On occasion I get the question of what I do in my free time, what my hobbies are, or what I like to do other than photography. It's a hard question to answer at first because photography is one of my biggest passions. I eat, sleep, breathe photography. All moments of the day I have some kind of camera on me whether it is my Holga, my DSLR or my iPhone. I chase light, keep a close eye on how shadows trace the ground, and also how the color changes throughout the day.
But to get to the question: HOBBIES.
One of my biggest passions other than photography is being in the kitchen, cooking + baking... I love to explore and try new foods. I will try anything at least once! Growing up, my family did not have a lot of money but my Dad always put fourth the effort of making the mundane foods unique. My mom had a little garden on the side of our house and we would grow herbs and tomatoes, sometimes peppers. Lots and lots of flowers. We had a lot of farmers near by which we would get our fresh produce for more affordable prices. Kevin, my boyfriend, has also inspired my palette because he is vietnamese. His mom is one of the best cooks I know. Kevin's family has introduced me to so many awesome flavors, foods, and textures. Some of my all time favorite food dishes are Vietnamese.
Yesterday I spent some time at the grocery store and had a hankering for french macarons. Kevin and I used to bike around Philadelphia in search for the best ones. We stumbled upon a great little spot close to rittenhouse square, called Miel Patisserie. THIS PLACE ROCKS, guys! Ever since I've tried countless times to replicate them (though taste). I stumbled upon a great recipe but took out the guess work and found a formula that works great for me.
Here's the recipe I used for these little cuties:
- 2/3 cup sliced blanched almonds (71 grams) ---about 2 heaping handfuls.
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar (117 grams) (aka powdered sugar)
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature (use a plastic bottle and suck up the egg yolks!)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (53 grams)
- Jam or other filling ( I liked to use home made raspberry jam)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in lower third. Place almonds in a food processor; process until as fine as possible, about 1 minute. Add confectioners' sugar; process until combined, about 1 minute.
Pass almond mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Transfer solids in sieve to food processor; grind and sift again, pressing down on clumps. Repeat until less than 2 tablespoons of solids remains in sieve.
Whisk egg whites and granulated sugar by hand to combine. Beat on medium speed (4 on a KitchenAid) 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high (6) and beat 2 minutes. Then beat on high (8) 2 minutes more.
The beaten egg whites will hold stiff, glossy peaks when you lift the whisk out of the bowl. Add flavoring and food coloring, if desired, and beat on highest speed 30 seconds.
Add dry ingredients all at once. Fold with a spatula from bottom of bowl upward, then press flat side of spatula firmly through middle of mixture. Repeat just until batter flows like lava, 35 to 40 complete strokes.
Rest a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch round tip (Ateco #804) inside a glass. Transfer batter to bag; secure top. Dab some batter remaining in bowl onto corners of 2 heavy baking sheets; line with parchment.
With piping tip 1/2 inch above sheet, pipe batter into a 3/4-inch round, then swirl tip off to one side. Repeat, spacing rounds 1 inch apart. Tap sheets firmly against counter 2 or 3 times to release air bubbles.
Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until risen and just set, 12 minutes. Let cool. Pipe or spread filling on flat sides of half of cookies; top with remaining half. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
I store these on a cute little cake stand. Cover with plastic wrap and stick a piece of bread on top. This will keep your macaroons nice and soft.