Category Archives: Nuts

Macadamia & Wattle Seed Butter

Macadamia Wattle Seed Butter_6089_wm_1x1

I have not posted anything in a couple of weeks and for this I apologise.  I have a number of things I would dearly love to bake, make, and post for you but life has again placed itself in my path.  But I will return to baking very soon.

As some of you know, I have attended some fantastic courses in making chocolates and pralines at the brilliant Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School in Melbourne.  I have had the time of my life and I have learned so much.  It’s been so great, I have signed up for some more classes!  If you would like to see some of the amazing chocolates and pralines we made, you can view them on the Facebook page.

But it has taken me away from baking and playing in my kitchen and posting new recipes.  Over recent weeks my father has been unwell and so I’ve been distracted by that too.  But I will be getting back to business as usual this week so there should be some posts coming through very soon.

I had some wonderful ideas for recipes to post for Australia Day, which is today.  Some wickedly good and some wickedly healthy too.  But as I’ve not had time to make them in time, I thought I should at least post up something to commemorate today.

Unlike some, I do not think of Australia Day as a commemoration of our early European (English) settlers arriving by ship over 200 years ago.  I think of it as a day to celebrate the coming together of Australians as a nation.  Strictly speaking, Australia became a nation on 1 January 1901 so this anniversary is a few weeks behind, but hey, what’s a few weeks between friends?

Like any nation, there are moments in our history of which we can be proud and moments that make us hang our heads in shame.  There are some who claim that those who migrated here from other parts of the world since the 1780s are not truly Australian, that only the indigenous people of our nation have the right to call themselves Australian.  I believe that all of us who call this beautiful country home have the right to call ourselves Australian, for even our indigenous Australians crossed over from other lands, albeit thousands of years ago.  We are essentially all migrants and yet all Australian, and all fortunate to live in such a beautiful country.   As is often said, we are all different but underneath it all, we are human and we are all the same.

It occurred to me earlier today that although the recipe I’m sharing is simple, and hardly even worth a blog post … it brings together two quintessentially Australian foods.   Macadamia nuts and wattle seeds.
Both foods are indigenous to Australia.  They are both amazingly delicious as well as being healthy.  Macadamia nuts are fully of healthy mono-unsaturated fats and nutrients while wattle seeds punch above their weight in protein and micronutrients.  Together they are nothing short of divine.

Whether you process the macadamias raw or lightly roasted is purely up to you, and a matter of personal taste.  I prefer to process them raw as the flavour is delicate and beautiful, and a pinch of sea salt really adds depth.

Anyone who has trawled through the recipes on this site will know that I love roasted wattle seeds.  That magical chocolate-hazelnut-coffee flavour they impart is sublime.   They are available online for those of you outside Australia.  If you cannot find them, you could substitute a little pure vanilla.  Use vanilla seeds or vanilla bean paste for the best flavour.

This literally takes only a few minutes to prepare.  It is the shizz on toast, on vegetables, on fish, on fruit, or eaten with a spoon.  It makes a fantastic alternative to butter, or other nut butters 🙂

Wishing you all a very Happy Australia Day.  I will see you all really soon with some new recipes!

Makes 1 x 250 gram jar

Ingredients
250 grams macadamias, raw and unsalted
1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons roasted and ground wattle seeds
sea salt q.b.

Directions
If you wish to roast the macadamias first, lightly roast them for 5 – 8 minutes at 180℃.  Keep an eye on them and move them about on the tray every couple of minutes.  Allow to cool completely before proceeding.  This step is optional and unnecessary but it’s a matter of personal preference for flavour.  I like to make my macadamia butter raw as I like the flavour.

Place the macadamias in the bowl of a food processor and process until it is processed to a smooth paste.  Add a generous pinch of sea salt, to taste.  Add the wattle seeds and pulse briefly to distribute.  Transfer the butter to a clean jar.

