Let me start this post by giving you some heads up, sort of housekeeping news if you will. The workshop that Clare and I are holding in May 2012 is indeed sold out. There is a waitlist so feel free to send us an email to get on it if you wish. You never know…We are also planning more workshops like this in the future so stay tuned!
The good news is that if you live in Charleston and surrounding areas, I will be holding a One Day Food Photography Workshop at Heirloom Book Company downtown on December 10th from 10am til 5pm.Click here for all the details and to register. Photography, food, styling, book, fun space, and great natural light!
One of the things I love about Charleston and the area where we live, is waking up to a thick layer of fog over the ocean. It gives me the impression that Winter is settling in. I know better. It means today will actually be warmer than the last. That’s ok. I’m not paying attention to those little details anymore. There is Fall and Winter happening in my kitchen, regardless of my shorts and flip flop attire.
Every morning that I take the pups out in the backyard, I bring a little basket and gather the pecans that keep falling during the night. We fought the squirrels long and hard this year but it looks like we won the battle. Well, we did not lose it too bad, I should say. They left us plenty for a few pecan pies, some pecan sandies and the Pecan Brown Butter Cakes pictured here.
Fresh from the oven. Toasted the next day. A dab of Nutella. A smidge of lemon curd. With a cup of tea or coffee. We surely did not get enough… That would be partly because of a little incident involving a phone call, a step outside the studio, a puppy and a tray of cakes left at snout level. I can’t blame Bailey for not resisting. I almost inhaled three of them as they were cooling down.
If it is any testament to how good they are, I made two more batches in the last couple of days. And placed them far away from any possible puppy incident. On the same vibe the roasted vegetable I made for lunch the other day almost ended up consumed by my better half alone…
This salad is a riff on the salad that Clare a made many times when I was there last month for work. It is so easy, wonderfully seasonal and super comforting. Yes, comfort. In a salad. With lots of fresh ingredients. That’s my idea of comfort right now. Sometimes it’s a cup of rich chocolate mousse, a serving of spaghetti carbonara, a bowl of cheese rich onion soup. It depends on what is truly affecting me at the time.
I have loved these months traveling and staying with friends and bloggers rather than hotels. It gave me the chance to see them in their environment and learn from them. I was never as happy as when they wanted to share their cooking with me and let me in their world, their family traditions, their everyday. I’d rather chill at home with someone sharing their cooking and their story than go out to eat (unless the restaurant does feel like home).
I admit that I get the most satisfaction out of roasting vegetables for soups, salads or simply turning them into easy-do easy-come side dishes. Nothing could be easier than this salad. Roasted golden beets and fennel, a sprinkle of blue cheese, pumpkin seeds and some edamame on top of a bed of greens and Savoy lettuce. I ended up doing a shallot vinaigrette similar to the one Clare made when I was visiting. I sat down and felt a huge sentiment of peace and gratitude.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Position a tray in the middle. Grease bottom of 12 muffin tins and line with wrappers. Set aside.
Place the pecans on a single baking sheet and toast for about 15 minutes. Let cool. Grind finely in a food processor. Reserve.
In a medium saucepan set over medium high heat, melt and cook the butter until it turns golden brown and has a nutty scent. Takes about 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool. (I usually don’t strain mine since we like the little dark particles that form when it browns but feel free to do so)
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sugar and eggs until pale (takes about 2 minutes). Add the cooled brown butter and lemon zest and mix until well blended. Add the ground pecans, then the flour mix and baking powder and whisk about 50 strokes until the batter is smooth.
Pour it into the prepared tins and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
2 medium golden beets, washed, peeled and quartered
1 small fennel bulb, washed and quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
2 oz blue cheese
handful of pumpkin seeds
handful of edamame
Shallot vinaigrette (see here for recipe)
Preheat the oven to 375F. Position a rack in the middle.
In a medium bowl, toss together the beets and fennel bulb quarters, add the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Place in a 9×13-inch baking dish and roast for about 20-30 minutes or until tender and a little charred/caramelized.
