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 ūüôā .¬† 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 Рthe 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 ūüôā !!

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Pistachio panna cotta with red berries gelee

Whenever I crave something sweet, delicate and light, the first this that comes in mind is panna cotta.

This little cooked wonder is so light and easy to make …and so forgetful with the muffin top.

Luckily, you can make it such, that it will not show forever on your hips or belly or any other body parts where good food tends to localize. To make it even lighter, just replace the full fat cream with some light version, instead of sugar use some stevia or any other sweetner.

So, to summarize it, it is a great summer sweet. Well, its italian roots already recommends it as a great dessert.

It consists of simple, basic ingredients – cream, milk, gelatine, sugar and vanilla. Most importantly, making it doesn’t require too much technique nor work.

panna cotta with pistachio and red berries gelee

red berries gelee

300 grams red berries (strawberries, raspberries, red currants)

6 tablespoons water

5 tablespoons sugar

2 gelatine sheets

vanilla

Pre-soak the gelatine in cold water for 10 minutes. In a pot bring the red berries, water, sugar and vanilla to a boil. Remove the pot from the fire and mix in the gelatine. Set the mixture cool down and then pour it gently in the serving bowls or glasses making sure there are not too many air bubbles into the gelee. Place the bowls into the fridge to set, for about an hour.

pistachio panna cotta

500 ml whipping cream

100 ml milk

100 grams finely ground pistachio nuts

4 tablespoons sugar

8 grams gelatine (about 6 sheets of gelatine)

vanilla

Pre-soak the gelatine in cold water for 10 minutes. In a pan,bring the whipping cream, the milk, sugar and vanilla to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, add the pistachio and the softened gelatine and stir well, making sure that the mixture is homogenous. Let them infuse  for 10-20 minutes. Before pouring the panna cotta into the serving bowl, you can strain the mixture, to insure a smoother consistency. Pour the mixture into the serving bowls on top of the set fruit gelee and place into the fridge to set for about an hour.

 Serve the panna cotta with fresh fruits (red currants, passion fruit, strawberries, etc. ).