Bonjour Åsen

MemoriesA story about , , , , , , , , Written on le Tuesday 31 March 2015.

[Hello Åsen]

flowers

This morning, as every morning since the past two weeks or so, I’ve fed Surdeg. Rye flour and water. Stir. Cover.
Except, it’s no usual morning.

I packed it in my bag. With watercolours and old polaroid cameras. Yes, in ten hours or so, we’ll be in Åsen.

strawberries

The not-so-official I-can’t-wait-for Åsen list.

1. Walking through Åsen forests again.
2. Drawing by the fireplace. On that little table where I learnt how to play backgammon last summer.
3. Going fishing on the lake.
4. Baking – or rather, trying to – a sourdough bread in the wood-fired stove.
5. Starting my croissants experiments as soon as we come back. As usual, I’m not very good at blog planning and this croissant article will have to wait.
6. Making kanelbulle, a Åsen tradition.
7. Stopping at the gas station on the way. For a latte and a hot-dog.
8. Not knowing what to expect. First signs of spring or snowy roads.
9. Learning how to make Leksands knäckebröd.
10. Telling you all about it, if I ever manage to make my portable internet work.

PS. A picture of flowers from last summer and some strawberry doodles act as a sun-dance for spring.
PS bis. Do you like my new header? xx

Toujours dans la neige – Macarons au chocolat blanc caramélisé et aux noisettes

PâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , , , , Written on le Monday 30 March 2015.

[Always in the snow – Caramelised white chocolate and hazelnut macarons]

gianduja macaron-4

I’d like to tell you I’ve made macarons today. I had planned to. Really. Last week, we bought mandelmjöl [ground almonds] and florsocker [icing sugar]; mjölkchoklad [milk chocolate] and vispgrädde [whipping cream].

But you see, we’ve been for walks everyday. At times, in the forest. Or by the river. And, always, in the snow.

And the chocolate bars we wrapped in foil – along with kokkaffe and the old kaffekanna [coffee pot], perhaps a square or two of Tatin tart salted caramels too, and a few baconost [bacon cheese] sandwiches that K. loves to make with lingonbröd [lingonberry bread, which I’ve seen an amazing recipe for here, and I can’t wait to go pick lingonberries to make it] – well, they’re gone.

hazelnut

gianduja macarons pola

Yes, I wanted to make moka macarons, but we’ve eaten all the chocolate before it even got the chance to be turned into a whipped ganache, just so.

Instead, we made the most of last night snowfall. For K. and Kaiser, the not-so-puppy-anymore you’ve perhaps seen on my pictures, it most likely involved effortless runs over the ice. For me, it means that the one patch of slippery mud will land me somewhere I didn’t decide to. Repeatedly :)

gianduja macaron-3

Macarons au chocolat blanc caramélisé et aux noisettes

When I realised I had never posted a recipe for macarons, I couldn’t believe it. It’s not like I haven’t spent the last seven years of my life making some almost daily. Pistachio and vanilla were ranking high amongst all. But I’ve also made some with elderflower and champagne, fermented mango, coconut and lime, salted caramel, avocado and chilli, pumpkin and cinnamon, rhubarb and cream. Even beetroot and orange ones. The list could go on for – almost – ever, really.
And that’s what I love about macarons, how versatile they are.

These ones are made with caramelised white chocolate – a love of mine, and roasted hazelnuts.
At times, I like to fill my macarons with a crémeux instead of a ganache to lower the sweetness slightly. However, macarons made with crémeux will only keep for a couple of days in the fridge before getting a bit too moist. They will keep beautifully frozen though, and judging by how many times I’ve seen our container in the freezer getting emptier and emptier, I’m sure some chefs – whose names will remain undisclosed – can vouch for it.

The recipe for the shells is adapted from Andrew Gravett’s beautiful macarons. He’s an amazing pastry chef and person, and I couldn’t be anymore grateful to have followed him in one way or another during my six years in London.
It’s super-foolproof. And trust me, this is something you want your macarons to be.