Stored in the refrigerator, it will keep for a long time.  I doubt that will be necessary though 😉

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Fillings, Jams & Preserves, Low Carb, Nuts, Special Diet

Apricot Almond Low Carb Muffins

Apricot Almond LC Muffins_6062_wm_1x1I get so many requests for low carbohydrate recipes, I wish I had a dollar for every time I get asked.  I’d be a bazillionaire!  It does speak volumes about the popularity of low carb diets though.  For some, it’s about losing body fat and maybe some weight.  For others, it’s a lifestyle choice due to health factors like Type II diabetes, food intolerances, or carb sensitivity.  For others, it just makes them feel good.

Whatever the reason, there is no need to feel as though one has to miss out much on foods that are typically high carbohydrate.  Breads, cakes, snacks … there are so many options.  Nut flours and lower carb flours make life more nutritious and lower carb without deprivation.

One such flour that is gaining popularity but is perhaps less well-known, is lupin flour.  Lupins are a legume and popular in some Mediteranean cuisines.  Unlike many other legumes, lupins are quite low in carbohydrates while containing healthy omega fatty acids, a whopping dose of dietary fibre, and they pack a solid punch of protein.  There has been a lot of commotion about the potential for lupin flour use in breads to boost nutrition and give greater satiety thereby aiding weight loss, as well as it’s ability to help lower cholesterol and provide a range of nutrients.  Bread makers are starting to make lupin flour breads and they are gaining in popularity.  That’s all good.

But ultimately, I say yay because it’s high in protein, low in fat and carbs and high in dietary fibre.

Lupin beans are about 45% protein and 30% dietary fibre, and have negligble carbohydrate.  That is awesome.

100 grams of lupin flour contains:

1365kJ / 362kCals
39 grams protein
5.5 grams fat (0.1 gram saturated)
11.5 grams carbohydrates (2.9 grams sugars)
31.3 grams dietary fibre

It is also gluten-free.

For.  The.  Win.

Right?

On the downside, being a legume, it is likely that it may cause problems if you happen to react to FODMAPS, specifically fructans and galactans.  In particular, it’s likely to contain galactans as most legumes do.  I have yet to see it on a list of FODMAP foods, but it’s a reasonable assumption.  But that is not to say that it will cause someone a problem.  These things are highly individual.  So it might be worth checking out.

OK.  So, how does this lupin flour bake up then?  Well,  I like to go easy early on trying out a new flour so I went for muffins.  I’ve wanted to make my mum some low carb healthy muffins and these really hit the spot.  She likes her muffins fruity and is a big fan of the wheat free muffins I make for her, especially those with almond flour.  They have a lovely fall-apart, flourless texture but are not heavy or stodgy.

Apricots are in season now and apricots and almonds are a great combination.  You could substitute whatever fruit you like but be aware of the impact on the carbohydrate count.  One usually discounts fruit when thinking about a low carb option but these muffins prove you can enjoy a fruity muffin without a carbohydrate blow out.  Alternatively, you could leave out the fruit and just make them vanilla, or add some chopped up 100% chocolate or spices, or anything else you fancy that meets your low carb requirements.

Great, so where do I buy this lupin flour, CCM?  Well, I don’t know about elsewhere but here in Australia, Lotus Foods make a really good lupin flour that is widely available in health food and organic shops.  I have yet to see it in a supermarket but I suspect it’s only a matter of time.  You can also get it online.

I have used a granulated stevia based sweetener in place of sugar.  You can substitute your preferred sweetener, knowing that the amount in the recipe is equal to the same amount of sugar, so please substitute accordingly.

They are sugar-free, gluten-free, lower in fat than most muffins, and have a good dose of protein per serve, without adding any protein powders.  These are not suitable for a low FODMAP diet, however, but watch this space … I also follow a low FODMAP diet so the likelihood of a suitable version is high 🙂

They taste fantastic!  I hope you enjoy them too.

