It usually starts with an image, this idea in my head. It's a very clear image, and I couldn't possibly tell you where it comes from. Once I see it, it is emblazoned onto my brain, and it's alive and it flutters around in my head, like a butterfly, trying to release itself from the confines of the insanity of my imagination. I literally get no rest until I click the shutter, and the idea flitters from the inside of my head, through my arms, into my fingers, through the camera, and finally onto this screen, where it is finally, free.
Thank you everyone for all your lovely comments and kind words last week. I'm very touched by what you have to say and it really means a lot to me, so THANK YOU. I'm very excited about this week's post, not only is it macaron time again, but I'm also sharing this post on two other blog events simultaneously, and I've also got an *amazing* giveaway lined up for you. Let me tell you - if I saw this giveaway on another blog, I'd be doing back-flips well into next week.
But let's stick to this week, where it's all about flowers, spring, and champagne. Enjoy.
So, I've been very inspired by a lot of things recently and this post is the culmination of all that inspiration. It all started when I was reading everyone's flavour combination suggestions in the comments section of my last macaron post. Someone suggested fig and someone else suggested lychee, and I just put the two together, thinking they'd taste really good in combination - so I had a few trial runs, and it got me all excited as these two flavours really compliment each other.
Then Meeta, who's celebrating her fourth year in the food blogging world, asked us to celebrate with her in her Monthly Mingle by creating something that incorporated champagne into the ingredients list. I thought it would be a wonderful addition to the lychee buttercream, and so, darling Meeta, this one's for you. Congratulations on all your success so far and may you have much, much more!
Finally, Jamie & Deeba from Mactweets proposed that this month's macs for Macaron Day (20th March) be inspired by spring flowers, which was the trigger for the image I was talking about above: a macaron inside a tulip. Try serving your macarons inside tulips next time you have guests, and for that extra special touch, wrap each macaron in very thin ribbon. You can also get little favour boxes at wedding stores (or make some) - they're the perfect size for macarons - and give them to your guests as a little something to take home (or have in the car on the way back!). They will never feel more special.
I'm lucky enough to have a friend that lives on a farm, and she constantly brings fresh organic eggs when I meet her. If you've never had fresh eggs before, you don't know what you're missing. Not only do they come in all different colours (I love the blue ones), but they taste amazing, so I thought I'd try them in this week's macs.
Also, I found some organic fig essence in a little organic Italian delicatessen shop that I'd been meaning to try out and it doubled as the perfect colouring for the macs. The essence is actually purplish, but after mixing with the batter and baking, it turns into this gorgeous dark, rich pink. Even though I was really hoping for purple macarons, pink will do just nicely.
Also, just to let everyone know that tickets for Food Blogger Connect 2010 are now on sale, and the last time I checked, were selling like, um, macarons! If you were there last year, or if you couldn't make it, if you're a new food blogger, or one that's been around since blogging began, there's something there for everyone.
We've managed to put together an amazing event that spans over 3 days, and you can pick and choose which day you'd like to attend or if you'd like to be there for the whole weekend. The event is going to be held at the stunning Kensington Roof Gardens and Hempel Hotel, there's going to be loads of delicious food, exciting talks, a chance to share tips and tricks, have a prop swap, make new friends, and generally have a great time. So if you're interested, go ahead and book - we'd love to see you there!
And now, for this week's giveaway - are you ready?
I've had a chance to go through their website, and I just love THIS, and THIS, and 2 bunches of THESE, and THIS, and THIS, oh and don't forget THIS. You can also create your own bouquet if you'd like. You all know how much I love my flowers, so you probably know that I could spend hours on that website!
All you have to do is leave a comment below, and you can comment as many times as you'd like. If you know anyone that might also be interested, do let them know.
Fig Macarons With Lychee Champagne Buttercream (printable version)
Makes around 40 macaron shells
100g aged egg whites
10g dried egg white
120g ground almonds
200g icing sugar
25g granulated sugar
1tsp organic fig essence
1. Separate your egg whites and keep them in bowl covered with a plate or some kitchen paper at room temperature for at least 48 hours. Add the organic fig essence to the ground almonds, then sift ground almonds and icing sugar together.
2. Whip the aged and dried egg whites with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Add the granulated sugar and keep mixing until it is all incorporated and the mixture turns glossy.
3. Add the ground almond sugar to the egg whites and incorporate them into the mix.
4. Place a teaspoon of the batter onto a plate. If the top smooths out slowly, leaving a flat surface, then your batter is ready. If there are still peaks or ridges on the surface, give your batter a few more turns.
5. Place your batter into a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe roughly 4cm rounds. Preheat your oven to roughly 150˚C. Leave the macarons out at room temperature for a minimum of 45 minutes until their outer surface forms a hardened skin. Then bake for 15-20 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and allow the macs to cool thoroughly before attempting to remove them.
Lychee & Champagne Buttercream Filling
2 egg whites
220g butter, at room temperature
Juice of 10 lychees
5 tablespoons champagne, preferably pink
1. Hand whisk the egg whites until foamy. Mix in the sugar. Place mixture over a water bath. Keep whisking by hand until the mixture is piping hot and the sugar has dissolved.
2. Remove from water bath and mix with an electric mixer on high speed. Keep mixing until the bowl starts to cool down.
3. Add butter, one tablespoon at a time at first, then two tablespoons at a time. Make sure to incorporate the butter properly into the mixture each time you add butter.
4. Fold in the lychee juice and champagne.
5. Place buttercream into a piping bag, and pipe a small amount onto a macaron shell. Cover with another macaron shell. Refrigerate for best results.