Place a handful of salad greens at the bottom of two plates or bowl, top with the roasted vegetables, add about 1 oz of blue cheese to each plate and top with some pumpkin seeds and edamame. Drizzle with the shallot vinaigrette and serve
*** Per the instructions in this post, the giveaway ended on Sunday night, 01/23/2011.***
It’s not often that I cook from a cookbook from beginning to end. It’s not often that I do it twice. Three times. And it’s not often that a cookbook becomes like the postcard of a very dear friend. Something you read over and over for fun, to learn, because it touched you somehow. That’s how I feel about Carrie’s book, Deliciously Organic. That’s how I feel about Carrie.
A year ago, I had no idea who Carrie Vitt was. I had no idea I would be privileged to bring her recipes, her family and her words to photographs. I had no idea, just a faint and distant skip in my heart, that we would become friends. When work allows you to connect beyond the image, to understand someone’s journey and decisions, you can’t be anything but grateful.
I know, I know. I am biased. Of course I am! Not only was I given a tremendous "first" cookbook to shoot, her first to write, but all the hard work and the hours spent dissecting recipes and looking over hundreds of images really paid off. Huge thanks to IFP, her publisher, for putting the highest quality demands on both of us. And to the amazing crew of people working on it.
We ate well for the two weeks I worked on her book. We ate very well. Carrie came during the shoot and her recipes took on an even greater dimension. We talked about her reasons for going organic and non processed. We discussed and commented. We established a dialogue and an area of mutual quiet respect. Through food. As it should be.
If you are looking for organic, unprocessed, wholesome ingredients, Carrie’s recipes are simply put just pure gourmandise whether you are making Sour Cream and Lemon Pancakes with Blueberry Puree, Grandma’s Crawfish Etouffee, Roasted Red Onion and Pear Salad, or the Pecan Coconut And Cherry Granola and the Tomato Basil Quiche in the pictures here. (click on continue for recipes at the bottom to get the granola recipe.)
If you are puzzled with the what/why/where of going organic, Carrie’s story and subsequent journey and discoveries will provide some pointers and ways to explore. Carrie’s tone is never preachy or condescending. It can’t be. You realize that when you meet her in real life, trust me. So you listen or read. And you learn. And you share.
Of course I want her to do well! I loved photographing this book! I can’t wait to start on her second! I loved the work but first and foremost it’s not everyday that you first cookbook shoot turns out to be one you handle from ingredient shopping to post processing all by yourself and still leave you elated and rubbing your belly for more good food.
Every dish in this book was photographed, then eaten. That chicken on the back cover? Man…it came out hot from the oven, we set it down on my table, photos were taken and we ate it but a big salad simply dressed of lemon juice and olive oil. I have dreams about that chicken. Yep, I planned every work day around a set menu: one breakfast, one entree, two sides, one dessert. Oh yes…
Again. We ate well. Very well.
And we still do. And now you can too! In honor of Carrie’s book release, I have one copy to giveaway to a lucky reader among you! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and a winner will be picked at random on Sunday night 01/23/2011, midnight eastern time. One entry per person, no anonymous please. I will ship anywhere in the world.
Carrie….I am so flipping proud of you! Virtual flowers and Champagne to celebrate!
Notes: I know…where’s the quiche recipe, right? In the book….we can’t give you all that’s inside the book but I urge you to try it as you as you can. That recipe alone will make for better Sunday mornings…trust me!
Pecan, Coconut and Cherry Granola, printed with permission of Carrie Vitt.
Makes about 8 cups
1 cup (185gr) whole cane sugar or sucanat
¾ cup (180ml) organic maple syrup
4 cups (440gr) rolled oats
1 ½ cups (130gr) coconut, unsweetened
1 ½ cups (150gr) dehydrated whole pecans, or pecan halves
1 cup (160gr) dried cherries, lightly chopped
Preheat your oven to 350º and adjust the top rack to the middle of the oven.
Whisk sugar and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until almost smooth. Pour the oats, coconut, pecans into a large bowl and then pour the syrup over them. Stir gently until the syrup coats everything. Spread mixture onto a large baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for twenty minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Break into pieces and add the dried cherries. Add dried fruit after you break up the granola into loose bits and large pieces. Sore in an airtight container.
