In the course of my Thermomix demonstrations, I come across a lot of different dietary needs or allergies so there is often a need to change or adapt the recipes accordingly. The most common allergy in Ireland is gluten allergy. I think this is where the proportion of coeliacs per capita is the highest in the world! So when I can’t make the yeast bread at a demo, I have found that these crackers are a perfect replacement. They are extremely tasty and easy to make. This recipe comes from Bernie Brennan, a consultant demonstrator from Galway, who herself has gluten allergy. Even if you are not coeliac, give these a go, they are so delicious!
120g whole almonds
35g seeds of choice (sunflower, chia, linseed or flax seeds, hemp seeds, psyllium husks or a mix of these…)
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper or piment d’Espelette or chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt (I omit of the cheese is already salty)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 sprig of rosemary, leaves only
150g cheese (Parmesan, Manchego, Pecorino pr any form full flavoured cheese)
2 cloves garlic
30g melted coconut oil or rapeseed oil or sunflower oil
1 tbsp water
- Preheat the oven at 180C (fan) or 200C (non fan).
- Grind all the ingredients except the oil and water at speed 10 until ground down.
- Add oil and water. Mix 15 sec/speed 4.
- Empty out onto a tray lined with parchment paper. Put another piece of parchment paper on top (so it doesn’t stick to your spatula) and flatten with a flat spatula or the back of a spoon. It should be about 3mm thick.
- Score with a knife to mark squares.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes – they may need longer depending on how moist the mixture was. If the edges start to brown too quickly, cover with baking parchment.
- Remove from the oven and transfer onto a cooling rack. Break into squares and keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Eat on its own or with any dips/patés/cheese you like. I served with some Philadelphia/Roquefort/Walnut paté and it is divine!
It’s rhubarb season again and I love to find new ways of cooking it. I’ve done compotes, crumbles and cakes with I but never tried them in a tart. I looked at a few recipes on the net but couldn’t find one that I liked so I did a mix of a few recipes here and there and the result was a delicious almond and rhubarb tart.
1 sweet pastry (see recipe here)
120g almond powder
A few drops of almond essence (optional)
For the rhubarb:
3 or 4 sticks rhubarb (about 500g)
- Wash and cut the rhubarb in 3cm (2 inches) chunks and place in a sieve sitting on a bowl. Sprinkle with the 150g sugar and let it macerate for 2 hours so the water drains out.
- Meanwhile, make the pastry and refrigerate until ready to roll.
- Butter and flour a 23cm tart tin. Roll the pastry and place in the tin, cutting out the excess pastry around the rim.
- Preheat the oven at 180C
- Drain the rhubarb (reserve the juice.) and place in a fry pan and sauté on high heat for a few minutes until just softened.
- Tip them out at the bottom of the tart.
- Mix the eggs, cream, sugar, ground almond and almond essence 20 sec/speed 3.
- Pour over the rhubarb chunks and bake for 30 minutes.
- Reduce the reserved rhubarb juice in a small saucepan and brush over the tart while it’s still hot.
- Let the tart cool down before taking out of the tin.
- Serve with a berry coulis, a scoop of ice cream of freshly whipped cream.
Macaroons are a little high maintenance in that when you’re making them, you should devote all your attention to them and not disperse yourself on other tasks. That said, they are definitely within reach of everyone as long as you organise well before starting. Make sure you have all the ingredients and tools on the worktop (including the baking trays) so that when the mixture is done, it is not sitting there waiting. One more word of caution, if you are going to do a lot of patisserie, I would advise getting a very precise scale (1 g precision) as measurements are far more important than for other types of cooking.
To succeed in making macaroons, it is important that you follow the advice below.
- Use “aged” egg whites, i.e. egg whites that have been separated at least 3 days in advance and kept in a hermetique box (like a tupperware or any clean plastic box with a lid). Don’t worry about the freshness of the egg whites as they will be cooked. If you are not going to make macaroons within the next 3 weeks, then I would advise to freeze them (they freeze very well).It is better to let the egg whites reach room temperature before starting. This, along with the above point, is to liquify the whites so they get really firm when beaten.
