quinta-feira, 27 de agosto de 2009

Strawberry and amburana macarons

Recently I have been thinking a lot about amburana as I see the recipes the girls have made after they received their packages of amburana seeds. I love these seeds so much not only for their amazing flavor and perfume but for their amazing healing powers. Amburana can really help troubled stomachs and I have been using them on my milk every night and it feels so good. I used to boil some vanilla seeds in my milk but have totally substituted vanilla for amburana seeds for their fantastic medicinal effects, amazing flavor and cost much cheaper.

The strawberry macaron is the result of a strawberry confectioners sugar I found on the other day. The first time I saw the box in the supermarket I was suspicious but after that I just could not ignore their boxes anymore and just had to buy it even if I don't like artificially colored macarons.

There is a complication in using the strawberry confectioners sugar because it is not pure sugar and it contains some parts of potato starch. However, since the regular confectioners sugar is not pure either and also contains potato starch in it, I didn't find it a real threat to the macarons as I have been using non pure sugar all this time since I neither have proper equipment to produce extra fine sugar nor the intention to produce it.

The kids loved the strawberry flavored macarons and were really interested to tell me that they had enjoyed them very much. I filled the shell with a thick amburana pastry cream, (Crème Pâtissière) worked just perfect for the filling. I was a little concerned about the results but it was very pretty satisfying. The hard part is to form the pairs. I normally form the pairs but I don't fill them all immediately, I usually fill half a dozen or eight of them ( one or two for each of us) and I fill the others as we wish some more. I don't like filled macarons to stand more than 24 hours outside the refrigerator, they don't taste the same in my opinion...

Strawberry and amburana macarons

Inspired by all those recipes available at Pure Gourmandise which offers around 79 different flavors of macarons to tempt my life...

100 grams of egg whites (around 3 egg whites)
30 grams sugar
125 grams almond flour (grounded almonds)
200 grams confectioners sugar ( I used 100 grams of strawberry confectioners sugar and 100 grams of regular confectioners sugar)


There are many blogs and sites which explain how to make the right macaron but I will describe here the simple way I use to make them which is pretty much inspired by this post as I don't make with Italian meringue, I prefer the simple light French meringue. You can also check this this post and these ones.

First separate the egg whites and leave them covered (well there are mosquitos even here, in Norway) on the counter at room temperature for one, two or even three days).

On the day you plan to make the macarons process the almonds and confectioners sugar in a food processor until well grounded, sift the mixture one, sift it again to remove all the big pieces of almond from the flour and set aside. Line two large cookie pans with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a electric mixer beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the granulated sugar, one table spoon at a time and let the mixer continue beating until you have a glossy meringue.

Add the flour mixture to the meringue in three or four parts folding until the dry ingredients were completely incorporated and you have no more white parts of meringue apparents. Make a test to check the batter. Put a teaspoon of batter on the pan and if the batter flattens immediately you are ready if it form peaks you still have to fold the batter couple of times more.

Put the batter in a pastry bag and pipe the batter to a diameter of two centimeters on the prepared pans. Let the piped macarons stand in room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes, while your oven is heating.

Bake for about 10 at 140-160 C oven in preheated oven. It is important to turn the pans halfway through for a more equal baking.

Makes 60 shells (30 filled macarons)

Amburana pastry cream

500 ml milk
6 amburana seeds
4 egg yolks
6 tablespoons of sugar
4 tablespoons of corn starch


In a heavy bottom saucepan over low heat cook milk and amburana seeds until the infusion boils. Set aside and let it stand for 15 minutes. In another heavy bottomed saucepan whisk yolks with sugar until you have a double size mixture very light color. Add corn starch and whisk some more to incorporate. Remove and discard the amburana seeds from milk infusion. Warm the infused milk again and before it starts to boils add one part of milk to yolk mixture whisking vigorously to incorporate. Add the rest of the milk to the yolk mixture whisky vigorously. Transfer pan to stove and cook the mixture for a couple of minutes over medium heat or until it starts to thicken. Once it boils remove it from heat, transfer to a glass bowl, cover with plastic film and let it cool completely before using. It can be kept refrigerated for up 5 days.

quinta-feira, 13 de agosto de 2009

Images of a summer...