Macros are provided below the recipe, as always 🙂
Apricot Almond LC Muffins_6065_wm_1x1

Makes 10

Ingredients
80 grams almond meal
100 grams lupin flour
65 grams Natvia (or substitute your preferred sweetener or sugar, equal to 65g sugar)
2 teaspoons baking powder
140 grams apricots (2 large), diced
2 large eggs
125 millilitres almond milk (or substitute your preferred milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Directions
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.  Line 10 muffin molds with muffin liners and set aside.
Mix together the almond meal, lupin flour, sweetener, and baking powder in a bowl.  Make sure you break up any lumps.  Toss in the diced apricots.

Whisk together the eggs, almond milk, and vanilla bean paste.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture and mix lightly with a fork.  It’s okay if the mixture is a little lumpy as these are muffins.  Do not over mix the batter.  Pour the batter into the 10 lined muffin tins.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until risen, golden, and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack before turning out.
Apricot Almond LC Muffins_6066_wm_1x1

Macronutrient Profile
I have included macros for the recipe as stated above.  Any variations and substitutions will, of course, vary the macros to some degree.

Apricot Almond LC Muffins_macros.jpg
Apricot Almond LC Muffins_183928_wm_1x1

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Breakfast, Fruit, Muffins, Nuts, Protein, Protein Muffins, Special Diet

Amaretti

I have always had a thing about Amaretti di Saronno.  You know the ones?  They are made by Lazzaroni, and come in a bright red tin, each pair of amaretti wrapped in a light embrace within a fine printed piece of paper, its edges twisted together … they are such a delicate and romantic little cookie.  To me, they represent a beautiful expression of bitter and sweet in perfect harmony.

*sighhhhhhhhh*

I used to collect the tins and the wrappers.  It was such a treat to buy them.  A rare treat, for sure, as they were always a bit on the expensive side.  Lucky for me, my father also had a major thing for amaretti.  Then again, what sweet thing does my father not have a thing for?  Bless his discerning sweet tooth.  Long may it offer opportunities to indulge 🙂   I still have a few wrappers, delicately marking favourite recipes in much-loved old cookbooks.

Years ago, I decided I wanted to recreate them at home.  I borrowed and pored over so many cookbooks, searched online, and pretty much anywhere I might find a trace of amaretti lore and authenticity.  I tried and tested a number of recipes that seemed legitimate.  Each one lovely and delicious in its own way but NOT. THE. REAL. DEAL.  So I basically decided to figure it out from scratch myself.  How many iterations did it take?

Roughly about N, where N >> 1

At times, it felt like N ➝ ∞

I became a little obsessed.  You see, they need to keep that lovely little dome shape and they need to be crisp and friable … they must crackle and fall apart and melt in your mouth.  They must have just the right balance of bitter almonds and sugary sweetness.   Most of my early attempts suffered from my usual reticence in using copious amounts of sugar.  For amaretti, though, you need to go overboard with the sugar to balance out the bitter almond flavour and to get that delightful crunchy, crackly texture … friable.

The best part was always the taste testing.  My father and I would sit down at the table, excited to bite into my latest version of amaretti and compare notes.  Too much bitter almond?  Not enough?  Too soft? A little too browned?  Maybe baked too long?  Not enough?  Wrong shape?  Right shape?   Eventually, though, it seems to have paid off … because, voila`, these are the amaretti I have made ever since.    They are so close to the original, I’m pretty happy with them.

I sometimes still want to shift the balance of bitter almonds to sweet almonds in favour of the bitter almonds … but every small amount you add contributes to a stronger flavour and once you reach a tipping point of just a bit too much?  The amaretti become bitter and you could swear you get a whiff of cyanide.

Bitter almonds are actually apricot kernels, but look for all the world like small almonds.  They should be used with a measure of caution in recipes as they do contain traces of cyanide.  They have been used in baking in Europe for centuries, however, and in small quantities are perfectly fine to use.  You can sometimes find them in Italian specialty food shops and increasingly, in health food and organic produce shops as well.

