Spring….

 

It is officially SPRING TIME!!!! I am so happy about it that I need to say it out loud.

Somehow I feel like I don’t have enough words to say how much I love spring and the  warm weather and the blue sky and the sun and the birds singing and the happy faces that you see everywhere ….and my list can continue forever.

and what is better than creme caramel to celebrate such a great season? …my answer is nothing. You would think creme caramel is sugary, has a smooth texture and it would match better the winter, but for me is smooth, it has the caramelized sugar competing with the delicate texture, is just like spring sometimes sunny but trying to fight the morning chill, full of contrast but yet so great.

To make the creme caramel I used the recipe of Julia Child (with a little twist), I am still gathering some courage to try her coq au vin or her boeuf bourguignon.

crème renversée au caramel 

serves 4-6 people

 

caramel

110 grams sugar

60 ml water

custard

480 ml  milk (I used 200 ml heavy cream and 280 ml milk)

150 grams sugar

2 eggs

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine ½ cup sugar with ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until the syrup turns a light caramel color. Remove the saucepan from the heat and dip the bottom into cold water to stop the cooking. Pour the caramel into a 4-cup charlotte mold, and tilt so that it covers the bottoms and sides. Let cool.

In a small saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla to a boil. In a heat-proof bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolks and cup sugar until blended. Whisking constantly, pour the hot milk into the egg mixture; let rest for a few minutes, then strain. Pour the custard into the caramel-coated mold.

Put the mold in a small but deep baking or roasting pan, and add hot water to come about two-thirds up the sides of the mold. Place the pan on the stove over medium heat, and bring the water to a simmer. Transfer the pan to the oven. (The water should stay at a low simmer at all times; do not let it boil or the custard will over cook.) Bake until a knife inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Keep the custard in the baking pan until the water cools. Remove from the pan to finish cooling. To serve, run the tip of a knife around the top of the custard to loosen it. Invert a serving platter over the mold and quickly turn it over again. Carefully remove the mold.

Source : NY Times

Cheesecake macarons

I told you about my macaron obsession, once I started making them somehow I couldn’t stop. For the New Year Eve’s dinner I was the one that had to take care of the dessert – not a particularly tough request, since I am always looking for a ocassion to try new cake recipes.

And of course this made the perfect occasion to try a new type of macarons – cheesecake macarons.

I tried cheesecake macarons before in Paris, at Christophe Roussel’s shop and I loved them, they were fresh and amazingly delicious. So here is my attempt to re-create those macarons. Even though they were quite tasty, I have to re-make them few more times until I get the perfect cheesecake macaron :-).

cheesecake macarons

yields 24  macarons

120 g almond meal

200 g powdered sugar

100 g egg whites

30 g granulated sugar

food coloring gel

The directions on how to make the macarons can be found here

cheesecake filling

250 grams cream cheese (Philadelphia or any other cream cheese would do)

2 tablespoons whipping cream

3-5 tablespoons lemon curd

lemon rind

vanilla

Whip the cream cheese and the whipping cream together, until fluffy and homogeneous and then add the vanilla. Gently add the lemon curd and a bit of lemon rind.

Use a piping bag or spoon to fill the macarons with the cheesecake filling. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Merry Christmas & Macarons !!!

Merry Christmas!!

Finally that time of the year came again. Despite being busy, rushing around to do so many things like this is the end of the world and not only the end of the year, I like Christmas time so much. It is the time to be together with the family, to enjoy a bit of peace and quietness and eat a lot of food. Well, that last part is great, I can get to cook whatever, without looking like I am insane. And for this special time, I wanted to try something a bit more challenging and different – THE MACARONS.

A while ago, I mentioned the fabulous macarons that I tried in Paris and since then  I’ve been gathering some courage to try reproduce them at home. Meanwhile, I read gazillion recipes, learned all kind of secrets about the perfect way of making the fearful macarons. The macarons are supposed to be very, very finicky little beasts :-) .  I read that you can get disastrous results if you breathe around them, if the day is too humid, if the chicken was stress or tired when it made those eggs that you are going to use, if the almonds did not get enough sun, if your kitchen is not following the feng shui concepts and so on.

Well, they are not as difficult to make as the rumor has it. I made them once, I danced and sung in my kitchen like a fool for an hour, guess my neighbours still think I am insane. Hallelujah, I made it!!

I thought it was just a coincidence, a little mistake, beginners luck. Well, second time they worked again, third time I though…oh well, these things are not that difficult to tame. I am not sure this is a good thing or a bad thing, cause since I then I can’t stop making them, just to make sure various flavours work together  :).

And here is the recipe that I followed each time and worked like a charm…each time.

macarons

yields 12  macarons

60 g almond meal

100 g powdered sugar

50 g egg whites

15 g granulated sugar

food coloring gel

Start by lining the baking trays with baking paper. Make sure the paper is properly attached to baking tray so it doesn’t move around when you start piping the macarons. Meanwhile prepare a piping bag with a round tip or simply a plastic sandwich bag by cutting off one of the corners.

To prepare the macaron batter: weigh the almond meal and the powdered sugar. I usually place them in the food processor and blend them for a bit, to make sure they are very fine. Stiff the almond/sugar mixture in a dry bowl.

Weigh the egg whites in a dry mixing bowl (glass or copper work fine for me) . Beat the eggs on low-speed until form soft peaks. Sprinkle the granulated sugar and beat until the meringue forms stiff peaks and the sugar is dissolved.

Add the food colouring (if using any) and mix. Fold 1/4 of the egg white into the almond/sugar mixture until well combined. Add 1/2 of the remaining egg white and fold in gently. Add the remaining egg whites and fold again gently until the batter has a lava-like consistency (well, it means it is not very runny but rather viscous).  First time I tried making the macarons I started counting the strokes – the rule says you should not fold for more than 50 times. I think I had to stop counting around 40, when the batter gained a consistency that seemed right to me. No clue if that was the right time, however the macarons turned out fine :-).

Pour the batter into the piping bag and pipe circles of batter on the baking paper, leaving a bit of space in between them, to make sure they won’t stick to each other during drying and baking.

Let them dry out for 30 minutes – 1 hour.

Bake at 140 C for about 20-30 minutes or until the shells are dry and baked.

pistachio -white chocolate ganache

150 ml whipping cream

70 gr white chocolate

70 gr pistachio finely grounded

Boil the heavy cream and add the grounded pistachios and let them infuse for 30 minutes or so. Re-heat the mixture and add it over the chopped chocolate. When the chocolate melted, mix to make sure the mixture is homogenous. Let cool down. Whisk the mixture until it reaches a solid consistency.

Happy macaroning :-) !!