Saturday, January 15, 2011

VEGETABLE MACARONS WITH CHILI CHOCOLATE GANACHE


I am rarely known to stay quiet. I am not often at a loss for words. Few are the events that leave me utterly speechless. Yet this week I am having a hard time finding what to say, words to express all that I am feeling, stories with which to regale you about what is going on. My childhood has become a misty illusion hidden in some far-off corner of my mind and refuses to resurface. Moods have been swinging back and forth around Crabby Kingdom and I have been finding refuge in my kitchen, baking, swiping clean surfaces usually left to fend for themselves, stirring meusli into yogurt and burying my nose in a paperback novel. I’ve been keeping low and out of range of whatever is simmering, brewing, bubbling just under the surface and likely to explode at the merest hint of a sidelong glance or friendly comment. Oh, none of the darkness is aimed at my innocent head, no, no, rest assured, but one does try and avoid the friendly fire, the arrows of sharp words and heated discussions. So I keep a low profile, mind my own business and…. bake.


I’m the lone woman in a house full of men. Even the dog is male. And it always seems that the men all go viral at once, as if a team. Men are strange and unusual characters and I simply will never be able to completely comprehend them, as hard as I may sometimes try. Women seem to be the ones stuck with the bad reputation, accused of being unreasonable or of spending too much of our time trying to reason….with men. They label us frivolous, acting too often on a whim, being capricious and erratic in temperament. But in my own household, this opinion is contestable! While I keep my head squarely on my shoulders, keep a smile on my face and sunshine in my step, my men seem to go all gray and grumpy on a whim, between the hormone-fueled adolescent mood swings to the inexplicable out-of-the-blue petulance, they are enough to drive me wild! And even though I try and stay out of their way when the black mood strikes, they stomp through the house pointing fingers, ranting that there is nothing to eat or too much food piled up and spilling out of the refrigerator. They flail their arms and rave that I bake too much, allowing cake, bread, cookies to grow stale, wither and die a pathetic death, or they complain that I am leaving them hungry, with nothing for breakfast or snack as they claw their way through the pantry. I smile sweetly (oh yes I do) and ask if anyone would like to keep me company as I make a cake, I warmheartedly inquire if one or the other of them craves anything in particular, if they prefer cake or cookies, panna cotta or pie and I am met with glares and sullen shrugs of manly shoulders. So I scurry off into the kitchen, pull out the butter, eggs, flour and sugar and begin. Oh, for the company of a sister or a girlfriend who could come over and bake with me.

Remember the days when you could call up your best friend and invite her over for an afternoon of baking? You’d get permission from your mom to use the oven, or a nod of approval from your roommates to take over the kitchen for an afternoon. Maybe it was boxed mixes, the kind your dad favored, the only thing the parents would trust you with. Or maybe you scoured through magazines, folding down the corners of pages each time one recipe or another tempted you. Lists were carefully drawn up, shopping done, ingredients lined up on the countertop awaiting the planned date. Your friend or friends would show up, a daytime slumber party, and you would delve in. Cookies and cakes, batter everywhere, frosting stuck in your hair, edges maybe burned, but the laughter would resound throughout the house and what you cooked together tasted better than anything that you ever tasted before because it was made with friendship, infused with passion shared, spiced with gossip. These days, I have no girlfriends living close by, close enough to come over and bake with me. Mathilde does spend one day a month making macarons with me, and that I love. Baking is more fun when it is done with a friend. Sadly, I have found no like-minded souls living in this city of mine with which to share my afternoons and passions, so I end up baking all on my lonesome. Like a teen heaving great sighs of unrequited love, I dream of standing shoulder to shoulder and creating baked goods with girlfriends. But if you can’t do it in real life, well, virtual baking parties are the next best thing.


I have gotten in the habit of baking across borders with Rosa, the talented chef behind Rosa’s Yummy Yums. We find each other on twitter, usually for a Daring Baker challenge or to bake bread, and we share woes and worries, ask each other questions (ok, mostly it is I asking her!) and check the other’s progress, we encourage and cheer, offer sage advice and bakerly wisdom. I bake macarons with Deeba, although rarely at the same time, but we cry over lost feet when we find ourselves in front of yet another tray of cracked puddles and we do the happy dance when one of us succeeds in reaching mac heaven. Baking together, although miles apart, is an exercise in sisterly kinship and affinity.

