3x macarons

No, not triple x macarons (what on earth would those be like?) but three kinds of macarons for my triple x birthday! That's triple x as in Roman numerals - get your mind out of the gutter! :)

Yeah, the big day was Saturday, and I requested three kinds of macarons for the celebration with the parents. The flavors I came up with was an autumn-y apple-cinnamon-caramel, a sophisticated lavender-vanilla, and a fresh raspberry-lime.

Apple-Cinnamon-Caramel macarons
These are made by adding cinnamon to a normal almond shell recipe, and are filled with a combination of apple compote and caramel sauce. They taste like apple pie, with a slight burnt sugar note from the caramel.

Cinnamon macaron shells
100 g egg whites
30 g sugar
100 g ground almonds
200 g confectioner's sugar
dash of lemon juice
2 tsp cinnamon (heaped)

Sift the ground almonds and confectioner's sugar into a large bowl. Add the cinnamon and mix well. Whip the egg whites and lemon juice to a foam, add the sugar and whip it to a soft meringue. Fold the meringue into the dry mixture without overworking it. Pipe small rounds on a parchment covered baking sheet (use a round tip). Let them sit for at least 30 minutes before baking at 175°C for 7–8 minutes.

Apple compote
500 g apples
100 g sugar
20 g lemon juice (20 ml)
1 small cinnamon stick

Peel the apples and remove the cores. Slice them thinly and put in a pan together with sugar, lemon juice and a cinnamon stick. Boil on low heat until you have a thick compote. Let it cool completely. Remove the cinnamon stick, and use a mixer or an immersion blender to turn the compote into a smooth puree.

Caramel sauce
120 g sugar
1 tsp lemon Juice
300 g cream

Melt the sugar and lemon juice in a pan until you have a light brown caramel. Add the cream little by little and boil until the caramel is dissolved. Let it cool, transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Mix equal parts of apple compote and caramel sauce. Taste to see if you want more apple flavor, or more caramel. Spread the apple-caramel filling between the cinnamon macaron shells.

Lavender-Vanilla macarons
These are lavender flavored shells filled with French vanilla buttercream. The idea was to make them a soft, blueish color - like in the Swedish flag macarons - but we had forgotten how much food coloring to use... So: if you pour in one teaspoon of liquid blue food coloring, you will get these very bright, kind of turquoise colored macarons. Not what we aimed for, but at least the taste was delicious. Besides the somewhat in-your-face coloring, these were the macarons that ended up looking the best. Nice uniform size, perfect "feet", no "peaks".

Lavender macaron shells
Use the recipe above, but instead of cinnamon you add half a tablespoon of dried lavender. Bash the flowers up using a mortar and pestle before adding them to the almond-sugar mix. If you want to use blue food coloring to get a lavender-colored cookie (or a bright turquoise one!), you should add it while whipping the egg whites. (Note! That is if you use liquid food coloring - I have no experience using powders, but visit Tartelette for professional guidance.)

French vanilla buttercream
80 g egg yolks (about 4)
½ vanilla bean
60 g water (60 ml)
125 g sugar
250 g unsalter butter, at room temperature.

Whip the egg yolks until they are light colored and airy.
Split the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and put them in a small pan. Add water and sugar, and bring to a boil. Use a wet pastry brush to brush down the sides of the pan, this will remove any sugar crystals that have stuck there. Boil until a sugar thermometer reads 117°C.
Add the sugar mixture to the egg yolks, while whisking constantly.
Continue whisking until the mixture is cool. Add the butter little by little, and whisk until the buttercream is light and airy. The buttercream can be frozen.

