Monday, August 12, 2013

Freshly Blogged: Challenge 6

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I’ve never made Macaroons before, so this really was a challenge! I’m not very fond of taste of almonds (marzipan specifically, yuk) so I used less ground almonds in this recipe. After a few failed attempts and some rock hard meringues, I finally made some passable samples. But if you are proficient at making these delicate treats, do try the spiced white chocolate filling – it’s delicious!

The French have a flair for producing small beautiful dishes that are packed with flavour. With the Robertson’s spices I could give these two classic canapés a spicy twist with some warmth and depth of flavour.

Spiced French Duo. Spiced chicken liver & exotic mushroom tartlets and Macaroons with spiced white chocolate filling.
Serves 12 as canapés
Cooking Time: 2 1/2 hours

You will need

For the macaroons:
80g vanilla white chocolate, broken into shards
60ml fresh cream
¼ tsp Robertson’s cinnamon
1/8 tsp Robertson’s cayenne pepper
70g egg white
100g Castor sugar
50g ground almonds
100g Icing sugar

For the tartlets:
Spiced chicken livers:
400g fresh chicken livers
¼ tsp Robertson’s cinnamon
1/8 tsp Robertson’s cayenne pepper
1 punnet exotic mushrooms (if you can find fresh porcini, use 250g)
1 Tbls butter
½ Tbls garlic, chopped
Fresh thyme
¼ cup cream
1 Roll puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge overnight
1 egg, beaten

How to make it

For the macaroons:
Bring the cream to the boil. Remove from the heat.
Add the white chocolate to the cream and allow it to melt.
Mix the cayenne pepper and cinnamon into the creamy chocolate.
Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Sift the ground almonds and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl.
In another mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites till frothy with an electric beater.
Slowly start adding the castor sugar bit by bit, whisking on high until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is glossy. Then beat for another 2 minutes.
Gently fold the egg mixture into the almond mixture with a silicone spatula until well combined.
Scoop the mixture into a piping bag, and carefully pipe 24-26 rounds onto a silicone baking mat (about 4cm rounds), 2 cm apart.
Dry at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 150°C (fan) or 170°C (standard).
Bake the macaroons for 8 minutes.
Turn the tray around in the oven and bake for another 8 minutes (or until light golden)
Turn the oven off and leave it open for 10 minutes (use a wooden spoon to keep the door open).
Remove the macaroons and cool completely on a wire drying rack.

Once the macaroons are cool, generously smear the spiced chocolate filling on a flat side of one of the macaroons, and top it with another.

For the tartlets:
Spiced chicken livers:
Clean and trim the chicken livers into 2 x 2cm pieces.
Coat with the cayenne pepper and cinnamon and marinade for 10 – 15 minutes.
Trim the mushrooms to thin 3cm slices.
Heat a heavy based frying pan and add the mushrooms (without oil). Dry fry the mushrooms until they start becoming golden around the edges and make a squeaky sound when you stir them around.
Add the butter, fry for a minute then add the garlic.
Strip about 4 thyme twigs and fry the leaves with the mushrooms for about 2 minutes.
Add the spiced chicken livers and fry for 3-5 minutes (the livers should still be pink on the inside.
Add the cream and season well with salt.
Set aside and warm again once ready to serve.

Pre-heat oven to 200°C.
Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface.
Using a cookie cutter (round or shaped) cut out 24 rounds.
Gently press down in the center of each round (don’t cut through) with a smaller round cutter.
Place pastry rounds on an oiled baking tray and brush with the egg wash.
Bake until puffed (like little towers) and golden.
Remove from the oven and with a small spoon, break the pastry in the middle of the tartlet inside the round shape to form a casing.

Scoop the warm chicken livers into each tartlet, garnish with thyme and serve immediately. 

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