Amaretti are one of the most versatile cookies on the planet.  They are a cousin of the macaron and, it is often cited that they are the precursor to the macaron.  Unlike macarons, however, amaretti should have a crackly surface and no feet!  Amaretti with feet would be an epic fail 🙂  If you click on the images, you can see how crisp delicate and easily cracked apart they really are.  That’s a sign of amaretti success.

They can be crushed up and used in desserts, in savoury dishes, especially paired with pumpkin and sage or in a stuffing for meats.  They are at their best served simply with a glass of Amaretto liqueur or an espresso (or both!).   I sometimes sandwich two amaretti together with a little chocolate ganache, plain melted chocolate, or an Amaretto or coffee flavoured cream to serve as a petit four.   Here, I thought I’d give you a little something different … almonds go so well with berries and stone fruit that a lovely tangy raspberry and white chocolate ganache seemed like a perfect match and it certainly is.

I hope you love this recipe too.   It’s been around the traps a little.  I first published it in a column in the Epicure section of The Age newspaper, here in Melbourne.  It was also included in a recipe book on baking.   I thought it would be lovely to share them with you here too.

This recipe makes a lot of amaretti.  There will be less if you make large versions of course.

Enjoy!

Makes about 8 dozen small amaretti

Ingredients
165 grams raw almonds, blanched
85 grams bitter almonds (apricot kernels)
250 grams caster sugar
135 grams egg whites (equal to 4 large), at room temperature
pinch of salt or cream of tartar
150 grams sugar

Directions
Pre-heat your oven to 140°C (285°F).  Line several large baking trays or cookie sheets with Silpat sheets or silicone baking paper and set aside.

Strictly speaking you don’t really need to blanch the almonds but I like to do it.  Unless I’m pressed for time, I usually prefer to blanch them myself.  Much better flavour than pre-blanched sad and sorry-looking almonds, yes?  If you wish to do so, simply pour some boiling water over the almonds, in a bowl, and let stand for 30 seconds or so.  Drain the almonds and the skins should come off fairly easily.  Let the almonds dry completely, spread out on paper towels, or in a very low oven for a few minutes.  You do not wish to roast them.  They should be cool before using.  If you are really pressed and all you have is almond meal (flour) at home, use that.  They will still be perfect.

Place the blanched almonds, the bitter almonds and 125 grams of the caster sugar into the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture is like a fine meal.  Transfer to a bowl, add the remaining 125 grams of caster sugar.  Mix well and set aside.

In the bowl of a bench top mixer, add the egg whites and a generous pinch of either salt or cream of tartar.  Using the whisk attachment, start mixing at a slow speed for a few minutes until the egg whites are frothy and starting to build a meringue.  Increase the speed to medium and whisk until soft peaks form.  Continue whisking and slowly add the 150 grams sugar, in two or three batches.  You don’t really have to add the sugar in this way, but if you are unsure and making these for the first time, it’s a fairly bullet proof method to make sure the meringue is stable.

Once all the sugar has been added, continue to whisk until there is no sign of sugar in the meringue.  I like to increase the speed to high for about a minute or so at the end, just to make sure the meringue is stiff and glossy.  All up, you should be whisking the meringue for about 10 minutes or so.  It’s not dissimilar to making a French meringue for macarons.  When finished, the meringue should sit in a stiff, glossy clump on the whisk when you raise it.

Add the almond mixture to the meringue and gently fold it together until no streaks of meringue or almonds remain.  Do not overfold the meringue.  We are not making macarons here.  It should be like a thick almond cream and still have quite a bit of body from the air in the meringue.

Fill a piping bag, fitted with a plain tip about 1.5 to 2 cm in diameter, with the amaretti mixture.  Pipe small mounds on to the prepared trays.  Allow a little room for spreading, although they do not spread much as they bake.  With a finger dipped in cold water, smooth down the peak on top of each amaretto so that the mounds have evenly rounded domes.

Bake at 140°C (285°F) for about 30 to 35 minutes.  They should be light golden in colour and not overly browned.  Remove from the oven, and let sit for a few minutes before gently remove them from the baking sheets on to a wire rack to cool completely.