Raspberry-Lime macarons
Here I want to quote the lady with the most mouth-watering blog of the pastry blogosphere, Tartelette. She has this to say about flavoring macaron shells:
One of the trickiest thing to do with macarons is to flavor the shells without messing up the texture. Adding liquid to the batter is to me like jumping off a plane wishing your parachute is going to work properly.
Our parachute didn't work this time. Adding liquid has worked for us before, but this time, we got a visit from Murphy when trying to make raspberry flavored macarons using raspberry puree. The macarons ended up misshapen, and had a very unmacarony texture - more like a fluffy meringue. At least the flavor was great; they really taste of raspberries and despite their sad look I kind of fell in love with their girly pink color (helped by a drop or two of red food coloring).

I won't give you the recipe since they need to be perfected. For the lime curd, see this recipe for lemon curd, but use the zest of two limes and lime juice instead.

From top to bottom: good macaron, bad macaron, good macaron, bad macaron!


Daring Cooks September: A vegan trip to India

A while ago, Markus and I were chatting about what challenges we would like to see for the Daring Cooks and Bakers. I mentioned that it would be fun to do a vegan challenge, to which Markus reluctantly agreed. I was a vegetarian when we met (but I'm not anymore, Markus says that I came round to the sane side), so I'm very comfortable with vegetarian cooking (and we do eat quite a bit of vegetarian food) but vegan, that's a whole other story - vegan cooking would be a challenge indeed!

Our lovely host for September's Daring Cooks challenge is Debyi of The Healthy Vegan Kitchen. As the name of the blog implies, my wish for a vegan challenge has been granted! She has chosen Indian Dosas as the challenge. A dosa is a pancake/crepe, according to Wikipedia traditionally made with rice and black lentils, where the batter is left to ferment overnight. The fillings can vary: potato curry (masala), chutneys, and ghee, just to name a few.

The recipe Debyi choose is a modernized one, using spelt flour and baking powder. It comes from a cookbook called reFresh by Ruth Tal of the Canadian restaurants Fresh. Besides the dosas, there was also a recipe for curried garbanzos for filling and a coconut curry sauce to be served on top. We were however allowed to vary the filling and the sauce, as long as it was vegan, i.e. completely free of all animal products.

I had a dosa, or thosai as it's called there, when we were in Malaysia last year, so I had some kind of idea what to expect even if the version I had there wasn't vegan. It was filled with potatoes, which was very tasty, so we decided to skip the garbanzos and use a dry potato curry as the filling instead (my own invention; recipe below). At first I was going to make apple chutney as the sauce, because potatoes, apples and curry go great together. But there was a big bowl of plums sitting in the kitchen, so I searched online for plum chutney recipes and found one that sounded appealing. It called for a kilo of plums. I had only six hundred grams, but I figured I would just scale the recipe. So I de-pitted my plums and chopped the onion and found all the spices and got everything going in a big pot on the stove, and then I realized that I had forgotten to scale the amounts and had put in sugar and vinegar for a whole kilo of plums. Well, no panic (ok, a little) - my eyes fell on two tomatoes sitting in a bowl, and I figured that by adding those, I would sort of kind of maybe make up for the 400 missing grams of plums. It worked - the chutney was delicious, with just the right balance of sweet, sour and spice! My additions to the original recipe - besides the tomatoes - are the bayleaf and the raisins. You'll find the recipe at the bottom of this post.

So, on to the dosas themselves. We followed the recipe to the letter, but rather than buying vegan rice or soy milk, we made our own almond milk, using a recipe from the cookbook Kärlek, oliver och timjan by Anna and Fanny Bergenström. (Don't you just love the book's title: "Love, olives and thyme".) This almond milk recipe calls for a small amount of honey. We were unsure of whether honey was vegan, so I googled and it seems like that depends on what vegan you ask. Maybe a vegan reader would like to add your two cents in comments? Anyway, we decided to be the kind of vegans who eat honey. Almond milk recipe below.

