Friday, July 11, 2014

Blueberry Macarons & being inspired by CTs

Hi everyone! Before I get to the main post, just a little something :)

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Much love,
Joey

Once in very long while, I’m inspired by something extremely unexpected.  I’ll just go ahead and admit that this is the FIRST time I’ve been inspired to bake anything by an exam.


It’s a rather funny story actually…

About a week before the common tests, around the time I came back from New York, I was so caught up in trying (I repeat, trying. Read: not succeeding.) to finish studying for them that it took me quite a few days to convince myself that I had to post something or my blog would remain as nothing more than an archive the next 2 weeks. Add that to the past 2 weeks of emptiness.

So I forced up a post, recounting a rather interesting story how I got knocked down by a car. Yes, that was the Matcha White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies post.


What caught me off guard, what suddenly inspired me, what is now making me post less than 7 days after my previous post, happened on the fourth day of common tests (let’s call them CTs).

English Language and Linguistics CT.

To be honest, the subject I was dreading the most. It’s a new subject to me, and I’m not exactly doing very well. But I’m not exactly doing very well for anything. But that’s different.  When I stepped into the Mini LT, my palms were sweating. The paper was already on the table and I was dying inside. But when the teacher said to start and I looked at the question, I almost laughed.

I almost laughed out loud.

Not because it was so unbelievably hard that I was giving up about 3 seconds into the paper (and trust me, that happens quite a lot), but because the two texts for comparison were on macarons.


You probably know now why I just had to make macarons.

I would like to thank our amazing ELL tutor for choosing such a reliable recipe and for helping me get over my fear of macarons. The moment I had some free time after the math paper, sleepover and all sorts of weird post-exam nonsense, I took out the exam paper and made macarons from the recipe printed there.


To the time of posting I’ve made them 3 times.

They were that good.

Blueberry Macarons
Adapted from: www.marthastewart.com
Macaron Shells
Ingredients:
1 cup (125g) confectioner’s sugar
¾ cup (115g) almond flour

2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ cup (50g) castor/superfine sugar

Gel food colouring, as desired (only use gel food colouring as liquid colouring has too much liquid)

Method:
1.      Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius (no fan) or 325 degrees Fahrenheit (no fan).
2.      Prepare a baking tray with baking paper or a silicon baking mat.
3.      Pulse confectioner’s sugar and almond flour in a blender or food processor until fine.
4.      Sift twice
5.      In a stand mixer, or using an electric hand mixer, or using your arm muscles (:P), beat egg whites till foamy.
6.      Add cream of tartar.
7.      Beat till soft peaks form.
8.      Add castor sugar and beat till stiff peaks form
9.      Note that you will want to beat it at low-medium speed as beating it at high will cause the macarons to be flatter.
10.   Sift the sugar and almond mixture over the beaten egg whites.
11.   Fold until smooth. For this step, fold until there are no more streaks of almond flour, but not too much. Stop as soon as it’s fairly smooth and when you drop a spoonful of the mixture, it forms a a ‘ribbon’ that smoothens back into the rest of the mixture within 30-45 seconds.
12.   Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a ½ inch round piping tip.
13.   Pipe about 1 inch circles onto the prepared baking sheet. (They will spread slightly.)
14.   Allow to rest for 15-30 minutes.
15.   Bake for 10 minutes.
16.   Cool for 3-4 minutes on the baking tray.
17.   Transfer the entire sheet onto a wire rack to cool completely.
18.   Remove macaron shells from the baking sheet for assembly.
Blueberry Filling
Ingredients:
½ cup blueberries
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

¼ cup (32g) flour
½ cup (118ml or grams) milk
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar

½ cup (113g) butter, softened

Method:
1.      Combine blueberries, 1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a same saucepan.
2.      Cook for about 5-10 minutes over medium heat, until blueberries have softened and burst.
3.      Drain away liquid and cool completely.
4.      Meanwhile, add ¼ cup of flour to another saucepan.
5.      Gradually add milk while whisking till smooth.
6.      Whisk in sugar.
7.      Cook over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, until thickened and bubbly.
8.      Cool completely.
9.      Cream together cooled milk mixture and butter. Whisk till light and fluffy.
10.   Fold in blueberries.
11.   Transfer into a piping bag fitted with a ¼ inch round piping tip.

Assembly
1.      Pipe filling onto a shell, leaving about ¼ inch around the edges of the shell.
2.      Press another shell onto it gently to squeeze filling out to the edges, but not over.
3.      Repeat with the rest of the macaron shells.

4.      Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve (I find them better chilled).

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