Remember when I used to make macarons? I haven’t made them in AGES. In fact, the last batch that I made were the ones pictured above and that was literally a year ago. I’ve spent the past year with the intention of writing a post about these macarons but I never got around to it which drove me crazy since I totally love this photo. This year has been pretty crazy. From finishing up business school applications, weekends in Evanston for school-related things, quitting my job, my super busy summer of fun-employment to starting school, there hasn’t always been time for macaron-making or blogging. Scratch that, I haven’t really made that much time for macaron-making or blogging.
These macarons are easily my favourite. Pierre Herme has this flavour he calls Ispahan. It’s a combination of lychee, rose, and raspberry – it is divine. The cool thing is that he uses the same flavour profile across many different desserts so in addition to having Ispahan macarons you can usually find various cakes, croissants and dessert concoctions. I’ll include the recipe at the end of this post. It’s labour-intensive but really fabulous.
If the way the past year (or the past 5 months) has unfolded, next year promises to be great. Like capital G and T GreaT. There may not be a lot of time to make macarons; but it will be great. I’ve already had my planning meeting with the accountability team (yes, I have one) and have come up with next year’s theme: The Year of More. Interpret it as you may but it’s not really about self-indulgence.
Every year on this blog I set food-related goals. This year was so busy I recently realized that I hadn’t even thought about my food goals. Here’s a quick summary of how last year shaped up:
Capture my own food – I had visions of going fishing/hunting this summer but that didn’t materialize. Still on my list of things to do in life.
Find new ways to combine food and travel – I actually did this! While in Paris I took a cooking class where I made croissants, brioche and a few other gems.
Play with food styling – I’ve definitely dabbled in styling a bit but because I haven’t been blogging as much it hasn’t been that consistent. I actually have yet to setup my “photo studio” in Evanston.
Experiment with seafood – Mussels are definitely a part of my cooking routine but I haven’t branched out much more. I actually need to find a good (and not crazy expensive) fishmonger in Evanston/Chicago.
Can more – So I didn’t buy a pressure canner but I did do quite a bit of preserving this summer.
Butcher a thing or two – Didn’t happen. But it will.
As for this year, I’ll keep my goals modest and achievable. Here are a few:
Butcher something – Yup, this one is going back on the list. Will have to see what classes are available in Chicago.
Eat out more – Living in Evanston and being in an academically and socially intense program makes it hard to prioritize just going out in the city and having grown up civilized dinners at cool spots. Going to make that happen at least once a month.
Explore the Midwest – There are a lot of interesting things happening food-wise in the midwest and I’d like to take a closer look. Definitely need to have a roadtrip or two to some of the neighbouring states.
Make food a priority – I still cook a lot but I’ve also been finding myself getting take out a fair bit too. Plus with my schedule (and not always knowing where to go for certain ingredients) means that I’ve slacked off in terms of doing more elaborate cooking projects like making charcuterie. Let me get back on that for 2013.
Explore more cuisines – I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a rut in terms of cooking mostly familiar things. This means that I rarely crack open some of my more interesting cookbooks. I would love to explore a bit more with some of my Thai and Moroccan cookbooks.
Re-build my home “studio” – When I lived in Toronto I managed to create a pretty sweet indoor lighting setup to simulate daylight. I didn’t bring it with me to Evanston which is also a reason why I haven’t been doing that much food photography these days. My goal is to get a new and even better setup going within a few weeks.
I feel like these goals are pretty achievable and should be fun to work towards! As a parting gift, here’s the recipe for the macarons mentioned above.
Happy New Year!
Ispahan Macaron (from “Macarons” by Pierre Hermé)
makes about 72 macarons
For the raspberry jelly:
35g caster sugar
2 leaves of gelatine (2g each)
For the macaron shells:
300g ground almonds
300g icing sugar
110g ‘liquefied’ egg whites
4g strawberry food coloring
4g carmine red food coloring
300g caster sugar
75g mineral water
110g ‘liquefied’ egg whites
For the lychee and rose ganache:
410g Valrhona Ivoire couverture or white chocolate
400g lychees (preserved in syrup)
60g liquid crème fraîche or whipping cream (35% fat)
3g rose essence
Edible ruby glitter
Start by preparing the raspberry jelly. Soak the gelatine leaves for 15 minutes in cold water to soften.
Using a hand blender, blend the raspberries and sugar to a purée. Strain the purée to remove the pips. Heat a quarter of the purée to 45°C. Drain and dry the gelatine and add to the hot purée. Stir and add the rest of the raspberry purée.
Pour it into a gratin dish lined with clingfilm up to a depth of 4mm. Allow to cool for 1 hour at room temperature then put the dish in the freezer for 2 hours. Turn out the jelly and cut it into 1.5cm squares. Return the jelly squares to the freezer.
For the shells. Sift together the icing sugar and ground almonds. Stir the food coloring into the first portion of liquefied egg whites and pour them over the mixture of icing sugar and ground almonds but do not stir.
Bring the water and sugar to boil at 118°C. When the syrup reaches 115°C, simultaneously start whisking the second portion of liquefied egg whites to soft peaks.
When the sugar reaches 118°C, pour it over the egg whites (while continuously beating on low speed).
Whisk and allow the meringue to cool down to 50°C, then fold it into the almond-icing sugar mixture. (The batter is ready when it becomes glossy and start to resemble a thick pancake batter.) Spoon the batter into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.
Pipe rounds of batter about 3.5 cm in diameter, spacing them 2 cm apart on baking trays lined with baking parchment. Rap the baking trays on the work surface covered with a kitchen cloth. Sprinkle every other row with pinches of color sugar or ruby glitter. Leave the shells to stand for at least 30 minutes until they form a skin.
Preheat the fan oven to 180°C then put the trays in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes quickly opening and shutting the oven door twice during the cooking time. (Once at the 8 minute mark and once at the 10 minute mark.) Out of the oven, slide the shells on to the work surface.
For the lychee and rose ganache. Drain the lychees. Blend then strain them to obtain a fine purée. You will need 240g purée. Chop up the chocolate and melt it in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.
Bring the cream and lychee purée to the boil. Pour it over the melted chocolate a third at a time. Add the rose essence and stir.
Pour the ganache into a gratin dish and press clingfilm over the surface of the ganache. Set aside in the fridge for the ganache to thicken.
Spoon the ganache into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Pipe a mound of ganache on to half the shells. Lightly press a square of frozen jelly into the center and finish with a dot of ganache. Top with the remaining shells.
Allow the macarons 24 hours in the fridge for the flavors to meld and bring back out at the point of serving.
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