May 23 2011
On Saturday, my mom and I planted the majority of my garden and container pots. I had done the raspberry bushes a few weeks prior, and my mom gave me a potted blueberry plant earlier in the month, but the majority of the work remained: flowers and herbs.
The weather was iffy for Saturday, so we really were on a timeline. Of course, I had given absolutely no thought ahead of time to what shades of flowers I wanted to plant. So we wandered through a local store’s garden center a bit, I figured out what I wanted, and then I realized that particular store didn’t have all the colors I wanted. Figures, right?
No worries, though, we had planned on two additional stops. Next up was a local greenhouse, to pick up the stargazer lilies (my favorite!) I wanted. I’d had them a few years back, but they mysteriously disappeared; imagine my excitement to finally get my favorite flowers back!
Alas, they were sold out. By this point it was raining, but we picked up the herbs I wanted, as well as some pepper plants for good measure.
On to the final store. To say it was busy was a gross understatement. Not a big fan of shopping crowds, we simply wanted to get out of there ss quickly as possible. We checked the flowers, no stargazers, no impatiens in the shades I wanted. At that point, frankly, I no longer cared about my color scheme, I wanted to get out, get home, and get planting.
So, we arrived back home, short my stargazers, but with everything else we needed to plant. After a couple hours of work, the garden and container plants were finished.
But just before my mom was going to leave, I remembered that I forgot to take out these macarons from my freezer! I had told her about them, then proceeded to promptly forget about them during the gardening excitement.
So she tried a frozen mac, and still proclaimed it delicious. Granted, she is my mom, so unless I screw something up horribly, she’s going to say they’re good. So I tried a frozen one, too, and you know what?
They’re actually really good, especially on a hot, humid day.
I made these macarons because I had a vial of pearl luster dust, and I’ve been itching to do something with it. I bought it several weeks ago, when I was decorating Easter Egg Cookies, only I wasn’t able to use it quite as I had hoped. But, had that idea not flopped, I wouldn’t have these little macs, now would I?
Yesterday morning, I still felt fine, but was determined to find my stargazers. I stopped at a couple of possible places – nothing. I thought I’d have to go all-out, to the biggest greenhouse in the area that I know of. For reasons I still don’t understand, I called B to tell him I was about to embark on an adventure, to get my flowers. His response? Well, did you try X place?
Um, no. I had forgotten all about it. And it’s less than five miles away, rather than twenty. Not only did they have my stargazers, but the price was great. As soon as I got home, I planted those babies. And this morning, I woke up stiff and sore.
Totally worth it.
Like this recipe? Then try blackberry lime pudding cakes.
adapted from Mad about Macarons
140 grams egg whites, about 4 large egg whites (aged 5 days in refrigerator)
92 grams granulated sugar
168 grams ground almonds
252 grams confectioners’ sugar
clear vanilla extract
pearl luster dust
small paint brush
*Remove egg whites from fridge 2 hours prior to using.
*Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
*Weigh all bowls that you’ll be using (it’s helpful when trying to ensure you have the proper weight of ingredients after sifting).
*Measure granulated sugar into a small bowl.
*Sift ground almonds into a large bowl. Measure the weight of any almonds that didn’t fit through the sieve, and replace them, continuing to sift, until you have a total weight of 168 grams. Sift confectioners’ sugar into the same large bowl. After sifting, weigh the total weight; be sure the combined weight of the bowl, almonds, and confectioners’ sugar is correct. With a spatula, mix together the almonds and confectioners’ sugar.
*Fit a large decorator’s bag with a coupler (optional) and large round tip (I use Ateco #808). Clip the bag just above the inserted tip (a clothespin works fine). Fold the bag down to form a cuff and set bag into large glass or pitcher. (The cuff can help the bag balance inside the glass, but it also makes it easier to fill the decorator bag.)
With an electric mixer or whisk, beat the egg whites (medium speed) in a large stainless steel or glass bowl until frothy. Gradually add granulated sugar, continuing to beat until glossy and semi-stiff peaks are formed (the peaks will curl to the side but will hold their shape and remain moist) – don’t overbeat.
Add half the almond mixture to the egg whites. Combine with a spatula (no need to fold) until mostly mixed, deflating the egg whites. Add remaining almonds to egg whites and continue to mix in a half folding, half smoothing the batter against the sides motion, until the batter starts to fall back on itself in a ribbon. (If you’re unsure if the texture is right, pipe a one-inch mound onto the parchment. There should be a slight peak that will disappear on its own after a few seconds. If the peak doesn’t go away on its own or the batter appears very thick, give the batter another fold, then try again.)
Transfer batter with the spatula to the decorator bag. I find it better to just undermix the batter, as filling the bag tends to continue the mixing and could result in an overmixed batter. Pipe 1 inch rounds onto the parchment, leaving about a half inch in between macarons. Let rest at room temperature 30 minutes to set.
Preheat oven to 325*F.
Bake one sheet at a time, 10-12 minutes. Check for doneness at 10 minutes by touching the top of the macaron and giving it a light wiggle with your finger. If it jiggles, baking another minute or two until set. Cool completely before removing macarons from parchment.
Combine a teaspoon or two of clear vanilla extract with a sprinkle of pearl luster dust in a small dish or ramekin. “Paint” shimmery mixture onto macaron shells (though it probably goes without saying, use a brush dedicated to food decorating). The extract will evaporate, leaving a shimmery sheen.
Pair up like-sized macarons and fill with a small spoonful of blackberry lime curd.
Bonus: your home will smell wonderful!
Blackberry Lime Curd
adapted from Secrets of Baking
1 pint blackberries
1/4 pound (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
Fill a medium saucepan 3/4 full with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Puree berries in food processor or blender, then pass through sieve into a small bowl. Measure out 1 cup of puree (I had one cup exactly) and transfer to a small saucepan. Add butter and cook over low, stirring occasionally, for about a minute. Add sugar and lime juice juice, stir until sugar is dissolved (rub a little between your thumb and index finger – when it no longer feels gritty, the sugar is dissolved). Transfer to a large liquid measuring cup (I use a 4 cup measure). If, unlike me, if you do not make a giant mess in the kitchen, you can skip this step.
Whisk eggs and yolks in a large heatproof bowl, just until combined. Place bowl on a damp paper towel. Slowly drizzle the blackberry mixture into the eggs while whisking. Place bowl over simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until the curd has thickened and reached a temperature of 160*F.
Remove from heat and strain curd through a mesh sieve into a small bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the curd’s surface and refrigerate. When cool, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 week.