This week, Jeanne, Meeta and I had our first virtual bake-together: three friends, three countries, one recipe. We will reveal the great Cake Bake Surprise next Wednesday, so be patient, if you will. This kind of baking adventure is nourished with e-mails and twitter messages, pushing, encouraging, goading, teasing, photos sent, gossip giggled over, our inner 16 year olds resurfacing (as they often do when we are together, whether in real life or virtually) and ends with a delectable treat that we present with great aplomb to the men in our lives, allowing them the pleasure of the fruits of our sisterly labor, hoping upon hope that it will cheer them up, bring back the warm, happy men we know and love, leaving us content with spreading the joy.


I also had a packet of spices burning a hole in my proverbial pocket (the basket of goodies on my shelf), a spice mix given to each of a dozen blogging girlfriends who met up for a London brunch, by wonderful Kavey, and this also finally made it to the kitchen table this week amidst the groans and grumps emanating from the livingroom. The spices were offered to each one of us apparently at random and as I peeled away the crisp, white tissue paper, I saw with utter delight that my packet contained mixed dried vegetables: carrot, tomato, red and green paprika, leek, salt and vegetable oil, in all of their lovely red, green and gold glory. Kavey had the utterly brilliant idea of offering each of us a packet of spices and asked each of us to make something with them, post on our blogs and then she would share all of the resulting creations. Well, put anything dried and in powder form in front of a macaron maker and her eyes light up and only one thought crosses her mind: macarons! Savory, salty and sweet, this is what my little packet cried out to me! And after two miserable, failed results, third time was absolutely the charm and here are my Salty Savory Sweet Vegetable Macarons filled with Chili Chocolate Ganache!


Like my wonderful, crazy men, these macarons, these simple little treats, are strange and unusual, sweet and salty old dogs all at once, changing as I savor them, always pleasing in the end and putting a smile on my face.


These macarons would be perfect filled with a cream cheese filling, maybe whipped with a tad more of the dried mixed vegetables or with slivers of sundried tomatoes and served as an appetizer.


Visit Kavey Eats to see what creative treats everyone else came up with!

And speaking of my passion for macarons, don't miss my latest on Huffington Post Food: New Year's Resolution: Making Your Own Macarons! And if you haven't yet, 2011 is the year to tackle these tiny French confections!

SALTY SAVORY SWEET VEGETABLE MACARONS with Chili Chocolate Ganache

7.4 oz (210 g) confectioner’s/powdered sugar
4 oz (115 g) ground blanched almonds
3 large egg whites (about 3.8 – 4 oz/ 110 – 112 g) *
1 oz (30 g) white granulated sugar
2 Tbs dried mixed vegetables in powder form

* It is recommended to age your egg whites by placing them in a very clean lidded jar or covered bowl and leaving them out at room temperature for 24 hours before making the macarons.

Prepare 2 large baking sheets. On 2 large pieces of white paper the size of your baking sheets, trace 1 – inch diameter circles (I used the wide end of my pastry tip) evenly spaced, leaving about ¾ - 1 inch between each circle. This will be your template to help you pipe even circles of batter onto the parchment paper. You will be able to reuse these endlessly. Place one paper on each baking sheet then cover with parchment paper. Set aside. Prepare a pastry bag with a plain tip.

Sift the powdered sugar and the ground almonds together into a large mixing bowl. Add the dried powdered mixed vegetables and stir with a whisk or fork until blended. Set aside.

In a standing mixer or with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites for 30 seconds on low speed then increase speed to high and whip until the whites are foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar as you continue to whip the whites until you obtain a glossy meringue and all of the sugar has been beaten in. The meringue will be very stiff (turn the bowl upside down over your head and they shouldn’t move) and be dense like marshmallow.

Gently but firmly fold the whipped whites into the powdered sugar/ground almonds, using a silicon spatula or the equivalent, turning the bowl as you lift and fold, making sure you fold in all the dry ingredients completely. When the batter is ready to pipe, it should flow from the spatula like lava or a thick ribbon. To test to see if you have folded it enough, drop a small amount onto a clean plate and jiggle it slightly. The top should flatten, not remain in a point. If it doesn’t flatten, give the batter a few more folds and test again. You can also fold the powdered mixture into the meringue if it is easier for you.

Fill your pastry bag with the batter. Pipe circles onto the parchment paper, using the traced circles on the template sheets to guide you, holding your pastry bag above each circle and piping into the center. DO NOT FORGET TO CAREFULLY REMOVE THE WHITE PAPER TEMPLATE FROM UNDERNEATH THE PARCHMENT PAPER. YOU DO NOT WANT THIS TEMPLATE TO GO IN THE OVEN!

