Sunday, November 14, 2010

After Dinner Mint Macarons

So....this is attempt number 2 at macarons. The first time I made them I found a recipe, followed it word by word and was a little confused/miffed that they did not turn out like the ones in the picture - surely they couldn't be that difficult?

Since then I have read various blogs de-coding the mysteries of this temperamental cookie.

Now, there are 3 different methods of making macarons:
French - Granulated sugar added to egg whites (French meringue) added to almond mixture.
Spanish - Beaten egg whites (with higher sugar content), added to almond mixture.
Italian - Cooked sugar added to egg whites (Italian meringue) added to almond mixture.

This time I decided I would use the Italian method, as apparently this variation is the most stable version (especially for beginners). I also used one with the addition of powdered egg whites as it provides further stability.

Seeing as though I am still a macaron newbie, for hints and tips, I highly recommend the following blogs:
Not So Humble Pie

My macarons are probably far from the standard of Ladurée, but I am pretty damn impressed with my second effort (and I believe they got the ok from my french in-laws - and that is all I could ever ask for).

100g egg whites
3g egg white powder
125g almond meal
125g pure icing sugar
Green food colour
For the syrup:
150g sugar and 50ml water

Process the almond meal and icing sugar together. In a mixer, add half the egg whites with the egg white powder. Whip to soft peaks. Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the water and sugar for the syrup to 117C on a candy thermometer. Once ready, slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and continue to whip on medium speed until they thick and shiny and are completely cooled (about 10 minutes). At the final changes of whipping the meringue, add the food colouring. Mix the remaining egg whites to the sifted almond mixture and then fold in the meringue in four parts until just combined (the batter should come of the spatula in a thick ribbon).

Pipe macarons on lined baking sheets. (They say to double up your baking sheets if you do not have professional grade quality). Let your macarons sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Bake at 140C for 15-18 minutes (depending on size). Fill with the ganache (recipe to follow) and refrigerate to set.

Peppermint Ganache
125g dark chocolate, finely chopped
125ml heavy cream
Peppermint essence, to taste

Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Gently warm the cream in a pan until it bubbles around the edges. Pour over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and blended. Add peppermint essence to taste. Leave at room temperature until it has cooled slightly and thickened. Pipe or drop spoonfuls of the ganache onto the macarons and top with another shell.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fiadone (Corsican Cheesecake)

I was super duper excited when I stumbled across this recipe on Tartelette's blog. I tried this Corsican specialty when I was in France earlier this year, and had completely forgotten about it until now.

Whilst it may not look anything special, it is one of those simple dishes that taste homely and you could keep on going back for more.

Fiadone could be better described as a crustless cheesecake which is traditionally made with Brocciu, a soft cheese similar to ricotta and made from goat or ewes milk.

As Brocciu would be impossible to find here in Australia, I substituted it for fresh ricotta from the deli and let it drain overnight through a sieve, or you could be more adventurous and try making your own cheese, as Tartelette has done here.

1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon cornflour
pinch of salt
1 cup drained brocciu, faisselle or ricotta cheese

Line an 20cm square pan with baking paper, butter lightly and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 190° C and position a rack in the middle.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and the eggs until pale. Add the lemon zest, cornstarch and salt and whisk until blended. Add the drained cheese and whisk well.
Pour into your prepared pan, place into the oven and lower the heat to 175° C .

Bake for 45 minutes. The cake will get dark around the edges and a knife inserted in the middle should come out clean (it will rise during the cooking process then deflate upon cooling). Let cool for a few minutes before sharing.