Saturday, September 18, 2010

COTTON CANDY MACARONS

SIMPLE SUMMER PLEASURES


I must have been about 8 years old and it must have been a typical steamy Florida summer evening. Dad thought to treat us kids to something special – he always did – and this time it was a trip over to some shopping center or gas station parking lot to take a trip down the huge slide. You remember those things? Three story or so tall monster slides where one would grab a burlap sack, climb about a million steps up to the top, sit on the sack and slide down, up and down, up and down over metal waves like some futuristic ocean until one reached the bottom? Well, I was hesitant to begin with, not really liking high places, not really trusting unexpected things. I had scary 8-year-old visions of my burlap sack flying out of control, slithering this way and that on the sleek aluminum of the slide, heading down faster and faster until I crash-landed in a lump at the bottom, unconscious, at my dad’s feet. Someone handed me one of those scratchy mats and pushed me towards the steps. Up and up and up I climbed following along behind my sister and brother, trying to work up the courage, convince myself that it was all okay, that it would even be fun. I finally made my way to the top landing and watched as my siblings gleefully slid away into the distance. I grabbed hold of the railing as someone called to me, told me that it was my turn and gently tried to steer me towards the slide. I saw my father tiny as an ant smiling up at me from the parking lot. He seemed miles and miles away. I shook my head and turned back towards the steps and, pushing my way down the narrow, narrow stairway wide enough for one, I worked my way down, clutching the hated burlap bag close to my chest, holding on to the railing for dear life and trying not to cry. My dad took me into his arms and assured me that it was okay, and we left.


My childhood was filled with special moments like this one – although not all of them flavored with my unpredictable, irrational fears. My youth was far from pampered and luxurious, but my father loved to fill our weekends with kid-sized fun. Winters would mean trips over the bridge to the Indian River Orange Groves where we could pick bagfuls to bring home. Februaries found us knee-deep in strawberry plants at U-Pick-Em, tiny hands filling little wooden boxes and tummies with ripe, sweet, juicy fruit. Summers found us piled into the old green station wagon, dad behind the wheel, off to spend a Saturday in the deep end of the high school swimming pool or a Saturday night at the drive-in, dressed in our pajamas and eating popcorn watching The Love Bug, The Ugly Dachshund or The Absent-minded Professor. He took us for ice cream treats at Dairy Queen, seafood dinners at Peg Leg’s or The Lobster Shanty, to the park for picnics on the 4th of July, sparklers in hand. We squished into the car, the 4 kids and him, and visited St. Augustine and her fort, walking up on the ramparts, drinking from the famous Fountain of Youth and getting to pick out one souvenir from the gift shop each (plastic, bejeweled swords!) or over to the Antique Car Museum and The Barnum & Bailey’s Circus Hall of Fame in Sarasota. And all those trips to Disney World after it opened. We were teens by then, but those family trips were the most special, days dashing from ride to ride, eating to our hearts content, and always leaving with a souvenir, those Mickey ear caps, boxes of candy or a lollipop, a huge swirl of colors, or even something with our name engraved or painted on the side. And he drove us down to visit his brother in Miami Beach! Lunches at Wolfie’s deli, afternoons dodging in and out of the towering palm trees that lined the street in front of Uncle Eli’s house, always coming home with our prize: a magnificent coconut that we would then spend hours tossing down the driveway and hammering at with a screwdriver until it finally gave way to our efforts, cracked open and offered us her sweet, sweet meat.


Summer is waning, the warm air turns chill and the sun now has that special glow of my long-ago Florida winters, dazzlingly bright, tinged with nostalgia. As Autumn arrives amidst a shower of golden leaves, Mactweets has asked us to turn back the pages of time and conjure up the best memory of our childhood summers. The freedom of my youth spent outside in the heat, biking, hopscotch, shooting baskets, the grill fired up and ready for the hot dogs and hamburgers to be tossed onto the flames or dad in the kitchen making his amazing foot-long submarine sandwiches or waiting for the butter to start to sizzle on the pancake griddle, this was my childhood summer, filled with road trips and good food, sweets and dad’s homebaked cakes. He denied us nothing, was thrilled to watch us discover the joys of everything.


