A friend recently told me that Delicious Delicious Delicious has undergone a makeover and is now 'an explosion of colour.' I didn't really know what she meant, but I suppose actually the description is fair. Since its birth last year, the blog has had a fair few different looks - three columns, two columns, three columns again, several different templates... The list goes on. But it's true that there is a lot of colour in the sidebars, and do you know what? I tend to forget it's there.
Yup. The man who spends ages trying to make his food look pretty forgets about it once it is up here on show.
The pictures I choose to border the text on my blog are the ones I am relatively happy with (you all know of my ongoing struggles with lighting and basic inability to take a decent shot of anything I make) and don't really want to forget about. It started with the lamingtons, because making them was such fun that I wanted a permanent reminder of those crazy coconut and crumb filled blue-gray Winter days on the blog's front page. Then I added more pictures and forgot about the lams for a while. The only ones that repeatedly caught my attention (and still do) were the Purple Rain Lamingtons; they were so delicious.
As a tribute to Delicious Delicious Delicious' latest puff quote, I wanted my next batch of home made macs to be 'an explosion of colour', too, like the ones you see in the food halls of trendy department stores. I mean, have a look at what Pierre Hermé gets away with. His are basically the street walkers of the macaron world! I first thought to try to turn out a batch of hot pink macaron shells, and sandwich them with a spicy, cinnamon infused slut-red ganache, but I didn't add enough colouring to the macaron batter and ended up with cherry blossom coloured macarons. Which were also strange shapes - turns out you were right, Mardi. My first time must have been pure luck; these are tempermental cookies!
Anyway, I wasted no time on the failed pinkies. I just ate them, right off the baking sheet, and moved on. (And no, you can't see them - I deleted the photos.) But needing inspiration and being short on time (I had exactly one day before leaving on another trip, my first since the ash disaster - fingers crossed we have no repeats of that!), I decided to trawl the net for some ideas. Fruitless. As I was just giving up, the Purple Rain Lamingtons jumped out at me, tantilizingly, from the side of the page.
One word: convinced.
Out came the food colouring and violet liqueur, and I re-read Ms. Humble's seminal French Macaron 101 to try and trouble shoot my failed slut macs.
(I think I over beat the mixture, but we'll never know for sure.)
I was happy this time. The reason? My beautiful, smooth shells. The key is to use as finely ground almonds as you can get. I did this by sifting my ready-ground almonds before weighing them out; all the chunky, granular almond pieces went back into the packet, and I used only the powdery almond dust that passed through my mesh sieve to make the macaron batter. You think this baker has a food processor to grind almonds? Well, he doesn't.
I am repeating the recipe from my grapefruit and lychee macarons post. The only difference this time is that I used the seeds of one vanilla pod instead of the grapefruit zest in the batter, and flavoured the buttercream with Crème de Violet instead of Soho. If you really wanted to go for it, you could grind up a packet of Parma Violets to use in place of the vanilla, but I hate them, so didn't.
My photos were taken hurriedly (I was icing a layer cake for a friend's birthday party and making my own sprinkles at the same time, and we all know that men can't multi-task to save their lives), in poor lighting at the end of the day, so you shall have to forgive me. All I will say is that later on, as an after thought, we sprinkled the macarons with Nite Violet Edible Glitter and had a full on Pre-Party Purple Party. Sugary, sparkling bliss.
Crème de Violet Macarons
You will need:
110g icing sugar
50g ground almonds
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
2 egg whites (60g), aged for 24 hours (just leave them on the kitchen counter, uncovered)
40g caster sugar
small dab of grape violet food colour gel
50g soft butter
125g icing sugar
45ml (3 tbsp) Crème de Violet liqueur
- Sift the 110g icing sugar into a large bowl, and mix in the almonds and vanilla.
- In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy, then slowly whisk in the caster sugar until you have soft peaking meringue. Add the dab of colour gel, and carry on whisking until stiff peaks form.
- Add the almond and sugar mixture, and fold in. You are supposed to do this in exactly 50 strokes, and turn the bowl 45° after every tenth stroke. I don't think it's of paramount importance - you should just have a smooth mixture.
- Put this mix into a piping bag with the end snipped off, and pipe circles about 2 inches in diameter and well spaced apart on a lined baking sheet. You should have between 28 and 30 blobs of mixture. Let's call it 29.
- Let them sit for 30 minutes while you pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
- Bake for 12 minutes on the bottom shelf. Cool completely on the sheet, and then remove using a pallet knife.
- For the filling: beat together the liqueur, 125g icing sugar and 50g butter until smooth and fluffy; use to put the macarons together, and lick the rest from the bowl greedily. If you prefer, make the frosting from the original Purple Rain Lamingtons, which also contained cream cheese. Lovely stuff!