Fig & Farro

for the love of life and food.

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Earl Grey Macarons

So if you know me well, you know that I am obsessed with earl grey tea. More specifically creme earl grey. Its rare that a day goes by that I don’t drink at least one cup of the stuff and its my usual replacement for hot coffee in the summer. There is something about it. Its smooth richness and the fabulous way it goes together with lavender. I just can’t get over it. Its my every day cup early in the mornings when the fog still lies heavily across the lawn too thick to see where the end of the fence and road is and the cool moisture chills even if its warm out.

I started making macarons shortly after J and I got married and quite quickly became infatuated with perfecting the craft of creating these delicate little pastries.  Over the past 3 years we rented a small apartment smack in the middle of the city and our oven was..less than desirable. For quite some time I would spend time creating batch after batch and crying out in frustration at my failed attempt at creating the perfect sweets and with a disgruntled attitude would throw my oven mitts above my head and stomp off to google what exactly I was doing wrong. It turned out that our oven was broken (which I found out later via some absolutely ruined dinners.) and it was only partially my fault that my shells were turning into half baked burned on one side raw on the other nightmares. We recently moved out of that apartment and now have an actual house with you guessed it, a lovely new properly functioning oven! *three cheers all around!* This week I finally had the time to once more attempt to make the shells in our new oven and what better way than to make my all time favorite flavor.

fig&farro_macaron

Earl Grey Macarons

Shell Ingredients:

*2 egg whites at room temperature.
* 3/4 c. almond flour
* 1 c. confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
* 1/4 c. granulated sugar
* Approximately 1 to 1/2 tbsp. loose earl grey tea leaves.

Filling:
* (at least) 2oz. White chocolate
* 4 tbsp. butter room temperature.
* 1/4 cup (approximate) confectioners sugar
* at least 1/4-1/2 tsp. leftover finely ground tea leaves.

Instructions:

* Preheat oven to 325

*Mix together almond flour, confectioners sugar, and a large pinch or two of the     loose tea leaves. Pulse until flour mixture is blended together (about 4-5 4 second pulses is my preference.)

*Sift flour mixture into a separate bowl with a fine wire mesh strainer making sure that any large pieces of tea leaves fall back through the strainer. Set aside any leftover ground tea leaves.

*Place granulated sugar and leftover ground tea leaves or another large pinch in the food processor and pulse until most of the tea leaves are finely ground into the sugar.

*Sift this mix into a separate bowl making sure that no large tea pieces end up in the sifted sugar.

*Place egg yolks in a bowl and whisk until frothy. (I noticed that doing this first does make a difference.)

* Using a mixer with at least 3 speeds, whip eggs until they hold soft peaks.

* Slowly add granulated sugar and tea mixture into the blender and beat until eggs and sugar become glossy and holds stiff peaks.

*Using a large flat (preferably no wood) spatula gently fold almond flour and sugar mixture into into the meringue until it creates a smooth batter.

* Carefully pour batter into a pastry bag with a plain large tip and pipe desired size circles onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.

* Rap baking sheet against work surface to release any air bubbles in piped shells and also helps form the pied (foot) on the bottom of the cooked shells.

* Let stand for at least 25-30 min. (This is crucial as it creates a smooth stiffened crust on the top of the uncooked shells.)

* Bake for 10-15 minutes in preheated oven checking every 5 min. If browning begins to occur early on reduce oven temp slightly. Large temperature fluctuations can cause shells to not turn out properly so be sure it is only by 1-2 degrees. Believe me it will make a difference.

* Remove shells from oven and allow to cool completely (for about 10 min.) before gently peeling them off of the parchment paper.

Filling Instructions:

* Add softened butter and confectioners sugar in a blender and beat together until pale and fluffy.

* In a double boiler or microwave melt white chocolate until it is smooth and liquid like.

* Remove chocolate from heat and allow to cool for a few seconds (until you can easily dip your finger in without being burned) and add to butter and sugar mixture.

*Add any finely ground leftover tea leaves into mixture and blend until smooth.

* Pipe filling onto one macaron shell and add a lid.

* I have read countless times that it is best to allow your macarons to age before you eat them. If you have the patience to I highly recommend that you do this before eating them. It allows the shells to become chewier and marry with the flavor of the filling.

* Enjoy!

Almond + Blood Orange Spice Cake

Most of the time our meals are thrown together “I have no idea if this is going to taste good but here eat it anyways” sort of meals. Luckily most of the time they are edible. But when given the time between jobs I nurture my love of food experimentation by throwing things together in a more organized and thoughtful way. Since learning over the past year or so that I do not react well to a lot of high gluten foods I have slowly been working my way into at least some grain free baking experiments.
After making home made almond milk a few days ago I could not of course bring myself to throw away that perfectly usable beautiful fluffy white lovely nutty scented pulp that was left over. After dehydrating it I set out to figure out what to do with it. The pulp itself was already lightly sweetened with a hefty amount of raisins that I allowed to soak in the milk before I blended it together and strained it. (which is now my favorite way to sweeten almond milk. no honey, no sugar. Its divine.)
I had never attempted to make a cake with anything but regular whole wheat flour which fortunately I can indulge in every so often without getting sick…but a gluten free cake just about made my heart flutter.
As usual I completely forgot to write down the ingredients so unfortunately I am guesstimating on this one but if you can narrow it down to guessing what you might need for the size of cake you want I highly suggest you try to because this was one of my favorite creations ever.

fig&farro1Cake
1 1/3 c. Almond flour
1/4+ c. Walnut flour (approximately)
3 eggs
1/4 c. softened butter (unsalted)
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2 tbsp fresh blood orange juice
orange rind from 1 orange (I used slightly more since I had some leftover from another recipe)
(approximately ) 1 tsp baking soda
1- 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla
(approximately) 5 tbsp dark honey
1 tsp Cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
(approximately) 1-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions
-Preheat oven to 400
(I believe I had mine set on 425 because it does not get quite as hot as it should so    use an oven thermometer my friends)
-Lightly grease your pan (I used a very small bunt pan found at a thrift shop)
-Mix together butter, olive oil, honey, vanilla, and orange juice.
-Add eggs one at a time and mix (do not over beat once eggs are added)
-Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and add to wet mixture.
-Mix until texture is even and pour into pan
-Bake for about 25-30 min or until center of the cake tests dry with a toothpick.

Glaze

The glaze used no measurements whatsoever because I had no idea how much I would need at that point. I made a simple glaze of milk, honey, blood orange juice, lemon juice, cardamom, and a small amount of powdered sugar to thicken it. I’d say I ended up with about a half cup of glaze and poured it over the cake and let it soak a bit before cutting it. In all honesty I think it would have been perfectly good with just honey sweetened milk poured over it but the glaze did add a little oomph that was wonderful.

Cake is best same day as made but it did keep refrigerated beautifully and dried minimally if it was covered over 48 hrs but I do suggest not letting it sit longer than that.