So for this month’s Childhood Summer Memory Mac Attack challenge, I have made Cotton Candy Macarons filled with creamy chocolate ganache. What says a kid’s summer more than Cotton Candy, Candy Floss, Barbe à Papa: huge feathery light pom poms of fluffy sugary sweet silk? Take a huge mouthful and let it melt on your tongue all bubble-gum sweet, the floss sticking in your hair, onto your face and all over your hands. I still get excited when I see a Cotton candy stand and beg for a pale pink cloud on a stick to eat, of course, as I stroll through a street fair, a festival or a circus. And chocolate? Ah, the best summer memories I have are bottled up in icy cold Yoohoos as they clunk down from the depths of the soda machine and out the slot into my waiting, eager hand, cooling down a hot, miserable day of grade-school summer rec or a bowl of dad’s chilled chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream just waiting for me to pull it out of the fridge.


COTTON CANDY MACARONS
filled with Heavenly Chocolate Ganache is a play on my usual macaron recipe:


7.2 oz (200 g) confectioner’s/powdered sugar
4 oz (115 g ) ground blanched almonds
3 large egg whites (about 3.8 – 4 oz/ 110 – 112 g)
1 oz (30 g) granulated sugar *
1/8 tsp pink gel food coloring (the Cotton Candy sugar adds pink coloring too)

* I replaced all of the granulated sugar with granulated pink Cotton Candy-flavored sugar

Prepare 2 large baking sheets. On 2 large pieces of white paper the size of your baking sheets, trace 1 ½ inch-diameter circles (I used the wide end of my pastry tip) evenly spaced, leaving about ¾ - 1 inch between each circle. This will be your template to help you pipe even circles of batter onto the parchment paper. You will be able to reuse these endlessly. Place one paper on each baking sheet then cover with parchment paper. Set aside. Prepare a pastry bag with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809).

Sift the powdered sugar and the ground almonds together into a large mixing bowl.

In a standing mixer or with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites for 30 seconds on low speed then increase speed to high and whip until the whites are foamy and opaque. Gradually add the granulated sugar as you are whipping the whites until you obtain a stiff glossy meringue.

Gently but firmly, using a plastic or silicone spatula, fold the whipped whites into the powdered sugar/ground almonds mixture, turning the bowl as you lift and fold, scraping up the dry hidden at the bottom, making sure you fold in all the dry ingredients completely. If adding gel food coloring, add it in as you begin to fold the whites in with the dry. Once all of the dry ingredients are moistened, give several good, firm folds to smooth out the batter. When the batter is ready to pipe, it should flow from the spatula like lava or a thick ribbon. To test to see if you have folded it enough, drop a small amount onto a clean plate and jiggle it slightly. The top should flatten, not remain in a point. If it doesn’t flatten, give the batter a few more folds and test again, but do not overfold or the batter will be too runny.

Fill your prepared pastry bag with the batter. Pipe circles onto the parchment paper, using the traced circles on the template sheets to guide you, holding your pastry bag above each circle and piping into the center. DO NOT FORGET TO CAREFULLY REMOVE THE WHITE PAPER TEMPLATE FROM UNDERNEATH THE PARCHMENT PAPER. YOU DO NOT WANT THIS TEMPLATE TO GO IN THE OVEN!


Preheat your oven to 280°F (140°C).


Allow the macarons to sit out for 30 minutes to an hour. The top of each shell should form a “skin” (it will feel like it hardened a bit when gently touched). Bake the shells for 15 – 20 minutes, depending on their size (when I touched macs that were not quite done, the top jiggled a bit as if there was still a bit of liquid batter between the top and the “feet” so I let it continue to bake another minute.) I turn the trays back to front halfway through the baking.

Remove the tray from the oven and immediately slide the parchment paper with the shells off of the hot baking sheet and onto a surface, table or countertop. Allow to cool before sliding the shells very gently off of the parchment by slipping a cake spatula under the shell as you lift it up or by peeling off the parchment paper carefully from the backs of the shells. Be careful or the center of the shell risks sticking to the parchment.

Prepare your filling as your macaron shells cool.

HEAVENLY CHOCOLATE GANACHE

4 oz (120 g) chocolate, flavor of your choice, finely chopped
½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
1 tsp unsalted butter

Place the finely chopped chocolate in a heatproof medium-sized bowl. Bring the cream and the butter just to the boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it comes to the bowl, pour the liquid over the chocolate and allow it to stand for 2 or 3 minutes. Stir until smooth and continue to stir until creamy and thick. Allow to cool to room temperature and piping consistency. If you need to (as I did) place the bowl in the fridge until the desired consistency is reached, taking the bowl out of the fridge and stirring every few minutes to check.


I sandwiched a stick into each macaron to be more like cotton candy.


