Hi, everyone! Usually I have a late Halloween post up around this time of year, but instead of bloody, spooky, ghoulish, and orange and black, I’m pink today!
So, I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween! Halloween was postponed here until this coming Saturday. Although it’s for safety reasons due to falling branches from the October freak snow storm last Saturday, there’s something almost callous about the phrase “Halloween has been postponed.” in an automated voice message. It kind of felt like the voice was mocking us; “Ha Ha! No candy for the kids today!”.
Well..I have two huge bowls of candy, and since I don’t want to hand out week old candy this coming Saturday, I.couldn’t.let.it.go.to.waste. Has any medical professional ever stated that a candy bar a day keeps the doctor away? I’ll leave it at that.
Having said all that, I ended up skipping this great, big, gory Halloween post I had planned for about a month. I’m not going to tell you what it was, because I’m saving it for next Halloween, but I will tell you I bought a bunch of stuff to make it happen, and it’s now packed away, waiting for another Winter, Spring and Summer to pass. I almost wish I could turn back the clock a week or two just so I could try to fit it in.
I’m a member of Mactweets, a monthly macaron baking challenge. I don’t play very often because there’s always something that gets in the way. During the month of October, I was bogged down by a bunch of Fall desserts and challenges, and completely forgot to check what October’s Mactweet challenge was.
BUT, in the grand scheme of things, the below was obviously more important.
On Twitter last weekend, I started to notice PINKtober macaron post links flying by. I figured it was too late for me to enter, and lamented to Jamie, (one of the co-founders, along with Deeba), that I had two containers of pink tant pour tant in the freezer (I prefer to color my tant pour tant instead of the egg whites and sugar) that I had planned to use for an earlier Mactweet challenge, but never made it, and how perfect this ‘pink’ would be to make macarons for Breast Cancer Awareness.
Jamie told me as long as I got the post up in early November (the round-up is November 5th), my macarons would be part of the round-up. I separated the egg whites so they could age for 2 days, then got to work on them last night. Here they are. Better late than never.
Did you know, according to BreastCancerAwareness.com (Donate!)
- Every 2 minutes, there is a new breast cancer diagnosis.
- Every 14 minutes, a life is lost to the disease.
- Over 40,000 people will die this year; about 400 of them will be men.
- 85% of all diagnoses have no family history.
- 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women between ages 40 and 55.
All of the above is jarring. This is why early detection is so key. Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year, and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health, and all adults should do regular self-exams. Hint – in the shower, with soap, works really well.
Another great organization where you can donate is Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which has made a huge impact on breast cancer research!
Now that you’ve read all that important info, I also have a great giveaway, and if you stop reading and scroll to the end of this post now, you’ll see what it is. It’s pretty, it’s pink, it’s something I own myself and actually use more than its bigger brother. OK, go look now, but come back and read the rest of this post, because we’re talking goji berries in buttercream with a hint of vanilla bean, ginger, orange and pink peppercorn.
I’m waiting…(tap tap..twiddling fingers)
Yeah. I know most of you probably looked before reading anything, and if you got here via Twitter, you already know what it is!
OK..the macarons. I initially wanted to make a dried cherry or cranberry mousse, buttercream, or cream cheese filling. When I looked for my dried cherries and cranberries, they were nowhere to be found; in other words, I will find them when I don’t need them. Instead I found a bag of dried goji berries. Goji berries? Yes, I’ve heard of them, but where did they come from?
Was this a message from the healthy gods telling me I needed to start eating these berries? Well..that was not the case. Last year, a friend of mine who worked for a huge ‘healthy’ supermarket chain, would constantly bring me bags of all kinds of cool stuff they were sent to sample. I even have coconut jaggery, among other rare and unique stuff I had forgotten about!
I looked at the dried goji berries. Hmmm..they were similar in appearance to dried cranberries, and some were even pink, which fit perfectly into my macarons to honor Breast Cancer Awareness. I tasted one and it sort of tasted like a dried cranberry, albeit not as tart. OK, goji berries it would be.