Here is another post in the series "When blogging become much more than just blogging". I am loving the extra dimentional relationships formed and cultivated through blogging and when Anita asked a few of us to take her first released book "Field Guide To Cookies" on a virtual tour, I literary smiled from ear to ear. Anita is a sweetheart, a terrific baker, a great friend, a fellow Daring Baker (we hosted the Saint Honore challenge together), and an extremely talented writer. Indeed, no one can describe flavors and textures as well as she does. Trust me. Head over to her blog, Dessert First and then tell me if you did not get lost in the fold of a sweet pie or the silkiness of an ice cream.
It just happened that Anita asked us to take her book on a tour at the same time that I was completing the Princess Torte assignment for Desserts Magazine and the editor mentionned that the next issue would be on cookies. Ha! "Well…I am just getting this nifty pocket book filled with 100 recipes of cookies from all over the world. I am sure I can come up with something!" And I sure did! Viennese Crescents, Indian Cookies, Algerian Almond Tarts, Dark Chocolate Crinkles (I won’t post the recipe as you can see on another host’s blog, Sara from Ms. Adventures In Italy), Pecan Sandies and Turtle Bars were made and devoured by the neighbors and us in a mere couple of weeks. They went so fast that I did not have the chance to take a picture of the Turtle Bars…they were going faster than I was cutting them!
“The Field Guide To” is a fun and informative series on how to master almost anything in the kitchen from meat to cocktails and now cookies. The whole format behind the series is to have a booklet full of information on how to achieve the perfect cookie, every time, whether you are a novice baker or a seasoned one. The book is divided into four chapters: drop cookies, bar cookies, molded cookies and rolled cookies. The notes on the perfect cookies and baking tools are perfect for beginners in the kitchen, giving them detailed explanation of what usually goes wrong in cookie making. The pocket size format makes it easy to have it around the kitchen and out on the counter top almost all the time. I like the fact that I can carry Anita’s recipes with me on weekend escapades, family gatherings or friends and have a delicious recipe to prepare for them!
Knowing her care for details and wonderful writing skills, this book went beyond all expectations I had. Each recipe is so much more than just a recipe. It starts with a general description that reads more like a history lesson then just a description of taste and texture. All the recipes have a nifty little coding system making it easy to know where you are in the recipe: prepping, mixing, baking, storing, etc… I was so happy to be able to test Anita’s recipes and have a copy of her book that I asked her if she’d be ok answering a few questions that popped in my head while I was baking. Here are a couple to get your appetite going. For the rest of the interview, check the next issue of Desserts Magazine coming out next week.
Dark Chocolate Crinkles – Before and After
Tartelette: As the introduction states it, this book is about more than just cookies, but also tea cakes and small bites. How did you decide which ones would make it into the book? Anita: Even though 100 cookies sounds like a lot, it was tricky to decide which ones would make it and which ones would be cut. My editor and I wanted to cover as many styles of cookies as possible, and include ones that maybe many people had not heard of. On the other hand, since the book was primarily targeted for a North American audience, we needed to include many of the classics familar to most people and not scare them away with too many strange and unknown cookies. I hope I found a balance between many traditional favorites like chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin, but also the more exotic and international, like macarons and pizzelles.
Tartelette: Which aspects of the writing experience did you like best? Baking, testing, researching? Anita: I really enjoyed researching the cookies. Since this cookbook is a little different than most other cookbooks with the longer entries, I needed to do a lot more research than just looking up recipes: I needed to find out where the cookie had originated, who first made them, how it evolved through time. I definitely boned up on my world history doing research on this book! Of course, I also enjoyed testing the recipes – my one biggest wish is that I had more time to test the recipes, because you always think of something else to tweak that might turn the recipe from good to fantastic! I had a great team of recipe testers to help me out, although sometimes I wished I had their job and could just bake all day, forget about the research and writing parts! To be continued…
Viennese Almond Crescents, (reprinted with permission of the author)(first picture also)
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vanilla sugar (I used powdered sugar), for coating
Sift together the ground almonds and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl.
