well. But more than that, the intensity of the pistachio flavour was incredible. and paired with caramel fig compote ringed with either cream cheese icing or rosewater icing, they have become one of my favourites yet!

IMG_2412Prop find: new cute little cake plates with landmarks from around the world. They match beautifully with my mini teacup set. And teacup= tea. Midmorning tea must be T2’s strawberries and cream. This morning has been quite heavenly so far. Anyway, go make these and brew a cup of your favourite tea. It’s Friday aIMG_2416fter all!

Pistachio Macarons

60g ground pistachios

60g almond meal

120g icing sugar

120g sugar

34g water

100g egg whites

dash of green colouring

Sift the pistachio, almond meal and icing sugar into a large bowl. Put 50g egg white onto of this. Set aside.

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to 118˚C (softball) on a stove.

When the sugar syrup reaches 105˚C start whisking the remaining egg white in a stand mixer, until foaming.

Once the sugar syrup is at 118˚C slowly stream it into the egg whites down the side of the bowl while the mixer is on low/medium. Increase speed and whisk until cool.

Fold the meringue into your dry ingredients in 2 batches, adding the colouring as you do. When combined and the mixtures falls like a ribbon from your spoon, it is ready to be piped.

Pipe circles onto baking sheets lined with baking paper. Bang the sheets down a couple of times to remove air bubbles.

Allow to rest for 45 minutes

Bake for 15-18 minutes at 150˚C.

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Fig Compote

10 figs, chopped into quarters

200g sugar

2 tbs water

1 tbsp butter

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, and bring to a light caramel colour.

Add the butter and the figs and stir until completely combined.

Icing

250g sifted icing sugar

50g butter

75g cream cheese

1 tsp rosewater

pink colouring

Beat butter until pale and fluffy (2 minutes).

Add 125g icing sugar and the cream cheese and beat on low until combined.

Add the remaining icing sugar and beat on high until fluffy

Remove half to icing and place in a piping bag.

Add the rosewater and colouring to the remaining icing and mix until combined. Place in a piping bag.

Pipe on the edge of the macron like the picture below and place a little compote in the centre before sandwiching with another shell

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Daring Bakers January 2015: Esterhazy Torte

IMG_2183For the month of January Jelena from A Kingdom for a Cake invited us to start this year with a dreamy celebration cake. She challenged us to make the Esterhazy cake a.k.a the Hungarian dream. What better way to start the year than with a sweet dream?

Here we are in January, the month of beginnings, and here I am posting this daring baker’s challenge, recovering from a tonsillectomy. As much as I am hating everything right now and it hurts sooo much, hopefully this’ll be the start of a good year. I’ll keep this short and sweet as the painkillers are probably going to leave me pretty illiterate shortly. This torte was lovely, the original recipe called for hazelnuts but we’re more of an almond family. We (well, the rest of the country anyway) celebrated Australia Day yesterday and this cake resembles a vanilla slice (the Aussie millefeuille) so it’s appropriate for that too.

Ingredients

DACQUOISE LAYERS

6 large egg whites

125g caster (superfine) sugar

10 g vanilla

125g ground almonds

40 g plain (all purpose) flour

ALMOND CREAM

6 large egg yolks

125g caster (superfine) sugar

10 g vanilla

150g butter at room temperatureIMG_2186

75g ground almonds

APRICOT JAM GLAZE
45g apricot jam
1 teaspoon (5 ml) water

WHITE ICING
200g icing sugar
5 ml sunflower oil
15ml lemon juice
around 2 tablespoons (60 ml) hot water

CHOCOLATE DECORATION
25g dark chocolate
1 teaspoon (5 ml) oil
50g slivered almonds

Directions:

DACQUOISE

With an electric mixer beat the egg whites while gradually adding the sugar and vanilla sugar for about 5 minutes until stiff peaks form.

Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and add in the almonds mixed with the flour and beat until just combined.

Cut baking paper into five squares large enough to draw a circle of 5 inch in diameter on the squares.

Turn the paper over and place one piece onto an up-side down oven tray and delicately spoon inside the circle one-fifth of the beaten egg white mixture.

Place the tray into an preheated moderate 160°C oven and bake for 14 minutes. It will look soft but that is how we want them. Your finger should not stick to the layer when you touch it.

Take the layer out together with the paper and place on an even surface

Cool the oven tray and repeat with the next 4 layers. It is important that the up-side down oven tray is cool when you start to bake the layers.

ALMOND FILLING

The filling is cooked in a double boiler. If you do not have a double boiler just take two pots so that the smaller one fits perfectly in the larger one and there is no gap between them.

