Guest Recipe: Blueberry Curd

Blueberries are guarded like the crown jewels by my daughter.  When Julie was a toddler she called them black balls.  Not very poetic, I know, but since they are packed with anti-oxidants and many more healthy benefits eating plenty blueberries is to be encouraged, whatever you call them.

When Erin from BigFatBaker.com came up with a blueberry curd, it was time to rejoice.  She was just in time to add a touch of blue to my first batch of Royal Wedding inspired macarons in honour of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Big Day.  Stay tuned for Monday’s post with a Royal Macaron procession.

blueberry sapphire macarons

Will Kate say yes today?

 

I am delighted that Erin said yes and has returned to share her fruit curd recipes with us.  They use up your egg yolks, are gluten free and can be used to fill your fruity macarons – that’s if there’s much left after relishing it by the spoonful!  Let me hand you over to Erin now while I find my hat for a Royal Wedding Party.

Erin, BigFatBaker.com

Having a second opportunity to write a guest post for Jill is truly an honor. I am in love with her egg yolk section, and I can only imagine what recipes we will see in the future.

Speaking of recipes, have you checked out my pineapple curd recipe? And what about Manu’s recipe for Genovesi? Doesn’t that sound fabulous? I can’t wait until I have a chance to make that one for myself!

To continue on the egg yolk journey I made a delicious and thick organic blueberry curd. It is sweet, but balanced and I can only imagine how amazing it would taste sandwiched between some of Jill’s vanilla macarons.

Making this blueberry curd recipe is just as simple as any other curd recipe out there.

Blueberry Curd:

6 tbsp unsalted organic butter at room temperature

10-12 oz. organic blueberries

3 large egg yolks

¾ cup white sugar

pinch of salt

¼ cup water

First, defrost the frozen berries, or rinse fresh ones (if you are lucky enough to find them). In a small saucepan combine the water with the berries and cook down until the berries have burst, and there is a slightly syrupy liquid forming in the pan.

Go ahead and remove the pan from the heat, and smash the berries with a spoon. Strain the contents of your pan through a fine mesh strainer. Be sure to press on all the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Dispose of the remains in the strainer.

In the same saucepan whisk together the sugar and butter. Slowly add in the egg yolks and mix until fully combined. Mix in the blueberry juice and salt.

Set the pan over low heat, and gradually increase the temperature of the mixture while stirring frequently. Gradually, over the next 5-7 minutes, increase the heat to medium while constantly stirring. At this point the mixture should be starting to thicken up.

Cook without boiling for 5-7 more minutes, or until the mixture has reached 170ºF. Do not forget to stir constantly!

Remove the pan from the heat and stir for 5 more minutes, and allow the mixture to cool slightly (about 5-10 minutes). Once it has cooled, pour into a pint sized jar for storage.

This curd turns out to be fairly thick compared to a traditional lemon or lime curd. I recommend allowing the curd to sit out at room temperature for about 10 minutes before trying to spread on something soft like bread or macarons.

But, there are many ways to enjoy this delicious curd. One of my new favorites is a peanut butter and blueberry curd sandwich, yum!

The curd will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

A huge thanks to Erin for sharing this with us to further our repertoire of egg yolk recipes.  Don’t forget to pop by BigFatBaker.com and say hello to Erin from me and check out many more wonderful organic recipes.

Passion Fruit Caramel Choux Buns & a Choux-Choux Train

I used to think that Choux pastry was complicated.  Until one day I opened up “The Black Book“. This was the recipe notebook my Scottish Granny kept, filled with simple, classic recipes from the neighbours, scribbles from the Jimmy Young Radio Show cooking program and bulging with cuttings from magazines and newspapers.

Today it’s encrusted with spatters with the proof that the recipes in her Black Book were tried and tested. I’m honoured that I was passed on her book to keep her recipes alive within the family. It’s amazing how my Granny had such a sweet tooth.  There is only ONE recipe that is savoury out of the whole repertoire. I’m particularly intrigued by newspaper cuttings of the latest trendy 1960’s hairstyles.  Why this is in a recipe cutting book beats me. Is there a recipe on the other side of this hair tinting advert? No.

Twice as fascinating? Control yourself.

