Lemon, lavender & pine nut tart.

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I love lemon. I love lemon curd and lemon tarts.  I especially love these things made from Meyer lemons.  Last year I made a lemon lavender ice cream and I really liked the combination of flavors.  I haven’t pulled the ice cream maker out of the closet yet because although spring is definitely here now, it’s still cold and rainy most days.  I read an Epicurious recipe for a sabayon style lemon tart and the best part was the crust was made with pine nuts!  As I read through the comments someone had added lavender and rosemary to the crust….I knew that I had to try both but individually.  Lavender first.  I will make one with rosemary soon but I think I will use a different nut in the crust or use a flour crust recipe as pine nuts are really expensive right now.  I will caution you that the recipe in the link makes enought crust for three (3?!) tarts.  I did math and reduced it to one crust although the egg was a problem.  What I did was beat the egg, weigh it and divide by three.

Unfortunately I just realized that I didn’t take enough pictures and I don’t think I have any of the finished tart and it’s long gone now…. sorry!

Crust

  • 3.3 oz pine nuts
  • .8 oz sugar (probably a Tablespoon)
  • 5.3 oz flour
  • 2.7 oz butter
  • 1/3 beaten egg by weight
  • 1 tsp lavender

Grind the pine nuts in a food processor, add the sugar, flour and lavender and pulse until finely ground and combined.  Put in a bowl and add the butter and egg and mix together into a dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 mins.

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a tart pan with removable bottom.  I don’t have one so I used a cheesecake pan with removable bottom.  Next time I will use a tart pan.  Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes, rotate and bake another 10-15 minutes until crust is golden. Remove and let cool.

Lemon Sabayon 

  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 2 egg yolks, cold
  • 4 oz sugar (you can add more if you like it extra sweet)
  • 4 oz fresh lemon juice (I used Meyer)
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3 oz cold unsalted butter cut into 6 pieces

You will need a bowl that will fit over a pot of water without the water touching the bottom of the bowl.  Bring the water to a boil.  Meanwhile whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar in the bowl until the sugar is dissolved (about 1 minute).

Set the bowl over the pot and whisk the mixture while turning the bowl. (I used an electric mixer) When the eggs are foamy and have thinckened add 1/3 of the lemon juice.  Keep whisking until mixture thickens again and add another 1/3, whisk again until mix thickens and add the final 1/3 and the zest.  Continue whisking until the mixture lightens and the mix leaves a ribbon on itself.

Turn off the heat leaving the bowl over the water. Whisk in the butter, one piece at a time. The sabayon may loosen but will thicken and set as it cools.  Pour it into the tart crust and place on a baking sheet.

Lemony goodness!

Place the tart under the broiler and brown the top.  Be careful it browns very quickly!  Let sit for an hour before serving.  Can be served at room tempurature or cold.  My tart didn’t seem to set as well as I would have liked. I’m used to using a lemon curd type of filling for tarte so this seemed a bit loose.  The flavor was wonderful though, very tart and the lavender was subtle and not overpowering. The pine nuts were almost an aftertaste and an enjoyable one at that.  I can’t wait to try rosemary in the crust but I think I will go back to my usual lemon tart filling.

Date Walnut Dacquoise

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I’ve been wanting to make this cake for awhile and decided I would make it for the Aspiring Bakers #18 Layers of Love challenge hosted by Sam over at Sweet Samsations.  She has such an inspiring blog with wonderful recipes and gorgeous pictures of said recipes!   The challenge is for a layer cake that must have at least three layers.  Cake is not my favorite dessert, I do enjoy it every so often but I haven’t baked one in a long time.  What to do?  I want to join the challenge but I don’t want to bake a traditional flour cake with overly sweet frosting.  Hmmmmm……

I recently found a Williams Sonoma cake book at a thrift store.  I can’t remember which recipe caught my eye, but all of them were classic recipes and I needed a good cake book to add to my collection. This is where the original idea for this dacquoise came from.  What is dacquoise?  It is usually almond or hazelnut meringue “cake” layered traditionally with buttercream or whipped cream.  This recipe called for toasted walnuts!  Why not?  I also didn’t want to use buttercream because again, I don’t really like it.  I can usually taste too much of the butter.