Preheat your oven to 280°F (140°C).

Allow the macarons to sit out for 45 minutes to an hour. The top of each shell should form a “skin” (it will feel like it hardened a bit when gently touched and not stick to your skin). Bake the shells for 15 – 25 minutes, depending on their size (when I touched macs that were not quite done, the top jiggled a bit as if there was still a bit of liquid batter between the top and the “feet” so I let it continue to bake another minute.) I turn the trays back to front a little more than halfway through the baking. These macarons took about 5 minutes more than my macarons usually do, but they were perfectly baked, peeling off of the parchment paper immediately.

Remove the tray from the oven and immediately slide the parchment paper with the shells off of the hot baking sheet and onto a surface, table or countertop. Allow to cool completely before sliding the shells very gently off of the parchment by slipping a metal cake spatula under the shell as you lift it up or by peeling the parchment paper from the back of the shells. Be careful or the center of the shell risks sticking to the parchment.

When the macaron shells are cool, pair the shells up evenly, each with a partner. Pipe a dollop, about a teaspoon, of ganache filling onto half of the shells, the bottom shell in each pair. Carefully sandwich the shells together.


CHILI CHOCOLATE GANACHE
I decided to use a bar of Chili Chocolate in order to add another spice to the mix, but feel free to use any dark chocolate you please!


½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
4 ¼ oz (120 g) Lindt Excellence 70% Chili Dark Chocolate

Chop the chocolate and put in an appropriately-sized pyrex (heatproof) bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan gently until it comes just to the boil. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until all of the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth and luxurious. Allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. It should thicken to a spreading/piping consistency. If you need to, speed up the process by placing in the refrigerator until desired spreading/piping consistency, stirring occasionally.


50 comments:

Sanjeeta kk said...

Love the savory Macarons! Baking surely is a good panache for getting rid of stress and the mood swings. Am sure you are feeling better now, with all the lovely goodies you baked.
Cheers!!

Kavey said...

I would never in a million years thought of macarons for this spice mix, you're so creative!
X X X

Miriam said...

Amazing! I haven't even dared to attempt regular macarons...

Dinners and Dreams said...

Wow, your creativity has no limits. Brilliant!

Nisrine

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

Genius! That's the last thing I would have thought of making :) Love the saga of the Grumps of Crabbyville - sounds like a daytime soap in the making ;o) And oh yes, can't wait for the next Boulangers Sans Frontieres bake-in!

Gillian said...

How I wish I lived close enough to pop over for a baking afternoon what fun that would be. I am lucky in having a couple of friends who often get together to cook but not bake.

Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite said...

I do need to get me some of these powders to spice up my own macarons! Well done - these are gorgeous!

Lael Hazan @educatedpalate said...

Wow! If that packet had graced our home the thought of macarons would not have entered our mind! You are brilliant, creative, and amazing. Perhaps your living with so many Martians (am I dating myself, you do remember the book, Men are from Mars & Women are from Venus) has assisted in loosening the bounds of your creativity!

Adele said...

What a beautiful post, Jamie, thanks very much. I can't tell you how relieved I feel to hear that other people's dishes sometimes don't work out either. These were definitely worth the trial and error.

Lana said...

Oh, Jamie, I can vouch for temperamental and moody disposition of men, even though mine is an all-girl household (even our cats are girls) - husband is a rara avis:) But when my father visits, they somehow take over, and logic and reason cannot prevail (even though they claim THEY are the reasonable creatures:)
I bake alone, too, with no girlfriends close by. Who knows, one of these days it might be possible that we make something together in virtual world:)
I have never attempted to make macarons - husband is allergic to almonds, but they look so good, especially in this savory-sweet incarnation of yours.

Colleen said...

WOW! What an epic post...and those macs! What an amazing mixture. I can just imagine the sweet and sour popping on my tastebuds! Very creative Jamie. Oh and which one of those 3 gals are you??? Surely the one with the sexy bouffant hairstyle Bwaaahaaahaaa! Love you madly! xxx PS Cannot wait!! xx

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said...

What a fantastic description of these macarons (and the men in your life) "strange and unusual, sweet and salty old dogs all at once". Ah yes, men are such temperamental creatures aren't they, not that they would ever admit to it!