Granny’s kitchen was the centre of the house and so her recipe book acts more like an agenda, telling a wee story. The only problem is it’s all scattered about and difficult to make out. I wonder if she tried this hair recipe to impress Grandpa, then? 😉

Granny had several entries for the classic Choux pastry in different forms, as they are the basis for many pastries such as éclairs, profiteroles, réligieuses, chouquettes, waffles and these choux buns.  The recipe (like many wartime recipes) used margarine instead of butter and just 250g water. Here, I’ve replaced some of it with milk and added a touch of orange blossom water.

CHOUX BUNS

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

150g water
90g milk
2 tbsp orange blossom water
4g salt
1 tbsp sugar
90g unsalted butter
150g flour
4 eggs
4 sugar lumps, crushed (optional for chouquettes)

1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Boil the water, milk, orange blossom water, salt, sugar and butter in a large saucepan.

2.  Once boiling, remove from the heat and quickly add the flour. Whisk until the dough is smooth and comes away from the sides of the pan.

3.  Transfer to a mixing bowl (or electric mixer) and gradually add the eggs until you have a lovely smooth, sticky paste.  At this point, you can seal the pastry in a bag and keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.

4.  Using a piping bag, pipe out small heaps on baking trays covered in greaseproof/baking paper (or Silpat) Leave a good space between each mound, as they will spread out during baking.

5.  Brush with a glaze of one egg yolk mixed with a tablespoon of water.  If you’re making chouquettes, then sprinkle on crushed sugar lumps.  Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

TipDon’t open the oven door.  Wait until they are cooked enough, light to dark brown – otherwise they could collapse if not fully baked.

Passion Fruit Cream

(based on Manu’s filling recipe for Genovesi Ericine, Manu’s Menu):

2 egg yolks
150 g sugar
60 g cornflour
250 ml milk
juice of 3 passion fruits

1.  Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a saucepan.  In a bowl, dissolve the cornflour in a quarter of the milk and then add the remaining milk.  Stir well, add the milk to the beaten egg yolks little by little and incorporate it while whisking continuously.

2.  Gently heat the cream, whisking continuously for about 12 minutes or until it thickens.  It needs to become as thick as a pudding.  Set aside to cool for 15 minutes, covering with cling film so that no skin forms on the surface.

3.  Seive the seeds out of the passion fruits and whisk into the cooled mix.

4.  Transfer to a piping bag and, gently piercing a hole in the side of each choux bun, fill each bun with the passion fruit mixture.

Now make a salted caramel sauce (caramel au beurre salé), but instead of adding a touch of water to the sugar at the start of cooking, mix together the juice of 2 passion fruits to form a syrup with the sugar and proceed as in the caramel recipe. Dribble over the choux buns and prepare to float off to passion fruit heaven.

For some fun, why not decorate your choux buns for a different kind of birthday cake?  In this recipe, I made 12 choux buns for an adult stack above plus 12 buns below for my daughter’s fun ‘cake’:

Choux-choux!

See related post in Le Blog
on
Choux Celebrations

Choux Choux Celebrations

Have you had an overdose of Easter chocolate over the last few days?  If so, then let me tell you a story.

When I first came to France I discovered a totally “normal” condition called  une crise de foie (literally translated = liver crisis). I was always alarmed when Antoine told me after Easter time that his liver was under attack and he would immediately head for the medicine cabinet.  Heavens.  This was serious.  Much to my relief and gradual amusement over the years, however, it was just his adorable French way of saying he’d eaten too much chocolate. How can you eat too much chocolate?

I’m just back after spending a precious week with the family back in Scotland.  It was celebration after celebration.  There was a Scottish dancing ceildih evening – kilts galore along with the traditional bashed neeps (turnips), tatties and haggis – at my aunt & uncle’s 40th Wedding Anniversary.  And to start it all off, we had two birthdays: my daughter, Julie’s and my own.