In a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed for several minutes until smooth.
Add in the almond mixture and mix until combined. Add in the vanilla and almond extracts and mix until combined. Add in the flour and salt and mix on low just until combined and the dough starts clumping together.
Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, wrap tightly, and chill for about 20 minutes.
When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a few cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Form dough into 1-inch balls. Roll into a log and curve the ends to make a crescent shape. Place on cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through; the edges of the cookies should turn light brown but the tops should not get too dark. Cool sheets on wire racks for about 4 to 5 minutes. While they are still warm, roll cookies in the vanilla sugar to coat. Let them finish cooling on wire racks. They are best enjoyed the day they are made, but you can store them in an airtight container between sheets of wax paper for 2 weeks.
Algerian Almond Tarts, (reprinted with permission of the author).
Yield: About 2 1/2 dozen cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoon rosewater or orange flower water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a few cookie sheets or line with silicone baking mats.
In a stand mixer, combine the flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add butter, egg, vanilla, rosewater, and lemon juice. Mix for a few minutes until dough is smooth. Cover dough with a damp cloth and set aside while you make the filling.
Using a food processor, grind almonds and sugar to a fine meal. Add eggs, lemon zest, rosewater, and vanilla and process until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.
Roll out dough to about 1/16” on a lightly floured surface. Using a 2 to 3 inch cookie cutter to cut out circles from the dough.
Drop tablespoonfuls of filling into the center of each circle. Wet fingers with water and pinch the dough together into four corners, forming a cup around the filling. Or, if you have a mini muffin tin or other small molds, you can fit the dough circles into the molds and fill about 3/4 full with the filling.
Place tarts on sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating cookie sheets halfway through until filling begins to brown and the cookies are a light golden color.
Remove sheets from oven and place on wire racks. Drizzle honey over each of the tarts. Let tarts cool on sheets before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Indian Almond Cookies, (reprinted with permission of the author).
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
2 cups blanched almonds
2 tablespoons milk (I did have to use 2 extra tablespoons because my dough was really dry)
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
In a food processor or blender, grind blanched almonds to a fine powder. Add milk and mix until a smooth paste is acquired.
In a heavy saucepan, combine the paste, sugar, and cardamom at medium-low heat, constantly stirring to avoid burning; stir 8 minutes or until a lump of dough is formed.
Spread the dough onto a lightly greased jelly roll pan or baking dish, flour or grease a rolling pin, and and gently roll the dough to approximately 1/4 inch thick. Apply silver foil and press slightly with the foil’s paper packaging or a paper towel so that the silver adheres to the dough.
As the dough cools, its texture resembles that of marzipan. Once it has completely cooled, cut it into 1–2 inch diamond shapes. They will keep up to 1 week if sealed in an airtight container.
Pecan Sandies, (reprinted with permission of the author) Perfect for Christmas!
Makes 2-3 dozen
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 30 pecan halves for decorating
Kitchen Note: the day I made these we had 100% humdity so my dough never got firm enough to even roll into a log and I ended up doing drop cookies instead. Turned out perfect.
Grind pecans and sugars together in a food processor until the nuts are finely ground. Add in the flour and salt and process until combined. Cut the butter into small pieces and scatter over the mixture in the food processor. Process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add egg and vanilla and process until the dough comes together.
Turn dough out onto a piece of parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Roll out to about 1/4 in thick. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour if it gets too sticky.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour or until firm.
When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325°F. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Using a cookie cutter, cut out cookies from the chilled dough, about 2 inches in diameter. Place a pecan half in the center of each cookie.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the edges of the cookies turn golden brown, rotating cookie sheets halfway through. Cool cookie sheets on wire racks for a couple of minutes before transferring cookies directly onto wire racks with a spatula to finish cooling.Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
I’d like to dedicate this post to another great lady, Bri who passed away last night. My sincere condolences to her husband and her family.