Then I remembered the caramel marscapone frosting I made for the Pierre Hermes Apricot Lime Financier Cake.  That was not too sweet, had a little burnt sugar taste and would go well with toasted walnuts.  As I was making it the thought of dates went through my head, their sweetness, the deep subtle flavor they would add,  why not?

The Recipe adapted from the Williams Sonoma Cakes, Cupcakes & Cheesecakes book.

  • 75 g plus 60 g walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 180 g sugar
  • 1 Tb cornstarch
  • 3 large egg whites (room tempurature)
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • about 1/4 cup chopped dates (I didn’t measure sorry)
  • Caramel marscapone frosting (find the Pierre Hermes recipe here)

Toast the walnuts in a 350 oven for about 10 minutes, and put 75 g in a food processor with 60 g of the sugar and the cornstarch. Process to a fine grind.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw three 8 inch circles onto the parchment in pencil. One 8 inch circle on one sheet and two on the other.  Make sure to turn the parchment over so the circles are visible but so you won’t get pencil transfered onto your meringue.  Preheat the oven to 250.  Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixer and mix on med until soft peak form.  Add in the remaining 120 g of sugar and continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form.  Gently fold in the nut mixture. Divide the mixture onto the three circles. (you can pipe the circles if you want). Bake for 1 hour 20 mins until crisp and golden. Let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, remove from parchment and then let cool on racks.

Meanwhile I made the caramel marscapone frosting.  This cake has to sit in the refrigerator overnight to let the meringues soften and my cake plate is too large to fit in the refrigerator with everything else in there.  I decided to cover a piece of cardboard with aluminum foil and transfer the cake to the fancy plate in the morning.  Bad idea, the cake stuck to the foil….because I put some frosting on the foil to anchor the meringue.

Frost the first meringue and sprinkle with the chopped dates. There’s no correct amount to use, whatever your taste likes.  I thought the amount I used was perfect, it added an unrecogniseable flavor that was not overpowering or oversweet.

Dates!

Put the next meringue layer over this and frost, sprinkle this layer with some chopped, toasted walnuts.

Add the final meringue and frost the top and sides.  Press chopped walnuts on the sides of the cake and decorate with walnut halves on the top.  Cover and refrigeratove overnight.  Bring to room tempurature before serving.

The taste and texture are wonderful. It has a smooth creamyness with just a little crunch.  The carmel marscapone frosting has a slight bitter edge which is offset nicely by the sweetness of the dates and the toasted walnut flavor tops it off perfectly.

The foil not only made the cake stick to it, it also ripped and stuck to the piece I cut. I hope this qualifies as a layer cake!  If I find the time and, more importantly, the inspiration, I will try a completely different, more traditional layer cake and submit that as well.

Diets and cake…a cautionary tale…or why my cake fell flat!

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So……….I’ve been dieting. UGH.  All my life I’ve been able to eat whatever, and yes I am aware that I’ve been lucky that way. I’m not a skinny person by any means, just regular. But lately…well I’ll put this in the order I believe it should be in….1. I haven’t really exercised in about 3 years and 2. I’m getting older.  And I don’t like it.  About 3 years ago I stopped taking Tae Kwan Do or going to the gym, or going hiking and kinda stuck around home more….and possibly started baking more.  My sister thinks the weight gain is mostly due to age but I’m fighting against that.  So I’ve gained about 20 pounds if I’m being honest.  The first 10 were no big deal, this last 10 however are another story altogether!!!  I can see them! I can feel them in my clothes!  So diet it is.  Here is the problem, it’s not easy to change years of eating habits! I don’t eat badly, just probably too much for my current metabolism.  So I went low carb.  Thinking that way I can still eat sweets on the weekends!  Low carb all week, dessert on weekends. Logical eh?  A friend gave me fresh eggs from his chickens and pheasants. I can eat all I want of eggs on this damned diet.