After tasting Monsieur Genin’s gungy passionfruit and mango caramels in Paris with Adam (from ParisPatisseries.com fame) and seeing a stack of passionfruits wafting their aromas at the market, I had the inspiration for a birthday cake.  As Antoine would be approaching another “crisis”, then my usual flourless chocolate cake was out of the question.  I needed something that could double up as an adult “cake” and a fun birthday cake for a 11-year-old who is still 5 at heart.  For a change it wasn’t macarons. Yes, believe it or not, I don’t always make macarons. 😉  Besides, I had run out of whites…

Oops... chocolate eggs crept in here somehow

So I made some choux buns and tried out Manu’s filling for Genovesi Ericine that she used as a guest recipe as part of the egg yolk series.  Instead of her lemon filling, I mixed in the juice of 3 passion fruits.  I loved the consistency and that it didn’t use any butter.  So, feeling decadent I topped the whole thing off with a buttery caramel sauce (see recipe for caramel au beurre salé) that was perfumed with the juice of a couple of passion fruits.
Here’s the recipe for passionfruit choux buns. Then I had some fun and surprised Julie…

Check out the Ascot-style macaron hat...

Speaking of hats, the celebrations continue.  In Scotland last week the hype of the Royal Wedding was everywhere.  It’s impossible to miss the mugs, plates, teapots, banners, flags etc. embellished with William and Catherine’s photos for the Big Day on Friday 29th.  Don’t forget to send me your photos of Royal Macarons, please!  (Jill@MadAboutMacarons(dot)com) and I’ll parade them on next week’s post on Le Blog. Come on, I’ve only got one so far.  Does this mean I have to make the rest myself? 😉

Another celebration?  I had a lovely surprise from Dee from Deelicioussweets for honouring Le Blog with an award!  Thank you so much, Dee!

Plus la fête continues.  Traditionally on 1st May in France, we celebrate la Fête du Travail with a national holiday.  Except this year – not much luck – it falls on Sunday.  It’s a wonderful custom as posies of Lily of the Valley (Muguet) are offered to family and friends to bring good luck.  So, here’s mine to you all a little early, as they popped out a little early in my herb garden.  Wishing you all happiness and a year of bonheur, my friends!

Wishing you all a Happy 1st May!

A Dose of Good Chocolate – A Taste of France

We’ve started eating our chocolates early this year for Easter.  I mean, we have NO patience.  Who am I kidding?  Stop.  What’s with the Royal “We”?  OK, it’s me.

I’m a squirrel with little stocks of good quality chocolate, hiding conveniently well behind the tea tin until reached upon for a quick, quiet, knee quivering nibble.  After all, it’s good for you and full of magnesium, right? I’m a firm believer that your body tells you when it needs something.  Right now I’m feeling tired and run down with a flickering eye.  When the chemist explained my eye was reacting to a lack of magnesium I took the box of supplements but deep down I was thinking, “I just need more chocolate!”

Anyone for a milk chocolate poussin?

Walking past our local Chocolateries, seeing their beautiful windows decorated for Easter, I have been stocking up on my private “little” stocks.

A hen or the traditional French Easter bells?

In the UK children hunt for Easter Eggs which have been left by the Easter Bunny.  In France, it’s the bells chimes that have come from the Vatican in Rome so that’s why you also see chocolate bells on display here, too.  My children somehow manage to get the bells, the bunnies, the eggs, the hens and the chocolate fish.  And that’s when they’re in France.  This week we’re in Scotland visiting family and I know that when we come back our suitcases will be laden with British chocolate.  I’m not complaining BUT…

A frozen chocolate cream egg from Picard

Since coming to France, my tastes have changed.  Chocolate is definitely one of them.  The chocolate I grew up with in Scotland is just not the same any more.  Last year I bought myself a Cadbury’s Creme Egg for old times’ sake.  Jings.  I bit into it and my teeth hurt.  It was far too sweet!  The quantity of cacao in the Easter eggs is just so little that there’s more sugar in them than anything else.  My children still love them but it’s not until you have some chocolate from the likes of Pascal le Gac that you realise the difference.

Break open the shell and you get a chocolate praline egg

For a start, their chocolate egg is a real egg shell filled with the most intense dark praline chocolate…

Pascal le Gac Chocolatier

Pascal le Gac is reputed to be one of the 9 best chocolateries in France.  When I popped in to his chocolate shop in St Germain-en-Laye the other day to get a few bags of friture (the sea-shell/ fish chocolate shapes) and mini Easter eggs (and a few of their exquisite macarons too, just for more “research” ;-)), the chocolate aromas wafting out of the bag into the car were just incroyable.