The stages are quite simple really: start by making a smooth almond paste, for this I like to use extra fine ground almonds as they give a more flawless finish.
Then make an Italian meringue, which you fold into the almond mixture.
After all is incorporated, you’ll deflate the batter slightly. This step, called macaronage, can be done with either a maryse or a plastic scraper. I like to use a plastic scraper and push the batter against the sides of the bowl until I have the correct texture. Now, it’s quite hard to describe the texture of the finished macaron batter: it should almost form a ruban and when the batter drops, it should smooth out into the rest, leaving only the tiniest bump. When you do your macaronage, make sure not to add to much air to the batter or you’ll be left with bubbly shells.

If you’d like I could write a little post about macaron troubles and what they mean. Perhaps we’d call it the macaron doctor?
In the meantime, here are a few notes on macarons:
– flat and odd shaped macarons with bubbles mean your batter was over-mixed.
– gritty macarons with a pointy top means your batter was under-mixed.
– cracked shells can mean two things: too much humidity in your kitchen/oven or your oven temperature is too high.
– shells that stick to the silicon mat: try to bake them a minute or two longer.

Macarons au chocolat blanc caramélisé et aux noisettes

makes around 40 macarons

for the caramelised white chocolate
100 g white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Place the chopped chocolate onto a baking tray lined with a silpat. Bake for 8 minutes, or until the chocolate is golden-brown. Take out from the oven, and using an off-set palette knife, work the chocolate to even out the colour and smooth it out. Allow to cool down while you get on with the rest.

for the hazelnut paste
300 g blanched hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 145°C and roast the halzelnuts for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown. Save 100g to chop for decoratn shells. And blitz the remaining 200g in a mixer until you have a smooth paste, around 8 minutes.
This will make more than you need, but you can keep it in a container in the fridge for later use.

for the caramelised white chocolate and hazelnut crémeux
1 g gelatine 200 bloom
50 g hazelnut paste
60 g caramelised white chocolate
50 g milk
50 g 35% cream
a fat pinch of salt
1 egg yolk

Soak the gelatine in ice-cold water. Place the caramelised white chocolate and hazelnut paste in a bowl.
Bring the milk and cream to the boil. Pour onto the egg yolk, whisking as you do so. And return to the pan. Cook over low heat to 80°C, stirring at all times with a maryse. Off the heat, add the squeezed gelatine. Then pour onto the white chocolate in three times, emulsifying well to create a glossy core. Handblend for 3 minutes to emulsify further.
Transfer to a container and clingfilm to the touch. Chill for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

for the macarons
150 g icing sugar
150 g ground almonds
55 g egg whites
150 g caster sugar
50 g water
55 g egg whites
15 g caster sugar

100 g roasted hazelnuts, chopped and cooled down

In a small blender, blitz the icing sugar and ground almonds for a couple of minutes, pulsing so it doesn’t overheat the nuts. Tip into a large bowl and add the egg whites. Mix to a smooth paste and cover with a damp cloth.

Place the sugar and water in a small pan and cook over medium het to 118°C.
When the syrup reaches 110°C, start whisking the egg whites on low speed. When soft peaks form, add the caster sugar, a little at a time, keep on whisking until stiff peaks form.
Wait for the syrup to stop bubbling – around 30 seconds or so – and pour over your meringue, whisking as you do so, along the sides of the bowl to avoid splashes. Once all the syrup as been incorporated, increase the speed to medium and keep on whisking until the meringue is around 50°C.

Add the meringue to the almond mixture and fold in using a maryse. Then deflate slightly until you get a ribbon.

Pipe the macarons using a 9mm nozzle onto a baking tray lined with a silpat. Around 3cm wide. Immediately sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.
Leave the trays at room temperature for around 30 minutes, or until a skin forms and the macarons no longer feel tacky.

Bake at 140°C for 12 minutes.

Allow to cool down completely, then turn the macaron and fill them with the crémeux using a 11mm nozzle.
Freeze on a baking tray, then put away in an air-tight container.

Par le pont suspendu – Caramels au beurre salé façon tarte Tatin

PâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , Written on le Wednesday 25 March 2015.

