The last post marked the halfway point of the #craicinatlantis roadtrip. For bearing with me here and following along on the new path, you guys deserve a treat. Those of you who followed my Instagram might have noticed that I was a bit in alert mode lately as I agreed to make the wedding cake for my former Handball teammate and her husband. She asked me earlier this year and as her request seemed to be doable (no fondant fuzz, a pretty naked cake with seasonal berries), I said yes.
Long story short, I was a nervous wreck that day and the night before, my freakout luckily was cushioned by some dear people who calmed my anxiety, talked some sense into me and a nice bottle of craft beer. I had planned a lot of extra time, as it was my first ever wedding cake and I learned from past cake projects that things never turn out perfect when they need to be on point… I took the extra trip to the grocery store to get more eggs with a smile after one cake turned out bumpy, as well as another cake baking about 3 times as long as I had calculated in the bigger tin. I tossed a batch of curdled custard that couldn’t be saved as it was way too flaky and even all my effort didn’t help. I dismissed the horror scenarios of cake crash or drop, but I think for days I could only think and talk about cake. I tried to take it as Irish as possible (“It’ll be grand!”) and repeatedly told myself that I am capable of doing this cake, which worked pretty well because I knew that everybody else seemed to have zero doubt about it. Some may think I was phishing for compliments, but sorry to disappoint you, I am a master in not believing in myself and my abilities. Even if 20 people tell me that I can, it is hard to convince myself. Self esteem can’t be forced, it can be learned, but it is a hard lesson and every oh so little bump in the road often results in huge setbacks. Enough of the detours, I got to get back to cake: The one thing I had no doubt about was the taste, I knew it was going to be delicious. Continue reading »
March 20th marks not only the beginning of Spring, it is also Macaron Day and I am honoured that today’s recipe is featured on my favourite blog and one & only fandom: Der Kuchenbäcker. The frequent readers may know that I already sang a hymn or two on him, all others are duly invited to check him out.
Macaron Day or Jour du Macaron was initiated 2005 by Pierre Hermé, the godfather of Macarons and Patissiers around the world sell Macarons on this day to fundraise for local charities. I like the concept but unfortunately there is no Patisserie around that takes part. Instead I want to bake some easter cookies again to donate them for a local group here in my town that meets every Sunday to help homeless and other people in need. It’s not just about supplying the people with food and warm beverages, it is also a communication plattform and a meeting point for people in need. None of the people organising it gets paid, everything they give out is donated and they organise via a facebook group. I have been there a few times, mostly to bring some clothes or cake, and stayed there for a while to watch and listen to the people. Most of them have been through a lot and it always reminds me of how small my own problems are. I am very thankful that those people have somewhere to go, normal people to talk to that don’t judge and give them back at least a bit of their dignity. It reminds me of how important it is to give back and to change the perspective on your own live from time to time.
Burger Macarons on Foodbloggercamp in Reutlingen 2016
But let’s get back to Macarons, because that’s what you came here for, right? I intended to host a Macaron session at Foodbloggercamp in Reutlingen because I think sharing ones knowledge is also a way of giving back. Even though I am not a master myself, a barcamp is a good plattfrom to share what I know and exchange with others. When preparing my session a bit I stumbled over a Macaron inspiration book I bought and wanted to bring to show how diversely decoration of Macarons can be. I don’t like the recipes in there but the decoration ideas are truly great. Thinking about last years cam in Reultingen to be very meaty and since I found my sister-in-meat in last years burger session, I felt I had to burger again. So I spontaneously decided to pack some sesame seeds and a packet of fresh mint I still had at home to pimp my Macarons to be Macaron burgers. Talking about my session at Foodbloggercamp, I still don’t feel good about the chaotic session I held. I really want to apologise to all attendees and thank you for your patience. I can do better than this, I hope you guys at least learned something and if you have any questions just drop me a line! Some special thanks go to Diana, for spontaneously co-hosting the session and sharing her experience, Jana & Isabel for jumping in to help me finish the Macarons, Natalie, for being super flexible and letting me block ‘her’ kitchen throughout most of her Session and Gyöngyi for putting me back together after I was really upset about my chaotic session.
What I have learned about hosting a session on the barcamp:
It’s a barcamp, so expect the unexpected!
Plan more time! After Berlin I thought doing one recipe in 45 minutes with proper preparation would be a walk in the park. Well… it wasn’t!
Team up and ask for help! Taking care of hot sugar syrup while talking is a bit of a gamble. Even though I had a spontaneous co-host, I suck at delegating, the sugar syrup got too hot and lumped which resulted in a very hard meringue mass that comes out flaky and makes ugly Macarons.
