"I do not want to wake up!" I say to myself as I realize I am on the very verge of awakening. I snuggle deeper into the thick warm covers, wrapping them tightly around my head and ears. It's cold. No. It's more than that. It's freezing, hec it's like bloody Antarctica in our bedroom.
We sleep with the windows open. No matter what the weather is like outside, the windows in our bedroom are always tilted to let in fresh air. Hale, sleet, heat wave, snow storm or Arctic cold - we leave the windows open. I think the only time the windows are shut is when the temp outside reaches -20 degrees C and inside, our bedroom is a cozy 7 C!!
If it was up to me I'd shut the windows maybe a little more often - at say 0 degrees or when it's hailing outside. But I do not have much to say in this matter. You see I share the room and my bed with Nature Boy!
Tom is the type of man who goes camping with his friends when the landscape is covered in snow, he will bathe in his birthday suit in a freezing river (I have pictures to prove it) and goes jogging when it is cold and wet! I could go on with the list but I think you get the point - Nature Boy in all his purity.
But there are two worlds colliding when he meets me in the bedroom. I am a warm blooded gal and really warm up at temperatures around the 20 degrees C. So, at 8.5 degrees, the current temperature our bedroom has, my bedtime apparel features flirty flannel pajamas, enticing woolen socks and a provocative fleece sweater. I then bury myself in a thick winter duvet with an extra blanket thrown over the top.
Of course Nature Boy is wearing boxer shorts and a long-armed T-shirt. Mind you, the long armed T-shirt is only being worn because the short armed T-shirts are in the laundry basket.
Nature Boy even dares to look perplexed at the gear I am wearing. What happened to that sexy little lace nightie I was wearing in the summer?
Hey Nature Boy, if I have to make a compromise and sleep with open windows in the freezing cold, you have to make the compromise and share your bed with Flirty Flannel Girl!
It's no surprise I am turning to warming ingredients in the kitchen now. For this mac-a-month session of Mac Attack I flavored the macarons with a warming spiced chai latte mix from the Drink Me Chai range I brought back with me from London and made a thick salted caramel to fill them. The combination was explosive and hot! The recipe is "new" and comes from the Ottolenghi cookbook also a bring-back pressie from London.
Note: If you are making macarons for the first time please read my comprehensive collection of macaron tips. All the way from the prep work to removing macarons from the baking paper, you’ll find valuable tips and tricks for perfect macaron making.
Spiced Chai Latte and Salted Caramel Macarons
Printable version of recipe here
For the macaron shells
Adapted from Ottolenghi - The Cookbook
110g icing sugar
60g almonds, very finely ground
60g egg whites, (about 2 eggs) aged for either 5 days in the fridge, then for 24 hours at room temperature or a little over 24 hours on the countertop
40g castor sugar
12g spiced chai powder*, see note
For the salted caramel
300 ml whipping cream
140g + 30g salted butter
For the macaron shells
- Prepare your baking tray and baking sheets with a stencil of circles. Draw circles on some baking paper using a (mathematical) compass about 2 cm in diameter. Then place some white parchment paper on the baking tray and flip the baking paper back around.
- In a large mixing bowl mix the egg whites with an electric hand beater (alternatively you can use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment) until it is thick and frothy. Gradually add the granulated sugar, whisking all the while, until the mixture turns into a thick glossy meringue. The consistency of the macaron batter should be similar to hair mousse or shaving foam. Make sure the meringue is not over-beaten or else it will be too dry.
- In a food processor pulse together icing sugar and almonds until the nuts are finely ground and powdery. Sift the mixture 2 or 3 times to make sure there are no lumps.
- Place the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the spiced chai powder. Add the meringue in three portions, giving it a quick fold using the macronnage technique described in my macaron tips section. Fold a few times to break the air. Continue until you get a smooth and supple mixture, thick in consistency so that when you lift the spatula it flows back in thick ribbons. Test a small amount on a plate – should the tops fall back and flatten by themselves then it is ready, if not give it a few more folds.
- Fill a piping bag with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (2 cm in diameter) on your prepared baking paper. Leave the macarons to rest and dry for about 30.
- In the meantime preheat the the oven to 170 degrees C (see verdict below). When the macarons are ready bake the shells for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Use a flat offset spatula to gently remove the shells from the baking paper and allow to cool further on a rack.
* Note: If you are unable to find a spiced chai powder mix why not make your own. You'll find a great recipe here.
For the salted caramel
- In a saucepan, melt sugar carefully without stirring and only swirling the pan occasionally. Allow the sugar to turn a gorgeous dark amber color. Remove from heat.
- Add 30g butter, then pour the cream. At this stage the mixture will bubble, spit and spatter furiously so take care. It will seize up and harden but place the saucepan back on the heat and cook until the mixture turns fluid again.
- Cook the mixture until it reaches approx. 110 degrees C on a candy thermometer.
- Transfer the salted caramel into a bowl and allow to cool. To avoid a skin developing on the top, cover with plastic wrap.
- With an electric whisk, beat the remaining butter for approx. 10 minutes. Add the caramel in two additions, beating to incorporate it into the butter.
- Store in air-tight jars if not using straight away.
Assembling the macarons
Using two spoons or a piping bag place/pipe small dollops of the salted caramel filling on one of the shells and gently cover with another shell. Do not press. Continue to do this until you have used up all of the filling and shells.
If you are not going to be using them right away you can store the shells in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
They freeze well too but it is recommended to freeze them unfilled. To fill them take the shells out of the freezer 48 hours prior to serving and without defrosting fill them. This way the flavors will be allowed to blend as they thaw.
The recipe itself came together very easily and with absolutely no hassle. I had the macaron mixture ready and piped within minutes. My only critique point was due to the fact that they were baked in the oven at 170 degrees C for 12 minutes they were a tad dryer in comparison to the previous macarons I made. Those macarons were baked at a lower, 140 degrees C, for 12-15 minutes resulting in a nice moist inner pastry with a crispy outer shell. Although I liked the overall texture of these macarons I think they should have been taken out of the oven maybe at 10 minutes. The recipe is fantastic and really works for me so I will be using it often, playing around with the oven temperatures to get the perfect bite.
As always Soeren adored the macarons. He literally gobbles them up and as I found that they were disappearing too fast I seriously had to put a lock to the jar to save a few for my girlfriend B. I took a few with me to lunch yesterday, where I met B. at our fave French Bistro run by my French friend, E. Both indulged in the macarons delicately and were seriously smitten with the flavor combination and loved the spicy aroma. E. however, agreed with me that the slightly dryer consistency might have been due to the higher temperature.
Make sure you check out the MacTweets blog for a collection of deliciously flavored macarons.
Enjoy your weekend and see you all next week!
More macarons from WFLH:
|Lebkuchen Spice Macarons with Quince Jam and Candied Ginger||Saffron Macarons with Cardamom White Chocolate Ganache||Pistachio and Lemon Cream Macarons|
All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2010 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First