55 comments:

browniegirl said...

Oooooh, my friend just gave me a bag of almonds yesterday....I feel a mac event going to happen sometime soon...my second hehe! These are so pretty. Beautiful post once again Jamie...hugs and love xx

Eliana said...

These are so precious. Love the sharp contrast of the pink cookie and the luscious dark ganache.

Sasa said...

Once again, beautiful beautiful writing. I wish I had a dad like that.

PreteMoiParis said...

Too cute! I gotta make those!

Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite said...

Gorgeous Jamie. Sigh. Next month, we will have no humidity and a healed wrist/ hand and I will have feet. In the meantime, I will look at yours and ponder them.... So beautiful.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

So pretty and girly! Nice post as alawys!

Cheers,

Rosa

elra said...

lovely pinky macarons, I still like cotton candy :)

Debugcooking said...

Aw these are so beautiful jamie..how can we forget cotton candy in pretty pink sticking to flying hair...beautiful jamie...love yr flavours

Mary said...

They are lovely macarons, Jamie, but you memories are what really snare me. I hope you are having a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

Deeba PAB said...

You took me back to my cotton candy days Jamie girl. How strange that across 7 seas, in the days gone by, so much was common! Those are some touching memories, and those are some gorgeous macs. The heavy chocolate ganache, the colours, the flavours... awesome!
There is still some time left for me, my kitchen & my killing feet! Hope I get to dance this month!! xo

scrambledhenfruit said...

Thanks for sharing both your memories and your lovely macarons. I haven't braved macarons yet, but maybe one day I will!

Caroline said...

ah, memories of cotton candy, now I'm reminiscing. I love them, too & now especially that you made them in macs.

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Wow, you are the mac master! Absolutely stunning.

tspegar said...

jamie! these are so pretty and summery! i love them. what a fun little childhood treat!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Positively darling!!! Very original flavour too :)
Have a wonderful weekend.
*kisses* HH

Barbara | VinoLuciStyle said...

I love these; such a fun combination of a gourmet delight with a childhood treat!

Also love that paper they're on...wish I could buy some of that now.

But mostly just have to say thanks for the walk down memory lane. I recall some of those very activities; different generation, different part of the country...same warm memories. Funny about that, huh?

RJ Flamingo said...

Finally able to leave a comment! Don't ask. Love your macs, and loved the story about the slide - reminds me of the time I changed my mind about the high diving board at the JCC when I was 9!

Barbara said...

So pretty and girly. Lovely Jamie.

Stella said...

Now I must put, blanche almonds, on my how-to list. These look divine!

*sara* said...

i love this idea! they sound so yummy! i would love to make these for my kids, where did you get the cotton candy flavored sugar? ive seen cotton candy bits before, but not cotton candy flavored sugar. i would love it if you could recommend a website or store or brand to look for.
thanks for sharing your awesome recipe! i look foreword to making them myself!! :)

Barbara Bakes said...

I too still have a love for cotton candy. Although now I'm satisfied with just a taste. And I sure would love to taste your cotton candy macs - everything's better with chocolate! Where did you find cotton candy sugar?

Linda V @ Bubble and Sweet said...

Lovely macarons and lovely stories about your childhood. I watched my daughter going up one of those deathtrap slides at the local fair recently and couldn't believe she actually went down.

Jamie said...

@Barbara/VinoLuciStyle - The strawberry paper is actually a paper napkin! I have a pack of them.

@RJFlamingo - And you won't share the high dive story?

@*sara* - The cotton candy sugar (a stunning pink color!) I found in my supermarket here in France. It is Daddy brand and their website is www.daddy.fr

Thanks to all of you for visiting! I love it and really appreciate it! Love to hear your comments!

Jamie said...

@Barbara Bakes - Ah, tit for tat I can send you some if I find it again. Bought it in the big supermarket a couple months ago but when I was there last time I didn't see it. Will pick some up if I do.

@*sara* - I forgot to say. Look at what the cotton candy bits are. If they are basically sugar just grind them up fine until they are granulated sugar consistency. It's worth a try!

Jamie said...

@Linda @ Bubble & Sweet - Deathtrap slides? LOL!!!

Junglefrog said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous macarons Jamie! Love your childhood memories too... :) I am following a patisserie course at the moment from a master patissier who is very, very good in making macarons too! So guess what is on the menu for lesson three... :) Can't wait to make them again as it has been waaaay too long!

Cathy said...