Making the dosa batter was problem free, but frying them - oh boy, that was a whole other story. Debyi said that this recipe is virtually oil free, using only a very small amount of cooking spray in a non-stick skillet before frying the first dosa. Well, our non-stick skillet isn't exactly non-stick anymore (we really need a new one). After two dosas that stuck to the pan and just ended up broken and miserable-looking, Markus (who is the official pancake/crepe fryer in our family) said with a hint of desperation: "I need butter!". But no, we didn't go down that route. Instead, we abandoned the "definitely-stick" skillet for a cast iron crepe skillet, that we oiled very well (with vegetable oil, of course). Now it worked better, and towards the end Markus got some quite pretty looking dosas going.

So, how did it all taste? Well, not bad at all! However, the dosas were kind of flavor-less - maybe they got overpowered by the potatoes and chutney? Debyi suggested serving the dosas with rice if you were to have them as a main course, but we skipped the rice and just had the dosa, the potato filling, the chutney and then some coconut flakes on top. And let me tell you: we got so full - total carb overload!

Thank you Debyi for challenging us with this! It was a definite step out of our comfort zone, and even if I can't see myself cooking vegan again, I am glad to have tried it. Make sure to visit the Daring Kitchen for the recipes and to see the other Daring Cooks' creations!

A filled dosa with chutney and coconut flakes.


makes 8 pancakes

1 cup (120g) spelt flour (or all-purpose, gluten free flour)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp curry powder
½ cup (125ml) almond milk (or soy, or rice, etc.)
¾ cup (175ml) water
cooking spray, if needed

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, slowly adding the almond milk and water, whisking until smooth. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray your pan with a thin layer of cooking spray, if needed. Ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of your pan in a circular motion until it is a thin, round pancake. When bubbles appear on the surface and it no longer looks wet, flip it over and cook for a few seconds. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter.

Almond milk
Note: this makes a bit more than you need for the dosa recipe. I plan to use my leftovers in some kind of milkshake.

25 g almonds, peeled
½ dl + 1 tbsp boiling water
1/4 tsp honey
2 dl cold water

Grind the almonds to a fine powder (an almond mill does the job best). I used an immersion blender to make the almond milk, but a mixer would also work. Add the hot water and honey to the almonds, and mix well. Add the cold water slowly, while the machine is running. The almond milk will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.

Dry curried potatoes

7 potatoes
1 yellow onion, medium size
1 tsp yellow mustard seed
1 tsp curry
½ tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Peel the potatoes and quarter them. Boil them in salted water until they are soft. Heat the oil in a skillet, add the mustard seed and curry and fry for a while. Add the onion and fry until soft. Add the potatoes, cumin and ginger and fry until the potatoes have a little bit of color. Add salt to taste, and maybe more curry.

Plum and tomato chutney, pre-boiling and pre-tomatoes.

Plum and Tomato Chutney

(adapted from this recipe)

600 g plums
1 yellow onion, medium size
2 tomatoes, medium size
1 dl white wine vinegar
2 dl sugar
3 star anise
1 small cinnamon stick
1 bayleaf
10 cloves
3/4 dl raisins

Finely chop the onion. Quarter the plums and remove the pits. Quarter the tomatoes. Put all the ingredients in a pan and let simmer over medium heat for about 1 hour. The chutney should have a marmalade-like consistency (it will thicken further when it cools). Pour in a clean jar and keep in the fridge. It keeps for about a month, and will taste lovely with traditional steaks as well as with curries and couscous.


Paper Chef 44: Fall is upon us

It's time for Paper Chef again, and this time the four ingredients were chosen by Deeba Rajpal of Passionate about Baking. The three randomly selected ingredients turned out to be ricotta, ginger and dark chocolate, and the fourth one was fall... as in autumn. Never seen that one in the supermarket! Fortunately it should be read metaphorically, so we are all encouraged to brain storm ingredients we associate with the season currently upon the northern hemisphere.

Residing in a country that's mostly populated by pine and spruce (Sweden), the mushrooms growing under them is a given fall-lly ingredient, particularly chanterelle. That will be our fourth ingredient!

