As you are all aware, I am better with the oven than I am with the camera. My food photos are amatuer at best, but I do try.
A while back, my friend Justina and her beautiful daughter came by my place to bake up some sugar-free brownies which were a little goo-like but tasty and to snap some photos of said goo. She is an awesome professional photographer so she gave me some tips for composition, lighting, angles, and more. And so with her advice in my back pocket (and occasionally evident in the pics I take) I stumble on. Now not to toot my own horn or anything, but she did say that my After Eight Sandwich photo was my best yet and to quote her: “I think that you have graduated past the capability of your point and shoot camera. You need to go ahead and get yourself a DSLR. Maybe, if it isn’t too late, Ben can hook you up for Christmas”.
My husband just loved that.
The reason I am all photo-happy today is that I finally have a picture on my ‘about‘ page. Justina took it on a lovely fall day when she, my sister and I played around downtown with our bikes and her camera. Unlike my attempts, this picture is awesome, just like Justina.
So… I think my pics below are a bit of a step back in the climb toward brilliant pictures, but here are some Christmas macarons, that may not be captured brilliantly but certainly taste brilliant, for you.
Eggnog / Candy Cane Macarons
Recipes from Tartelette
90 grams egg whites (aged in the fridge for 24-48 hours)
200 grams powdered sugar
30 grams granulated sugar
110 grams almonds
freshly grated nutmeg for the eggnog version
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not over beat your meringue or it will be too dry. Combine the almonds, powdered sugar 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 flows like magma or a thick ribbon. 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 with the batter and pipe small rounds onto parchment paper lined baking sheets (or a silpat mat really does rule here). If you’d like to split the recipe to create both macarons, for the eggnog macarons, sprinkle them with a little nutmeg before the shells harden and for the candy cane leave them plain. Preheat the oven to 280F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and then bake for 18-20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. 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.
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg whites 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
crushed candy canes
Put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. Divide the buttercream in two portions. Leave one portion plain and add the cinnamon and nutmeg to the other one. Fill the nutmeg shells with the eggnog flavored one (cinnamon-nutmeg) and the plain macarons with the plain buttercream. Roll the plain filled shells in the crushed candy canes.