Bring a handout! It’s not the recipe, it’s all the little tips and tricks you have to share from your experience that attendees want. 45 minutes pass so fast and it’s just one of 6-8 sessions a day, so a handout helps to remember what you have shared. It also is a good preparation for the host, cause it makes you think about what you want to share in your session.
Go easy on yourself! It isn’t just you in your kitchen at home all on your own, so don’t expect perfection. This is a tough one for me because I always strive for perfection, especially with Macarons. In my session I talked about how to make perfect Macarons every time and then I deliver lumpy and bumpy Macarons?! Though ugly the Macarons tasted superb, the flavour combination was amazing and the attendees learned a bit too (at least I hope).
Don’t get me wrong, I met a lot of bloggers that inspired me in the past year, but my one and only muse is Tobias aka Kuchenbäcker.We met at a local Foodblogger meet-up last summer and I was really blown away by this guy. Not only are guys that can bake rather rare, but also he was the first kind of famous blogger I met in person. Tobi is down-to-earth, vibrant and full of ideas, he is the brightest, most energetic and inspirational person I have ever met. Even when he is stressed, sick or in a bad mood, he still makes the sun shine through the rain what brought me to nickname him Glücksbärchi (That’s what the care bears were called in Germany). If you do not remember this 80ies cartoon series, I’m happy to fresh up your memory: It’s a bunch of cute furry guardian angels that show up to help you out with their happiness and magic whenever you’re facing problems. And that is exactly what Tobias does for me. He is generously giving advice, sharing his experience, open to any “dumb” question I may have and his enthusiasm is truly contagious. I get such a boost in motivation every time we meet and you light up my blog-world. You deserve one big fat thank you Tobi!
For his double-feature birthday bash contest he asked everyone to bake him a cake. But I couldn’t help ignoring the cake part because I am the Macaron-Girl to him. And that’s why I combined the best of us both: Care bears and Macarons in symbiosis. The biggest challenge for me was to take the stage together with my bakes. I take pictures of my food all the time, but hardly ever show my face. Thanks again Tobi for making me take the spotlight, my “About me” page is now updated with a picture. Continue reading »
The official start of the fifth season for us Germans was last thursday at 11:11 o’clock. It is the time of the year half of the German residents dress up and go crazy while the other half is rather annoyed or completely ignores it. Working with someone living in Rhineland or originating from there is borderline impossible until Ash Wednesday. I assume there must be something in the water there, as one of my colleagues who moved there 2 weeks ago changed his attitude towards carnival rather quickly. Whether you call it Karneval, Fasching or Fastnacht, whether they yell Alaaf or Helau, you either love it or hate it. I belong to the latter group and don’t care much about it any more. But there is one thing I absolutely love and could’t do without: Kreppel (or Krapfen or Berliner as the rest of the nation calls them). Kreppel are similar to donuts, small yeast buns that are fried, rolled in sugar and filled with marmelade. My Grandma used to make a ton for us when we visited her to see the carnival parade in town together. I really loved them but this year I wanted to try out something new. While brainstorming what to pair with a Kreppel I asked myself why not go crazy myself and dress up some swedish cinnamon rolls as Kreppels. Sounds weird but the taste is particullarly awesome! Continue reading »
Can you believe it, Christmas is only 1 week away. Nothing says “I care about you” better that a homemade gift. It shows that you rather invest some of your precious time to delight your beloved ones than just ordering a gift online. There is nothing wrong with buying gifts, don’t get me wrong, but I love to give a little personal touch with something crafted or homemade and you should consider that too. So get into the kitchen or at your craft table and whip, glue or paint something for the ones that you love!
I know I promised my German readers to start blogging in German. I know some of you hav been waiting for this for a long time, but still I am trying to tackle some technical obstacles. But today is your lucky day as this Christmas Macaron recipe is part of the Advent calendar over at Kuchenbäcker blog. I am really excited about this and I hope you enjoy the read and of course the making of these wonderful Christmas treats. I put them in selfmade matchbox-like boxes or painted egg boxes, nicely decorated and with colourful ribbons. If you want to gift them for Christmas, here is a useful bit of information: They keep fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days or you can freeze them in ziplock bags. If you have never done Macarons before, you might want to look into my basic macaron recipe for some general tipps.
For the Lemon Curd:
5 egg yolks
150 g sugar
Zest of 2 organic lemons
250 g freshly squeezed lemon juice
150 g butter (at room temperature)
Necessary equipment: sauce pan, heatproof bowl that fits above your sauce pan, silicon spatula, thermometer, siev, immersion blender
Mix sugar and lemon zest and let the zest infuse the sugar for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile you can weigh the other ingredients and do your preperations for the Macaron shells.