This time around I figured we should go minimalistic, adding as few other ingredients as possible. Pushing the envelope as far as I could reach, the dish became

Chanterelle Toast
with Chocolate Ricotta
and Jellied Ginger

So I just added a slice of toast and some seasoning!

The chocolate ricotta might need some explaining. A while back we discovered that it's not that hard to make your own ricotta. It's basically just milk, cream, salt and lemon! Now what if you dissolved some luxurious dark chocolate in the simmering milk before clotting it? Why you'd get chocolate ricotta, wouldn't you! (Don't answer that, despite the exclamation mark the odds are stacked against this crazy idea!)

So, down crazy lane I went, measuring up 9½ dl milk, 1 dl cream, 130 g dark chocolate and a pinch of sea salt in a large pan on the stove. I also measured up 1½ tbsp of lemon juice to have handy later. After bringing the milk and friends to a steady simmer (stirring occasionally), the lemon juice went in. I stirred it and let it simmer for a minute, then stirred again and again let it simmer for a minute. Since there were no clotting I continued simmering and stirring occasionally, steadily thinking “d**n this, f**k, f**k, f**k, this isn't working” for an unknown amount of time, after which I just tipped it into the cheese cloth and gave up. But then, lo and behold, it actually separated, and in the cheese cloth was a thick creamy, brown pulp, which tasted a whole lot better than that sounded...

Triumphantly I had Jenny agree to the tastiness of the chocolate ricotta!

For the chanterelles you need
100 g Chanterelles
1 Shallot
1½ tbsp Butter
20g Honey
30g Red Wine Vinegar

Finely chop the shallot and dice the chanterelles while a frying pan is heating up with the butter. When the butter quiets, add the shallot and chanterelles. Let them fry for a few minutes. Add the honey and let it be absorbed. Stir like crazy so that it doesn't caramelize on it's own. Add the vinegar (and stand back). Let the vinegar absorb as well before taking it off the heat.

Putting it all together
Toast the toast, and spread the chanterelles on the toast. Mix the chocolate ricotta with chopped jellied ginger (one lump per toast), and spread it over the chanterelles. Enjoy!

(Surviving crazy lane, the enjoy-part was the best!)

“But how” do you ask “shall this be enjoyed? 'Tis not starter nor dessert!” While this is true, we just had it for starters, and it was a lovely prelude to one of our favorite soups!



As we call the legendary Swedish crayfish parties.

Around this time of the year people in Sweden like to fish out fiercely armed and armored crustaceans from rivers and lakes, boil them with crown dill, dress up in silly hats, drink lots of seasoned moonshine, sing songs and painstakingly disembowel the poor critters.

In other words: have a general good time.

We decided to have our own little private kräftskiva. As long as we don't have to boil them alive ourselves, and don't have to wear the silly hats (ok, we just forgot to buy/make them this year), it's really nice!

As you have probably guessed by now, crayfish is a must-have, as is the snaps (but I don't think that counts, as it is a must-have for any Swedish seasonal party). Other than that, it's nice to have Västerbottenpaj (a pie made with Västerbotten cheese), bread, salad, beer and lots of wet wipes.


As we decided not to boil our own crayfish and buy ready made pie, the only thing we really made for this (ok, we didn't distill our own snaps or brew our own beer, or grow our own salad, but you know what I mean) was the bread. Now crayfish needs a special bread, and Jan Hedh recommends a variant of Zopf, shaped like a crayfish and seasoned with dill. Basically just add some dill (we used frozen, but crown should work better) during kneading, shape it like a crayfish and sprinkle chili powder (for the color, we used Ancho style) and dill seeds on top before baking.

Now all you need to do is figure out how to get inside the shells of the main theme... for us it comes naturally after years of practice, and we meant to shoot a “Crayfish anatomy 101” photo series for you, but decided to enjoy ourselves instead. We'll happily answer any questions you might have in the commentary section though.

Can you tell which one's bread and which one's real?