A post I was reading the other week prompted me to take out my grandmother’s china and silverware out of their cases and bring them to life for a little while. The time of a dessert, a picture or a post. The time of a memory I might give my mother about a certain time in her past. I know I’ll never be as creative as Pia in styling and setting the mood for the pieces I inherited but the moment was right to polish those spoons and dust off those cups.
I started to take pictures of the spoons on their own and although pretty, something was missing. I made some tea and hoped that the smell and relaxing atmosphere would inspire me a little. It was allright…not bad, there was still that little "je ne sais quoi" missing. I took a step back and tried to remember the last time I had seen my grandmother use those pieces. Had I? Ever? No, not really….So I tried to imagine grandma holding that cup of tea in one hand, swirling her sugar and lemon slice, spoon in the other. That’s when it hit me! Cake! The one thing missing was one of my grandmother’s tea cakes!
I cannot remember a day without going to her house for a 4 o’clock cup of tea and a slice of cake! There was never a shortage of pretty china and silverware, although I strongly suspect she had secretively put these cups and spoons away for me. Yes, they are just things….and they fell on my lap pretty much the same way they did on hers: they were all handed down from many women before me. If they weren’t in our family, well eh, no big deal. But they are, and they are old, and they speak a little bit of my past and the women in the family every time I take them out, to me it is a big deal. I find it magical that every time I look at them, I can’t wait for 4 o’clock to come around so I can make myself a cup of tea and have some cake.
I started to think about the cake that would reflect the mood around grandma’s table at tea time. Tense! Really! It seems like we were always planning some kind of event, party, celebration, vacation..something. It was also very warm and playful. Mamie Paulette was indeed a study in contradictions. Tense, but with a great sense of humor and a joyous personality. Those little pear and pecan cakes with their little skirt of roasted pear slices are just that. They are a little tense if you don’t bake often but they do not require major scientific knowledge (we all know I would not be baking them if they did!), no intricate technique (nothing wrong with that, just short on time these days!), or special ingredients (nothing wrong here either, grandma just happened to love pears). They also tend to look like roses….like the ones on grandma’s little spoons.
The pear cakes start with a basic cake batter in which I threw chunks of pears and chopped pecans but feel free to use the same dessert with plums, apples, peaches, etc…. For the pear slices, make sure to cut them thin and choose pears of the same size if you can. Slice them first and use the end pieces and short slices, chopped, in the cakes. I used regular size muffin pans but one cup capacity ramequins or baking dished work well too. The tense part of the dessert comes when you position the pear slices around the cakes. Arm yourself with patience and have some bakery twine or rafia strings close by, wrap them around the slices, tie them up and let the cakes sit for 20 minutes. After that time, you can either remove the twine if you think you guests won’t like it, and the slices will stick to the sides of the cakes on their own, of if your friends like ribbons as much as mine do, by all means, leave them be. Well, I did use some hot sugar (I guess I can’t help myself) as I sprinkled some pecan praline on the plates before serving, but you can skip that step of course.
Pear And Pecan Tea Cakes With Pecan Praline:
Makes 8 muffin size tea cakes.
For the roasted pear slices:
1/3 cup of sugar
Preheat the oven to 300F. Peel the pears and cut them in thin slices. Reserve the small slices and meaty pieces from what is left on the stem for the cake batter. Place the pear slices on parchment line baking sheet and sprinkle them with the sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
For the tea cakes:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
remnant pear slices and pieces from the pears used in the previous step, chopped, plus more if needed to make one cup.
In a mixer, combine the sugar, oil, and egg and whisk with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the flour, baking soda and cinnamon and whisk until the batter starts to come together. Add the milk and whisk until smooth. By hand, fold in the pecans and pears. Divide the batter evenly among 8 muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray and bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes back free of crumbs. Let cool.
Arrange the cooled roasted pear slices around the cake and secure with bakery twine (use butcher twine if you don’t plan on serving them tied up). Refrigerate if not ready to serve within the hour. All the elements will keep fine for 3 days in the fridge but they are easier to assemble and nicer to eat at room temperature.
For the pecan praline:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans
Place the pecans on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Place the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a heavy saucepan on high heat and cook until you get a golden caramel. Immediately pour it over the pecans and let sit until cold and hard. Chop into small pieces.
