Archive for March, 2007

Mad about Mini Ispahans

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Homemade Mini Ispahan

Having read about the Ispahan Festival that was going on at the PH Paris outlets a couple of weeks ago, I was inspired to give this macaron a second go.

                Homemade Mini Ispahan

The very first time I made these macarons, I found the entire combination a little too sweet and too large to finish eating in one sitting. This time, I made them smaller (about 2.5″ in diameter after baking) and reduced the amount of sugar in the macarons as well as in the rose & lychee buttercream. I was happy with the end result, although I wish I’d been brave enough to give the macaron shells a deeper colour.

Rose Macarons

I’d also put together these rose flavoured macarons to test out the buttercream. I found the rose flavour too faint and adjusted that in the cream for the mini Ispahans.

Mad about Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée

Whenever I make macarons, I find myself invariably whipping up crème brûlée just to get rid of all the egg yolks. This rich and creamy dessert is surprisingly easily to make with just a few simple ingredients - egg yolks, sugar and whipping (or heavy) cream.

I love breaking through the thin crisp caramelized surface to get to the luscious custard hidden beneath.

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée

This version here is my favourite - vanilla bean.

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée (Adapted from Crème Brûlée by Sara Lewis, makes 6 servings)

1 vanilla bean pod
2 1/2 cups whipping or heavy cream
8 egg yolks
1/4 cup fine granulated sugar
3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar

1. Place a rack on the middle rung of your oven and preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
1. Slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and put it into a medium saucepan. Pour the cream in and heat it until it almost boils. Take off the burner and allow to stand for 20 minutes for the vanilla flavour to develop.
2. Remove the vanilla bean from the cream and scrape the black seeds into the cream. Put the bean casing aside or discard it *.
3. Mix the eggs and sugar in a large bowl with a fork. Reheat the cream and gradually mix it into the eggs and sugar. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan.
4. Place 6 ramekins in a roasting pan and divide the custard between them. Pour warm water into the pan until the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the custards are just set and the centre is still soft.
6. Leave the ramekins to cool in the water. Lift them out when cooled and refridgerate for 3-4 hours.
7. Sprinkle the tops with the icing sugar and cameralize with a blow torch **.
8. Leave at room temperature for 10 minutes to allow the top to harden, then serve.

* The vanilla bean casing can be rinsed and left to dry at room temperature, or in an oven at its lowest setting. Store the casing(s) in the sugar canister to flavour your sugar or grind them in a blender and mix into the sugar.

** If you don’t have a blowtorch, place the ramekins on a pan under the preheated grill in your oven with the door open. Rotate the pan to brown the custard tops evenly. This will happen quickly, so keep a close watch.

Mad about Lemon Macarons Again

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

Lemon Macarons

These macarons were made in the same batch as the chocolate ones. They were not as chewy as the chocolate macarons, probably because they’d dried out a little since they were baked.

               Lemon Macarons

The lemon buttercream filling was made with Italian meringue, some freshly squeezed lemon juice and small cubes of softened butter. The resulting buttercream was light, smooth and delightfully tangy, but it tasted more buttery than I’d expected. I’d used only 3/4 the amount of butter called for in the recipe.