Tea and macaroons

Hey peeps

We’re back from another wolliday (working holiday) in Italy and again no blogging has been done. Sorry. This time it was due to me, very foolishly, leaving airplane mode off my Fire and Amazon decided to use up most of our data allowance for downloading films they thought I might like. We’re kind of in the middle of nowhere in Italy and it’s not like here at home where we have unlimited data so I was a little annoyed at those cheeky sausages at Amazon for a little while. On a very happy note the weather was hot and sunny and beautiful and it felt like a proper holiday because it had been so cold and rainy here in the UK before we left.

In July we had a big birthday garden party for my father in laws birthday and I did most of the baking. It was very exciting as I’d never baked this much in one go and it took me pretty much four full days work, but in the end, I was very pleased with everything apart from the fruit tart. I was so concerned with avoiding a soggy bottom that the pastry turned out too thick and heavy. Oh well, you can’t win them all 🙂

The star of the show was definetly my macaroons. In the past I’ve had a 50/50 successrate with the shells. There always seemed to be something going wrong, no foot, cracked top or hollow so I found a Craftsy class on the subject and what do you know, my successrate went up to 85%. Not bad considering that I made 6 X 50 shells with six different fillings. If you struggle with macaroons you should take this Craftsy class. I could tell you here how I made them but I think you need to watch the video. It shows in detail how to know when the eggs have been whisked enough and a very good part on macaronning.

Here are some of my fillings:

Light blue shells with orange blossom buttercream and yellow shells with vanilla buttercream:

Cream 227 grams of softened unsalted butter with 435 grams of icing sugar with a mixer until fluffy and light. Add a little orange blossom water or essence very carefully as it is quite intense and it’s easy to overdo it.

For the vanilla ones, just add a couple of teaspoons of swedish vanilla sugar or the seeds from a vanilla pod instead of the orange blossom water.

If the mix is too thick to pipe just add a tablespoon of cream to soften it.

Mix together, and using a piping bag, make a macaroon sandwich.

Green shells with lime buttercream:

In a bowl, using a hand held mixer, mix 115 grams of softened unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice and 2 teaspoons of lime juice and 250 grams of icing sugar. When all mixed together and light and fluffy, add another 250 grams of icing sugar gradually and beat until thick and creamy.

Again, with a piping bag, put a small ish amount on a macaroon shell and gently press another shell down on top.

Chocolate ganache filling on brown chocolate shells:

Heat 100 grams of whipping cream in a saucepan until it just comes to the boil and then pour it over 100 grams of chocolate (dark is best). Stir together with a spoon and leave to cool. It takes a little time for the ganache to become thick enough to pipe out onto the macaroons. I was going to add some ginger essence to this filling but forgot all about it until it was too late but I think it will work really well.

Make the macaroon sandwiches.

Cupcake topping:

The cupcake mixture was just a basic vanilla one. I used the lime buttercream for my mini cupcakes too. And for the first time I used my new Russian piping nozzles, you know the kind that you can pipe out flowers with. It worked really well but next time I’ll make a raspberry topping so that the flowers can be coloured rather than just cream coloured. I sprinkled the top of them with dessicated coconut that went rather well in between the petals.

I served them on a cupcake stand.

Chocolate brownies:

Brownies befunky

Put 185 grams of cubed, unsalted butter together with 185 grams of good dark chocolate broken into pieces into a bowl (not metal). Melt over a bain marie (put the bowl down on top of a saucepan with water in and bring to the boil and then turn the heat off but make sure that the water never touches the bowl). Mix together and put to one side to cool.

Break 50 grams of white chocolate and 50 grams of milk chocolate into chunks and put to one side to use later.

Line a shallow, 20 cm square tin or a disposable tray with baking paper and put the oven to fan 160C.

Into a bowl, sieve 85 grams of plain flour and 40 grams of cocoa powder into a bowl. Don’t put the sieve in the dishwasher as you will re-sieve this again later.

Break three medium eggs into a large bowl and add 275 grams of golden caster sugar and mix together with an electric mixer until it turns light and creamy.  This may well take 5 to 8 minutes. Pour in the cooled chocolate and butter mixture and carefully fold this into the mix using the figure eight method so as to leave as much air in the mix as possible. I find using a rubber spatula when doing this works best.

Put your sieve over this bowl and add the flour and cocoa powder mix into it. Gently shake the sieve and fold the re-sieved mix into the egg and chocolate mix using the figure eight method agian. Do not over mix this

Pour the mix into your prepared tin, level the surface and put it into the oven for about 25 minutes. If it wobbles when it comes out you should put it back in for another 5 minutes. Don’t over cook though as you want it to be a little gooey in the middle.

You can eat it warm, cold or freeze it.

I served this cut into small squares and decorated them with fresh raspberries.

So ladies and gentlemen, I do hope you make some of these bits and pieces, especially the macaroons because they are yummy and look so sophisticated.  And I’d love some pictures and new ideas for fillings if you have some.

Ttfn and good luck



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