Farm fresh eggs

Except after about a week and a half on this damned diet nothing seemed to be coming off.  I’m not going to starve myself (hardly) if it doesn’t even work.  Last night was my breaking point.  I found a recipe for Kasutera Cake (a Japanese sponge cake) and decided what the hell, it’s a small recipe, it’s not too sweet, I have matcha powder and it uses eggs!  I can eat eggs….green tea cake it is!

Lovely tea fragrance

Jason only chuckled, diet over already?  Well, no, just a break.  Besides a light, not too sweet little tea scented cake couldn’t really hurt that much right?

There are many Kasutera also known as Castella, recipes out there. I chose this one because I thought it would be small enough that I wouldn’t completely blow the damned diet.  You can make it in many flavors and  Matcha is a green tea powder that can be used to flavor many things including ice cream, cake etc.

Matcha Kasutera

  • 2 Tb milk
  • 2 Tb honey
  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1 Tb matcha
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 c sugar

Prepare a small 9 inch rectangular pan with parchment paper.  Combine the honey and the milk and warm it up. Sift together the flour & matcha powder in a bowl and set aside.  Whisk the eggs and slowly add the sugar, place this bowl over a simmering pot of water, (very low simmer) and continue to whisk (I used a hand mixer.) The mixture will grow in size, get thick and get very light colored, it takes at least 10 minutes.

The egg mix at the start.

You want to reach a point where the mixture is very thick and reaches what is called the “ribbon stage”. See the picture below, when you take the whips out, the mixture will form what look like ribbons on top and slowly melt back into the rest of the mixture.  If you’ve ever made Zabaglione, this is the stage you are looking for.

Ribbon stage

So far so good, right?  It sure seems to be going great.  Stir in the milk/honey mixture and preheat the oven to 360 F.  Sift the flour/matcha into the batter and fold with a spatula, you want to fold gently so that you keep the light fluffiness of the egg mixture. Pour the batter into the pan and tap lightly on the counter to get any big air bubbles out.  Bake for 10 minutes at 360 then reduce the temperature to 300 and bake a further 40 minutes.  If a toothpick inserted comes out clean, it’s done! Then remove from pan, cool and blah blah blah.

My cake was doing fine, it had risen and looked good.  When I checked it about 20 minutes after I had lowered the tempurature….disaster!  The middle had collapsed!  What in the world?  I started racking my brain, did I beat it too much/hard?  Oh I added food coloring paste at the end and it may not have blended that well, was that it?  Ugh, this is what happens when your stomach has no carbs and takes over in a panic demanding cake.  I did an internet search with the query “Why did my sponge cake collapse?”  The very first hint made me realize my mistake….I had opened the oven door when I reduced the tempurate, thinking that would help get rid of some of the heat.  WRONG MOVE.  I guess sending in a rush of cold air causes sponge cakes to collapse, unless it’s more than 3/4 of the way done.  I’ll never make that mistake again.  The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.  This may be an elementary mistake to all you sponge cake makers but I’ve never been a big fan of cake until I discovered sponge cakes.  When I was little we mostly had box cakes, or bought cakes with waaaaay too much super sweet frosting.  Here’s another example of one more thing I will conquer!  My next attempt will be a Pandan Chiffon cake, similar I believe to a sponge. So… I definitely won’t be opening the oven door.

Poor cake.

We let it cool a little bit and then cut a piece.  It tasted delicious with crispy edges.  Jason loved it and kept eating.  I told him I knew how to replicate this exact cake now!  I’ll just never be taking it anywhere!   Oh and when I got on the scale this morning I had lost two pounds!  It’s working!!!!!

What’s up Wasabi?!