Licking the chocolate shop windows

You just don’t get that with a giant mass-market commercial Chocolate Easter Egg, n’est-ce pas?  Call me a chocolate snob but it’s true.  Did you know that to go window shopping in France is called “Lécher les vitrines“?  It’s so poetically put and realistic in this case!  Lécher is the verb to lick…

So, when you’re making your chocolate macarons, my friends, please ensure that you use good quality cooking/pâtisserie chocolate.  At least 64% cocoa solids does the trick.  You’ll really taste the difference and even the chocolate. 😉

Dark chocolate macaron anyone?

Hm.  Did I mention Royal earlier? Don’t forget that if you are making special themed macarons for the Royal Wedding on 29 April, then please send me your photos to jill(at)madaboutmacarons(dot)com.  I’ll be showcasing your macarons to share our decoration ideas (could be colour themed) and flavour ideas (could be a typical British flavour).  Come on, get creative, folks!  Let’s have some fun…

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter, full of wonderfully intense, knee-quivering chocolate!

Guest Recipe: Genovesi Ericine

I’m excited yet again.  As part of the new series on egg yolk recipes I have another guest to share with you: my friend Manu, creator of Manu’s Menu.

For those of you who have yet to discover Manu’s site, you are in for a treat.  She not only prepares the most incredible Italian dishes but shares her tips and takes us through all the steps needed to produce perfect Italian recipes: from Busiati, Strozzapreti and Panzerotti to Chiacchiere and Sicilian Cannoli.  Couldn’t you just sing these titles?

Today she’s going to show us how to make the most delicious Italian pastries using your egg yolks.  I don’t know about you, but I’m going to make at least double quantities!  Now sit back and imagine the scene: tasting these pastries warm from the oven with a cappuccino outside a Pasticceria on a sun-kissed day in Italy, watching the world go by.  Before I lapse into dream-land, let me introduce you to Manu herself…

Manu’s Menu

I was born and brought up in Milan, Italy by Sicilian parents. I moved to Australia in 2006 with my husband who is Australian, but of Indian origin… so you can say that we are a “multi cultural family” and that is often reflected in what we eat.

I come from a family of artists… almost everyone on my father’s side is a painter!  I guess I am more artistic with a pot than a canvas… but I still think cooking is an art!  I have inherited the love for cooking from my parents and many of my recipes have been passed down from generations.  I have started my blog as a way to keep our family traditions alive and to spread the concepts of authentic homemade Italian cuisine in the world.

When Jill asked me to write a guest post for MadAboutMacarons.com I was so honoured and excited: I still am relatively new to blogging and this is my first ever guest post!  Thank you Jill! From the moment I got her invite, I started thinking about what recipe I could share that uses as many egg yolks as possible, so that you can save all the egg whites for some of Jill’s fantastic macarons.

egg yolk recipe Sicilian Genovesi Ericine

Manu’s Sicilian Genovesi, egg yolk recipe

 

In the end I chose to write about a traditional Sicilian sweet: genovesi.  They are yummy pastries filled with lemony custard and covered in icing sugar.  The best genovesi are found in the little medieval mountain top town of Erice, near Trapani.  There is a little shop that makes the best sweets ever: beautifully decorated marzipans, almond based biscuits and all sorts of pastries.  The owner of this shop, Maria Grammatico, learnt how to make all these traditional treats from the nuns of the convent of San Carlo where she spent her childhood as an orphan.  She is a remarkable lady and you can often see her behind the counter of her shop.  This recipe has been adapted from Maria’s original recipe and it makes 4 genovesi… you can easily make a double dose and you can store them in an airtight container for a couple of days. Now you will have even more egg whites for your macarons!

GENOVESI ERICINE
(adapted from Maria Grammatico’s recipe – from the book “Bitter Almonds: Recollections and Recipes of a Sicilian Girlhood” by Mary Taylor Simeti)

Ingredients (makes 4):

For the pastry

125 gms durum wheat flour
125 gms pastry flour (Italian 00) / all purpose flour
100 gms sugar
100 gms butter (or margarine) at room temperature, chopped
2 egg yolks
About 50 ml cold water

For the filling

1 egg yolk
75 gms sugar
30 gms corn flour
250 ml milk
½ tsp of lemon zest, grated

Icing sugar

How to make the pastry (Note: this dough keeps well up to a week in the fridge and even 1 month in the freezer)

Put the 2 different types of flour, sugar, butter and egg yolks in a mixer with a dough hook and knead for a couple of minutes, adding the water little by little till the dough looks crumbly and comes together when pressed between your fingers (you can also do this step by hand).

