Friday, 7 May 2010

Crème de Violet Macarons



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

  1. Sift the 110g icing sugar into a large bowl, and mix in the almonds and vanilla.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Let them sit for 30 minutes while you pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes on the bottom shelf. Cool completely on the sheet, and then remove using a pallet knife.
  7. 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!

22 comments:

  1. Bravo Peter and congrats. I see you didn't post the failed ones LOL! Am praying for feet myself this weekend!

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  2. Ahh, I love the taste of violets. I bet it made these macarons to die for :)

    Katie xox

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  3. Stunning! I love your blog, I love your lamingtons and I especially love your macs. :D

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  4. These looks excellent and tasty. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  5. One of my favorite flavors in the world in one of my favorite things to eat in the world!

    They look beyond amazing!

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  6. I should've sent you the candied violets I made for my own FAIL macs, at least they'd go to good use! :)

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  7. oh, I just loooove the color of these beauties....
    signed by.....
    macaron addict!

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  8. Such a pretty color for macarons!

    Nisrine

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  9. They are certainly very striking, not sure I want to eat purple food though :o

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  10. I'm dead impressed by the colour, no matter how much colouring I put in mine they always fade loads.

    I have always ground my shop ground almonds again in the processor, I've never missed this step out in my many mac adventures so don't know how much difference it makes. I do it more out of superstition now!

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  11. I've never made true macarons, but will now. Pretty sure they'll look nothing like yours, but worth a try! These are stunning.

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  12. Your macarons are very beautiful!!

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  13. Esme - Thank you! I think the photos are rubbish, so that's very kind.

    Mardi - I was going to give up, I swear! But then I remembered the post when you showed all the ones that didn't work, and I had to try again. Making more this week.

    Katiecakes - They were pretty yummy, but I think that it was the glitter that made them!

    Lisa - Thanks! That's really kind of you!

    Mesothelioma - Does that mean you'll be macc-ing? Sgow us!

    Mush - Have you had a go at macarons yet?

    Mae - I bet they were amazing, you never have fail anything!

    M - I am also now an addict. I had an amazing one in Tokyo and am stealing the flavour combo for my blog.

    Dinners and Janice - I like that the colour means different things for both of you!

    Sarah - I know! My pink ones were so anaemic looking! I think these look better than my first attempt, but I am still not up to your standard. Or Mowie's!

    Laura and Emi - Cheers guys!

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  14. Oh god, so beautiful! I am a macaron addict but always far too scared to make my own lest I get them terribly wrong :-s Maybe once Finals are out of the way I can have a macaron weekend. My favourite flavour is pistachio - how would you flavour them?

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  15. You know what, Alia? I'd probably go to my local Indian shop and buy a bottle of pistachio essence! Or grind some into the filling. But essence first - I am lazy!

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  16. looks absolut yummy! is normal when you do it :) http://www.cccriscake.com/

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  17. Absolutely beautiful macarons and I love violet, great with raspberry

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  18. They are really beautiful. Great blog too.

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  19. Your macaron recipe was outstanding. I was looking for a recipe that used Creme de Violette on the web to something other than a cockail. I found your recipe.

    I tried making macarons for the first time using your recipe. They worked perfectly, complete with les pieds (the feet). We particularly relished them shortly after I made the sandwiches. Later that night, vowing to have only two, we finished them off. The recipe is a keeper We also enjoyed your sense of humo(u)r.

    And yes, they are like eating birds eggs - crunchy on the outside and smooth and creamy within.
    Marco Andres

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  20. I love love love your photos/article and can't wait to try the recipe for your violet macarons!! They look so beautiful! Have you ever heard of a company called "Woodland Fairy Acres" (www.WoodlandFairyAcres.com)? They sell marshmallow mixes and scone mixes in a variety of floral flavors (including violet). Their stuff is really wonderful and your article made me think of them! I didn't know if you'd get a kick out of their products, since they are floral-based too!

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  21. I'm in love! I want to try these for my wedding reception in April. Tell me please, could I make these ahead and freeze them? I've made macarons before with relative success, I'm up for the challenge if I can be sure they'll stay good for the day of the wedding, if stored properly!

    Thanks,
    Sally

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That's what he said.

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