I love your idea for making a cream cheese frosting with sun-dried tomatoes, brilliant! I will keep that in mind for an appetizer.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

They are spoilt! LOL. They are so lucky to have you. I love baking and would love to bake together with you in real life (not virtually). By the way, thanks for the shout out and kind words!

You are the macaron queen! Those have such gorgeous flavors.

Cheers,

Rosa xoxo

Becky said...

You're so talented!! I can't wait to see more!

Becky said...

You're so talented. I can't wait to see more!

bunkycooks said...

Veggie flavored macarons! I love it! I will definitely have to make a batch of macarons this year. I tried one last year with marginal success. I also like the virtual baking parties! How much fun. :)

FOODalogue said...

Hands down...this is the best version of macarons that I've seen! This I would love to try.

Lisa said...

Jamie - 'chick Power' needs to be in place to keep everything on a nice, even keel. My sister, who has a 2 and half year old boy and is expecting another boy soon, insisted that the puppy they get be of female persuasion after the passing of their male dog last month. Now she feels a little less lopsided. lol

Your macarons are creative beyond words. I've always said I'm so careful, and a bit afrid of adding anything other than nuts to the macaron shells. I once added litte matzo meal, and once some dried, ground lemon zest, but I really want to 'add' enough in so the flavor really comes through. I'll be experimenting for this month's MacTweets :)

Jamie said...

@Lisa: we always had female dogs so there was at least an "us" vs "them" but no longer since we got Marty. So tell your sister to stick by the choice of a female dog! And YES please join us for Mactweets!!! I'd love it!

@Lael Hazan @ educatedpalate: ha ha ha! And did I tell you that I was thinking of you and our men as I wrote this? At least they do inspire creativity!

@Rosa's Yummy Yums: one of my goals is to bake with both you and Deeba in real life! Now that would really be a rollicking great time!

lora said...

You are a fearless macaron maker! What a great idea to use the mix for macarons. They look intriguing and beautiful.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

A house full of men - oh my, but I guess I fall in that category too, only I just have a husband and no dogs or kids.

I never even considered that macarons could be savory. I'm not much of a sweets eater, so these yummy goodies would be right up my alley. Can you email a couple of dozen my way (smile).

Jamie, I hope your new year is filled with much happiness and good health.
xxoo,
Sam

Cathy said...

Leave it to you, Jamie, to come up with a fantastic, creative macaron! I never would have though of making a savory version and, who knows, maybe you are starting a trend here. I'll have to think about possible combinations. Great post!

Heavenly Housewife said...

You have become so good at making macarons that you've gone all avant garde on us daaahling!
Beautiful.
*kisses* HH

elra said...

Macarons with chili chocolate ganache ? Only a creative mind can create such a unique treat like this.

asiangrrl said...

Those sound unbelievably tasty. I'm glad you found women with whom you can bake, even if none of them are in your neighborhood.

Sue said...

Jamie, I would LOVE to be your baking buddy! I need one too, especially for macarons! ALL your men are lucky to have you! Maybe someday you will have granddaughters to balance things out a bit:) Your macarons sound/look amazing...I'd love to try one!

Fresh Local and Best said...

I think this is a very good compromise for the boys, and an intriguing one. You may just start a trend.

Deeba PAB said...

Mood swings rule our poor worlds, but you swing it just the right way dahling! Love what you did with these, spicing up you life, and ours! My daughter gets a friend across some-days and they love to bake {no pictures allowed}. Am sure you had a blast with the spice girls... must have been a riot! Love the chili chocolate filling too... very inspired sistah!! I ♥ it!!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Gorgeous flavour Jamie and men folk are certainly funny creatures. And they find us hard to understand? :P

Nicole said...

How very creative you are!
I'd come over and bake but i'd have to bring along another very young male!
My friends are all so spread apart too and it's hard but I think of them when i bake. Of the teas we'd have if we were living in the same city.

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

Oh Jamie - it's the other way round in our house - even the dogs are female. My husband moans constantly that he's the one left out and as the most relentlessly cheerful one in our house he is completely baffled when we all descend into a cloud usually at the same time. But yes he does open the door of the fridge and moan about why we have so much food then go out and buy jars and jars of pickles to jam the shelves.
I'll be coming back to try your macaron recipe and look forward to the tweets about the virtual cake bake too. lots of fun ahead to keep a big smile on my face.