Then put it on a floured surface and knead it quickly until the dough comes together into a smooth ball.  Do not over work it or the pastry will come out hard.

Wrap the dough in cling wrap and put it in the fridge to “rest” for at least 30 minutes.

How to make the lemony custard filling (Note: this custard keeps well up to 3 days in the fridge)

Put the egg yolk and sugar in a pot and whisk well by hand or by using an electric mixer.  Dissolve the corn flour in a quarter of the milk and then incorporate it to the remaining milk.  Stir well and add the milk to the beaten egg yolk little by little and incorporate it while whisking continuously.

Put the pot on the fire and cook the cream on a very low flame (stirring continuously) for about 12 minutes or until it thickens.  It needs to become as thick as a pudding.

Stir in the grated lemon zest, cover with some cling wrap (make sure that the cling wrap sits directly on the cream to prevent a skin from forming) and keep aside to cool down.

Roll the dough into a ½ cm thick sheet and cut 8 circles of 10 cm of diameter.  You can do this either with a cutter or by using a ramkin and cutting along the edges with a knife.

Put 2 tablespoons of custard in the centre of 4 of the circles and cover them with the other 4 circles.

Press the sides with your fingers to close the genovesi well.

Bake in a preheated fan forced oven at 220°C for 7 minutes or until golden.  Do not over cook or the genovesi will harden.

When ready, put them on a rack to cool down slightly and then sprinkle them with icing sugar.  They are best served lukewarm with a cup of tea, coffee or cappuccino.

Enjoy and remember that you can make a double dose, as you can keep the genovesi in an airtight container for a couple of days

A huge thank you to Manu for inspiring us with such a delicious recipe using our egg yolks.  Don’t forget to drop in to say hello for me at Manu’s blog, Manu’s Menu and enjoy many more of her Italian treats!

Paris Pâtisseries and Perfect Macarons

I think I upset some friends on Facebook.  I “rubbed it in”, as it were.  Well, yes I did and I’m sorry.  Sorry because now I’m going to talk about it yet again: eating pastries in Paris.

These last few days I’ve taken a break from baking.  The weather has been surprisingly summery after such a LONG winter that for once, it seemed wrong to stay in the kitchen.  So there was nothing else for it but to take the short ride into Paris for a taste of some pastries and macarons. Would I do it on my own?  Of course not.  The pastry binge was with one of the most serious pastry tasters I know.  Here he is in action:

Adam from ParisPâtisseries.com

My gourmet friend, Adam Wayda, has finally arrived from the US to spend the next few months in Paris, tasting his way around the best pâtisseries in the City of Light. You probably already know him from ParisPatisseries.com fame.  Tasting pastries with the reviewer himself was seriously fun.  I mean, this was my breakfast and lunch: for Adam, he had already a head start beforehand! How does he do it? Fat pants, he says.

Genin’s luxury boutique is more like a chocolate museum

This was my first time at Jacques Genin’s chocolaterie in rue de Turenne and I was so glad that Adam had suggested it.  The luxury chocolate boutique is full of the most incredible sculptures that are showcased like museum pieces.  Time for a seat and a taste of Monsieur Genin’s Ephemère: a mix of chocolate mousse and passionfruit on a charlotte base, while Adam attacked a caramel éclair. Would he stick it under his nose like a moustache first? Just take a look at that hot chocolate. It’s not for the faint hearted.

What did Adam think of the caramel éclair?

We couldn’t leave without getting a few of Mr Genin’s legendary caramels.  Adam persuaded me (it didn’t take much convincing) to try the mango/passion fruit caramels and the caramels au gingembre.  True, at 110€ a kilo, one or two is fine.  But you know me, that’s inspiration enough to make some at home à la Jilly.  In the meantime,  why not add some ground ginger and finely chopped glacé ginger to a crème au beurre salé?

