Take a freshly baked French macaron and put some melkkos on it and be transported to a totally different world, one that is more fabulous than anything you can imagine! And despite the jokes that I am the milkman’s child, I am proud to say, I am!
BY JAN HENDRIK VAN DER WESTHUIZEN
I was always called ‘the milkman’s child’ for being a bit controversial and for spending too much time in the kitchen with my mother rather than driving the farm tractor and fixing the fences. I was thought of as the strange one, especially when it came to organising ‘farm fashion week’ for our local farm workers and getting them to parade to Madonna’s Don’t cry for me Argentina from the Evita soundtrack (heaven knows why such a slow tune). When it was time for field trips, I would raid my mother’s house to hang gold-framed oil paintings on the trees, cook with AMC cookware on open fires (which I regret to this day) and I’d use her one and only Persian carpet on which to lay out the bone China tea set. Yes! Ever since I can remember, things needed to be fabulous, so gold frames and fashion shows it was. My thoughts recently started turning back to home and I can now cherish the tastes of my childhood and take the time to relive the experiences I had growing up.
As I have mentioned before, I grew up on a farm, a dairy farm. We would often indulge in melkkos (milk food) – our comfort food – when the family would spend time together and when my mother didn’t want to miss out on all the action. She made this quick ‘one pot dish’ by simmering the morning milk with a touch of cinnamon to infuse the flavour. It made her life easy at times and ours even more….
The rumours that making macarons does not merit the tough exercise are not true –they really are worth every whisk! There are, however, a few rules that you need to follow to get them to look like the ones displayed in French pastry shop windows:
- The base of the macaron is the most important to get right. If you can manage this, you will be baking these for every special occasion. Make sure your egg whites contain no traces of egg yolk and that they are at room temperature. If you’re like me and the decision to bake is always an impromptu one, drop the eggs into a cup of warm water for a minute before using, this will bring the eggs to room temperature.
- You need a really fine powder mixture in order to have smooth, elegant-looking macarons. To get this right, sift the almond flour and icing sugar together a few times to avoid those lumps that will also make your macaron fall flat.
- Folding the egg white mixture into the powder needs to be deliberate and you need to make sure you don’t overdo it because this is where it can all go very wrong. Also make sure not to under-mix it. I work on a count of about 60 good spatula turns to get it just right. This is something you will perfect with practice.
- Once piped, allow the macarons to rest for about 25 minutes. This is very important and will make all your hard work worthwhile. You need to do this so that the macarons dry out a little bit before going into the oven. You also need to tap the pan hard on the counter a few times to release any air before baking.
- 3 egg white
- 1/4 cup castor sugar
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 1 cup almond flour
- pinch of salt
- Melkkos recipe *half the milk to make the consistency more spreadable for the macarons
- Preheat the oven to 140 C.
- Blend the icing sugar and almond flour together a few times and then sieve them about 3 times to get rid of all the lumps.
- Beat the egg whites and sugar until it forms peaks, then gently fold in the flour/sugar powder and salt and carefully fold about 60 times.
- Transfer the batter to a piping bag and pipe on a baking sheet, allow to rest for at least 20 minutes and then tap on the table counter a few times to get rid of most air.
- Dust lightly with a few dashes of cinnamon powder and bake for 20 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely before filling with the Melkkos.
Some people feel that they are better stayed overnight before eating, but if you are anything like me, they wont last a minute!
Originally published 8 June 2016