Ring in the New Year with Earl Grey Macarons

Earl Grey Macarons

Whether you’re at a large gala, intimate gathering or a cozy night at home — your New Year’s Eve countdown absolutely must have bubbly.

#MyFav

Earl Grey Macarons

And you know what is the perfect accompaniment to bubbly?

Parisian Macarons of course! The sweet little gems are a wonderful pairing to the dry sparkling wine. An absolute match made in heaven.

 

Earl Grey Macarons

Ever since I started baking macarons, my seester T had been trying to convince me to make an Earl Grey version — an homage to her favorite macarons from Bottega Louie in LA.

This past summer, I finally was able to get the proportions down and they even made an appearance at my seester P’s baby shower. The shells have a great floral scent with a bit of spice–stemming from the bergamot of the tea. The little specks of tea with a sprinkle of disco dust add to the charm to the shells as well.

Earl Grey Macarons

I know I have a propensity towards filling almost all of my macarons with chocolate ganache, but I promise, it really is the perfect filling for the Earl Grey flavor. But if you prefer a non-chocolate approach (which is both strange and crazy to me), I’d recommend a myer lemon curd or even an Earl Grey Buttercream.

Earl Grey Macarons

However you choose to fill it, you must have these little beauties for your countdown to 2015. What better way to ring in the year than with the perfect little sweet treat.

And with that dear friends, Happy New Year!!!

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Earl Grey Macarons filled with Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:

 

Macaron Shells:
110 grams almond meal or blanched almonds
15 grams loose Earl Grey tea leaves (about 2 tea bags)
170 grams confectioner’s sugar
100 grams egg whites, aged at room temperature for 24 hours
40 grams granulated sugar
powdered food color (optional)
edible glitter (optional)

If using blanched almonds, pulse the almonds in a food processor until it becomes finely ground. In a spice grinder, grind the tea leaves into a fine powder. In a bowl, sift together the ground almonds (or almond meal), tea powder and the confectioner’s sugar. Set aside.

In a mixing stand fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites until frothy. Slowly add granulated sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks are formed. Carefully begin incorporating the dry mixture into the meringue, gently folding until all items have been integrated and a smooth batter has been formed. Optional: Halfway through the folding, add in the food color.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip, pipe small rounds of the mixture onto baking sheets lined with silicon mats. Rounds should be about 1-1½ inches in diameter. Once the baking sheets are filled, carefully tap the sheets on the counter to remove any possible air pockets. Let the macaron shells sit on the counter for 45-60 minutes to harden the outer shell before baking. Humidity will affect how long it takes for the “skin” to form but the shells should not be sticky when you gently touch them. Optional: If you choose to use edible glitter, sprinkle on the shells after it’s dried for 15 minutes.

Bake the shells at 290 degrees F for 18-20 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to cooling racks and cool completely before removing shells. Macarons shells can be made up to 24 hours in advance before filling and should be stored in airtight containers.

Chocolate Ganache
4 ounces heavy cream
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream just to a boil. Remove and pour the scalded cream through a fine-meshed sieve directly into the bowl of the chopped chocolate. Let the mixture sit for 1 to 2 minutes and then gently whisk until the ganache is smooth and glossy. Allow the ganache to sit for 20-30 minutes at room temperature until it becomes thick enough to pipe.

Fill the flat side of a macaron shell with ganache and sandwich with another shell. Filled macarons can be kept up to 2 days in airtight containers.

 

Bacon wrapped Shrimp with Pesto…..and our new Family tradition.

Bacon wrapped Shrimp with Pesto

I love the movie Soul Food and have watched it at least a cajillion times. Sure, it had some predictable spin of dramas but I always envied the Sunday family dinner at Big Mama’s house with all the delish soul food and of course–the family time.

Since moving back down to Southern California, I have really appreciated the frequency and quality time I get to spend with my family—and in particular, my nieces and nephew. Because of the distance, I only used to see them on sporadic weekend trips for holidays or special occasions. And it was because of this that I was always worried that I was missing out on seeing them grow up.

Now that I’m only about an hour’s drive away, I try to see them as often as possible—for “non-holiday” visits. And truth be told, I’m trying to squeeze in as much time as possible since my older nieces (now 13 and 11) will soon get to the age where it won’t be cool for them to hang out with their auntie. Eeek! Add that with the fact that we’re all busier than ever, it is so  important that we establish some type of traditions to keep our family ties strong.

So, with a little inspiration from Soul Food, I cajoled my siblings into agreeing on having a monthly Sunday dinner—something that is established and routine so that no matter what invitations roll in or events arise, we would say– “Sorry, I’ve got to pass—it’s my family dinner.”

Several weeks ago we kicked off our first family dinner and it was a great start to a new tradition. We cooked together (getting the kids involved, too), lounged about, sped “plasma cars” up and down the street, searched frantically for the eclipse, and of course–delved into some delish eats. Grilled steaks topped with blue cheese & fried onions, “dirty rice”, corn, bacon wrapped shrimp and strawberry pastries. YUM! Unfortunately our sister P  (who lives in SF) and our brother V and his family (who live in NYC) weren’t physically at dinner—they were sure there in spirit. Plus, I’m hoping they’ll plan their future visits so that it’ll land on a Sunday Family Dinner.

I’m pretty sure Mom would have loved the idea of us coming together to keep the family close—-and of course, that it’s an event that revolves around food. After all, we are her kids and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree :)

 

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Bacon wrapped Shrimp with Pesto

Ingredients:

1 Pound Shrimp, cleaned with tails left on (about 24-30)
12 Slices Bacon
Black Pepper
Cooking Spray

Pesto:
2½ Packed Cups Sweet Basil
½ Cup Roasted Pine Nuts, unsalted
2-3 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
Approximately ½ – ¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

Soak wooden skewers in water for 10-15 minutes.

Prepare  the Pesto. In a food processor, pulse garlic and nuts. Add basil, cheese, lemon juice, and salt/pepper. With the food processor on, stream in olive oil and blend until the pesto is fully incorporated. Be sure to scrape down sides in between steps. More olive oil can be added if a smoother, loose texture is desired. Refrigerate until ready to be used.

Preheat your oven broiler.

Season the shrimp with black pepper. In batches, line a plate with paper towels and lay slices of bacon on top. Cover with additional paper towels and microwave for about 2 minutes so that the bacon is slightly cooked but still pliable.  Cut each slice of bacon into half and wrap the half around each shrimp. Skewer the shrimp in a fashion so that the bacon stays secure. Approximately 3 bacon wrapped shrimp should fit on a skewer. *Alternatively, you can use soaked toothpicks and secure each shrimp individually.

Place the skewers on a aluminum foil-lined baking sheet that has been lightly covered with cooking spray. Place the sheet directly under the broiler and cook the shrimp for 8-10 minutes (flipping halfway through) until the bacon has crisped and the shrimp have turned pink.

Slide the shrimp off the skewers and serve immediately with the Pesto.