You can bake these in batches, given the large quantity.  Simply pipe all the amaretti on to the prepared trays.  They can sit awaiting their turn to bake, quite happily.  The only time I would caution you is when the weather is very humid as humidity can deflate and add moisture to the amaretti batter.  You may end up with flattened amaretti as a result.  We don’t want that!

Once cooled, they can be stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 3 weeks.  In theory 😉

Oh wait, you’d like to fill them with this delicious and prettily rosy raspberry ganache?  😀

It’s a good idea to make the ganache ahead of time and let it set to a piping consistency, tightly covered, in a cool, dry spot at less than 18°C.

Raspberry & White Chocolate Ganache

Makes enough for about 30 filled amaretti (60 amaretti required)

Ingredients
50 grams fresh or frozen raspberries
160 grams white couverture or best quality white chocolate
120 grams light cream (18% fat) or half-and-half
15 grams butter, at room temperature

Directions
Purée the raspberries and pass the purée through a sieve to remove the seeds.   Chop the couverture into small even pieces and place in a bowl, and set aside.

Add the raspberry purée and cream to a saucepan.  Stir to mix well and bring to a boiling point over a gentle heat.  Remove from the heat and pour evenly over the chocolate.  Gently whisk or stir from the centre until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth.  While still warm, whisk in the butter until melted and the ganache is glossy.

Set the ganache aside to cool, covered.  If not making the ganache ahead of time, you can cover it tightly and place the cooled ganache in the freezer for five to 10 minutes until it reaches a piping consistency.  Do not forget about it and leave it too long in the freezer though!

Pair up the amaretti.  You will need about 60 amaretti for 30 filled cookies.  Fill a piping bag with the ganache.  You can use a plain or decorative tip for a ruffled edge.  Pipe a little ganache on to half of each pair and gently press the matching cookie.  Set aside to set completely.

Store filled amaretti in an airtight container for several days.  I would recommend filling them close to serving time (i.e. on the same day or the day before) for best results.  Amaretti keep their lovely crunchy texture best when stored in a cool, dry place.  Refrigeration softens them and they lose some of their magic.

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Biscuits & Cookies, Chocolate, Nuts, Special Diet

Coffee Cinnamon “Proughnuts”

I’m excited.

I finally got a chance to use my doughnut pans!  Ring the bells, sound the trumpets!

Large ones, mini ones … it’s a doughnutfest here.  Well, strictly speaking, it’s a total proughnut fest (or pronut if you’re from the US … what’s with the weird spelling people?).

Why?  Because these baked doughnuts have had their protein content turbo boosted.  There are a lot of baked doughnut recipes out there on the interwebs.  You only really notice these things when you’re focussed on the same thing, right?  Like when you buy a car and suddenly the model you want is everywhere 😛

I’ve set aside other protein packed recipes that are waiting to be published because these are just so sweetly yummilicious and amazeballs, you have to have them nowNow, I say.  These are not make do proughnuts, they are bona fide you’d never guess in a million years that they are healthy proughnuts.

A light gluten and grain free baked doughnut spiked with espresso coffee and cinnamon, and no added sugar.  Top that with a salted caramel icing.  Yeah, you heard me.

Salted Caramel Icing.

But not a sugar, cream, and butter caramel icing.  I love those but this … this one … is made with lucuma powder and maple syrup.  I’ve used lucuma in a number of recipes on this blog and I’m never without a bag of it at home.  I use it almost daily.  Not just because it’s so good for you but because it tastes like caramel, toffee, sticky date pudding and is amazing in … everything.  Mixed with a little maple syrup and nut butter it makes a lovely thick icing for doughnuts, cupcakes, cheesecake, to eat off a spoon … which I did with the little bit I had left after icing these babies 🙂

I use 100% organic pure maple syrup but you can use sugar free maple flavoured syrup if you want to reduce the calories and carbohydrate content.  It works just as well, of course, although don’t tell me because you know I have an aversion to sugar polyols, used in abundance in sugar free stuff.  Oh wait, it’s the sugar polyols that don’t like me so much … so if they also don’t like your GI tract either, stick with the real deal.  Alternatively,  make the Tiramisù version 🙂

If you are wanting to make these for children, you can omit the whey and casein protein powders.  You still get a protein boost from the eggs and almond flour.

