This week has been a draining onslaught of madness, excitement, and schedule derailments. Hello back to school, you slightly suck. Or maybe I do.
Okay, I’m willing to assume 50% of the responsibility, the other 50% will be pinned to the next person walking in front of me. Of course I say that knowing Matt is not home and the next person walking in front of me will be the neighbor on the other side of the window walking his dog. A person who has never exchanged a word with me despite my genuine “hellos and how are you”.
And while I’m on a roll, Matt convinced me to be the team mom for the little guy’s baseball team. Whaaa. . . ?? Last time I was team mom that played out like the movie Mr. Mom for Matt. Gotta love him for his confidence in me.
As for back to school, the first day of first grade happened this week and the little guy was eager, excited and a little nervous. Normal. We gave him his space and didn’t hover. Our quick good-byes were later returned with “Your son threw up, please come get him”.
Again, what? He never throws up. As it turns out he threw up in his mouth. That’s not even real and I told him so. Along with that, I dryly explained to him, “Pounding your chocolate milk then chasing it with a full juice box is like slamming a gin and tonic then chasing it with a pint of beer.” Okay, so maybe the latter was a silent mental flashback, but you get the idea.
As for schedule derailments- that’s a common theme, but the beginning of this school year seems to be especially fraught with constant and panicked glances at the clock with mental pop reminders of all kinds of other things that were overdue. Sigh.
But the best flub of the week goes to packing my little guy a mayonnaise sandwich for lunch. Yes, in my haste I forgot to add the turkey to his turkey sandwich. And if I’m being honest, maybe that’s what caused him to throw up in his mouth.
So per my usual pattern of behavior when such guilt-causing failings happen, I baked up one of the little guy’s favorite treats: blueberry macarons. A favorite minus the filling and that’s not because of the taste, but because he doesn’t do filling of any sort. So in the absence of his endorsement on the fully-assembled maracron, I can assure you – the pear and earl grey filling makes this!
And he’s getting into the smash food action too, so we had some fun smashing a few cookies for that last picture.
A few notes:
- For the dried blueberries I used Trader Joe’s. Before measuring it out, make sure to process it to a fine grind and sift it through a fine mesh sieve (do not skip the sifting!).
- For the Earl Grey tea I used Twinings Tea.
- For the purple coloring, I used Americolor’s Electric Purple.
- The macarons can be made at least two – three days in advance and kept refrigerated in a tightly sealed container until ready to use.
- The filling should be made the day of assembly. Fully assembled macaron are best consumed within 1-2 days.
- You can skip making the pear filling for pear jam, but that’s not easily sourced, so I created the pear filling using pears from baby food. Yes, baby food because it’s simply pureed pears with no additives or anything else and it’s smoother than if I pureed pears in my KitchenAid food processor or Blendtec blender. The gelatin is added to firm up the filling or else as is, it would just spill and squirt out the sides once bitten into.
- As for parchment vs silpats for macarons. I always use parchment. I’m not going to say one is better than the other, but I will say, silpats always seem to retain the odor of what was baked before so I avoid using them.
- 135g egg whites
- 45g granulated sugar
- 25g finely ground dried blueberries
- 215g powdered sugar
- 125g almond meal
Pear and Tea Filling
- 330g of pureed pear
- 1 teaspoon loose leaf earl grey tea
- 55g granulated sugar
- 29g water
- 1 envelope of plain gelatin
Preparation: Heat oven to 300 degrees F.
To make macaron cookie
- Trace out 1 inch circles on parchment and set this aside as a “master copy”. Reserve two extra sheets of parchment and set aside.
- Place egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer bowl and fit mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium low speed until egg whites start to form loose translucent bubbles. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until meringue turns foamy and white and starts to resemble well lathered shampoo, about 2 minutes. Increase mixer to high and beat until meringue holds glossy stiff peaks, about another 2-3 minutes. Add two drops of purple food coloring and give the mixer two quick runs to incorporate the color. Turn off mixer and set aside.
- In another bowl add finely ground dried blueberries, powdered sugar and almond meal and whisk to combine, then push mixture through a fine mesh sieve to sift.
- Add dry ingredients to meringue. Using a sturdy spatula, fold and smash dry mixture into meringue against the bowl’s side for about 20-25 folds. Don’t worry about being gentle, the idea is to knock the air out of it. The batter should hold its shape when spooned on itself and start to slowly flatten out after about 15-20 seconds. Start checking the batter after 20 folds for readiness.
- Place master copy of drawn circles on a bake sheet and then place a sheet of parchment on top. Fill a pastry bag with batter and pipe until batter reaches edge of circle. Remove master copy from underneath piped layer and place on second bake sheet and pipe remaining batter (remove master copy and save for future use).Take hold of each pan and give it quick hard tap against the counter, turn the pan 90 degrees and give it another quick hard tap. This will deflate any bubbles and prevent cracked shells.
- Bake for about 18-22 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Leave shells to cool completely on pan. Shells will cleanly peel away from parchment when ready about 30 minutes.
To make pear and earl grey filling
- Place tea in a coffee grinder or blender and process until loose leaf is a fine grind. Add finely ground tea to pureed pears and fold to combine; set aside
- Place water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir until sugar is melted. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool, about 15 - 20 minutes. Once cooled, sprinkle gelatin on top and leave untouched for 1-2 minutes for gelatin to bloom. Return pan to stove top and over low heat stir the mixture until the gelatin bloom melts and mixture resembles the consistency of maple syrup. Remove from heat and stir gelatin mixture into pear mixture. Transfer to refrigerator to chill for about 10-15 minutes or until filling becomes thick and slightly sets.
- Transfer filling to pastry bag fitted with a round tip and pipe on bottom side of one macaron cookie and place a second macaron on top with bottom side down. Transfer fully assembled macarons to refrigerator to chill for another 30-40 minutes for the filling to finish setting. Finished macaron will have a filling consistency that will not spill or squirt out of the side when bitten into.