Today’s World Cup Cocktails are Watermelon Caipirinhas. It is a variation on the famous Brazilian Caipirinhas which are lime based. This version has a splash of lime but watermelon is the star. Fresh and fruity this cocktail is just as light and delicious as the original recipe however it contains a bright snap of juicy watermelon sweetness.
I was asked a question about the muddler I described in the Brazilian Caipirinhas recipe. There are all sorts out there with price points varying widely. The one I use I picked up in the kitchen aisle of Target. The only job of a muddler is to mush the ingredients together and so unless you are planning on lots of muddling the wrong end of a wooden spoon works just as well. I fall into the muddling often crowd and so I am happy to own one.
The process for this cocktail is simple. Cut 6-7 cubes of watermelon (about 1/2-3/4 cup total). I find a riper watermelon works the best. Place the cubes into a cocktail shaker. There are two routes you can go with the sweetener. Either 1 oz. Simple Syrup or 1 TBLS. sugar. I prefer simple syrup (recipe below) but sugar will work fine. If you are using sugar add it to the watermelon now and muddle together (if adding simple syrup you’ll add it after the watermelon has been muddled). The watermelon should resemble a puree but not be completely smooth and liquid and the sugar should be dissolved. Once muddled add the simple syrup if using, 1 tsp. lime juice and 2 oz. Cachaca. Cachaca is a Brazilian liquor made of sugar cane. If you don’t have Cachaca you can substitute vodka (which would change it to a Watermelon Caipiroska).
Fill the shaker to the top with ice, cover, and shake, shake, shake. This cocktail needs to be icy cold. I shake it until I can barely hold onto the shaker for fear of freezing my fingers. Yes, that cold.
Pour your newly created Watermelon Caipirinhas into a highball glass. This cocktail does contain some of the watermelon pulp. If you don’t like that texture make sure you really muddle the watermelon well at the beginning to obtain the consistency you like. Garnish with a wedge of watermelon and sit back and enjoy!
1 cup water + 1 cup sugar. Heat in a saucepan, stirring. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar dissolves. Cool. Store in a jar in the refrigerator. (Is wonderful in ice tea)!
There is nothing like Brazilian Caipirinhas to kick off World Cup madness! I love the World Cup and so this is a time which can’t come quickly enough for me. As with the Olympics I always try and explore the food and drink not only of the host country but some of those participating in the event. This World Cup is in Brazil which offers a multitude of wonderful food and drink opportunities to enjoy during this month long celebration. The first stop on the culinary tour must be Caipirinhas. Not only is it the National Cocktail of Brazil it is also mind boggling delicious! It is a powered up limeade for grown ups. Fruity, ice cold and delicious this is a hot weather cocktail which should be in every well rounded drink rotation.
The foundation of the drink (apart from limes) is a Brazilian hard liquor made from sugar cane called Cachaca. Really there are only a few ingredients. Lime, Cachaca, sugar and ice. Four. That’s it. There are lots of variations using all sorts of fruits instead of limes which are also delicious, however, I thought today I would make the original lime version.
I allow one lime for each cocktail although limes can vary greatly in size and amount of juice they contain. The limes I used for mine today were on the small side and so I used a whole one for each cocktail. With a larger lime you may only need 1/2. Cut the lime in half. Cut each half into 4 slices. Muddle the 4 slices with 1 TBLS. sugar in the bottom of a highball glass. I chose to do this in a cocktail shaker as I like mine extra cold and shaking the muddled lime, sugar, cachaca with ice in the shaker produces a much colder cocktail.
The secret to the muddling is to release not only the juice from the limes but also some of the oil from the peel without destroying it completely. I do not like a grainy cocktail and so I make sure the sugar really dissolves at this point. If you don’t have a muddler (which looks like a little baseball bat sometimes with spikes on the bottom) you can use the wrong end of a wooden spoon. Muddling is really just what is sounds like, pressing and mushing the ingredients together. Okay, that was the most difficult part of making this cocktail. Not difficult I know but it gets even easier from here on out.
Next, add ice and top with 2 1/2 ounces cachaca (either into the highball glass or the shaker). If in the shaker the put the top on and shake away, pour (don’t strain) into a glass and enjoy (If in the highball glass give it a stir and you too can enjoy).
I am sure that Brazilian Caipirinhas will quickly become a summertime favorite just as they are here in our home. We had a little get together this last weekend and served them with a spicy guacamole. One word. Amazing. Enjoy the World Cup and while you are watching join in the fun with a little taste of Brazil!