As usual, I have used unflavoured whey and casein for this recipe.  If you are using a flavoured protein powder, stick with a complementary flavour such as vanilla, coffee, or cinnamon for the best result.  If you cannot use whey or casein, rice protein can be substituted for both in this recipe with good results.
Why did you use a combination of whey and casein, CCM?  Well, after playing around with both whey and casein in baking, a roughly 50/50 combination seems to behave very nicely.  It won’t dry out baked goods as 100% whey can do and it won’t result in a too creamy texture for cakey baked goods, as casein alone can do.  I like using them this way.   It works beautifully.

These proughnuts are gluten-free, grain-free, and refined sugar free as well.  Without the icing, they are also low carb.  The fats are overwhelmingly good fats and you get around 14 grams of protein in each large doughnut and just under 5 grams for each mini doughnut.

They taste of coffee with a lovely undertone of cinnamon and the salty sweet icing is sooooo good.

I hope you like these as much as we do 🙂

Makes 6 large or 18 mini doughnuts

Ingredients
Coffee Cinnamon Proughnuts
135 grams almond flour
20 grams unflavoured whey protein isolate (I use this one) OR rice protein
20 grams unflavoured micellar casein (I use this one) OR rice protein
50 grams granulated stevia sweetener (e.g. Natvia, or as per your preference)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
160 grams egg whites OR 3 large eggs
40 millilitres strong espresso, freshly brewed and cooled
15 millilitres (1 Tbsp) macadamia nut oil (or organic unsalted butter)
Salted Lucuma Caramel Icing
75 grams (56 millilitres) pure maple syrup OR sugar-free maple flavoured syrup
25 grams raw organic lucuma powder (I use this one)
15 grams 100% cashew nut butter (or 100% almond butter)
Sel de Guerande or flaked sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions
Coffee Cinnamon Proughnuts
Pre-heat oven to 180°C (350°F).  Lightly grease 6 large doughnut pans or 18 mini doughnut molds and set aside.

Place the almond flour, whey and casein powders, sweetener, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder in to the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture is fine and silky.  You don’t really need to do this step but I would highly recommend it as it will result in an exceptionally light, open and airy textured doughnut.  Do it!  At this point you can transfer the almond flour mixture to a large bowl for mixing, or leave it in the food processor.  I just process everything in the food processor … less washing up!

Whisk together the egg whites, cooled espresso, and macadamia nut oil.   Add to the almond flour mixture and process or beat until the batter is really smooth.

Divide the batter evenly among the doughnut pans, filling them about two-thirds full.  Bake for about 10 – 12 minutes, until the doughnuts are well risen and starting to colour.  Don’t be tempted to overbake these.  Remove from the oven and transfer the doughnuts to a wire rack to cool completely before icing, if desired.

Salted Lucuma Caramel Icing
In a bowl, combine the maple syrup, lucuma powder, and cashew butter.  Whisk until super smooth.  You can dip the top of each doughnut in to the icing or simply spoon the icing on to the top of each doughnut, allowing the icing to dribble down the sides.  Sprinkle sea salt flakes on top before serving.

These will keep for a day or two, although they are best eaten within twenty four hours of baking and icing. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  They are best stored un-iced.  Ice the doughnuts up to a few hours before serving if making ahead.

They are really good eaten just warm.  Ten to fifteen seconds in a microwave is sufficient to make them perfection.

Variation: Tiramisù Proughnuts
Instead of the caramel icing, make a Tiramisù style cream to use as a filling or frosting for the doughnuts.
You can make this any way you choose, depending on your preferences and macronutrient requirements.

