Friday, 10 December 2010

Christmas Macarons


Who got rather carried away with the Christmas theme when photographing today's macarons?

Nobody. I see nothing over-the-top whatsoever about these photos. What do you mean?

For once, not having light in the kitchen was a blessing; my macs look
better since you can't see them so well! Curse those lumpy shells!


Well, it is almost Christmas time again and that can only mean one thing at Delicious Delicious Delicious: it's also Kewpie time. For all ye faithful that were here last time, you'll know exactly what I mean. For any newbies, I should like to refer you here. Expect some kitsch.

Today's post is going to embarrass me, and not just because it features naked from the waist down Kewpies. No, it's going to show me to be a fool who doesn't do his research properly. Fortunately however, this fool who doesn't do his research properly is able to make super-delicious Orange and Clove-Scented Macarons for the festive season. So I give my permission to all of you reading to laugh heartily at my woeful ineptitude. I won't even notice - I'll be enjoying tea and macarons.


I love this photo, despite it being out of focus. Why aren't all macarons topped with bears?

Today's post, you see, is my entry for the 'Most Wanted Yule-Blog Bake Off Challenge'. Yep, never one to turn down a food-related contest (I dream of entering a Pie Eating one, but so far haven't seen any happening in South Wales), and always ready to receive John Lewis vouchers, I got straight into the kitchen upon hearing about the competition.

Entrants are supposed to come up with a recipe that really epitomizes Christmas. I know I may be pushing it with macarons, which are not considered even remotely Christmassy in the normal run of things, but hear me out: I love making edible gifts at this time of year, and macarons are perfect for that. They are sweet and luxurious (admit it: you'd never make them for yourself); they last a good week in the fridge (so you can make them ahead); they are easy to package prettily (have you ever tried wrapping a bottle of wine?) and can be flavoured in countless ways.


There. I have made my case for the macaron. If you're with me, we'll carry on.

My family used to run a greengrocers. Christmas means citrus to us. Oranges, clementines, the works. When I think of Christmas, I think of mounds of fresh-smelling fruits and netting machines (that always broke and meant we had to tie the red mesh bags by hand: lovely). It would be wrong for me not to have oranges in any Christmas recipe I created.


So, having chosen orange as the main player for my macarons, I needed a partner flavour. Vanilla has been dealt with here before, and frankly, I am rationing it since those exotic beans are becoming prohibitively expensive! So, looking for inspiration, I flung open my cupboards and went for clove. It seemed seasonal, and I even managed to convince myself that cloves were what some children in my school had pressed into oranges for their Christingle Services and brought in to show the rest of us, the Non-Believers. 'How Christmassy,' I thought, while making the macarons' filling.'The vouchers are mine.'

Pride before a fall, readers, pride before a fall...

How devastated I was just now to find that a Christingle hasn't got any cloves on it at all, but instead ribbons and dried fruits. Turns out what I had always thought was a Christingle is in fact a pomander.

I feel like such a Christmas fraud. I did say I was a Non-Believer...

But give me a chance! Or, at least make my Foolish Macarons. A couple stashed in a jar or little box would be the best present ever, and if you package them in bags of five, you'll get three gifts for the special people in your life out of this recipe, and all in a little under 35 minutes in the kitchen.

Orange and Clove-Scented Macarons

You will need:

2 large egg whites (that's about 60g)
40g caster sugar
110g icing sugar
50g ground almonds
finely grated zest of 1 orange
50g white chocolate
50g cream cheese
1/4 tsp ground cloves
a small dap of orange food colour gel (optional)
  1. First of all, age your egg whites. This means leaving them in a bowl, uncovered, in the fridge or on the kitchen counter over night. I know the Health and Safety-types will hate the idea of doing such a thing, but trust me.
  2. Next day, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the caster sugar and food colouring gel, if using, and beat until you have a stiff peaking mixture.
  3. Sift over the icing sugar and almonds, and add the orange zest. Now fold everything together until you have a smooth batter that 'flows like lava'. I hate this description. Basically, fold the almonds and sugar into the mixture as you would flour into a cake batter. It takes me 50-60 fold to get the right texture. See my other macaron posts for more details. Even if you over- or under-fold the batter, you'll get macarons if you weighed accurately. The folding just determines the texture and appearance of the finished shells.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip of about 1cm in diameter. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and pipe rounds of batter. You should get about thirty £2 coin sized blobs from this much mixture.
  5. Bake at 150°C for 11 minutes and cool the shells on the baking sheet. When completely cold, remove and sandwich with a teaspoonful of the filling.
  6. The filling is simple: melt the white chocolate, cool slightly and add the cloves. Then stir in the cream cheese until smooth. You could make a white chocolate ganache, which would be fancier, but the cream cheese filling, though untraditional, is moisture-rich. This means that during storage, the texture of your macarons will improve.

16 comments:

  1. I love these but I was thinking that you could have made the tops red, the bottoms green and the filling white, so the look Christmassy too? or is that a wee bit too gay even for me?

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  2. Christmassy or not, your macs look beautiful! And nestled beside naked plastic Kewpies only heightens the festiveness.

    :o)

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  3. Your Kewpies are hysterical.

    Each time you or Ms. Humble posts a macaron recipe, a little more of my trepidation eases. Maybe I'll actually try to make some over the holidays.

    Good luck with the contest.

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  4. the little figurines (not sure what you call them) are super cute, of course macarons too, but they are more .... lol

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  5. Gorgeous macarons. I'd eat them any day of the year.

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  6. totally totally cute! love them! - mary

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  7. Oranges studded with cloves are very christmas-y in Denmark, so I think you've got yourself a wonderful christmas theme :) By the way, your macs are beautiful :)

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  8. Yay! You brought them back again this year!

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  9. Peter you are addicted to macarons eh!!!!
    They look great to me!!!!!
    Well done!!!!! In Paris last time I bought a book for macarons...but i still have to make them again...
    If you want in my blog there is a prize for you!!!(I wrote it in english too this time)!!!
    see you soon!!!

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  10. Macarons are always better with Kewpies and plastic bears. Fact. P.S. Email me your address so I can send your edible gift, and not so that I can stalk you.

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  11. LOL - I think your macarons are fab and very Xmassy, and wish you all the best with the contest. I also love the Sunny Boys - so cute!

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  12. I think you have executed the macs and the descriptions of Christmas very well. The only other smell that stands put at Christmas is that of the pine of the tree and I'm not sure that that would taste so good after all!

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  13. Gorgeous, and I bet the orange and clove combo tasted lovely too! I agree, all macarons should be topped with little bears! I wonder if Laduree has a suggestion box...

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  14. paying it forward blog style: http://belleaukitchen.blogspot.com/2010/12/and-award-goes-to.html

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  15. Huge welcome back to the kewpies!!

    As always delicious bakes and fantastic photos.

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  16. You've reminded me I need to get a move on and do this month's Mactweets macarons. Gutted I didn't win that competition and worse still that none of my blog friends did either! But the gingerbread house with deer thingy that came first did look like they'd made a lot of effort so I can't be too cross.

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That's what he said.

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