I found these fantastic Wilton cake pans while taking a peek at the Sur La Table website for Macaron supplies. I adore those fantastic rainbow and ombre cakes which are all over Pinterest right now but had some reservations about tackling one myself. First of all the thought of a huge multi layer cake, usually made with at least two recipes of batter, was not an attractive thought. Don’t get me wrong…the family loves cake. But not two cakes in one. I was sure that at least half would end up in the trash. Such a waste. My second reservation was that it is a busy time of year and I didn’t really want to spend all day wrestling with the thing. I wanted my ombre cake but I wanted it to be easy too. Did I just type that? Oh yes I did. I wanted my cake and to eat it too. (Sometimes you just have to go there). Seeing these pans inspired me. I would have my five layer ombre cake.
One of the neatest things about this cake is that it can be made with ONE recipe of cake batter…or if you are in a hurry, one cake mix. Yep. Just one. I mixed up the white cake batter and divided it into 5 cereal bowls. I used a pink gel food coloring and started coloring the batter. No food coloring in the first bowl. A couple of drops in the second. A few more in the third and so on. Soon I had five different colors of batter waiting to be baked into my five layer ombre celebration cake…dreams are made of this!
18 minutes later I was looking at five layers of baked pink goodness. Yum! Being smaller (about 6″ around) they cooled rather quickly and were easy to handle. I broke out one of my favorite and festive little cake stands and got to work. As I was on a tight timeline I used pre-made frosting (and ended up using about 1 1/2 cans). I used Duncan Hines white whipped frosting which ended up being the perfect choice. Very, very fluffy and light. I think a traditional buttercream would have weighed the cake down too much. I finished with a handful of rainbow sprinkles and it was time to eat.
Things I am going to do differently next time around…I will not only grease but also flour the pans. I had some sticking issues and I want the cake to come out cleanly next time. Also, I will make sure the two darkest layers are a bit different in color I think more contrast would be good. And finally, a new color scheme…perhaps…a rainbow cake. Too bad I didn’t find these pans until after St. Patrick’s Day that would have been adorable. Oh well, there is always next year.
Red Velvet French Macarons are a delicious addition to the spring cookie jar! I adore red velvet cake and so those flavors were a natural to translate to my favorite confection macarons. And so from me to you…Red Velvet French Macarons…enjoy!
I’ve taken some photos of making the red velvet macaron below. It is amazing how a few drops of food coloring can really change a plain macaron into something festive!
The one thing I was disappointed in with the Red Velvet macarons above was the color. The red turned out to be a orange red rather than the deeper blue/red commonly associated with red velvet. Next time I will use a different red food coloring…so no color # here as I didn’t like that aspect of these.
Red Velvet Filling
I am addicted to this filling and woke up trying to think of other things to use it on. It is creamy and delicious and gooey. A note about the recipe…it will seem as though you will not have enough filling for the macarons. Don’t fear, you will have more than enough.
The first subject which came to mind when thinking about starting a blog was the exploration of my favorite sweet treat on the planet. Macarons. Not macaroons…Macarons. That most etherial of French delicacies. I love them. I mean, I really, really love them. So much so that I must limit myself to making them once (or perhaps twice) a month as I will eat the whole batch myself within a day or two. This series is all about French macarons. And today it begins with a French macarons basic recipe. This is the result of the obsession I have with these little magical treats. This is the base recipe which all others derive to produce Macarons which are crunchy but with a soft melted center. Delicious.
I have created a French Macarons Recipe File Page within the header of the blog so we can have all our Macaron fun in one place. As we move through different recipes I will post the links there!
I first discovered this exact ratio of ingredients on a French Blog called MaiTai’s Picturebook. It is a lovely read, beautifully photographed, all about Hermes scarves and life in the south of France. Sprinkled within are wonderful sight-seeing trips around France and here and there are the most terrific recipes. The proportions for Macarons are one of those nuggets!
This recipe is based on the ratio of ingredients based on weight not volume. In other words instead of measuring cups to determine how much of an ingredient we will use, we will weigh the ingredients in grams. Another notable difference in this recipe is that all the ingredient amounts are based of the weight (in grams) of the egg whites. After all, one cannot exactly know what a particular egg white will weigh. Once we know what the egg whites weigh we determine how much of everything else to use. Sounds complicated but in reality it is pretty simple.
Looking over this post I realize how daunting this all looks. I beg you to not be dissuaded. I made these instructions as complete as I could with as much detail as I could think of. Not to make it seem complicated but to give as complete a roadmap as possible. I really want you to charge ahead because making these is not difficult and is so rewarding. And if for some reason a batch does not work out…we are only talking about egg whites people.
Mise en place
Mise en place (French pronunciation: [mi zɑ̃ ˈplas]) is a French phrase which means “putting in place”, as in set up.