I would suggest using mascarpone, ricotta (full fat or light), or cottage cheese blended until smooth, or a mixture of any of these.  You could also mix any one of these with an equal quantity of thick Greek yoghurt.  Sweeten with stevia or your favourite sweetener and a dash of vanilla (seeds, organic powder, paste or extract).   You could whisk in an egg yolk or whole egg, if you don’t have concerns with consuming raw eggs.  If you are feeling lazy, just mix some vanilla or unflavoured casein with vanilla, stevia and yoghurt, milk or water until thick and creamy and use that.

Pipe it on top of each doughnut, or slice the doughnuts in half and fill with the cream.  Sift a little cacao over the top and voilà!  How easy is that?

Click on the photo below and feast your eyes on that soft, cakey, doughnutty goodness 😀

Macronutrient Profile
I have provided macros for the doughnuts with and without the salted caramel icing, as per the recipe above.  If you use whole eggs instead of egg whites, the macros will change slightly, as they will if you substitute for any of the ingredients in the recipe.  These macros are intended as a guide.  As usual, I’ve done my best to provide the most accurate information I am able to source for each ingredient.

Proughnuts without icing

Proughnuts with caramel icing

Proughnuts with sugar free caramel icing

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Nuts, Protein, Protein Doughnuts, Special Diet

The CCM Macaron Lexicon … Version One

Well, I’m not quite sure what’s going on because here am I wanting to get busy with some overdue protein recipes from my long long LONG list … but I keep having to make macarons.
I can’t explain the periodic obsession for these little pastries that takes hold of some members of my family.

Out. Of. The. Blue.

So, to keep the peace, I’m going to regale them and confuse them, over time, with different versions of a CCM Macaron … with chocolate, chilli, and mango.

Let’s call it the CCM Macaron Lexicon.  One of them will be the signature CCM Macaron.

The possibilities for chocolate, chilli, and mango to combine in a sweet pastry are huge, folks.  Enormous.  So, a bit of play is in order.

First up, the lazy gal version.  I very cleverly call it … Version One.  Wow, that effort knocked around a few neurons, didn’t it?  😉

A classic macaron shell, delicately coloured and sparsely speckled with chilli flakes (mostly because the macaron crazy family are afraid of chilli.  Who are these people?).  Make sure you use good quality chilli flakes and that the flakes are small and even.

The filling is a creamy dark chocolate ganache with a hint of cayenne pepper (because I like mean surprises for nagging macaron crazy family members.  Yes, I’m ever so slightly evil 😛 ) and a dollop of sweet and luscious homemade mango jam (because I’m as magnanimous as I am evil).

You can make the mango jam and ganache ahead of time.  The jam recipe can easily be scaled up and made in a large batch in summer.  It’s simple but really sublime.

I’d like to say that I was going for a subtle colour for the shells.  But I’m no liar so here’s the deal.  I’ve played about with a different brand of food colouring and have found it somewhat wanting in the colour intensity department.  I’m going back to my tried and tested Française one as a little goes a long way.

This isn’t the signature CCM Macaron, but it’s truly lovely … or in my father’s words, it’s beeeeaaaauuuuuuuutiful!

I obviously need to add more chilli next time, right??? LOL

Enjoy 🙂

CCM Macarons: Version One

Makes  30 – 40 macarons

Ingredients
Macaron Shells
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
150 grams almond meal
150 grams icing sugar
55 grams egg white
food colouring (I used yellow with a dash of orange)
135 grams sugar
40 grams water
55 grams egg white
pinch cream of tartar
pinch of salt
Mango Jam
200 grams mango flesh, finely chopped
50 grams sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Chilli Ganache
150 grams couverture or good quality eating chocolate – min. 65% cacao solids
150 grams pure cream (35% fat)
pinch sea salt
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (to taste)
30 grams butter, cubed and at room temperature

Directions
Macaron Shells
Preheat the oven to 150°C.  Line 2 – 3 large baking sheets with silpat sheets or baking paper.  Set aside.

