recipes: 3 sweet treats inspired by spring
Foodies will adore creating these spring-inspired treats, and those with a sweet tooth will be just as happy to tuck into them. Try your hand at vanilla-bean macarons, almond, coffee and thyme cake, or a chardonnay cocktail – ideal for a picnic or high tea. Here's how:
vanilla-bean macarons with milk-chocolate ganache
Prep time: 35 min / Cook time: 60 min / Serves: 8–12
300g OhMega almond flour
300g icing sugar
6 large eggwhites
Seeds of 2 vanilla pods
300g castor sugar
1/3 cup + 1T water
1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup cream
To make the macarons
Combine the almond flour and the icing sugar, place into a food processor, blend until smooth, and then sift the mixture. Add three eggwhites to the sifted flour mixture and mix to form a smooth paste. Add the vanilla seeds. Place the remaining three eggwhites in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Beat until frothy. Meanwhile, place the castor sugar and water in a pot and cook the syrup to a temperature of 119ºC, brushing the sides of the pot with a wet brush to prevent sugar crystallisation.
Continue whipping the eggwhites on low speed while slowly adding the syrup (avoid getting syrup on the sides of the bowl and the whip). After all the syrup has been incorporated, increase the mixing speed to medium high and whip until the sides of the bowl are cool to the touch. The meringue will be glossy and firm, and form a medium peak.
Fold a third of the meringue into the flour/sugar paste. Incorporate thoroughly. Fold in another third of the meringue and incorporate thoroughly. Fold in the final third of the meringue. Continue folding until the mixture is soft, shiny and flows evenly off the spatula. Using a spoon, spoon the mixture into a piping bag.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Using even, medium-firm pressure, pipe 5cm rounds onto silicone baking mats. Set the macaron shells aside for 30 minutes. Bake the macaron shells for approximately 11–12 minutes. Cool completely before removing from the baking tray. With your thumb, make a slight depression in the centre of the inverted macarons to allow for more filling.
You can find the macarons template here
To make the chocolate ganache
Place the chocolate chips in a pot or bowl with a lid. Bring the cream to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Place the lid on the pot to trap the heat and allow the two to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and whisk, starting in the centre and working outwards until smooth – it will turn into velvety ganache. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
Serve the macarons with the ganache on the side, or sandwiched between two macarons.
Chardonnay/Pinot Noir cocktail
Prep time: 15 min / Cook time: 15 min / Serves: 4
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
3 cups Spier Chardonnay/Pinot Noir wine
5 crushed, fresh strawberries
Ice, to taste
Sparkling water, to taste
Make a simple syrup by simmering the sugar and water together until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool. Combine the syrup with the Chardonnay/Pinot Noir. Layer a tablespoon of crushed strawberries in the bottom of a glass. Half fill the glass with the wine and syrup mixture and top it off with ice and sparkling water. (The amount per serving depends on size of the glass.)
Almond, coffee and thyme cake
Prep time: 30 min / Cook time: 40 min / Serves: 6–8
¾ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1½ cups sugar
1t vanilla essence
4 large eggs
1t instant coffee granules
1 cup of good filter coffee
1½ cups flour
¾ cup OhMega almond flour
2t baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 cup strong black coffee
¼ cup sugar
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
250g soft butter
500g icing sugar
1t vanilla essence
1t coffee granules
½ cup toasted almond flakes
Almond praline and thyme sprigs, for decoration
To make the cake
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease three 20cm cake tins. With an electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugar until light and creamy. Add the vanilla essence and eggs, one at a time, and mix until well combined. Add the coffees and mix well. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined. To make the layers, divide the batter into the three prepared cake tins. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
To make the coffee-thyme syrup
Boil all the ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved, then allow it to infuse for 10 minutes.
To make the butter cream
Combine all the ingredients except for the toasted almond flakes, and beat with an electric mixer for eight minutes.
Allow the cakes to cool for 15 minutes before taking them out the tins. Spoon the coffee-thyme syrup over each layer, then allow the cakes to cool completely. Ice each layer with the butter frosting, sprinkling some of the toasted almonds between each layer. Decorate the top with shards of almond praline and arrange some thyme sprigs around the finished cake.
For more recipes like this, visit Elmarie Berry Good Food.