Mr. Chadwick would be the hero of this post. Without him coming into my life I am sure it would not be filled with romance, intrigue, adventure, passion, suspense and love. Without him I am sure I would have lived in a very different, colorless world and probably would never have discovered and understood some of the world’s greatest literary classics.
I love reading. I love books. I worship libraries. And I can truly say that I procured this love thanks to my English teacher Mr. Chadwick back when I was at the young and impressionable age of 14. He entered into my life at the cusp of a new school year. I was somewhere between a naive little girlie advancing into a rebel without a cause and was trying hard to find the right path to follow Being just a cool kid or one of the popular people was not cutting it for me. I needed to find a channel to divert my energy and my talent.
Oh I had talent alright – it was there deep inside. I knew it, my parents knew it and a few of my teachers knew it, but I was not making it easy on any of us, by allowing it to appear. This talent needed cajoling and needed filing. It was a talent with an attitude and I was standing in my own way.
Mr. Chadwick however, was the wizard that found the right button to press. He called me an uncut rough diamond that needed to be polished and cut for the true value to be presented.
With his wonderful and innovative teachings I went on to discover the world of Shakespeare, Dickens, Elliot and Pope. I found emotional intensity in Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and wept at the thwarted desire in Hardy’s The Return of the Native, while Keats colored up my Autumn with his ode, a hostile difference to the barren desserts I was living in at the time.
Words poured out of me and I began writing – Mr. Chadwick provided me with the food to nourish my hungry passion with books and stories. He inspired my imagination to think out of the box and unconventionally, something that I do till today.
One of my fondest memory is of the play our class produced. We wrote the script, planned the plot, chose the characters, acted – the whole deal. The story was Romeo and Juliet of course, but the modern version. Several years later I got goosebumps as I watched Leonardo Dicaprio play our Romeo on the big screen.
Later I went on to do my A’ levels – in English Literature and French Literature nonetheless. Between Maupassant and Chaucer I fondly thought back to Mr. Chadwick, who unfortunately had left, but the impact he left had repercussions throughout my life.
Today I go through books like a termite goes through wood. I read whatever moves my fancy. From Dan Brown, John Case to Helen Fielding, Joanne Harris and Isabel Allende, on to Goethe, Verne, Flemming or Tolkien. My absolute heroine however is Jane Austen. I own all her books and since the age of 17 have read them over and over again. (Please excuse me if some of you are cringing at the names of all these authors in one sentence!)
I am a Gemini and to satisfy each of my personalities I indulge in a variety of genres, authors and styles. I read books – good old books, not a Kindle or an iPad. Although I love technology and all it’s great masterpieces, in my opinion nothing beats the smell of the pages in a book. One of life's true pleasures is simply snuggling deeper into the duvet with the feel of a good book in my hands, turning the crisp pages. Another is walking the aisles of a library, inhaling the scent of old books and trying to capture the moment forever.
Luckily Soeren has inherited my gene for this amazing hobby. He is an avid reader and loves stories. We read every night and I am introducing him to some of my all time favorites, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. Tom cultivates his imagination with stories and tales that take him away and feeds his fantasy. Once a month we go to the library and enjoy an hour of browsing and searching for new old books. He loves it as much as I do.
I wonder though in this age if he will feel the love for a good ole book like we do. Or will a futuristic high-tech screen open doors to the old classics for him?
This month’s macaron creation is inspired by books. They are a bit of James Bond meets Brigitte Jones meets Jane Austen. It’s what I love to do the most – a good book, a good drink and a few sweet treats to nibble on. On a warm summer’s day, you’ll often find me in my hammock with a book, a cool drink and something sweet.
The idea behind Mactweets this month was to make macarons inspired by our favorite book. I have so many and one for every occasion. Some for bitter sweet moments and some for sweet fruity instances and others for the zesty tangy times. These Campari Orange and Grapefruit macarons have it all - fruity, bitter, tangy and zesty - the perfect partner to whatever book you are currently reading.
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.
Campari Orange and Grapefruit Macarons
Printable version of recipe here
For the macaron shells
Recipe for 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
10g dried orange peel
a few drops of orange food coloring
For the filling
210g white chocolate, roughly chopped
10 ml lemon juice
75 ml mix of fresh orange grapefruit juice
25 ml Campari
zest of half an orange and grapefruit, finely grated
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. Or use this macaron template.
- 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, almonds and dried orange peel until everything is 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. Add the meringue in three portions, giving it a quick fold using the macronnage technique described in my macaron tips section. Add a few drops of orange food coloring to get the desired color tone. Fold the mixture 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 15 to 30 minutes.
- In the meantime preheat the the oven to 150 degrees C. When the macarons are ready bake the shells for 12-15 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.
For the filling
- Heat the juices and Campari in a small saucepan gently until just steaming but not boiling.
- In a double boiler or a metal bowl placed over a pot with simmering water, melt the white chocolate gently.
- Slowly pour the juices into the white chocolate and stirring to incorporate into a thin but smooth mixture. Fold in the orange and grapefruit zest and with a rubber spatula mix the entire mixture well.
- Transfer the chocolate mixture into a clean bowl cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight to thicken. The mixture will be thick and creamy.
- Now the mixture can be filled into a piping bag with a plain tip and the macarons are ready to by assembled.
Assembling the macarons
Pipe small portions of the chocolate-campari 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.
Macarons taste best the next day. Prepare and fill them, then keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. This allows the flavors to intermingle with each other. Enjoy them at room temperature the next day.
Growing up I envisaged myself to be a mix of all my favorite characters I met in my literary travels. Sometimes I was a sexy vamp like the glamorous Bond girls, other times I was as clumsy as the incorrigible Brigitte Jones, or as mysterious as Eustacia Vye, longing to escape the restraints of routine in search of adventures, many a times I was as lively and witty as Elizabeth Bennet and still as virtuous and with a good sense of morals as Fanny Price. I do believe that many of them made an impression on my character.
These Campari Orange and Grapefruit macarons are truly sensational. The slight bitterness from the Campari adds the perfect balance to the sweetness of the white chocolate and the macaron shells, while the zesty grapefruit and orange flavors brings the perfect tanginess.
Hope you all have a great weekend with a good book, a cool refreshing drink and maybe a few of these delectable Campari Orange and Grapefruit macarons. But most of all - have fun on your literary adventures!
You might like these macarons ideas from What’s For Lunch, Honey?:
|Black Sesame and Nutella Macarons||Spiced Chai Latte and Salted Caramel Macarons||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