Cranberry and rosemary macarons

by Sunita on May 10, 2010

Books! Ah books! What can I say about them? They have always occupied a very special place in my heart. Having grown up among older siblings who were voracious readers, books always occupied centre stage in our house.

Talking of siblings, mine were much older to me. So, when I was about six, they were already into their teens, and my sort of fun was not exactly theirs. Growing up, I was basically a loner. But, then again, to classify myself as a ‘loner’ would not exactly be right , as I had my hoard of books to keep me company. Starting from the smallest and simplest of books and graduating to Noddy, fairy tales  (Grimm’s, Hans Christian Andersen) and other Enid Blyton books( Famous five, Secret Seven etc), and then onto Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, my life was full of adventure. If, once, I was lost in the woods with Hansel and Gretel, then, at other times, I was watching the princesses dancing away to glory during their nightly escapades. If, sometimes, I was away tobogganing on the Welsh slopes with the cousins from the  Famous Five, then, at other times, I would tense up while trying to solve a mystery. Throw in a few Tin tin, Asterix, Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon etc comics, and I was all set!

Yes, books have their own way of taking you along with the characters, and the ‘loner’ in me found solace in them. I still remember ma looking for me in the quietest corner of the house with my eyes glued to a book. ”At this rate, you’ll spoil your eyes very soon”, she would say. I would be so engrossed in  a book that even switching on a light seemed to be a chore; a few words could be read in those few precious seconds and I would continue to squint in the dimming day light. A new word here, a new expression there, a new place here, a new food there, oh, it was absolutely delightful. And everyone thought I was a ‘loner’; well, I was having the last laugh. I had so much to keep me company.

And then I grew older; the age of fairy tales had sadly passed me. It was the time to delve into more ”grown up ” sort of books, you know the sort that my dada ( older brother) and my baideo ( older sister ) would say ”you’ve got to grow up a bit more for these books”. ”So not fair”, I would grumble quietly, and wait patiently to ”grow up” so that I too can go through all those big, fat books that lined the book shelves in their rooms. And yes, that time came too.

It was during my early teens that I discovered Charles Dickens. Every book of his made me feel as if I was in the story, witnessing the rise and fall of the characters. They had so much of depth in them, they seemed so ‘real’ ; their sadness made me cry, their love made me sigh; how could anyone write with such poignancy- Great Expectations and David Copperfield still have a very dear place in my heart. And then, Dickens was followed by Jane Austen. Ah! How many times have I swooned over ‘Mr Darcy’.

Shakespeare made a rather late appearance in my reading life; but once started, I couldn’t keep away; his sonnets, tragedies, comedies were all gobbled up with great gusto.

The love of reading was further accentuated during my college years when I was pursuing my Masters in English literature. Plays, poems etc were now looked at from a very different prospective, that of a critic. Every character, every line, was dissected and I delved even deeper into the lives and loves of my favourite characters. Chaucer ( reading the Canterbury Tales was quite a mouthful) ,Keats, Pope, Wordsworth, Christopher Marlowe, Arnold, Shelly, Eliot, Byron, along with the other literary giants  mentioned earlier, and so many other poets and dramatists through the ages, were now a part of my daily life, and I was not complaining. And it continued during the days after I got my degree and went on to teach like minded youngsters in a college.

I no longer teach, gave up the job, so that all four of us could stay together as we travelled to another part of the world. But the love of books have never deserted me. The reading, now,  does not include just the classics, but a wider genre. Rengoni and Agastya share mine and Dinesh’s love of books immensely. A mention about a visit to the library is always greeted with great enthusiasm. Of course, along side the books that I used to read as a child, some unfamiliar names and characters  do make their presence felt in our home-  Horrid Henry, Rainbow fairies , Beast Quest, do take up a lot of space in our book shelf.

But so do these,

and I’m thankful that they are lapped up with equal enthusiasm. I can only hope that they can always carry on this great love for books in the years to come .

Now, back to the macarons- this time, as a part of  Mactweets, we were asked to draw inspiration from the books that we may have read as a child. For me, every book was a treasure chest filled with new delights. So, I wanted to try out a new flavour in my macarons too. I haven’t taken part in this for a couple of months now, but the theme was too good to let it pass. So, the macarons were rustled up today with some pantry staples.

