Friday, 28 October 2011

Halloween Treats: Zombie Marshmallows

Who knew Marshmallows could be so awesome!

Zombie Marshmallows make a brilliantly simple Halloween treat, all you need is a bag of your favourite marshmallows and either edible food pens or edible food colouring pastes and a paint brush.

I used food colouring paste in black and red and a very small paintbrush to create my little zombies. The marshmallows I used are the seriously squidgy kind, I much prefer these but they are slightly harder to draw/paint on so you may prefer to use the smoother kind.

They are honestly ridiculously fun to make and I am no word of a lie actually seriously excited about Zombie Marshmallows in my Hot Chocolate! 

x x x

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Pistachio Macaron Recipe

It is highly possible that heaven is indeed a pistachio macaron.

I honestly struggle to find words to explain how I feel about pistachio macarons, they are certainly among my favourite sweet treats and I absolutely adore this recipe.  The macarons themselves are honestly breathtakingly delicious and the buttercream....oh my....

I adapted the amazing buttercream recipe form I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita, which is a brilliant French Buttercream recipe. 

 This seems like a great time for a little buttercream study session....

All About Buttercream

American Buttercream (probably the most commonly used Buttercream) is made by creaming together butter and confectioners' sugar and beating to the desired consistency and lightness.

Italian Meringue Buttercream  is prepared by adding sugar syrup to egg whites whipped to soft peaks. The syrup and egg white mixture is then whipped until it has cooled to around 100 °F.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is made by cooking the egg whites and sugar together in a bowl placed on a pot of boiling water.

French Meringue Buttercream is prepared by whipping egg whites, cream of tartar, and caster sugar until stiff, glossy peaks are formed.

Finally French Buttercream (the Buttercream I am using here) is made in the same way as Italian meringue-based buttercream, except with egg yolks or whole eggs instead of egg whites-- hot sugar syrup, which has been heated to soft-ball stage is beaten into the egg yolks or whole eggs which have been beaten until they are thick and pale yellow.

Anyway back to the macarons....

You will more than likely have to make your own ground pistachios, this is very easy and I use my food processor.  Sieve them twice and weigh them once ground.

I used Sugarflair food colouring paste in Mint Green to colour my macarons.

Pistachio Macarons
(Makes around 25 -30 Macarons)

160g icing sugar
100g ground almonds
60g ground pistachios
4 medium egg whites, separated into two equal batches -
160g caster sugar
green food colouring paste

For the Pistachio Buttercream

Recipe adapted from I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita

100g unsalted butter, very soft
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp vanilla sugar (or caster sugar)
1 egg
50g ground pistachios

Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sieve together the icing sugar, ground almonds and ground pistachios into a large mixing bowl. Add the first batch of egg whites (unbeaten) and the food colouring paste to the almond mix to form a thick paste. Make the mixture darker than you would like at this point, as the addition of the beaten egg whites later on will significantly lighten the colour. Set aside.

Tip the second batch of egg whites into a heatproof bowl and have an electric whisk at the ready. Place 50ml water and the caster sugar into a small saucepan on a medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the syrup registers 110C, using a sugar thermometer, at which time start beating the egg whites on a high speed. Once the syrup has reached 118C pour it in a thin stream into the mixing bowl, avoiding the whisk. Continue to whisk on high until the mixture has cooled slightly and you have a shiny peaked meringue mixture - the bowl should no longer be hot to the touch, but still warm.

Tip the meringue onto the almond mixture and gently fold together. It is important not to over-mix the batter - it should fall in a thick ribbon from the spatula. The ribbon should fade back into the batter within about 30 seconds - if it does not, fold a few more times.

Heat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/ gas 3-4. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Pipe rounds onto the prepared baking sheets, leave to rest for 30 minutes on the kitchen counter, or until the macarons have developed a skin.

Bake the macarons for 14 minutes. Once out of the oven immediately slide the parchment onto a work surface and cool for a few minutes before gently peeling off the paper.

Pair up your macaron shells.

To make the Pistachio Buttercream:

In the bowl of an electric mixer or using a handheld mixer beat the butter until very soft, about 3 minutes.

Place the egg into the clean bowl of your mixer ready to beat.

Place the water and sugar into a small saucepan and place over a medium heat.

After a minute or two start beating the egg.

 The syrup is ready when it reaches soft ball stage. To check for soft ball stage scoop some of the syrup out of the pan with a spoon and drop into a small amount of cold water, then try and scoop it out of the water and squish it into a ball using your fingers.  If you can do this the syrup is ready.

Pour the syrup in a thin stream into the beaten egg, avoid the whisk and the sides of the bowl. Continue to beat the meringue mixture until the bottom of the bowl is no longer hot and the mixture becomes white and heavy.

Add the butter prepared earlier in three parts to the meringue mixture, beating after each addition.  While beating the butter and meringue mixture it may appear to separate .  It will look curdled and you will definitely think you have made a mistake, even though I am saying this you will still think you have made a mistake.  I promise you haven't just continue beating on a high speed until the mixture becomes creamy.  Add the pistachios and mix well.

Fill a piping bag, fitted with a plain round nozzle, with Pistachio French Buttercream and pipe onto the flat side of one macaron in each pair, sandwich the macarons pairs together and devour. 

Next week Halloween baking will be in full effect and I can't wait, I also have some glorious Autumnal cakes coming up. 

I'm also really excited because my amazing friend is back home, she has been away studying but is back for half term and I cannot wait to see her!  I'm going to take her some macarons, a little reward for working so hard.

x x x