I am in Chennai now.. where is the weather is just pleasant enough to sit comfortably without a fan and the cool evening breeze from the sea makes the leaves on the trees in my garden sway to an enchanting tune. Ofcourse, I am also being happily pampered by the family in every which way; lots of good food and my every wish fulfilled immediately. And, I have a good few weeks of this to cherish. Oh it's bliss! Ok, perhaps it won't last forever; once the novelty of my presence wears off but until then I am enjoying it all very very much! :)
I landed here yesterday and am still soaking in everything, including the time zone. So far, I have been walking through the day in a sorta jet lagged haze.. I wake up, eat, sleep, eat, sleep and try to get to used to the new day and night system. Pretty good living eh?! I think so too. I'll be fine in a couple of days though, fret not! :)
Now, despite all that, I cannot ignore my blog and leave all you loyal readers (surely there is one?!) hanging until I get back to the States? No siree, that isn't done! So, I made a few things, before departing on my vacation, to be posted about, in leisure, this month.
So, am starting off with Macarons! Remember my tribulations and eventual triumph, with Cardamom and Ganache macarons, in making this delicate French desserts?! Even as I was whooping with joy in October over having made a successful batch of these tricky treats, I decided that I would not be a one-trick pony. I have to recreate that magic if only to justify the baker in me. I must show who is the master and ofcourse the thought of playing with new flavor combinations just made it all very appealing.
Jamie's and Deeba's call for a monthly macaron challenge, Mac Attack, served just the perfect excuse to try my hand at them again. They have dedicated a whole blog, MACTWEETS, to macs with a lot of information on getting it right. And ofcourse, a blogroll of all the wonderful and creative Mac Bakers!
My entry for this month's challenge is Rose and Basil Seed Macaron with Cherry Cream Cheese filling. The inspiration behind it was the Indian Falooda. Falooda is a refreshing summer drink made with cold rose milk, vermicelli and puffed basil seeds. It is an adaptation of the Persian dessert Faloodeh and was brought to the Indian subcontinent during the Mughal period. I love rose milk and the basil seeds add an interesting texture element like the tapioca baubles in Chinese bubble tea!
I had a packet of Falooda mix at home and it struck me that it would great flavor experiment for macarons! And, so it came to be. For this challenge, I also wanted to stress test my learnings from my last success. My first few unsuccessful attempts were with Helen's recipe and I wanted to try the recipe again and see if I had after all grown in macaron baking. Oh! I am happy to report that it worked. I am not a one-trick pony after all!!!
So ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I present to you my newest Mac creation! :) Much love to you all!
Before you go, I have another piece of news to share. Foodista has invited me to contribute to their Best of Food Blogs Cookbook. This is a real dream opportunity for me but to make it real, I need your help in voting for me and my recipes to be part of the book. I have submitted some of my favorites. I will be greatly obliged to you if you could vote for me! Thanks very much for your love!!
Indian Cashew Fudge (Kaju Barfi) - Vote here
Pesto Rolls - Vote here
Roasted Pumpkin and Barley Risotto - Vote here
Mango and Saffron Ice Cream - Vote here
Rose and Basil Seed Macarons with Cherry Cream Cheese
I used rose sugar for flavoring. If you can't find any, you can use 1/2 tsp of rose extract. Add to the egg whites and whip as per directions.
For the macarons shells:
basic macaron shell recipe adapted from Tartelette)
1 egg white
1 T granulated sugar
1/2 cup + 1/2 T powdered sugar
1/3 cup + 1/2 T ground almonds
2 tsp rose flavored sugar for the meringue
2 tsp rose flavored sugar + 1/2 tsp basil seeds for garnish
For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not over beat your meringue or it will be too dry. Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like lava or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes.
Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Sprinkle with the crushed sugar or violet petals. Preheat the oven to 280F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size.
Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don't let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer. To fill: pipe or spoon about 1 big tablespoon of butterceam in the center of one shell and top with another one.
Cherry Cream Cheese filling
1-1/2 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1 T butter at room temperature
1/8 tsp burgundy powder food color
2 tsp kirsch or cherry liqueur
4 T powdered sugar
Whip the ingredients together to make a smooth paste. Refrigerate until ready to use. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off a small bit. Pipe out the filling onto the cooled macaron shells. Top with another and press gently to seal.