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Friday, August 13, 2010

Playing with Flavors

I was delightfully surprised two weeks ago when a contact of mine sent me flavors I have had a hard time purchasing. My gratefulness soon turned to ideas for macarons and some recipes I am still perfecting. Of course I sent this very generous person pictures of these heavenly pastries.

Pomegranate Macarons with White Chocolate Crème Mousse and
Macaron aux Bleuets with White Chocolate Crème Mousse

As any one who has ever read my blog knows I have an obsessions with the French Macaron and love to play with flavoring the shells as well as the filling. So when I received an early Christmas present, the natural, organic flavors, (yes to me this was an early Christmas!) I cracked open a dozen eggs and proceeded to separate the whites. No worries I created more desserts with the yolks, but that is another blog.

Placed them, the egg whites, safely away in the back refrigerator and waited four days. Believe me the wait was excruciating, but I survived by baking with Sydney!  Since I don't want to bore you with the four days of waiting I will just fast forward to Saturday.

We decided to work with the blueberry macarons first, since it is blueberry season, they're more accessible, and I happen to love blueberries. 

Blueberries remind of long summer days were the sun doesn't set till 9:00 p.m. This summer has come and almost gone, life seems to become faster paced as the season changes to fall, the air becomes crisp and cool, schools are back in session. I seem to always go through "end of summer blues"ever year (then I remember I like all the seasons and all the months, except January), but this year it is exceptionally melancholy... as I've mentioned in previous blogs my only child is starting college out of state (at Knox College) of course and washed

Time to put attention to to the development of Macaron aux Bleuets with White Chocolate Crème Mousse. The standing mixer comes up and the Italian Meringue begins.


Powder sugar, almonds, water, eggs white, and superfine sugar all are weighed and formulated on the counter top, the assembly begins for easy organized chaos (how we bake best together). Actually it's just chaotic, but it is pretty coordinated.

While the Macaron aux Bleuets wait for their skins to develop, we move on to the Pomegranate Macarons. Pomegranates regretfully are not in season during the summer, but I have PAMA, pomegranate extract, and POM pomegranate juice.
As I indicated earlier I tend to become dispirited towards the end of summer till I remember Fall is a pretty "cool" season too. The crispness of the air, apples, cranberries, pumpkins, and of course pomegranates are in season, Halloween, and Thanksgiving are a part of the Fall Festivities (Sydney is back from school for a six week break!)

Same ritual begins all over again, the measuring, formulating, and organized chaos. Now folding the meringue and almond mixture, Sydney clears the decks; piping begins, the Pomegranate macarons are lined up with the Macaron aux Bleuets to develop skins too!

Macaron aux Bleuets are finally ready for the preheated oven and baking, by the time all four trays of Bleuets are done the Pomegranate Macarons will have their skins and go through the same baking process.


The early evening is now approaching time to create the White Chocolate Crème Mousse, take the mixer bowl and whisk out of the freezer, whip a cloud crème add the chocolate, match the macarons for size,  pipe the filling on one side and sandwich the top. 

Voila two new and mouthwatering delicious macarons! 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August College Picnic

I know it must seem like I only talk about Sydney, but she is my heart. I guess by now anyone who knows me or reads my blog realizes I am having a hard time with Sydney leaving for Knox College. I am  busting with pride and excitement for her, however we have been together for 18 years, and it is difficult for me visualize a kitchen with out Sydney.

I am the luckiest mom! I have a beautiful talented daughter who laughs and shares her life with me; whether it be good, sad, annoying or bad. Our closest conversation have been held over sugar, flour, butter, and yeast (just to name some ingredients.)

As the summer wides down and another month passes we both try to hold on to the moment at hand, baking as a team. It is my responsibility to show her college is a unique opportunity for education, and camaraderie. She can keep baking while living in school, maybe for more than just for herself. In fact we have a picnic for out of state Colorado students going to Knox College. We made a few Chocolate Baba au Fragoli  with white Chocolate Crème Mousse filling, at least some of the students and faculty can sample Sydney's baking.

They're irresistible 

They look so alluring, but nobody wants to be first to eat one!
 (They're too pretty to eat)

I realized as we were packing our picnic lunch, the Baba au Fragoli are presenting a transporting dilemma. We have only 60 minutes to figure this out, finally my husband is the one with the solution, individual plastic containers.

I seem to be ahead in time, so I will back up 48 hours..Sydney: "back the farm truck up!"

48 Hours previous: Sydney and I are organizing our baking schedule, and remembering we need to bring a treat to the Knox picnic in the park. Since the weather is predicted  to be around 92 degreesF/33 degreesC we must take that into account. Well to a point Denver's weather can change in a minute.
Baba au Rhums (actually Fragoli) are the pastry of choice, since the batter is a yeast dough the heat should not effect the little cakes.

The filling and topping, which for time saving reasons need to be the same, now come under consideration. A radiant red strawberry gelatine would be perfect, oh but not so eye popping for the piped topping, after going back forth with ideas we finally decide on White Chocolate Crème Mousse. What has more contrast then white on black? While the sponge rests for 20 minutes we prepare the filling/topping, time management.

With a plan in hand and goal it is time to bake the Chocolate Baba au Fragoli.

The sponge

 The Baba molds have been sufficiently greased with butter as they wait for a sticky elastic dough. 
Baba au Rhum molds
The sponge is ready, I must apologize the picture was to blurry to post. My husband is a very talented man, however the camera is not his forte. Anyways bake to the little Babas they need about 40 minutes to proof and rise again, but I have noticed, even though they are in a proofer, the dough is rising faster then normal time in this heat.  

While we wait Sydney formulates the simple syrup, sugar and water. The fun part begins when the syrup has cooled and we add the Strawberry and Vanilla liqueur to it.

A candy thermometer is not essential for simple syrup,
but she is a perfectionist
Finally the babas are ready for the preheated 400 degree F/ 205 degree C oven. While they bake for 20-25 minutes I add the liqueur into the simple syrup. The babas have are wonderful deep chocolate top, time to gently unmold and saturate with the syrup liqueur. As I saturate each baba Sydney heats the Jam, strains the jam, and brushes the warm jam on to the cooled babas.

The White Chocolate Crème Mousse is ready and waiting to be piped inside the Chocolate Baba au Fragoli.
Almost ready to be packed

About an hour in the refrigerator, just enough time to wash up and dress for the picnic. 

*A little note the picnic was welcoming, I know Sydney picked the perfect fit between herself and college. I will still miss her everyday, but I can visualize her having an unforgettable life experience, and  know she is safe and happy!