I’m not a chef. I’m not really a ‘blogger’. But I can cook.
I didn’t grow up cooking, although most of my memories of my mother are of us in the kitchen. She was an amazing woman and we spent hours in the kitchen talking while she cooked. She cooked for us, for parties, for friends, for family. I could only bake a few things, but I cooked my first meal a week after my parents died. I was 19, and I really couldn’t cook: I heated up instant grits and added sausage.
Over the past nine years I cooked more and more. Out of necessity (one cannot survive on grits and sausage alone!) and because I have the clearest memories of my mother when I’m in the kitchen. I adore cooking, it makes me feel so accomplished and so capable.
So I have started this blog with the most complicated thing I have learned to cook: Macaroons. (and as you can tell from the picture, I am being very honest with the outcome, no photoshop or fancy cameras, this is just what food looks like without a filter)
Last year I went on a macaroon cooking course – thanks to my now husband – and while I could make the macaroons in class I’ve struggled ever since. It turns out I was so worried about over whipping my egg whites that I massively under whipped them. So I’ll give you my recipe, and this piece of advice: Those egg whites better actually be stiff! This means that when you lift a whisk out of it, the peaks stay up, or only the very tips wilt. If it just keeps a shape, they aren’t stiff enough.
Since it is the holidays, I am making something that reminds me of home. I grew up in North Carolina and until last year I could not get decent eggnog in London. There are a lot of things I miss about home, but oh my days I loooove eggnog. My dad used to have to buy me a carton especially because no one else in the house ate it. So I am making eggnog macaroons. I hope you like them.
- 100g icing sugar (powdered sugar in US)
- 100g ground almonds
- 2 eggs (whites only)
- 40g caster sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 400g white chocolate (if you can get white chocolate chips this will melt faster)
- 1 cup eggnog (in the UK you can get this online most easily, though Sainsbury’s make it)
First, get a sheet of baking parchment and make 25 small circles (shot-glass sized) on the parchment. this will be your guide for piping so if you use a marker or pen flip the baking parchment upside-down. (Alternatively, you can download a guide here)
In class they advised to sieve together the ground almonds and icing sugar into a bowl. I broke my sieve so I was not able to do that this time, and to be honest, it made very little difference. I whisked mine together a few times instead.
Once you have mixed these together add one of the egg whites and mush together with a spatula. It will make a thick paste.
Let that sit, and in a saucepan mix together sugar and water and put on a low heat. While the sugar is dissolving whip the other egg white until it’s foamy.
Once the sugar is dissolved mix it about with a wooden spoon until it starts to boil but not turn colour. If you have a candy thermometer it should be 115 degrees C. If you don’t it’s fine, I don’t either.
Once sugar is bubbling add it to the egg whites while still whisking. they should get glossy and eventually will become stiff. This is something you can do with a whisk, but it takes for bloody ever so I recommend a blender.
Fold the stiff egg whites into the almond-sugar paste slowly – about a third at a time. Don’t over-fold, but make sure there are no white streaks in it.
Add a pinch of nutmeg – the reason I didn’t give you a measurement is because everyone’s taste is different. But don’t put in more than 2tsp.
Put the macaroon mixture in a piping bag and pipe onto the baking parchment-lined trays you prepared before.
Let sit aside for 15-20 mins, and pre-heat your oven to 150 C (300 F). The shells need to set, you check this by touching it lightly with your finger. If the touch does not dent or attach to your finger, they are set. For decoration, you can add a sprinkle of nutmeg on top, but if you have put a lot in the mixture you don’t want nutmeg to be too strong.
Put in the oven for about 18 minutes.
Remove and let cool to room temperature.
Fill a saucepan about half-way with water and bring to a boil.
place a glass or metal bowl on top to make a double boiler (try to keep the water from touching the bowl. break the white chocolate in pieces, and add eggnog. Move the eggnog and chocolate around with a wooden spoon or whisk until the chocolate has melted.
Stir until chocolate-eggnog mixture is smooth and take off of pan to cool. Once it gets to room temperature, check the consistency. If it is like a paste, you can transfer immediately to a piping bag, but if not put in the refrigerator for an hour.
Peel off the macaroon shells as smoothly as possible. Don’t be discouraged if there are some holes int eh bottom of your shells – they are sneaky filling pockets (yum!).
Pair up the macaroons. There is something amazing about this step because you will find that among the lot they somehow always match up. It is a sort of cooking romance.
Put filling into a piping bag and pipe onto one of the macaroon shells of each pair and top with remaining shell.
EAT!!! I hope you like them.