- Make sure you either sieve the ground almond/icing sugar mixture or you mix it in a food processor. This is to remove any lump.
- Macaroons need to be piped on the baking tray (lined with either a silicone sheet or baking paper) at least one hour before baking them. This is to allow for a crust to form on top and will ensure the top of the macaroon is nice and smooth. Also, tap the tray on a table/worktop once to remove any bubble that would have formed while piping.
- Use 2 trays stacked on each other when baking the macaroons. Leave one in the oven while preheating and slide the other with the piped macaroons on top. This will form the “colerette” (the crown that is so typical of macaroons).
- Finally, know your oven. Especially if you’re going to use light colour for your macaroons, make sure the oven temperature is not too high. This would discolour the macaroons and you would end up with yellowish macaroons!
Update: I have realised that the proportions given for the ground almond and icing sugar were wrong so I have modified accordingly.
200 120g ground almond
200 220g icing sugar (you can make it in Thermomix)
90g egg whites
Food colouring of your choice (preferably in powder form to avoid changing the structure of the mixture)
For the Ganache :
150g Butter caramel
- Prepare the ganache in advance to allow it to cool down.
- Line the baking trays with baking paper or silicone sheet (you need 2 baking trays + 2 that will stay empty for cooking)
- Take out all the ingredients (egg whites a few hours in advance) and tools needed: silicone spatula, piping bag + round nozzle, scale and a big bowl
- You can make your own icing sugar in the Thermomix by mixing the 200g of sugar at speed 10 for 1 minute.
- Mix together the ground almond and the icing sugar in the Thermomix (20 sec, speed 6) or a food processor (not a blender) to remove any lump. Don’t overheat the powder though! Tip out and reserve in the big bowl.
- Clean the Thermomix bowl and dry thoroughly. Put the egg whites in the TM bowl and put in the butterfly whisk
- Leaving the measuring cup off, whisk on speed 3.5 (don’t set any time)
- When the whites start to foam, add 1/3 of the sugar through the hole. Continue whisking until the sugar is absorbed then add the second 1/3 of sugar. When the egg whites start to firm up, add the last 1/3 of sugar. Continue whisking until the egg whites are really firm and add the food colouring (quantity is up to you but add a small amount at a time until you’re satisfied with the result).
- Stop whisking at this stage and carefully remove the whites from the bowl with the spatula into the bowl where the ground almond and icing sugar mixture is sitting.
- Now use a silicone spatula to fold in the almond mixture. Cut in the middle of the bowl with the spatula and turn the bowl a 1/4 to the left (if you’re right-handed, to the right otherwise). Continue doing this until all the almond is mixed in. Now you don’t have to be too delicate here as you want the mixture to be well mixed and it should form a ribbon when pouring it from a height.
- As soon as this is done, put the mixture in a piping bag with a round nozzle (about 1 cm wide). Evacuate any air out of the opening of the piping bag using your hand and push the mixture towards the nozzle to remove air bubbles.
- Hold the piping bag firmly in your hand as shown in the picture and move to your ready lined baking tray
- With the nozzle about 0.5 cm away from the tray (at a 45 degree angle) pipe out a small amount of the macaroon mixture (about a walnut size).
- Continue piping a line of macaroons well spaced (they will spread out while resting). See picture to see how to arrange them on the baking tray.
- Let the macaroons rest for 1 hour at room temperature
- Preheat your oven at 150C (even less if your oven tends to oevrheat) with an empty baking tray in it. It’s important to do that (as mentioned in the points above) so the crown is formed while they cook.
- Add the tray with the macaroons on top of the empty tray and cook for about 10 minutes (again, check them through the window to make sure they don’t get yellow)
- When they’re cooked, leave them out for a few minutes before carefully lifting them out with a thin spatula. Don’t worry if they look a bit too soft underneath.
- Fill them with your ganache and store in an air-tight container in the fridge for at least 2 days before eating (I know it’s torture but they are much, much better after 2 days as the flavours will have developed!). They also freeze very well…