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I’ve been dreaming (fantasizing?) about the Pierre Hermes wasabi macarons.  You know a funny thing?  All my obsession with Pierre Hermes and I’ve never even tasted his pastries?!  It’s all on reputation…in fact, it’s all on the Ispahan flavor combination.  He makes a rather well-known macaron called the Ispahan which uses rosewater, lychee and rasperries.  You can see my attempt to re-create them here.   When I heard he had a macaron with wasabi my tastebuds almost jumped out of my head!  I had to find the recipe and try them.  Well I found it (1) on Zen Can Cook. Of course it calls for something exotic, Yuzu juice, what is that anyway?

Yuzu

I am going to submit these to Aspiring Bakers #17 March Macaron Madness (March 2012). I can’t wait to see other submissions!Another variety of citrus?  I must find it.  Well that is easier said than done. I went to a local gigantic Asian market and…nothing, no one knew what I was talking about.  Hmmm.  there is another bigger Asian market in downtown Seattle but I wasn’t going to go there today.  The recipe said you could substitute lime.  That’s what I substituted in the last Hermes recipe I made! That time it called for Buddha Hand citrus.  What’s with all the exotic citrus that can be substituted by a lowly lime?!   On to the recipe, oh and fair warning it takes at least two days unless you have candied grapefruit on hand.

I try not to make a full recipe unless I know I like something and I’ve found with some of these recipes that have been converted from commercial scale that they make too much.  So this is a half recipe that follows and I used my own favorite macaron recipe instead of making the Italian merengue that the Hermes recipe called for.  I’ve never made them that way and it just seems overly complicated.

Candied grapefruit

  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1/2 liter of water
  • 235 g of sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 5 peppercorns (it called for Sarawak, I used Tellicherry, I’m sure any black peppercorn would work)
  • Oh and 2 Tb of lemon juice which I, of course, forgot.

You will need the peel of the grapefruit sliced into about 1 inch wide pieces including some of the fruit.  Usually you only use the peel.  Put in a saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.  Drain, rinse in cold water,  cover with water, bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes,  repeat 2 more times.  If you taste the peel along the way it will go from unbearably bitter to much milder.

When you’re done with that part put the 1/2 liter of water, the sugar and the spice (oh and lemon juice, don’t forget that!) in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Once it’s boiling add the peels and low simmer with the lid propped open for 1 & 1/2 hours. You will know they’re done when they look translucent. Let them sit in the syrup overnight.  In the morning take them out of the syrup and let them dry on a wire rack.  I used the syrup on pancakes with yogurt, quite yum!

To use in the macaron, slice the peels into small chunks.

They look like little jewels.

If you have any leftover you can store them in the syrup for about 3 weeks, or cover them in sugar and they keep for about 3 days, or dip in chocolate and eat!Now we make macarons.  Use whatever recipe you usually use.  Bravetart has a great recipe and lots of tips on how to make them come out right.  For this macaron you need to grind up some pistachios and sprinkle on top of the macarons before baking.

Pierre Hermes uses titanium oxide to make his macarons white! Very strange, if you look it up on Wikipedia it’s used for many things including sunscreen and making the white lines on tennis courts. Not sure if I want that in my food and I didn’t have any of it anyway. I decided not to add any food coloring and leave these natural.   Now for the wasabi part!  Again, I didn’t make a full recipe only half and it was more than enough for the amount of macarons I made, probably about 60 finished (2 pieces per macaron).  I can’t really count them since we didn’t track how many we ate along the way!  Ugg, if I’m honest, we probably ate about 20.

White Chocolate, Wasabi, Lime Ganache

  • 187 g white chocolate
  • 150 g heavy cream
  • 20-25 g lime juice
  • 10 g wasabi (I was hoping for fresh but couldn’t find it. I’ve heard the stuff you get in tubes isn’t even real wasabi but who knows!)

Make the ganache by melting the white chocolate over a simmering pan of water (bain marie), heat the cream in a pan to a near simmer, warm the lime juice in the microwave. Once the white chocolate is melted add in half the cream and stir well, then add in the other half and the lime juice, stir some more. Add in the wasabi and make sure it’s really well combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to cool.