Place the almond meal, icing sugar, and chilli flakes into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture is very fine and silky in texture.  You can test it between two fingers.  I do this before sifting the mixture, but if you prefer, just sift the almond meal and icing sugar together.  You will still see small flecks of chilli flakes.  Once done, sift the mixture in to a large mixing bowl.  Mix together the 55 grams of egg white and the food colouring.  Add the egg white to the almond meal mixture and mix well with a spatula or pastry scraper until you get a smooth paste.  Set aside.

Place the remaining 55 grams of egg white, cream of tartar, and salt into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and start whisking at low to medium speed.  Place the water into a saucepan and add the sugar.  Dissolve the sugar, in the water, over a low heat.  Bring to the boil and cook until the sugar reaches 118°C.  By this stage the egg whites should have reached a soft peak stage.  Continue whisking at medium speed as you pour the syrup into the egg whites in a thin, steady stream.  Keep whisking until the bowl cools to just warm.  I usually whisk the meringue for about 10 minutes or so and turn up the speed for a minute or two at the end.  The meringue should be fairly stiff.  When you lift the whisk, there should be a solid stiff clump on the whisk.  It should be able to look you in the eye without flinching.

Scrape a small amount of the meringue into the bowl with the almond mixture and work it into the mixture to lighten it, using a spatula or pastry scraper.  I prefer the scraper.  Scrape the remaining meringue into the bowl and fold it into the almond mixture, flipping it over on to itself, and turning the bowl with each fold.  Make sure to scrape down the bowl to make sure the mixture is homogenous, and there are no streaks of meringue or almonds.  Continue folding until the macaronage is at the stage where a little mixture, lifted, will fall back into itself slowly (i.e. the magma/lava stage everyone goes on about).  Be careful not to overmix the macaronage.

Fit a large piping bag with a plain tip and pipe small mounds on to the baking sheets.  Rap the baking sheets hard on to the bench to expel any air bubbles.  Rap it again, harder, if you’re not sure.   You can pop them straight into the oven or leave until the mixture forms a light crust.  It’s up to you.  Won’t matter either way.  Bake for about 15 – 16 minutes.  Depending on your oven, they may need a minute or so more or less.

Remove the macaron shells from the oven and set aside to cool.  Remove from the baking sheets and pair up shells of the same size.

Mango Jam
Place the mango and sugar into a saucepan, mix together, cover, and let sit for about 30 minutes.  This will allow the sugar to extract the mango juice a little.  Place over a low to medium heat until the sugar melts and the mixture starts to simmer.  Use a potato masher to gently mash the mango pieces.  Cook until the jam starts to set.  Test by placing a small amount of jam on to a chilled plate.  It should gel very quickly.  Alternatively, you can run a finger through the jam on the plate and the mark should remain.  When ready, remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and stir.

Pour the jam into a sterilised jar and seal.  Store the sealed jam in the pantry.  Once opened, it should be stored in the refrigerator.  This recipe is easily scaled up to make a large batch.

Chilli Ganache
Chop the couverture or eating chocolate into small, even pieces and place into a heatproof bowl.  Place the cream into a saucepan over a low heat.  Bring to simmering point and pour evenly over the chocolate.   Use a spoon or whisk to gently stir from the centre of the bowl until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth.  While still warm, add the salt, cayenne, and the butter, and stir until the ganache is smooth and glossy.  Cover and let set to a piping consistency at room temperature, or place in the refrigerator until it reaches a piping consistency.  

Assembly
You can assemble these macarons in a number of different ways.  You can pipe a small amount of the mango jam into the centre of half of the shells and pipe the ganache around the jam.  Alternatively, pipe some ganache on to half of the shells and then pipe or dollop a small amount of jam in to the centre of the ganache.  Top with the matching shells and gently twist to press the shells together.

Store the macarons in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  They can also be frozen.  Bring to room temperature to serve.

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