Before I can allow myself to move into chocolates and the density of the cold seasons I revisited my photo archive to check my spring-summer production. Strong colors, fruits, flowers and flavors which will not be forgotten...

segunda-feira, 3 de agosto de 2009

Blueberry panna cotta and raspberry gelatin...

We just came back from an amazing week in Sundsvall, on the coast of Sweden. The weather was OK, not exceptionally warm but sunny most of the time and very little rain during some of the nights. In Sundsvall we stayed in a lovely camping place where we set our tent couple of metres away from the sea, a beautiful sand beach. The children loved it and we did have some fun too.

I was planning to write a post about this week trip, analyze the subtle differences between Norway and Sweden but I can feel the weight of summer on my back right now and I just can't avoid the laziness which strikes me. The servings around here are quite lazy too, motivated by simplicity and the fruits for free we pick around the garden. Yesterday we had some friends for dinner and I managed to serve blueberry panna cotta for the grown ups and raspberry jelly for the kids.

I made a traditional panna cotta made out of cooked cream. However, I must confess that I prefer fake panna cotta, those without heavy cream. My fake panna cottas are made out of milk and yogurt only and I have learned to enjoy the lightness of the milk and the yogurt a lot more than the heavily fat cream. Do it as you like it...

Blueberries and Yogurt Panna Cotta

500 ml cream
6 tsp sugar
200 ml vanilla yogurt or natural
Scraps of a vanilla pod (just in case you don't have vanilla yogurt)
300g blueberries
4 teaspoons or sheets of gelatin
Chocolate shavings or fresh fruits to decorate

How to:

In a small saucepan heat the cream, the vanilla scraps (if using) and the sugar. Let the cream cook stirring all the time until the mixture boils. Meanwhile sprinkle the gelatin powder over 1/4 cup of water and let it soften for some minutes. If using sheets let the sheets soften in water and squeeze the sheets after some minutes. Add the gelatin (whatever type you are using) to the cream and whisk until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Once gelatin is dissolved let it cool completely.

Put the blueberries in a food processor or blender and pulse them until you get a smooth puree. Pour the fruit puree through a sieve into a bowl. Add the yogurt to the fruit in the bowl and whisk to incorporate fruit and yogurt. When the cream has cooled to body temperature add the cream to the fruit-yogurt mixture and whisk well to incorporate totally. Divide up the into six to eight cups or molds (depending on the size of the cup or ramekin you are using).

Refrigerate for three to four hours before serving. You can decorate your panna cottas with chocolate shavings or fresh fruits.

To remove the panna cottas from their cups just dip the bottom of the cups into a bowl of hot water, shake a little bit the cup to make sure the sides are released and flip the cup over on a plate. If you prefer, you can oil the cups a little before filling them with the cream mixture as it can helps to transfer the panna cottas.

Raspberry gelatin

4 (four) cups of fresh raspberries (you can use strawberries, red currants or any other red fruit)
1/2 cup of sugar (add more if you prefer sweeter)
1 cup cold water + 1/2 cup to softens gelatin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
5 teaspoons of gelatin powder or agar-agar


In a bowl of a blender or food processor puree the raspberries with sugar and one cup of cold water. Put the mixture through a fine sieve and transfer it to a big bowl. Add the lemon juice and whisk well. Transfer two cups of the juice mixture to a sauce pan and let it boil over medium heat. Meanwhile let the gelatin soften in half cup of cold water. Add the softened gelatin to the boiled juice and whisk well until gelatin is completely melted. Mix boiled juice with remaining cold juice and whisk well to incorporate the mixtures. Divide the liquid between 10 to 12 cups.

Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or over night before serving.
Serve with fresh raspberries or strawberries. I used wild strawberries from our garden.

Serves 10 to 12.
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