My macaron shells did not turn out as well as other times, I think I may have overmixed just a bit.  You learn each time.   Now it’s time to assemble the macarons!  I put a layer of the ganache and about 4 chunks of the candied grapefruit between two of the macarons and tasted….what a strange, exotic, almost exciting combination!  You are hit with the wasabi first but it’s not enough to burn or anything, then comes the citrus and the chewy crisp of the macaron!  Jason says he likes these the best of all I’ve made.  I liked these but my favorite is still the rosewater lychee.

I think I will try one more wasabi flavored dessert….chocolate, wasabi, ginger cake!   We’ll see.

Financier with Apricots and Lime

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This is first of many (I hope) of the recipes from the Pierre Hermes book “Pastries”  I gave Jason first choice and this was it. I never know if he picks for the pictures or the ingredients?  Anyway it was a great choice.

The recipe calls for using Hand of Buddha a fairly obscure citrus fruit. Luckily I have seen it twice so I knew what was being referenced.  I saw it once in Los Angeles and once in Seattle.  Both times in fairly upscale supermarkets.  I remember the fragrance as just catching my nose. That’s the only reason I even looked at the fruit as it’s kind of ugly and I probably wouldn’t have looked twice.  But that fragrance…..I had to track it down.  The fruit looks like this…

From what I could find online it is used for it’s zest and to fragrance a room and it will grow indoors. Hmmmm I could totally see myself having a whole grove of different citrus inside, Meyer Lemons, Hand of Buddha, Pink Grapefruit… The book said you could substitute lime instead (thank you for that!)

Caramel Mousse (see the custard recipe below, you could halve this recipe)

  • 135 g heavy cream
  • 50 g light corn syrup
  • 85 g superfine granulated sugar
  • 15 g unsalted butter

In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil then remove from heat.  Combine the corn syrup and sugar in another saucepan and heat until it turns amber.  (Be careful, once it starts to darken, it happens very quickly and can burn). Remove from heat, add the butter and mix well. Pour the cream into the caramel & cook, set aside to cool.

Starting the boil

Add the hot cream

Caramel Marscapone Custard  (this made way too much, you could halve this)

  • 1 gelatin sheet (I only had powdered so used about 1 tsp)
  • 140 g heavy cream
  • 150 g caramel mousse (from above)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 280 g marscapone cheese

Soak the gelatin in cold water for 20 mins.  Combine the mousse with the egg yolks. In a separate saucepan boil the cream and then whisk it in into the mousse. Put back on the heat until it reaches 185 degrees.  Drain the gelatin of excess water if there is any (Oh I used 2 tsp water to the 1 tsp of gelatin) and add it to the mixture. Blend with a hand blender and cool in the refrigerator for 4 hours. No I haven’t forgotten the marscapone, that comes later….

Egg yolks!

Citron Flavored Dough

  • 115 g unsalted butter
  • 20 g ground hazelnuts
  • 150 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 50 g all purpose flour
  • 60 g ground almonds
  • 5 g lime zest
  • 140 g egg whites (5)

Apricot filling

  • 600 g halved apricots (I had to used canned, which I drained)
  • 100 g chopped almonds
  • 5 g simple syrup (I just used the syrup the apricots came in)
  • 20 g superfine granulated sugar

Melt the butter on low heat and remove when it turns a nutty brown color. Strain it and let it cool.  Toast the ground nuts, be careful they will burn quickly, at 350.  The recipe said to butter a flan ring. I don’t have one so I just used a cheesecake springform pan, I put parchment on the bottom and buttered the sides.

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix together the confectioner sugar, flour, ground nuts and grated citrus zest.  Incorporate the egg whites and the browned butter and mix until smooth.  Pour the batter into the pan.  Place the apricot halves on top. Mix the chopped almonds with the syrup & sugar and then sprinkle over the  top. Bake for 40 minutes.

