Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rose and Basil-Dark Chocolate Macarons

I'm back! from my conference this past weekend, and does it feel good to be back in the kitchen again!



Okay, but before we get to those bite-size pieces of deliciousness, allow me to catch you up with what I've been up to for the past week.  (If you're interested--otherwise, skip to the food pics, I won't take offense.)  This past weekend was the annual national conference for my "day job," and all the linguists of the States (and elsewhere, too) flocked to the sunny Baltimore, Maryland.  This was a particularly big weekend for me, because I had my first talk at said national conference, and it was in a special session organized by the leaders in my subfield.  So I had myself pretty much shut up for the past couple of weeks working on the talk.  Once *that* was out of the way, I tried to see a bit of the city.


Bokeh at Baltimore's Inner Harbour

Unfortunately, we were in a pretty dead area (with no convenient transportation available), and the pub food that was so ubiquitous around the conference area was just downright horrid.  So, no fun food news to report from the weekend.  But, I did get to go to the Walter museum, and on the way, we checked out America's first cathedral/basilica, which we randomly ran into.



The Walter museum was actually one of the best parts of the weekend!  There were awesome exhibits of 16th through 18th century Italian art, arranged in chronological order, so that you could really get a sense of the development of styles throughout the centuries.  This one was a particular favorite of the group of linguists I was with:


Allegory of Grammar
Laurent de la Hyre, 1650

Anyways, despite it being fun to be around all of the people from my field, it is nice to be back in (warmer) California--and back in the kitchen (read: not eating gross, oily, fried bar food every day).  I was so glad, in fact, that I decided to use up the leftover egg whites in my fridge by making macarons (most definitely the antithesis to pub food).


Rose macarons
with dark chocolate-basil buttercream

Now that Christmas and New Year's are over, it's time to look forward to Valentine's Day!  (Yes, it's never too early for the next holiday, in my book.)  So, if roses are supposed to mean that someone likes you, and chocolates are supposed to mean that someone loves you, what about rose macarons with dark chocolate-basil buttercream?  If someone made these for me, personally, I'd probably hop into their arms with little hesitation.  ;-P



In all seriousness, though, the initial inspiration for these macarons did not come from thinking about Valentine's Day.  These are actually inspired by the movie, Like Water for Chocolate.  Now, if you haven't seen the movie yet, I highly recommend it!  We were assigned the film for a Spanish class that I'm taking this quarter, and so I watched it the night I returned from Baltimore.  Long story short, the film (based on the novel) is a long love story, punctuated by different foods that reflect the main character's various emotions throughout.  In one scene where she tries to woo an unrequited lover through her cooking, she makes this roasted quail with rose petal sauce that just looks downright divine.



Ever since then, I've been craving rose myself.  Then, a scoop of rose-vanilla ice cream from Ici in Berkeley today only helped to intensify rather than satisfy my craving.



When I was baking these, the whole house smelled of roses.  It was absolutely wonderful and fragrant!  To go with the macarons, I whipped up a quick dark chocolate buttercream, and to help balance the buttercream with the rose macaron, I added in some freshly-dried basil powder to the chocolate buttercream.  The basil, which you can't really place when you eat these, lends this great earthiness to the buttercream, which helps to keep it on the less-sweet side and compliments the flowery flavor of the rose perfectly.



Quite a nice way to unwind after a weekend of travelling, no?  :-)

Read on for recipe...


Rose Macaron
makes ~30-35 macarons (60-70 shells total)
roughly adapted from MyTartelette's macaron recipe

30 gr sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr blanched and slivered almonds
2 Tbspn dried and crushed rose petals
1 tspn dry pink food coloring, optional
90 gr egg whites, at least two days old
(separate eggs in advance, place in airtight container in the fridge for at least two days)
more crushed rose petals, optional

1. Have ready: pastry bag fitted with a tip with about 1/2" round opening and two baking sheets with silpats or lined with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, process the regular sugar for a few seconds.  Remove and set aside.
3. Combine the powdered sugar, almonds, rose petals, and food coloring in the food processor and process until the almonds are finely ground.  Set aside.
4. Place the egg whites in a mixer bowl with the whisk attachment.  Begin whisking on low, until the egg whites start to foam.
5. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high and beat the egg whites while gradually adding the regular sugar.  Beat on medium-high until you reach a glossy, soft-peak meringue.
6. At this point, remove the mixer bowl from the mixer and continue the rest of the way by hand, using a large balloon whisk.  Pour (lightly!) the processed powdered sugar+almond mixture into the meringue.  Fold to combine, quickly at first, and then slowly after the first few strokes.  Make sure to always use deliberate strokes when folding.  Mix only until combined, no more than fifty strokes.  Usually, it only takes me fewer than thirty, if that.  Batter is ready when the peaks will collapse.
7. Immediately transfer the batter to the prepared pastry bag.  On the silpat baking sheets, squeeze about 1 to 1.5" rounds.  If using, top each macaron with crushed rose petals.  Let the sheets sit for 30 minutes.
8. While the macarons rest, preheat the oven to 280 degrees F.  Bake the macarons for 15-20 minutes, rotating after about 10.  Macarons are done when the shells do not give when gently touched.  Remove from oven and let cool.