[Through the suspended bridge – Salted butter caramels, not unlike a Tatin tart]
apple cidre caramel-2
heart house

We went for our favourite walk this morning. Usually, we’d be back by the time we left, but today was different. We woke up a bit later, under the sun we’d lost for snow over the past few days. Not that I’m complaining; just like norrsken [northern lights], I think I’ll never grow tired of days made of snowflakes and never-ending coffee cups.

We had breakfast. K. had croissants sliced lengthway in half with hard-boiled eggs and Kalles kaviar. The French in me shudders, but also not-so-secretly loves it (yes, I was the one of us to first discover this combo). I might have had a bowl of rolled oat with yoghurt and a large spoonful of äppelmos [apple compote]. With coffee, of course.

apple cidre caramel-4
promenade-2

By the time we’d done the dishes and fed Surdeg, it was well past eleven. We put our boots, hats and mittens on, and started walking through the forest. The one that follows the north side of the river until we reach the suspended bridge.

We tied our thermos with a piece of string and dipped it into the river so we’d have enough water for the three of us.

We saw rabbit and deer footprints, and beavers working their way through the trees longing the älven.

We heard the ice crack loud and strong, and K. told me it was nothing compared to what’s ahead of us, when it all breaks into pieces and goes down the flooded river, not unnoticed.

apple cidre caramel
promenade

When we reached that little house, the one with the old wooden sleigh against the wall, we sat on branches and opened paper-wrapped caramels. Made yesterday, with the cider Svante brewed last summer, instead of apple juice.

Right then, we decided that next time – tomorrow – we’ll bring slices of falukorv too, and make a fire to grill them like others grill marshmallows.

apple cidre caramel-3

Caramels au beurre salé façon tarte Tatin
I first made those caramels last November. Most likely on a rainy day. Most likely because I had apples sitting on the counter.
Why tarte Tatin caramels? Well caramel and apples. And beurre noisette which always reminds me of golden-brown puff pastry.

It’s a very simple recipe, and a nice outlook on the traditional salted butter caramel. As I’ve just said, you could replace the apple juice with cider, in fact, I think that will be my forever-move.
You start off by infusing the cream with cinnamon and vanilla, and while the spices work their magic, you make yours happen with a generous dose of beurre noisette. I recommend starting with around 200g of butter to get 160g of brown butter.
I like to use unsalted butter for these caramels and add a fat pinch of sea salt, but if like me, you’ve ended up with one kg of salted butter in your fridge because you can’t read Swedish, then simply use salted butter and leave out the extra salt.

For neat slices through the caramel slab: make sure it’s properly cooled down and lightly oil a large sharp knife.
I wish I had some of those beautiful cellophane wrappers but I had to go for little squares of baking paper, which in retrospect don’t look quite as bad as I first thought.

Caramels au beurre salé façon tarte Tatin

makes around 40 caramels

125 g double cream (50% fat)
one cinnamon stick
one vanilla pod
7 g sea salt
160 g brown butter
300 g caster sugar
30 g water
50 g glucose syrup
100 g peeled apple
, finely sliced
75 g apple juice

Line a 20x20cm tin with baking paper.

Start by infusing the cream. In a small pan, set over medium heat, bring the cream, cinnamon, vanilla pod, and salt to the boil. Take off the heat and cover with clingfilm.
Then, make the beurre noisette. In a small pan, place 200g of butter and cook over medium heat, stirring at all times with a whisk until the milk solids start to caramelise. When they reach a golden-brown colour, take off the heat and set aside. You should get around 160g of brown butter.

In a large pan, mix the sugar, glucose syrup and water. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat, and make an caramel.
While the caramel is cooking, pass the cream through a fine-mesh sieve. When the caramel is light amber, whisk in the brown butter, then add the apple slices and juice, and the cream, being careful as the caramel might splash. Bring to a rolling boil to dissolve any bits of caramel that might have seized, then off the heat, handblend until smooth.
Cook over medium heat until the caramel reaches 120°C.

Pour into the prepared tin and allow to set for at least 4 hours at room temperature.
Cut into 3x3cm squares and wrap in baking paper.