Remove the caramel custard from the fridge and beat in with the marscapone. (I never use marscapone because I can’t find it easily. So I use a combination of cream cheese, sour cream and a splash of heavy cream.)  Fill a piping bag and pipe the marscapone caramel cream onto the top of the apricots.  Decorate with chips of caramel. Melt sugar over med heat until golden and then pour onto a silpat covered backing sheet. Let cool and break up.

I can’t wait to try another recipe!

So yummy

Sharing on V-Day

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What I have learned so far about the blogging world is that people are extremely generous with their recipes and advice.  So in honor of Valentine’s Day and to spread love everywhere I can I am posting a wonderful strawberry cheesecake that was kindly shared by Donna over at Sugared Pecan (You will go directly to the recipe from that link and her great blog).  Oh and did I mention that this has a pretzel crust?!  That idea was genius Donna.

Not only did I make this for me and my sweetie to enjoy but I have a friend at work who’s birthday is on Valentine’s day so the slice that is missing in my picture is hers!

Oh what a fabulous cheesecake!

I followed the directions exactly (rare for me!) except…..I had to leave before it was done so I set the oven to shut off automatically. Poor planning on my part but I wanted it to be done for Valentine’s Day. Anyway, it sat in the still warm oven for probably 1/2 hour or so before I could remove it.  It didn’t affect the taste at all, just the appearance.  As you can see the strawberry hearts sunk a bit.  Go look at her pictures for perfection!   My mother recently emailed my grandmother’s cheesecake recipe to me,  I haven’t had it in years, so I will have to make it soon and compare it to this one.  This one is amazing so…..Actually it will probably be awhile before I make grandma’s as cheesecake is so rich.

A bitter-sweet trip to Paris

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My sister lived in Paris not so long ago. 2001 to be exact. We (me, my ex and his daughter) went to visit her and we arrived on 9/10. The next morning she burst into the room as we slept, jet lagged and yelled something about terrorists attacking New York. She had been walking past a bar and saw a plane go into one of the twin towers. She thought it was a movie until she kept seeing it on the tv screens of restaurant, after bar, after restaurant and realized it was real. It was such a strange trip. Wonderful to see her, wonderful to be in Paris and surreal to see the images of 9/11 from such distance and from a foreign point of view. I don’t think I’ve ever truly grapsed what went on at home, what those initial nationwide feelings were. We got the European view. We went to a vigil in France where people were sad and supportive of America. Things changed later. If you live in the US you probably remember the attempt to use “Freedom Fries” instead of “French Fries”. I don’t think the US will ever be the same as it was before that day.

But this story has a sweet side too. Paris was where I discovered Macarons!  Not macaroons the equally delicious coconut cookie. There’s a bakery by my mothers that makes those amazing coconut macaroons, someday I will have to try to figure out what their secret is. But today is not that day.

Parisian Macarons

I’m sure you may have noticed them at a bakery near you lately? There seems to be an awareness of them recently. If you have not tried one you really must. They are crisp and yet chewy, sweet and filled with a creamy center usually. An exotic, elegant Oreo if you will.  I adore them. I also had forgotten about them since that trip. Until I saw a book while browsing my local Half Priced Books.  There in front of me was a glorious reminder of all the great things about that strange trip…..walking around Paris at night, looking at all the old beautiful buildings and yes, always on the look out for dog poop. You really will see it all over the sidewalks and many unfortunates step in it as they are looking around, be always on guard! The food is really good there too. I had some memorable meals in that city with my sister.  The book that brought it all back.

You can make these at home?!!?!

 I never considered that I could make these myself! Of course you can.  One warning, the book overcomplicates it.  There’s so much talk of aged egg whites (?!?), letting the macarons sit before you put them in the oven, and on and on. I fell for all this     nonsense and had a wonderful experience making them and then a disaster!

Luckily for me I came upon a blog in my travels that debunked all the myths. After all, she said you are making a cookie, I’m paraphrasing slightly here.  Her site is called BraveTart and I suggest if you have any interest in making Macarons you go there and read her 10 myths and her 10 commandments of macaron-making.

