Making macarons

After some experimenting, I now have a good recipe to bake the macaron shells. It’s a bit finnicky, so it took a few tries to get to a recipe that works with our tools (and mostly the oven).

Making macarons: photos

Macaron workshop

We’ve been experimenting with baking macarons a few times now. The results were tasty, but they weren’t really good macarons either. Searching for recipes on the internet only takes you so far — so I wanted to learn from a pro. After some searching, I decided on a workshop from Zoete Workshops (“Sweet workshops”), which is a sub-label from a chain of patisserie shops.
The problem with most workshops is that they’re easy to book when you’re with a group, but not individually. Finding a workshop open for individuals that attracts enough people to actually go through is kinda hard. I had good hopes for this one, and we did get a confirmation that the workshop would indeed be held.

We had to go to Rotterdam, though. But then again, one of ‘my’ clients is there, so it’s not like I haven’t driven there before. But this time, we parked outside the city and took the tram into the city centre. After a tasty lunch at a café next to the iconic Erasmus-bridge, we walked along the water to the workshop location.
There were nine people taking the workshop — and as is usual in these things, I was the only man. I wonder why that is — don’t men want to learn new skills? Or should I do woodworking workshops or stuff like that, in order to not be the only man present?

We were split in three groups. Each group would make a batch of shells, with a colouring of their choice. One lady had specific instructions to make orange (the colour) macarons, because the Dutch national soccer team would be playing that evening. I suggested that the other groups could make red and blue shells, and with a white cream, we’d get red-white-blue macarons — like we did before. This was met with approval, and we got to work.

I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say that we learned a lot of techniques and tricks to make good macarons and delicious buttercream for the filling. Of course, I also took (crappy cellphone-)pictures:

Worth 5000 words

We even went so far as to buy a Kitchenaid mixer to be able to bake at home…

As I wrote earlier, I have experimented with candying persimmon. I cut up the fruit, made the syrup and then added the slices. Then, for the next four days, I took out the fruit and boiled the syrup for about ten minutes. Then when the syrup had cooled down, I added the slices again.

Photos of the progress

I’ve started an experiment: I’ll be trying to make candied persimmon. I’ve read recipes where they said to use firm fruit, and I’m not sure if persimmon is sufficiently firm. You don’t want the fruit to dissolve in the sugar syrup!
I’ve cut three persimmon in slices, for 720 grams of fruit. The sugar syrup is now cooling off, and then I’ll dunk the fruit in. From tomorrow on, I will have to take out the fruit, softly boil the syrup to up the concentration, and then put the fruit back in. After four or five iterations, the moisture in the fruit should be replaced with the sugar syrup, preserving the fruit. (I read that it should hold for eight months!)
After that, I might dunk the pieces in dark chocolate for an extra treat… if all goes well!

One of the ‘souvenirs’ I brought back from Japan is a pickle press. I’ve improvised a pickle press before, by using a large bowl and a slightly smaller bowl on top of it, but that is far from practical. So when I found a pickle press in a store in Yufuin that sold household items, I immediately bought it.

How I make quick cucumber pickles

In a pickle

I’ve just made Japanese-style cucumber pickles (though technically they’re not pickles since there’s no fermentation involved). I might have used too much salt — we’ll see tomorrow, when they’re supposed to be done.

Here’s a recipe I use a lot with my slowcooker: creamy beef curry!

The recipe

Powdered peanuts (unsalted). Our blender made short work of ’em. Then they went into another bowl with two shots of walnut oil to make homemade peanut butter! It’ll be the base for the satay sauce for tomorrow.

So far, the secret of making yakitori just right eludes me. It’s not bad, but it’s not like it’s supposed to taste either.

Our dinner today was

curry udon with tonkatsu