The color, not the melancholy emotion.
What do i want to make? was the thought that sat on my mind all week. Why can't i think of something nouveau and creative to wow the masses with. damn it. And why is no one having a birthday! We need birthday cake fuel. My mind is frazzled from mindless work (the kind you make money on) and i can't think of an angle to bake up. The only thought that came to mind was blue. Blue. Blue pastry? I've reverted to primary mode. I think in colors. Excellent.
Like many of you i find unnatural colors in baked goods quite frightening. The bubble gum bright blue ice cream flavor at Maggie-Moo's will always be on my no-list. Sorry E. However, for one reason rather than another, i find macarons to not only be acceptable in unnatural colors, but to be more desirable with each quarter tsp of dye. Why? I'm not sure. Perhaps is the the lackluster taupe-ish hue of a nude macaron, or perhaps it is for the fact that the first macarons to invade my eyes were the bright dye-saturated jewels of the Parisian pastry shop windows that i would stare at on a daily basis. The macaron trees in the Laudier windows, how can you not stare at those. Deep purple, the color of the store, the color of a box of glittering macarons, the color of the sexiest looking sweetie on the planet. Now a vivid macaron image comes to mind; an over-priced pastry shop (perfect for tourists) right across the street from the back end of the church of the Madeleine, late January, and a window filled with a thousand stacked blood-red macarons. Ribbons, bows, trees, glitter. Jesus, what the hell is with these things. When i had (went) to class, i would not take the 40 minutes metro ride home during my 2 hour lunch break. Instead, i would walk 5 minutes down the street, and sit on the floor in the cook-book section of the fnac. 20 different books on macarons. excellent. Did i read most of them? yes. Did i figure out how to make them? yes. and it scared the shit out of me.
I made made them for the first time sometime in October of the following year after i returned to the U.S. And honestly, i found them soothing. Since then i have made hundreds for parties, friends, therapy, and gifts. The last being candy cane and eggnog macarons for a Christmas party which sadly didn't make it onto Salty. The point is, when i need something to make in order to relax, i make macarons. They are nothing special, everyone and their aunt now posts about them ad naseum. But, who cares. I wanted blue. And my babies gave blue.
I don't have much of a blue bias, i love all members of the blue family. Navy, Mediterranean house paint, Tiffany, sky, baby, and of course Portuguese azulejo tile blue. Now, i'm not depressed, no melancholy blues around here today. Just a batch of blue coconut-walnut sweeties, an over-lemony caipirinha, and a surprising soundtrack of norah jones, ray charles, and amy winehouse. endnote.
The stash of blanched almonds sadly found their way into a granola recipe the other day. As such, the costco bag of whole almonds had to be dug into. Skins? Not a problem. We'll mix them with walnuts. No more parchment? poo, only one silpat. What happened to all the pastry bags? I just used them...and i sent my own personal set already on to brazil with measuring cups and teaspoons. Hmm. Plastic baggy it is.
for the shells:
3 egg whites
2/3 cups ground almonds and walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tsp food dye
Grind the almonds and walnuts in a food processor with the powdered sugar. Meanwhile, whip the egg whites in a stand mixer or with egg beaters. Slowly add the sugar and food dye, and whip until the whites are stiff. Turn the bowl upside down, if it doesn't fall on your face, you're good. Pour the nut-sugar mixture into the whites and fold using a spatula. Fold 50 times (Tartelette's tip) and scoop into a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip. Pipe small circles onto a silpat or parchment covered tray. Let them rest for 30-60 minutes. Bake for 10 minutes at 275 degrees. Let cool for 2-3 minutes, and carefully remove from the pan.
for the coconut cream
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp coconut milk
1tsp vanilla powder
Beat the butter, add the sugar and whip. Add vanilla, add milk, and whip some more. Transfer to a pastry bag, and pipe a small amount onto half of your shells. Sandwich another shell on top to finish.
The next time i make (try) to make macarons will be in brazil. It may be a while before i find an affordable mixer and an audience to try them. But we will. And they will be better than ever before. A brazilian macaron is different than a french one. I'm not quite sure how it is different, but i will find out. and i will let you know.