Place the heatproof bowl over simmering water, the bowl shouldn’t touch the water. In order to make the curd creamy you should not work in too much air, that’s why using a rubber spatula instead of a whisk is advised. Mix egg yolks, eggs, lemon juice and lemon infused sugar with the spatula in your bowl. Place the butter in another bowl that the siev fits onto. Keep the mixture in your heatproof bowl in motion so it doesn’t burn on the sides. The mixture must reach a temperature of 85°C. Once the temperature is reached, pour the mixture into the siev over the butter-bowl. This helps to get rid of the egg crumbles and results in a smooth and silky curd. Use the immersion blender to work in the butter, hold it upright to prevent too much air and keep blending until the mixture turns whiter. Cover and refrigerate while making the Macaron shells. For the Macarons:
185 g confectioners sugar
185 g ground almonds
4-5 tsp Gingerbread spice (or a little more if you like a stronger taste) + as much strongly deoiled cocoa powder to make 30 g in total
50 g water
200 g fine sugar
2 x 75 g egg white (equals ca 5 egg whites, but exact weighing is essential)
red gel food colouring
Necessary equipment: Food processor, 4 sheets of parchment paper,2 € coin, pencil, siev, candy thermometer, heavy saucepan, spatula, piping bag with round tip
Cut 4 sheets of parchment paper to fit your tray. With pencil and 2€ coin draw circles on your parchment and leave some space in between. You need an even number as each Macaon is a sandwich of 2 shells. The lines should be thick enough that you can see them through the parchment when you turn it upside down on your tray. Preheat the oven to 170° C with fan.
Place ground almonds, confectioners sugar, gingerbread spice and cocoa in the food preocessor and process in pulse mode. The resulting mixture is called Tant-pour-Tant. Sift the mixture into a bowl to prevent crumbs and set aside.
If you do not own a stand mixer, you will need a helping hand for the next steps. Put 75 g egg white in a heatproof bowl that fits in your stand mixer. Place water and sugar in the sauce pan and cook to syrup over medium heat. Use the candy thermometer to check the temperature, it must reach 118°C. As soon as 114° are reached, you can start the stand mixer or your helper to beat the egg whites until stiff at medium speed. As tempting as it may seem don’t put on highspeed as it will result in a heavy foam but we want silky smooth foam. Once the sugar syrup has reached the temperature you can remove it from the heat and let it sit until the bubbles disappear. Slowly pour the syrup into the stiff egg whites while constantly beating at medium speed, once all syrup is in there, you can put the mixer to high speed and beat until the meringue is lukewarm. While the meringue is beaten, you may mix the second 75 g of egg white with the Tant-pour-Tant with a rubber spatula until completly blend. Once the meringue is cooled, you should add a little red food colouring to intensify the brown colour of your Macarons. The meringue should be light rosé before you add a bit of it to your Tant-pour-Tant to blend. Then fold in the rest of the Meringue -et voilá your Macaron mass is ready to go. Transfer to a piping bag with round tip and fill the circles on your parchment paper as exact as possible without causing noses and bumps on the surface of your Macaron. Use your flat hand to slighty beat the bottom of your tray in order to get air bubbles out of the Macarons. Place the tray in the oven and set a timer for 6 minutes. If you look into the oven you can see your Macarons rise and get those typical little feet while the surface gets a lifting. When your timer buzzes it is time to turn the tray by 180° and give them another 6 minutes in the oven. Once they are done directly pull the parchment from the tray and let the shells cool. Please don’t let them remain on the hot tray as they will become too dry. Repeat the procedure until your piping bag is empty and all shells have been baked.
Now it is time to sort your shells and be a matchmaker. Find a sizeable match for each shell and carefully push your thumb on the inside without breaking it. Fill a piping bag with the lemon curd and bring a dot on one half of your Macaron-couple. Sandwich them together and push slighty to spread the curd evenly between the two shells. Store them in a cookie tin in the fridge and separte each layer with parchment paper. Give them a night to develop their full flavour and enjoy with a spicy hot chocolate or a glass of mulled wine. The Macarons can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days or can be frozen. If you have leftover curd, you can transfer it into a sterilized jar and keep it in the fridge for 1 week. Enjoy as spread or as a sour ice cream topping. If you need the Macarons to last longer, you can also fill them with a dark chocolate ganache instead of curd.
And aren’t these little gingerbread ma(n)carons adorable?
One member of my team at work left us last week and as her farewell-gift was not here in time, I decided to bake her something cute to lessen the pain.
I stumbled over this OreOwls recipe last week and thought this would be a cute idea. So Thursday night me and my Oreo-cutting helper started to prep some owls. I was a little weirded out by the lack of egg in the recipe but this is what gives the cupcakes a yummy muddy texture that goes well with the chocolate ganache.
I spread all 12 sad’n’cute looking owls over her table before she came and they were a total hit!
But eating them is definately not for softies. Tearing those cuties apart hurts!