I’ve also recently come across lots of posts about pastries in Paris and one particular name keeps coming up as a genius of dessert! Pierre Herme and the dessert that caught my imagination is called Ispahan.  Ispahan is the name of a Damascus Rose with a beautiful fragrance.   The dessert is a combination of Rose, Lychee and Rasperries and from what I can tell the combination is used in a macaron.

Now I’m half Greek so rose scented sweets are nothing new to me. It’s a familiar flavor along with mastica, cloves, all spice etc.  Lychees are another flavor I adore, they are similar in flavor to roses in a way so I get the combination and rasperries?  Who doesn’t like rasperries?  My only thought is that the rasperry might overpower the rest of the flavors.  I also found a blogger who has attempted her own version of this macaron….The Pleasure Monger  she is macaron obsessed and has some very creative cominations.  In this one she uses a lychee marscapone filling and a tea infused jelly!  Well that got me to thinking.

Now I know one day I MUST get an actual Pierre Herme Ispahan but until that day comes I will make a riff as mucisian say on that theme.  Here’s what I came up with……….. Greeks eat alot of Turkish food and yet they claim to despise the Turks, their old nemesis.  They drink Turkish coffee, they eat Turkish delight, which they call Loukoumi.  Turkish delight is rose flavored gel basically, very sweet and very good.  My riff started with imagining a very thin layer of this.

Super thin Turkish delight

 To make this you will need rose water. Most ethnic type stores will have it, usually if they carry middle eastern products.

  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tb cornstarch
  • 1 c water
  • 1/4 c suga
  • r2 Tb rose water

 Combine all the ingredients except the rose water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to med low and cook for about an hour, whisking often.  Add the rose water in the last 10 mins and stir well. Remove from heat and immediately pour onto a silicone baking sheet or well greased parchment paper.  You might be able to used greased plastic wrap but I’m afraid it might melt. Let it sit at room tempurature until it cools down. It will be sticky.  If you were going to just make it into Turkish delight you would make much more and put it in a pan, it would be about 1 inch thick and then you would slice it and roll it in powdered sugar. Some people add nuts such as pistachios to it, I prefer it plain.

 Macarons (I’m using BraveTarts basic recipe here, it works very well. Go to the link above and read before you make them)

  • 4 oz almond flour
  • 8 oz powdered sugar
  • 5 oz egg whites
  • 2 1/2 oz sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 300. Combine the almond flour with the powdered sugar in a food processor and blend very well.  Whip the egg whites with the regular sugar in a mixer until you get stiff whites.  It takes about 9 minutes at med-high speed. When they are stiff add the salt & vanilla and whisk again for about a minute to combine really well.  Fold in the almond/sugar mixture all at once until it reaches a lava like stage. This is the hardest part because you can overmix. You will be putting the batter into a piping bag and piping circles onto your baking sheet so you don’t want it to be too runny.  Please read her post for tips. Bake on a parchment covered sheet for 18-20 minutes.  If the macaron comes off the sheet easily and doesn’t stick they are done. Let them cool. Brilliant!

crunchy, chewy goodness

The filling was where I had problems and will have to try again….isn’t that too bad?  I tried basing it off The Pleasure Monger’s recipe.

  •  1/2 package of cream cheese

  • 2 Tb sour cream

  • splash of milk

  • 1/2 cup white chocolate

  • 2 Tb butter

  • 1/4-1/2 c lychee juice

Melt the white chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water. Combine the cream cheese, sour cream and milk until it’s smooth. I blasted it in the microwave for a few seconds.  Add it to the white chocolate mixture and start to add in the lychee juice, tasting it until it’s the flavor is strong.  Her recipe calls for pureed lychees but I didn’t find any fresh or canned locally and didn’t want to go all over. I thought the juice would work but the mixture was too runny.  I tried thickening it with tapioca starch but it should have been thicker.  Next time………. Oh and they were a big hit at my office!

Lychee rose