“Because after you’ve crossed some lines, you just keep crossing them.” Chuck Palahnuik
There is an unusual way how I occasionally describe my baking style: pushing…not on a bad way, but gently against anything that needs a positive force, only forcing things to happen my way. It often includes feeling immense pain and sorrow, and disappointment when life presents events I didn’t want. However, searching for my sense of worth, independence and an opportunity to live a life that inspired me, ultimately results in me always baking from the heart. On a daily basis, I brake free from the tight wrap I feel being guided by recipes to bake in… Drama! Approaching baking as a personal challenge, as a spiritual healing activity, gives me insights and tools to be mindful, clear and energetic, in the meantime understanding the ways of life.
“You just keep pushing. You just keep pushing. I made every mistake that could be made. But I just kept pushing.” Rene Descartes
One could call this style simply “mess”. I call it research with an aimed invention. Macarons certainly fall into the category of “Untouchables”. Describing that category, three main characteristics emerge to the forefront: rule-following, precise and traditional….these characteristics are the invites that make the activity of pushing the boundaries so irresistible. My Dark Afternoon Macarons consist of hazelnut, cinnamon and brown sugar shells with wild cranberry sauce filling.
For the shells
180 g powder sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
145 g ground hazelnut (for extra taste they can be roasted on the oven before grinding)
100 g egg whites
66 g dark brown sugar
For the filling
Wild cranberry sauce
Preheat the oven to 140°C.
Sieve the icing sugar, cinnamon and the ground hazelnut, into a large mixing bowl and carefully mix together.In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the dark brown sugar, a little at a time and continue to whisk until the whites are very thick and glossy. Stir and beat in 1/3 of the egg whites into the icing sugar and nut mix. Add the second third of the egg whites and repeat. The mixture will (supposed to) lose some air and become quite loose. Finally, very gently fold in the remaining third of the egg whites. Using a piping bag with a plain nozzle, fill with the macaron mixture. Place a paper template onto a baking sheet and cover with baking paper. Pipe small blobs onto the sheet. Gently tap the baking sheet a few times on the work surface to help the macaron mixture to settle and to break any air bubbles, then leave to dry for 20 minutes. Bake the macarons in the preheated for 7 – 8 minutes minutes, open the door to release any steam, close the oven door and cook for a further 7 – 8 minutes. The macarons are cooked when they feel firm and are slightly risen. Slide the mat or greaseproof paper onto a wire cooling rack and leave to cool completely. Fill with wild cranberry sauce.
When trying hazelnuts, please note that the addition of one tbsp of oil can make a real difference, given that hazelnuts are much less fatty than almonds or walnuts. Also remember, that whilst the addition of brown sugar creates a sensational taste, it can make the mixture heavy, causing the macarons to be extremely delicate…
“There is no boundary between heaven and earth unless we believe in one.” Leland Dirks