Quick Dark Chocolate-Basil Buttercream
makes enough to fill 30-35 macarons

1/2 stick butter, softened
2 tspn milk
1.5 oz dark chocolate
1/4 tspn vanilla
1/4 cup + 2 Tbspn powdered sugar
handful of fresh basil leaves

1. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave.  Set aside.
2. To make powdered basil, place the fresh basil leaves on a paper towel in the microwave.  Microwave for three minutes.  Remove from microwave and crush.  Set aside.
3. In a mixer bowl with the beater attachment, beat the butter until light, about three minutes.
4. Add in milk and beat until combined.
5. Add in melted chocolate and vanilla, beat until combined.
6. Add in powdered sugar, beat.
7. Add in powdered basil, beat until combined.

To assemble: pipe a small amount (~penny-sized) of the buttercream onto the bottom of a macaron. Top with another.


Enjoy!

20 comments:

  1. absolutely beautiful! I can quite imagine why you would jump into the arms of a bearer of rose pink macarons. I love the pop of the pink and green in those images, bravo!
    x x x

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  2. There's nothing like unwinding in the kitchen and with those gorgeous results, those macarons are so pretty & love the combination of flavors.

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  3. Those pics are cookbook worthy. I think you need to do a blurb recipe book. STAT.

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  4. Hi! I love your intro photo as well as the one in the middle. How did you do that with the clear macaron and everything else blurred a bit? I know it is a depth of field thing, but I just don't know if my little camera could do it. She's/It is like the little engine that could at this point.
    Nice recipe too. Your flavors remind me of a vanilla basil ice cream I had in Atlanta a few years ago-yummy...
    Stella (thiswitchykitchen@gmail.com)

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  5. lovely pictures, can only but fantasize what they may taste like. Can i ask how u store the filled macaroons, in the fridge? and for how long. tks

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  6. @Stella: it is a depth of field thing. I believe my aperture was set to somewhere between f/1.8-3.5. The key is to have a lens that can open very wide. What kind of camera do you have? If you have a point and shoot and can't control the manual settings of the camera, you might be able to replicate the blurriness in photoshop, but I'm not so technologically advanced, so I couldn't tell you how. :-)

    @javapot: I store my macarons in an air-tight box in the fridge and try to eat and finish them within a day (which isn't usually a problem. :-P). I think they could possibly last two days or so, but any more than that, I would be hesitant with because the macarons are so delicate. You might also look into the possibility of freezing the macarons (since I've seen them sold frozen at some stores), but I've never tried it, so I'm not sure what the results would be.

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  7. Love love love this. I'm going to try making them as soon as I get home.

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  8. @Stephanie: ooo make them, and let me know what you think!

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  9. i can't get over how STUNNING these look.

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  10. Every blog and their photos are sooo perfect and gorgeous! Must try some of the recipes especially the macarons. I am currently going thru the macaron fever phase.
    Btw, in Singapore, we use metric ie grams and kilograms. May I ask what is the conversion of 1 stick of butter to grams?
    Thanks

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  11. @ken bakes: Thank you! I believe 1 stick of butter is about 113 grams.

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  12. Thanks Steph. Will work on it soon:)

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  13. These look amazing! Great photos, too. I don't know that I would ever make them, they do seem to intimidate me a bit. :) Just love your blog!

    xOx

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  14. @Sixpence and A Blue Moon: Thanks! Macarons aren't too bad--they just take a little bit of practice.

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  15. @Sixpence and A Blue Moon: Thanks! Macarons aren't too bad--they just take a little bit of practice.

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  16. @ken bakes: Thank you! I believe 1 stick of butter is about 113 grams.

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  17. lovely pictures, can only but fantasize what they may taste like. Can i ask how u store the filled macaroons, in the fridge? and for how long. tks

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  18. There's nothing like unwinding in the kitchen and with those gorgeous results, those macarons are so pretty & love the combination of flavors.

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  19. Hello! Is there any particular rose species that you use for cooking/baking? Or any rose would suffice? Pardon the weird question. Thanks!

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  20. I usually just use the dry roses that they have for tea.  I'm not sure what type these are?

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I love hearing from you and reading your comments! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. Happy feasting!

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