Especially important is making macarons is mise en place. Why? Because once the process is up and running it is far easier to get reliable and consistent results with all ingredients weighed & sifted, piping bag prepared and baking pans ready. I find it is important to have a very clean work area and spotlessly clean utensils, bowls, etc. I know, it is always important, but especially so with whipping egg whites as they can be extra finicky and don’t like even a speck of oil or fat of any kind or they won’t whip properly.
Macaron Mise en Place
2 jelly roll pans or cookie sheets * Line pans with parchment paper
Gel, Paste or Powdered Food Coloring – I use Ateco
Additional Flavorings (if necessary)
Time to Get Started! Step by Step Macaron Directions:
Egg whites are about 33-36 grams each and 2 make about 14 macarons. I like to use 4 egg whites which will fill two half sheet pans of macarons. If we are going to the trouble we should make enough to share!
First put a clean bowl on top of your digital scale. The scale will, of course, weigh the bowl (which we don’t want). The scale should have a “tare” button. What that does when pressed is to move the scale to “0″ thus eliminating the weight of the bowl. Cool right?! Add your egg whites to the bowl. Now you have the amount of egg whites (in grams) you are working with. Set them aside.
The egg whites this time around were 132 grams.
There is a bit of math here…the amount of almond flour is determined by multiplying the weight (in grams) of the egg whites times 1.26.
132 grams x 1.26 = 171.36 grams of almond flour
We know we need 171.36 grams of almond flour and so we weigh that next. Put a clean bowl on the scale and press the tare button and add almond flour until your scale reads 171.36 grams. Set aside.
The amount of confectioner’s sugar is determined by multiplying the weight (in grams) of the egg whites times 2.07.
132 grams x 2.07 = 273.24 grams of confectioner’s sugar
Weigh the confectioner’s sugar out and set aside.
Lastly it is time to find out how much sugar we need.
132 grams ÷ 3.6 = 36.66 grams of white sugar
Weigh the white sugar and set aside.
Now the fun really begins!
Sift together confectioners sugar and ground almond flour. Another option is to first run the confectioners sugar and almond flour through a food processor and then put through a fine sieve to remove bigger bits. This is called “tant pour tant” or half and half. Discard leftover bits and set the tant pour tant aside.
Time to Whip It Up!
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. Continue to beat while slowly adding granulated sugar.
Once the sugar has completely dissolved add food coloring and any additional flavorings the recipe might call for. When finished the egg whites should hold stiff peaks.
With a spatula fold the tant pour tant into to macaron base. There is no need to be super careful here…a little deflating of the egg whites is okay.
Make sure there are NO egg white streaks within the mixture. It should be lava like and a very smooth paste. Any egg whites not incorporated will not bake evenly and I promise it won’t be pretty! The mixture will, at first, appear as if it won’t ever combine, but never fear, soon it will turn to smooth lava.
Pour macaron paste into prepared pastry bag. Fold over end and twist to keep mixture from oozing out the top. Full disclosure…when I made the recipe which I photographed it was a bit runny. The macarons turned out great but I prefer the mixture a tad thicker in consistency.
Once macarons are piped bang the cookie sheet on the counter three times to force any air bubbles caught under the surface to rupture.
Rotate the pan 1/2 turn and bang the sheet another three times. If there are bubbles remaining I pop them with a toothpick otherwise I won’t get that smooth macaron dome!
Let the pans rest for at least 1 hour (If it is a humid day I will wait even longer). What you want is the tops of the piped macarons will loose some of their shine. The photos below represent newly piped (on the left photo) and a bit duller (after 45 minutes on a rainy day). This is a good time to make the filling!
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
Bake the macarons for 9-20 minutes. This is a large range of time. It can vary greatly depending upon how hot your oven runs and how humid the temperature. In actuality baking macarons is really just a process of drying out the meringue.
One good rule of thumb (a la MaiTai) is to wait until one macaron begins to crack and then the rest are sure to be done. Another tip from MaiTai, a way to know if they are approaching being done is when the kitchen begins to smell delicious! I just keep an eye on them and when they have risen, are a uniform color and smell delicious I know I am there. If there is any question about under vs over baking opt for over baking. Remember, you will be filling them with a wet filling which will soften the meringue while they rest (more about that later). I use MaiTai’s advice and once one has cracked I take the pan out of the oven.
Remove pans to wire racks.
When completely cool remove shells from baking sheets and match up pairs of similar size.
Fill with desired filling (either with a small spatula or pastry bag and tip). If I am using jam I just use an offset spatula…all other fillings I use a small pastry bag and tip.