Fill the larger pot with about 1-inch (2 cm) water place on the stove and bring the water to a slow boil, the water should not touch the smaller pot bottom.

Beat the egg yolks and the sugar with an electric mixer in the smaller pot for 30 seconds. Place the smaller pot into the larger one and cook for 14-15 minutes. Stir every 2-3 minutes for a short while with a wooden spoon always scraping the sides and the bottom. Stir constantly, near the end.

Let it cool

Beat for 30 seconds

Beat the room temperature butter for 2 minutes until light and fluffy then beat into the cooked yolks

Add in the ground almonds and beat again until combined.

Set aside 2 tablespoons of the filling to spread around the torte at the end.

Divide the rest of the filling into 4 cups.

Line a large tray with some baking paper.

Remove the baking paper from one of the dacquoise and place it onto the tray, spread one quantity of filing evenly over the dacquoise, then place another layer on the top.

Repeat, making sure that the last layer is placed bottom-side-up (do not place filling on this surface) which will make it easier to obtain a smooth looking finish.

Place in the fridge for 1 hour

APRICOT JAM GLAZE

Heat the apricot jam and water on the stove.

Remove the top baking paper from the torte and spread the jam on top of it. We want a very thin layer, just barely covering the torte.

Place the torte back in the fridge for 30 minutes for the jam to cool.

When the 30 minutes is up, spread the 2 tablespoons of reserved filling around the cake.

WHITE ICING

By hand mix the powdered sugar, oil, lemon juice while adding teaspoon by teaspoon of hot water until the mixture is creamy, but not runny. Mix vigorously for a couple of minutes. The sugar should be lemony.

With a hot wet large knife quickly spread the icing over the apricot layer.

DECORATION

Before starting with the icing have the chocolate ready since it needs to go onto the soft icing in order to get the web.

Melt the chocolate with a teaspoon of oil, place in a pipping bag, or a  plastic bag with a cut in the corner that will act as the tip.

Draw four (4) concentric circles onto the cake, then with a knife (not the sharp side) or a wooden skewer run six (6) lines at 30 degree angle to the cake to get the decoration (see pictures for more details). Each line should be in a different direction. One running away from you and the next one running to you.

Press the slivered almonds around the cake to complete the decoration.

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Mastering Macarons

Macarons have become a fashion item, the new fad, much like the cupcake before them. And really, its easy to see why: with their sleek shiny shells and contrasting feet, filled with enticing glossy ganache, their versatility and chicness makes them akin to a well proportioned dome atop a cathedral or as simple as a smooth pebble on a beach. Deceptively simple in appearance, these devil cookies have thrown my kitchen into hell and tormented my family to the point that ‘macaron’ is a swear word in my house and I have taken to my experiments only when everyone else is out, giving me time to compose my self after any particularly trying batches.

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Now, I have perfected italian meringue buttercream,become a connoisseur of caramel and even piped a Valentine box out of royal icing, therefore when I first decided to tackle macaroons, I expected a batch of the most marvellous macarons i have ever seen. Not the case; failure, time and time again. too runny, too flat, no feet, cracked shell, too brown, too high or too dull. I tried recipe after recipe, read troubleshooting, aged egg whites, shifted almonds, Youtubed macaronage and babied my oven. Again and again, i was not satisfied. Macarons were my downfall it seemed.

I could not and would not let a cookie, a little blob of egg whites and almond, defeat me. So this morning i took to the kitchen again. I had a bowl of egg white that had been in the fridge for 2 days, so sufficiently aged. With a silent prayer to the macaron gods, I dived in, for what i swore would be the final time. Unless i failed….

Recipe
100g egg whites (aged for 2 days)
60g caster sugar
110g almond meal
200g icing sugar

Combine icing sugar and almond meal in a food processor, then sift into a bowl. Beat the egg whites, starting to add the sugar when they are foaming into soft peaks. Beat until stiff (I always used the trusty bowl over the head trick). add half the dry mix to the meringue and fold and ‘macaronage’ until combined. Add the other half and repeat. Be gentle but make sure everything is incorporated and shiny without bubbles. Pipe the mix onto doubled baking sheets lined with greased baking paper. allow to sit for 20-40 minutes. Bake in the oven at 140˚ for 13 minutes or until they come off the paper cleanly. allow to cool and sandwich with your choice of ganache or buttercream. I used a dark chocolate coffee ganache and a white chocolate orange ganache.IMG_7525

If they turn out well, enjoy the food porn, because really, a macaron that doesn’t look like a masterpiece of baking, is not really doing its job.

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