Well, today is the second day of my funemployment and I am loving it! The time pressures have magically disappeared and it feels so good. I didn't set an alarm this morning for the first time in about a year and a half (even on my weekends I set an alarm). I don't have to worry about keeping my sleep schedule, about getting my errands and chores done so I have time to relax before my weekend is over (never happens), about compromising what I want to make for the blog because of time constraints! The possibilities are endless!! To those of you with jobs that are reading this and hating me - I'm sorry (not really but I'm trying to be nice here) but I feel like the past year and a half of 10 to 14 hour days have warranted a break for me.
I decided two months ago to leave my current job as a pastry cook in a patisserie. I wasn't loving the job as much as I used to and I wanted something more creative. I also wanted a break from the kitchen, just for a month or so. I have a wrist injury from a motorcycle accident back in October that just won't heal fully because I keep lifting 20kg bags of flour and trays of 100 croissants at a time, so I really hope that fixes itself now. My hands, so beat up, cut up, burned, and scarred, might get a break too but soon enough they'll be back to their mangled self once I'm back in a professional kitchen.
I'm definitely not leaving the industry, not be a long shot. I'm just taking a little breather while I decide what I want to do next. I'm also going to take advantage of this time off by GOING TO PORTLAND IN LESS THAN 3 WEEKS!!! I'm so super pumped because I've been wanting to go to Portland for years! My dad and brother have both been several times and I'm tired of hearing about the amazing food second-hand. I'm going with my newfound bff from work (HI DANA!) and I could not have picked a better travel buddy. She's a foodie, I'm a foodie, we're both kinda grandma/hermit-ish, and we're both super chill and cool. We're organizing this trip purely based on where we're going to eat. 4 nights, 3 full days, and more places to eat than there are meals in those days. We managed to narrow it down and pick our tops - Le Pigeon, Biwa, Ava Genes, Pok Pok, Lardo, Tasty n' Alder, Nuvrei, Olympia Provisions, and Kens Artisan Bakery. We're still undecided for one dinner (I'm leaning towards Toro Bravo).
While I try to never take photos of food at restaurants (I think it's disrespectful to my dining companion and the chef because the food is getting cold while I try to take a shitty photo for likes on a social media platform), I am breaking that personal rule for our Portland Foodgasm Trip.
If you guys have any suggestions for additional places to hit up or non-food related things (we have nothing apart from eating planned yet….) then please drop me a note or a comment! I'd love to hear what you'd recommend!
Calamansi and White Chocolate Macarons
Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
212 g almond flour/meal
212 g powdered sugar
82 g egg whites
4 calamansi, zested
90 g egg whites
236 g granulated sugar
158 g water
White Chocolate and Calamansi Ganache
166 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
383 g white chocolate
33 g calamansi juice
4 calamansi, zested
Start the macarons. The macarons need to be as close in size as possible and a template is the easiest way to ensure that. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a work surface with the long side facing you. Using a glass or bowl, trace the desired size of your macarons (I used a 1.5 inch diameter for these). Make sure to leave 1 inch of space between them. Turn the parchment over and lay it on a sheet pan. Lift up each corner of the parchment and spray with non-stick spray to keep it from blowing up while the cookies are baking. Repeat with a second sheet.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl and whisk together. Make a well in the center, leaving a layer of flour at the bottom. Pour in the 82 grams egg whites and combine with a spatula. Add the calamansi zest to the mixture, stirring until evenly distributed. Set aside.
Place the remaining 90 grams egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the 236 grams sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the syrup reaches 203 F/110 C.
Letting the syrup continue to cook, add a pinch of sugar to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium speed, and whip to soft peaks. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, reduce the speed to the lowest setting, just to keep them moving.
When the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and slowly add the syrup, pouring it between the side of the bowl and the whisk. The meringue will deflate. Increase the speed to medium and whip for 5 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Although the bowl will still be warm, the meringue should have cooled. If not, continue to whip until it is cool.
Fold one-third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then continue adding the whites a little at a time (you may not use them all) until when you fold a portion of the batter over on itself, the "ribbon" slowly moves. The mixture shouldn't be so stiff that it holds its shape without moving at all, but it shouldn't be so loose that it dissolves into itself and does not maintain the ribbon; it is better for the mixture to be sightly stiff than too loose.
Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch tip. Hold the bag upright 1/2 inch above the center of one of the traced circles and pipe out enough to fill in the circle. Lift away the pastry bag and fill the remaining circles on the first pan. Lift up the sheet pan and tap the bottom of the pan to spread the batter evenly and smooth any peaks left by the bag.
Place the sheet pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees again.
Pipe the remaining macaron mixture into the circles of the second sheet pan and bake as directed above. Let cool completely.
For the ganache, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream the butter until light and fluffy, about 7 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, the chocolate needs to be tempered. There are two ways you can do this - direct method or seeding method.
For the direct method, place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Heat the chocolate in 20 second intervals on low power, stirring after each interval. Remove from the microwave before all the chocolate has melted and has not gone over 30 C/86 F. If your chocolate has gone over that temperature, you will need to start again. If your chocolate is not over that temperature, stir until all the chocolate has melted. Test the chocolate prior to use by smearing a bit of chocolate on a piece of parchment and letting it sit. If it hardens quickly and has a 'snap' when it is broken, it is in temper.
For the seeding method, place 288 g of the white chocolate in a bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Melt the chocolate, but do not let it go over 46 C/ 115 F. When the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the heat and add the remaining chocolate, 95 g, and stir. Stir until all the chocolate has melted. Test the chocolate prior to use by smearing a bit of chocolate on a piece of parchment and letting it sit. If it hardens quickly and has a 'snap' when it is broken, it is in temper.
When the chocolate is properly tempered, fold it into the butter and blend with an immersion blender until smooth and shiny. Add the calamansi juice and zest and stir until combined. Allow the ganache to set up until it is firm enough to pipe.
Match the macarons up into pairs and turn one of the shells from each pair over, revealing the flat side. Transfer the ganache to a piping bag fitted with a circular tip. Pipe the ganache so it almost reaches the edge of the macaron and top with the pair, gently pressing to spread the ganache to the edges. Repeat with remaining macarons and filling.
The macarons are best if wrapped individually in a few layers of plastic wrap and frozen for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator for 3 hours, then bring to room temperature before seving. They can be served the day they are made or stored in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 2 days.