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

Oh Jamie - it's the other way round in our house - even the dogs are female. My husband moans constantly that he's the one left out and as the most relentlessly cheerful one in our house he is completely baffled when we all descend into a cloud usually at the same time. But yes he does open the door of the fridge and moan about why we have so much food then go out and buy jars and jars of pickles to jam the shelves.
I'll be coming back to try your macaron recipe and look forward to the tweets about the virtual cake bake too. lots of fun ahead to keep a big smile on my face.

A Canadian Foodie said...

This is one of the best reads I have engaged in for quite some time. I love the photos and am sure "the girls" will want to know who is which one!;)
I understand. I haven't any friends nearby who I can call to come over to bake or cook for a day, either - and love that you have taken the initiative to do a cake with a couple of other cyber friends.
These macaron are completely novel and I love the metaphor you created for them and your men.
Inspirational!
(Please consider Feedburner so I can get your posts in my mail box.)
:)
Valerie

Carolyn Jung said...

What an interesting flavor combo! And you have my permission to bake to your heart's content any day of the week. Boys will be boys. But not many of them complain if they get something delicious to eat at the end of it all. ;)

Soma said...

oh yes! Jamie, my heart is really talking now, the chili chocolate is taking me to dizzying heights. Lovely!

Phil in the Kitchen said...

Well I do feel sorry for you but imagine what it's like for a man who wants to bake. When I was younger I could have invited friends round for a baking session, but that wouldn't have gone down well with guys who preferred to talk about football and cars (neither of which interest me). Fortunately my wife lets me bake these days while she watches the football. Great macarons - I love chili chocolate.

Nuts about food said...

I can only imagine how tough it must be at times to be the only girl in a household, with no female relatives or girlfriends nearby. You are however very lucky (actually I am sure it is not luck, it is deserved) to have made so many close friendships through blogging. And you make astounding macarons.
Your men better not complain about those or this "friend" will stomp over and wag a finger at them...and steal a macaron while there.

Kulsum@JourneyKitchen said...

so we both write about mood swings? I bet our men are not very proud of that hehe but you make yours happy with Macarons. I mean savory macarons...you mactweeters are also dare devils :) A great post as always

5 Star Foodie said...

These savory macaroons are so unique, made with the veggie powder, so cool! And the ganache with chili chocolate sounds incredible!

Tanvi@Sinfully Spicy said...

I sometimes feel lucky to atleast have a blog to vent out my anger or joy.And the good thing is that my husband dosent read it too :) I can so relate to every word in your post.What a fantastic story of men and your moods.I love your picture perfect macarons with chilli & choco combo!
Jumped on to your site via Deeba's blog and so so love it Jamie!

UrMomCooks said...

Fearless flavor is an excellent way to show the macaron who is boss!!! (And I am definitely not the boss of macaron at my house...)Lovely post for a yummy treat!

Meaghan Luby said...

wow, i NEVER would have even had a concept of these treats! i'm so impressed! i haven't tried macarons but, you make me want to play with them...

thank you for posting. if it lends inspiration, i shall repost ASAP ;)
-meg
@http://clutzycooking.blogspot.com
@http://myscribblednotebook.blogspot.com

tasteofbeirut said...

Wow, Jamie, I bet even the folks at Ladurée or Gérard Mulot did not think of such a daring mix! I am sure it is delicious and definitely a conversation starter! I love chili chocolate by Lindt, I look for it anywhere I am on the globe, and had been thinking of doing a cake with it or something; a ganache is a great idea, especially with the macarons.

Jackie at Phamfatale.com said...

So creative! I've never seen these flavors before and I've just stopped by Herme and Laduree! You shoudl send them suggestions :)

Cake Duchess said...

Hands down...you make the most amazing macs I've evah seen (did you hear my faux Southern accent;) WOW. love the flavor combos!! Send me some please? Or come visit me!!

Seattle Pastry Girl said...

Jamie, these are mac-a-licous looking-and stunning photos. I loved the post too-my friends are not bakers,sadly, but I'm lucky to have a sister only an hour away. The virtual baking idea is very creative !

OysterCulture said...

I just tried some savory macarons at the Fancy Food Show and cannot wait to try yours, they sound just amazing.

tammy sam said...

I LOVE that top picture! Amazing photography.

Inge said...

that's just fantastic!!! just mentioned the importance of spices myself in my latest blog entry!

Sharon E. Russell said...

Jamie, just reading through all the ways you've flavored your macaroons. The beetroot powder with Salmon and Cream Cheese sound yummy and this vegetable one is intriguing. Give a try to the freeze-dried fruit powders you can get from Nutri-Fruit.com. I did Strawberry and they were fantastic.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...