I know! Macarons…again! Before you roll your eyes and quit reading, indulge me for a minute, there is a story behind it. A lovely meeting with a fellow Daring Baker and an afternoon spent baking macarons…and a lot of them! Before I get to that, I must announce the winners of the Confetti Cakes For Kids Cookbook for which I let the Random Number Generator pick the five lucky you’s.
#9: Dorothy from The Fat Free Tester Squad
#19: Allie (no blog)
# 76: Ruby from Ruby’s Tuesday
#106: Sugar Chef
# 266: Erica from The Underground Cupcake
Congratulations ladies! Please send me an email at marinette1 at comcast dot net with your mailing address and I’ll pass on all your info to the publisher.
Now…the rest of the story and the Pecan Pie Macarons. When I can’t sleep at night, I usually don’t count sheeps, I think of flavor combinations for macarons instead. Seriously. You think I’d joke about that?!! Problem is, the world in my head and the world around me don’t always agree with each other but I knew this one would work. I have been meaning to make a pecan pie inspired macaron for ages but you know how it goes….your mind wonders off and before you know it you are baking something else that you "just had to make". I wanted these to have a French twist and instead of figuring out how to put the traditional pecan pie filling into a mac, I used salted butter caramel sauce. It’s not like I need an occasion to make them but I pretexted C’s birthday to put a few many of these together for her. However, it took a few years and an afternoon baking with a new friend to get my head together with my hands and my time on that one!
A few weeks ago, I was reading my favorite American in Paris, David Lebovitz, when I read Kim’s comment about how she had slaved for two days over macarons and most of them flopped. Kim writes one of my favorite blogs, A Yankee In A Southern Kitchen and lives in the same town. "Get out!"….Seriously! We "met" over the internet last year and tried to get our schedules together to meet and it never happened. As a joke, I have started a list of all the dishes I would like her to make me when we meet. Crabcakes, Cola Ribs, Tomato Pie, and so many more are already on the list. After reading about her misadventures in macaron making, I sent her an email saying that if she needed help next time, not to hesitate and I’d be happy to give her a hand. Last week, Kim asked if we could get together this past Monday so I could give her a macaron 101 lesson. Yes, yes, yes!
Her kitchen is a foodie’s dream: spacious, well equipped, bright with a huge window giving on the serenity of a beautiful garden. Now, let me add that meeting Kim was truly wonderful: cheery, full of Southern charm and hospitality and sweet as pie. Her daughter M. joined us and we spent the afternoon measuring, grinding, folding, piping, sprinkling, filling. We troubleshooted what went wrong the first time she made them and also figured out the proper settings for the ovens which was no small business. We made plain macarons Bourbon vanilla buttercream, pecan macarons with coconut cream cheese buttercream and peanut ginger macarons. The afternoon was graced by lovely weather, great conversations and laughs. I left with a skip in my step.
That evening as I was mentally registering all the delicious moments of the afternoon, I got a craving for the pecan macarons we made and decided it was time to make the Pecan Pie inspired one I have been thinking about. It also helped that I had plenty of egg whites and salted butter caramel sauce already made. The shells were half almonds and half pecans from our tree and the extra pecan boost was a little piece of pecan brittle in the middle. Hugh…yes….they are sweet….but dang! One is just perfect with a cup of coffee! So here’s to new friends, new adventures and new experiences!
Pecan Pie Macarons:
Makes about 20
For the shells:
3 egg whites (about 90 gr)
40 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
55 gr almonds
55 gr pecans
For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Combine the almonds,pecans and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down.The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.
Make the sauce and refrigerate until cold so it won’t ooze out of your macarons when you sandwich them together (mine only did because it was hot upstairs where I photograph).
For the pecan brittle: Place the pecans on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Place the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a heavy saucepan on high heat and cook until you get a golden caramel. Immediately pour it over the pecans and let sit until cold and hard. Crack the brittle in small pieces to fit inside your macarons. Place a about a tablespoon of sauce on one shell, add a piece of brittle and top with another macaron shell.