I am finally able to say that I am ready to accept that Christmas is here. Like accept it and be fully able REALLY to enjoy it. I do not get into the Christmas spirit when the shops bring out the fairy lights or Christmas decorations, nor when the advisements for turkey, ham and prawns role into supermarkets catalogue. The twelve days of Christmas have turn into a three long month Christmas (Yes, that’s right Christmas decoration up in October)
Of course, I understand the economics of dragging out Christmas to increasing consumer spending and come “out of red” for retail, but I find it dilutes all meaning to what Christmas is really about.
Sure, the traditional Figures of Christmas like Santa, gifts and lot and lots of food are still all great things about this holiday. BUT what I like the most is that brings out the nicer, more generous side to people. Sort of like each person going through the story of “Christmas tale”; People who were once viewed as grumpy are very as merry etc...
I think puts all of us in a better mood, and when I am in a happier than normal mood, I like to be more daring with flavours in my baking. Not all of them turn out well, but I have recently discovered the joys of an alcoholic drink called the Grasshopper. A mixture of Crème de menthe, Crème de cacao blanc and cream, shaken then poured as a cocktail. Totally suitable for this time of year, so as a way cementing Christmas cheer, I have made Grasshopper macarons.
Quirky flavour, but will win you points with friends. I infused a white chocolate ganche butter cream with equal parts of the Crème de menthe, Crème de cacao blanc. For the macaron shell, I used Tartelettes basic recipe, works every time.
Taken directly from Tartette’s eggnog macarons recipe
For the shells:
90 gr egg whites (use eggs whites that have been preferably left 3-5 days in the fridge)
25 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like)
Prepare the macarons:
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Place the powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280F. When ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don't let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.
For the Grasshoper Butter cream.
My go to recipe for butter cream via Bravetart
140g egg whites
20ml Crème de menthe,
20ml Crème de cacao blanc
145g white chocolate
First melt white chocolate over a pan of simmering water, till melted.
Remove and stir in the liquors. Leave to coll down a bit.
Follow her basic recipe, then at the stage after you have added all the butter, beat in the white chocolate on slow speed for a mixer. Once all chocolate is added, turn it up high and allow it to come together again.
Sandwich one shell with a teaspoon of butter cream.