Genin’s boutique was wonderful but he didn’t have any macarons.  So Adam suggested a wee stroll up to rue Rambuteau to drop in for some macarons at Pain de Sucre.

macarons from Pain de Sucre patisserie Paris

macarons from Pain de Sucre, Paris

This is what was left from my doggy bag: chocolate mint, caramel au beurre salé, morello cherry-pistachio and chocolate-passionfruit.  My first taste was his Fleurs de Sureau (Elderflower) macarons.  Absolutely delicious.  Cassis/Blackcurrant was excellent, too.  The chocolate mint was just so refreshing with a dark chocolate button in the middle.  Although it was hard and I had to take it out and eat it at the end, it was full of flavour. In fact, all of Monsieur Mathray’s macarons are just bursting with flavour at Pain de Sucre.

That’s what I adore in a macaron. But as you can see, the shells are not quite perfect.  Some were coarse, some had cracks and some not perfectly round.  But does that REALLY matter? Even Monsieur Mathray isn’t worried about absolute perfection.  Some of his macarons may have a slightly bumpy shell (or “homestyle charm” as Adam calls it) but the taste is just fantastic.

Pain de Sucre’s refreshing chocolate-mint macaron

On the other hand, there are also many famous Parisian macarons that LOOK absolutely perfect but if you were given a blind tasting (i.e. not influenced by its colour or fancy name associated with it), it’s often difficult to tell the exact flavour you’re eating.

Beautiful macarons…

Many readers are excited when they get their macarons perfect first time.  That’s brilliant! Even my Dad made fabulous macarons recently for the first time ever and he doesn’t even BAKE for goodness sake!  But I’ve been amazed at some readers who make macarons for the very first time and are expecting complete and utter perfection.  They worry when they have a slight crack or feet that are not big enough.  Please, don’t be so hard on yourself! It will come …

Giant macarons in a luxury pastry shop

There are macarons – expensive macarons –  in many great pastry shops in and around Paris that have been making them for years and they’re sometimes not quite “perfect”: not the perfect looking shell or perhaps a perfect shell but not enough flavour.  They are made by professionals with the right equipment with fancy ovens.  Professionals have access to liquid egg whites in cartons that do act differently.  Many use macaron-making machines.  We’re making them at home in our own kitchens, often with ovens that are so-so.

There’s no end of macaron flavours

Just remind yourself of this and have confidence that the next time you’ll get it right, once you’ve ensured you’ve done everything in the recipe and followed the tips in the book.  Have you checked the oven’s exact temperature with an oven thermometer?  Did you whisk your egg whites enough to stiff but still glossy peaks? Feet not good enough?  Then leave your macarons out to dry a bit longer before baking them.  Some people say they don’t need aged whites or they don’t need to dry out their macarons.  Great.  But again, we’re baking them in our own home kitchen and not as a professional baker. We can get perfect macaron results each time but if you have the odd crack now and again, don’t worry. It could also just be your egg whites – are they organic? These are best. If you’re going to the trouble of making macarons, don’t skimp on so-so ingredients.

Making macarons is not a competition: it’s about having fun, being creative and above all, enjoying them! There’s nothing quite like getting that rush of excitement when the feet form in the oven and you can think up your own flavours, bringing out the artist in you.  To be able to say “I did that”.  I mean, have you done the macaron dance out of sheer excitement with these things? The proof in the pudding, though, is the taste.

OK “I did that” and admit I did the macaron dance…

Talking of being creative…. for all macaronivores who are fans of the forthcoming Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate, I’m looking to showcase YOUR inspired macaron creations for a Special Royal Macaron Procession on Le Blog on 29 April.  It’s not a competition.  Just a fun post to share our macaron ideas; it could be a typically British inspired flavour or on a decorative flag theme of red, white and blue.  Please send me your photos to jill(at)madaboutmacarons(dot)com and I’ll add them to LeBlog.  Have fun!  But wait…

pineapple curd egg yolk recipe

1st guest post and new series for egg yolk recipes with pineapple curd

Before you go, just a word for anyone who missed our first Blog Post from Erin, author of BigFatBaker.com.  She is kicking off a brand new series of egg yolk recipes on the site with her organic pineapple curd.  Just perfect for all those egg yolks left for making macarons!