My sister-in-law, Shara, loves popcorn. She is committed to popcorn. She has popcorn specific bowls of multiple sizes and hues. As a birthday gift a friend gave her a package of those old-school popcorn boxes, which she will use… may be even today. She actually owns a red stand alone cinema style popcorn maker. She goes to the movie theatre to get her fix and then leaves… without seeing a movie. She loves popcorn.
So, for her birthday the theme of her sweets was easy… just what exactly to make was the question.
I knew it had to be special and thoughtful since Shara deserves nothing less. She is pretty much the nicest, most helpful person you will ever meet. Need a ride home at 4 am? Shara is there with cheese toast in hand. Need some home-made gift tags to pretty-up your gift giving? Shara will make them. Need a little help decorating your house? Shara will send you pictures, ideas, links. Need someone to share your excitement about absolutely anything? Shara is so your girl. Need someone to mention your little duffie food blog to people? Shara jumps at every opportunity.
On top of this gorgeous girl-sundae she also: designs and makes wedding i. do. invitations in the middle of the night, hosts work shops on card-making, stencils damask images onto walls to pep them up and serves cookies on top of shot glasses of milk.
In conclusion: she is one sweet girl. She can and does do everything to make other people feel special and loved while making everything around that kindness beautiful.
Happy Special Day Shara.
For you, on your birthday:
Adapted 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
1/2 cup salted and buttered popcorn, crushed
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 and vanilla beans in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add 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). Sprinkle the macarons with the popcorn pieces before they start to dry / harden. 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.
Salted Caramel Buttercream
14 Tbsp unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 1/4 cup sifted confectioners sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup salted caramel
Beat the butter with the paddle attachment in a mixer until very soft. Beat in the confectioners sugar, then the egg yolks one at a time to make a very smooth creamy mixture. Beat in the caramel. Place in a piping bag and pipe onto a macaron shell and sandwich with a second macaron.