I'm not going to make it with a post this month, but I certainly will enjoy everyone else's. Buying cotton candy is a very special memory from summers at the ocean with my grandparents. Your macarons are pefectly lovely, Jamie.

Lora said...

These are just gorgous Jamie. mmmm cotton candy. And your dad sounds so wonderful. Love the story

girlichef said...

Love it, Jamie...they are adorable and your story and the way you modeled your macarons are perfection =)

OysterCulture said...

What a yummy sounding macaron, and just so pretty.

Bonnie said...

We are the same age, I know this because I loved the Ugly Dachsund, the love bug, and fun house slides. You reminded me of some forgotten memories. Love the cotton candy macs. I'm still a sucker for cotton candy although I can't eat a whole one anymore.

5 Star Foodie said...

I love the presentation on a stick with a pretty ribbon!

sewbusy123 said...

isn't this more a meringue than a macaroon? and WHERE did you find cotton candy flavored sugar? I'll have to leave the nuts out due to allergies :(

thanks for a beautiful and unique treat.

Cynthia said...

Woo Hoo! They are awesome! I will have to try that flavor combo sometime too- it sounds so fun.

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

These look fantastic, I wish I knew where to get my hands on that sugar and I wish I could get my own macs such a wonderful colour!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Jamie, your hints to your childhood give us a glimpse into why you are such an extraordinary talent now! :D And your dad sounds wonderful!

Sanjeeta kk said...

Lovely Macarons, Jamie. Nice read, went back to my childhood days.

tasteofbeirut said...

Your dad sounds like such a wonderful and creative man! I can relate to your fear of heights too! As far as the macs, they are delightful and just the right color to bring back these childhood stories. I cannot believe barbe a papa is 2 euros now!

Ivy said...

What a wonderful post about your childhood. The macarons sound delicious. I've never made them before because I fret I will not succeed but I think this will be a challenge I will surely tackle soon.

lisaiscooking said...

Turning around at the top of the slide sounds exactly like something would have done (did do) as a kid. So many carnival rides that I avoided at the last minute!

And, this cotton candy pink is a delight. Love it.

Su-yin said...

Oh my, these are so cute! Love the girly and playful look of these, trust you to come up with them. :)

p.s. Is it wrong that when I see the word "cotton candy", I immediately think of that Katy Perry video with all the candy and lollies....

Daily Spud said...

Reading this, my dear friend, I can so easily picture a childhood made of cotton candy. Beautiful and wispy and dreamy all at once.

Anh said...

how cute!! I love the name and the look of thse macs!

faithy, the baker said...

Soo pretty! I love your cotton candy macaron idea! I love how pretty it looks! I love to eat cotton candy even till this day..LOL!

Chow and Chatter said...

wow these are beautiful sweet post Jamie hows life?

Fresh Local and Best said...

This is gorgeous Jamie! I adore that girly pink color, and I too have memories of going after cotton candy at fairs. These are such wonderful memories.

Sue said...

Jamie, Your photographs are amazing! Love your GORGEOUS macs on a stick! The pink is so pretty with the chocolate brown.
I remember "Super Slides." I loved them!
Wonderful post all the way around:)

Amy said...

I love this idea. Would this sugar work for this recipe? http://www.popcornsupply.com/Scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=18560

Jamie said...

@Amy: That sugar seems pretty close to what I used so I'd say go ahead! I'd certainly try it! Fun! Thanks for visiting!

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

So gorgeous, Jamie! I LOVED cotton candy as a child but also had a deep mistrust of big slides..

Françoise | ChocoParis said...

Beautiful, gorgeous macarons! And thank you for sharing your childhood memories - always such a pleasure to read.

Sally said...

A pleasure to read and view this touching and witty post. You remember what it was like to be a child very vividly.

Lisa said...

Jamie - These are phenomenal! I was going to make a cotton candy macaron using cotton candy sugar too! As always, due to L-I-F-E, I couldn't squeeze it in :( However, I'm so glad I got to experience it through your gorgeous macs! Love the stick idea - simply perfection!

asiangrrl said...

Glad you actually didn't go down the big, scary slide!

I gotta say the pink is a bit off-putting for me, but the chocolate is just the right shade of brown.

Patti Clark-Wunder said...

These macarons look amazing!! So much so, that I included them in my blog post today (giving full credit and link to this post of course!).
Here's the link: http://eastonplacedesigns.blogspot.com/2014/04/sweet-tooth-tuesday-cotton-candy-edition.html
I cannot wait to make these!!!!
xo
Patti

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