I made a paste by rehydrating the berries, then giving them a whirl in my mini-food processor with some orange zest, ginger, and a nice pinch of ground pink peppercorns. Well – goodbye pink – the goji berries turned a deep rusty color once rehydrated and broken down. No big deal; it’ll add contrast, right? I stirred the goji berry paste into some meringue buttercream (and now we have the color orange!), and that was that. It was delicious and paired really well with the sweet, vanilla bean flecked pink shells.
Finally, every time I tackle macarons, they never turn out the same aesthetically (I do believe this is my favorite word). I think I average about three to four batches a year, and you’d never know I made any of them; no signature macaron ‘look’ like some of the talented macaron goddesses online. It’s probably because I don’t make them often, but it’s always fun to see what shape and foot size they’ll take on. This time, a little flat headed, but huge platform wedgies for feet. I love them all equally.
Now to the giveaway. I’m giving away a pink Cuisinart DLC-2 Mini Prep Plus Food Processor. Like I said above, I have one of these and I don’t know what I’d do without it. It’s so much easier to chop up those small batches that you don’t want to dirty the bowl of the larger processor for, plus it does a better job than the big one on the smaller batches..like nuts, seeds, fruits etc. That said, what I love about this pretty pink baby, is that a portion of proceeds from the sale of every Cuisinart Pink Series product is donated to help support breast cancer research. So, who wants this little beauty? To enter, just leave a comment, that’s it. For four extra entries, you can: ) Follow me on Twitter, but only if you either A) like me/want to lol, and/or B) would like to be kept abreast (yes, that was on purpose) of upcoming giveaways! 2) TWEET the giveaway – Pink Cuisinart Mini Food Processor GIVEAWAY by @parsleynsage. Leave a comment to enter! http://wp.me/pg5pm-2ZU 3) Like or Share the giveaway on your Facebook. 4) Stumble this giveaway. The giveaway will end November 14th, 15th, 2011 when a winner is chosen using random.org.
Hot Pink Goji Berry Macarons
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ¾ cup almond meal
- 2 large egg whites, aged for at least 24 hours
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ of a vanilla bean, scraped, pod discarded (or put into your vanilla sugar container).
- Pink or hot pink gel food color
- ½ cup dried Goji berries (or dried cherries or cranberries), soaked in boiling water, saving water for paste
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- a pinch of ground pink peppercorns (optional but recommended for a slight bite of savory heat in the sweet)
- Either 1 cup white buttercream, or 1 cup white chocolate ganache or 1 cup sweetened, whipped cream cheese
- pink gel food color
- Place the powdered sugar and almond meal in a food processor and give them a good spin until combined. Add in the gel food color and pulse until you reach a pink color you’re satisfied with. I used about 3-4 drops, but remember, the color intensifies when folded with the egg whites, so what looks too light, might be perfect. Let the tant pour tant dry overnight, or spread on a cookie sheet and let dry in a turned off oven for a few hours.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Beat in the vanilla bean scrapings. Do not over beat your meringue or it will be too dry.
- Add the tant pour tant (almond meal - powdered sugar amalgamation) to the beaten egg whites and sugar. Give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own, it's perfect and ready to pipe. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple more folds until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets.
- Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer. To fill: pipe or spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of one shell and top with another one.
- Strain goji berries, saving the water, and place in a food processor or blender with the orange zest and ginger. I used the mini processor for this.
- Process or blend until you have a paste like consistency. Drizzle in some of the soaking water if it's too thick.
- Stir goji berry paste into either 1 cup white buttercream, or 1 cup soft white chocolate ganache (let set in fridge until spreadable), or 1 cup sweetened, whipped cream cheese. Stir in some pink gel food color, if desired, since the goji berry filling doesn't turn out that pink. If you use dried cherries or cranberries, it will turn out pink, so no need for pink gel color.
- Pipe or spoon any of the above onto one macaron shell, then sandwich with a second macaron shell. Enjoy!