Now comes the hard part. Wait. Yes, wait. At least one day. Place macarons in an airtight container and put them in the refrigerator. The texture completely changes in the 12-24 hours they ripen. If you don’t believe me eat one right away and then wait a day…the texture mellows in the middle and they take on that wonderful creamy consistency in the center with crisp outer shell. If you have baked them on the overdone side rest them even longer…although I can never wait more than a day. Macaron bliss!
Ground Almond Four Flour (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour/Meal) Total weight of egg whites x 1.26
Confectioners (Icing) Sugar Total weight of egg whites x 2.07
Granulated (Caster)Sugar Total weight of egg whites ÷ 3.6
Gel, Paste or Powdered Food Coloring (I use Ateco gel or Wilton paste)
Weigh 4 egg whites. Set them aside.
Weigh the almond flour. It should equal the weight of the egg whites (in grams) times 1.26.
Weigh the confectioner’s sugar. Is determined by multiplying the weight (in grams) of the egg whites times 2.07. Set aside.
Weigh the white sugar which is determined by dividing the weight of the egg whites by 3.6. Set aside.
Process ground almond flour and confectioners sugar in a food processor. Put through a fine sieve or sift. Discard remaining bits.
Beat egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment until they form soft peaks.
Continue to beat while slowly adding granulated sugar.
Once the sugar has completely dissolved add food coloring and any additional flavorings the recipe might call for.
With a spatula gently fold the dry mixture into to macaron base. There is no need to be super careful here…a little deflating of the egg whites is okay.
Make sure there are NO egg white streaks within the mixture. It should be lava like and a very smooth paste. Any egg whites not incorporated will not bake evenly and I promise it won’t be pretty!
Pour macaron paste into prepared pastry bag. Fold over end and twist to keep mixture from oozing out the top.
Pipe 1¼-1½” rounds of macaron paste onto prepared cookie sheets. Space rounds about 2″ apart as they will spread.
Once macarons are piped bang the cookie sheet on the counter three times to force any air bubbles caught under the surface to rupture. Pierce any remaining bubbles with a toothpick.
Rotate the pan ½ turn and bang the sheet another three times.
Let the pans rest for at least ½ hour (I usually wait about an hour). What you want is the tops of the piped macarons will loose some of their shine.
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
Bake the macarons for 9-20 minutes. This is a large range of time. It can vary greatly depending upon how hot your oven runs and how humid the temperature. In actuality baking macarons is really just a process of drying out the meringue. So a cooler oven on a humid day will take longer than a hotter oven on a dry day.
Remove pans to wire racks. Lift the parchement on each corner an put a few drops of water to help release the macarons. Be carefull…not too much water…literally just a couple of drops. Let cool.
Remove shells from baking sheets and match up pairs of similar size.
Fill with desired filling (either with a small spatula or pastry bag and tip).
Now comes the hard part. Wait. Yes, wait. At least one day. Place macarons in an airtight container and put them in the refrigerator. The texture completely changes in the 12-24 hours they ripen. If you don’t believe me eat one right away and then wait a day…the texture mellows in the middle and they take on that wonderful creamy consistency in the center with crisp outer shell.
Fillings and Flavorings
This is the easiest macaron filling there is…Chocolate Ganache. A simple and classic combination of chopped chocolate, heavy cream and butter. If you can boil water you can make ganache!
Since we have the digital scale out we will use it for the filling as well! I love the taste that two types of chocolate add to this ganache. I used both milk and semi-sweet. A pinch of espresso powder in this is a welcome addition if you happen to have some lying around!
One of my favorite Easter treats are Cadbury Creme Eggs. I look forward to them appearing on store shelves a month or so before Easter each year. It occurred to me as I gobbled one up last week that perhaps that yummy chocolaty, creamy taste could somehow be transformed into a cocktail. Thus this delicious Easter Cadbury Creme Egg Martini recipe was born!
My first attempt was to infuse vodka with those little chocolate nuggets. I have infused vodka often with great success…pears, figs, vanilla beans and even allspice. Yummy concoctions all. The creme eggs however were a colossal failure. Cloudy sludge filled liquid. Not fit for human consumption. Plan B was far more successful…the flavors of the chocolate treat deconstructed and reassembled in cocktail form.
I garnished the glass with a gooey rim of the insides of a Cadbury Creme Egg. This made the cocktail much sweeter than without. I actually preferred the version without the gooey rim. I was preferable overall especially if the cocktail is to be enjoyed with appetizers. If it is a stand alone at dessert time then the gooey rim is a must try…or do as we did, half with, half without.
