It is always a blessing to have family visits. My parents come regularly, so much so that my produce guy often asks me about them and when they will visit next and they are almost on a first name basis with the mail man! I am surprised that only my brother and his family and my cousin in Savoie are the only ones who also made the trip, with all these paid vacations it should be a no brainer for the others to come visit their "favorite" cousin (cough, cough…) and discover a part of the world they do not know. So having Sophie around is absolutely fantastic on very many different levels. I get to talk about the family, speak French and laugh at the simple words I cannot find easily anymore. When I left she was 7-8 years old, so I also get the chance to discover a maturing young woman full of questions, hope, incertainties and love for life.
I also like having visitors as I can show them this country like they have never seen it before, far away from images of huge skyscrapers, bright neon signs and fast food joints. Ok, so we went to Krispy Kremes, but come on folks! that is a mandatory on the list of culinary treats I have to educate her palate about. Charleston is rich in history, landscape and native animals (she saw her first alligator on a canoe ride in the Lowcountry swamps yesterday) and of course rich in food influences from the Barbadoes, Spain, France, England and Africa. The link with macarons? Well, at the end of the day, after trying many a local delicacies, it’s all about the macarons people, and Sophie asked if I could teach her how to make them. As the good hostess that I am I felt it was necessary to fulfill her wishes..twist my arm right?!
For the second time around I went for another recipe than the one I often use for macarons, and opted not to use the Italian meringue method for the shells. Indeed, this recipe does not require that the egg whites be whipped with a hot sugar syrup, but instead mixed in with the powdered sugar/nuts method. The only reason why I chose this method was that it was over 100 degrees outside and after an afternoon roasting at the beach, we did not feel like standing in front of the stove waiting for the sugar syrup to reach proper temperature. I found this particular one for pistachio in one of my new favorites by a talented French pastry chef, Stephane Glacier, in "Un Amour de Macaron". The filling was a simple chocolate ganache with a hint of ground ginger.
We whipped, folded and mixed. We giggled, talked and dipped our fingers in the batter and the ganache. We filled, broke and sampled some…and we packaged half of them in little goodie bags and took some to the neighbors. It’s all about Southern hospitality!
225 gr powdered sugar
60 gr almonds
65 gr pistachios
3 egg whites (about 100gr)
green food coloring (optional) (powdered is better)
25 gr granulated sugar
In a food processor, run the nuts and powdered sugar until the nuts are finely ground. Run through a sieve if needed.
Whip the egg whites until foamy, slowly add the granulated sugar, until they are glossy. Add the green food coloring if using.
Slowly fold the nut/sugar mixture into the whites with a wide spatula. The mixture should remain shiny and flow easily.
Fill a pastry bag with the batter and pipe small rounds onto parchment lined baking sheets.
Let the macarons rest for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 315 and when they are ready, bake them for 12-15 minutes.
Let cool, remove from the paper and fill with the ganache.
Chocolate Ganache Filling:
8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
1 tsp. ground ginger
Place the chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir with a whisk until smooth. Add the ground ginger. Let cool to room temperature and use as desired.