The base is vanilla vodka. Added to that Godiva White Chocolate liquor and Creme de Cocoa. The magic ingredient is the Effen Salted Caramel Vodka. The depth of flavor it added transformed this from good to amazing. Finish it off with a splash of heavy cream and you have heaven in a glass. This is a potent treat…but really we are only having one…right?
I love a quest. Right now I am on a quest to find the most delicious Blackberry Martini recipe I can find. I have scoured the internet and my library of cocktail, mocktail, entertaining and hors d’ouvers cookbooks and have compiled quite a list of drinks. Some sound yummy and some sound quite non-yummy…or is it un-yummy? The trick is going to be a cocktail with lots of berry flavor without the cloing sweetness inherent in many of the recipes I have tried.
This is Blackberry Martini version one. A rather simple concoction of blackberries, vodka, Blackberry liquor, simple syrup and lemon perrier. Yep. Lemon Perrier.
Verdit? It was enjoyable enough. It had a bit of a kick. I liked the sparkle but don’t know how much the lemon Perrier added. I did not like the blackberry bits which ended up floating on the surface of the drink. And the berry taste wasn’t…well…berry enough. I think version two might need a kick of another berry…raspberry perhaps. This is a good one for those that adore blackberries straight up, no chaser.
I am not a big breakfast eater but I do like to have a little something to start the day! I am trying to be mindful of using color around the house these dog days of winter (if there is such a thing) and so I took a minute (literally, one minute) to spice up the breakfast table. Now keep in mind that I was eating alone…no one there to impress but myself. But in reality we should do for ourselves what we gladly do for others. If we think about it…which I often don’t. Except for this morning when striving to add color I inadvertently added some “taking care of me time”.
It was kind of amazing how enjoyable turning my breakfast into a petit déjeuner was. I know the words mean the same thing, however pulling out a little wooden tray and a tangerine napkin turned the hum drum into something just a bit more special. Suddenly the juice really needed to be in one of my favorite pink wine glasses. And was it such a stretch to pull out a silver napkin ring? All in all I think it took me seconds rather than minutes to arrange and yet it put a spring in my step all morning. And I know it sounds crazy…but honsetly I think the yogurt, berries and granola tasted better than normal.
Here is my another little step in adding some Spring into the end of winter. Jazzed up Rice Krispie treats. It doesn’t seem that something so very simple can make us so darn happy. But it certainly does. That delicious combination of marshmallows, Rice Krispies and butter with the magical dusting of multi colored sprinkles really put smiles on our faces. If you ask me the sprinkles are what elevated this humble treat to star status.
Vowing to keep brightening it up…even as snow is flying outside I wore a bright pink jacket and one of my favorite 90 carres (Belles du Mexique). (Step 4 in my “Fake It Until You Make It” Spring post). It is a riot of color in a design which features spinning dancers. I must admit that wearing this super bright pink with a splash of orange did make me feel spring like. Not so much the boots and down coat I had to don to make it through the blizzard outside. But at least inside I feel lighter and brighter.
Flowers are in the vase, and sprinkle coated Rice Krispie treats are on the counter and I am wearing a pink spinning rainbow. It is brightening up in here!
One of my goals with this blog is to be ever mindful that I would like the spirit of Joie de Vivre to permiate my life and the life of my family.
joie de vivre is defined as joy of living; enjoyment of life; ebullience, a keen enjoyment of living, carefree enjoyment of living and a delight in being alive.
We are good at celebrating special occasions but I don’t think we think about making life every day an excersise in that same spirit. Don’t get me wrong…it is difficult to think about a carefree enjoyment of living when the oven broke with dinner still in it, there is a missing soccer cleat and we needed to be out the door 5 minutes ago.
The idea for me is to try and integrate the concept of JdV (Joie de Vivre) as a thread in the fabric of our family life every day. It isn’t difficult. It isn’t expensive. It isn’t time consuming. What stops me from doing it? I just forget to take the time to look up from my busy days and add some sparkle. It is taking the time to pour that ice tea into beautiful glass with a spring of mint. It is buying a bunch of tulips at the store and having that beauty to look at for a week on the kitchen table. It is pulling together a little cheese board, pouring a glass of wine and sitting with the love of my life for 15 minutes on a Friday night right after work. That is Joie de Vivre.
This is the little something that will be waiting come this Friday (not this exact one…this was my late lunch).
Putting this lovely together is not at all difficult, time consuming or expensive. Two types of cheeses (whatever is in the fridge), dried fruit, grapes, cookies or crackers, quince paste, wine, and a few serving items.
To assist in having all the goodies on hand to produce a lovely cheese board for yourselves I have put together this little checklist. Save it to your phone and the next time you are at the market open it for inspiration!