In went some cranberries and rosemary; I have never added rosemary to sweet treats, and this was a great revelation. The herb went very well with the rest of the ingredients; it was the perfect marriage. I kept the filling very simple- quark, honey and chopped cranberries were mixed together and used to sandwich the petite macarons. The egg white that I used this time came straight out of the fridge as opposed to using them at room temperature- see, another new thing for me. Here’s how I made them-

What’s needed-

1 egg white ( I took mine out straight from the fridge)
a pinch of salt
2 tblsp of granulated sugar ( I used raw cane sugar)
1/2 C of icing sugar
4 T of ground almonds
1 tsp of dried rosemary
2 tsp of finely chopped dried cranberries
a little finely chopped, dried cranberries and dried rosemary, for topping

For the filling-

A few tblsps of quark ( or other cream cheese) mixed with some honey ( as sweet as you like) and some finely chopped dried cranberries

How to-

  1. Beat the egg whites  along with the pinch of salt, with an electric beater till it forms soft peaks. And the granulated sugar and beat till the mixture forms stiff peaks.
  2. Mix together the almonds, icing sugar, cranberries and rosemary.
  3. Gradually add the almond mixture into the egg white mixture and fold in till everything is well incorporated. The mixture is ready when it flows easily from the spatula from a height (  not too runny though).
  4. Line a baking tray with parchment. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and pipe out circles of 1 inch in diameter, keeping a space of at least 1 inch between them. Sprinkle a little chopped cranberries and rosemary over half of the piped shells.Let them rest for at least 30 minutes to an hour or till the piped shells  feel dry to the touch.
  5. Pre heat the oven at 170 deg C. Reduce the heat to 150 deg C .
  6. Place the tray in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Rotate the tray and bake for another 4 minutes.
  7. Let the macaron shells cool on the tray for a few minutes. Gently peel them off and transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  8. Sandwich equal sized macaron shells together with  a little of the filling just before serving.

For more tips on macaron making, refer to my notes at the end of this post.

The rosemary in the macarons worked beautifully and I’m glad about this spontaneous decision to add some. Moreover, the egg whites, straight out of the fridge didn’t seem to care too, and it definitely helped, as I’ve managed to retain my ‘feet’ ;-)


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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 notyet100 May 11, 2010 at 3:52 am

omg thy look so good dn perfect…:-)

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2 Sunita May 12, 2010 at 10:29 pm
3 Sharmilee May 11, 2010 at 4:03 am

The last pic makes me drool over…looks soo so tempting

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4 Divya Vikram May 11, 2010 at 6:07 am

Lovely read and delicious macs :)

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5 Jamie May 11, 2010 at 6:19 am

Lovely, Sunita! And what a reader you turned out to be what with that degree in Literature! And it all starts when we are so young! These are perfect macarons, and I love your simple yet flavorful filling. Pop them in our mouths one by one as we curl up with a great book or two. Fabulous! Loved this wonderful post.

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6 Sunita May 12, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Thanks Jamie :-)

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7 musical May 11, 2010 at 6:26 am

LOVELY!

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8 Rosa May 11, 2010 at 6:38 am

An interesting combination! They look fantastic!

Cheers,

Rosa

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9 ilva May 11, 2010 at 7:55 am

I think we had a lot (and still have) a lot in common when we were growing up, I was constantly reading and I am sure that is why my sight is so lousy. And I was really fortunate as my mother worked in different libraries so I had free access to it all! Now I want to make macarons too, I love the rosemary idea, it is so good in baking!

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10 Sunita May 12, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Soul sisters? ;-)

As for the rosemary, I absolutely adore it, but tgis is the first time I’ve added it to a sweet treat and was definitely not sorry :-)

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11 The Cooking Ninja May 11, 2010 at 7:59 am

I love your macs – what a beautiful combination. :)
Poppet loves to read and I hope she continues to love reading. I love reading as a child and grown up. My hub’s family loves books and literary.

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12 Sunita May 12, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Touchwood! I’m sure V will continue her love for books, having readers around always helps :-)

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13 Asha May 11, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Oh! Your book collection looks mine! I have 4 bookshelves full of classic books and more in my Kindle and audiobooks iTouch too. I LOVE them, makes me smile just looking at them! :D

Great looking Macs.

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14 Sunita May 12, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Thank you Asha and hey, it’s been such a long time. How are you?

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15 Alka May 11, 2010 at 1:34 pm

yum so tempting!! i love reading, and unfortunately, I was more a sports enthusiast and I would rather go and kick some ball or ride my bike than sit down with a book.. but I made up for it later! Now I love reading, its a vacation for my mind.. aah.. :) Now if you could just mail me some of those macroons to NY.. mmm!

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16 Sunita May 12, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Alka, I was quite sporty too, but books were present side by side too ;-) Glad you’ve finally found your love for them :-)

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17 A&N May 11, 2010 at 2:30 pm

OMG, its been ages since I even heard the name Marlowe :D

Dr. Faustus and Tale of Two cities in all their glory! :) Miss those days.

Great read and brilliant, evocative pics, Sunita. Great flavor too, I’m sure!

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18 Sunita May 12, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Thank you. Dr Faustus was quite something, wasn’t it?

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19 Meeta May 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm

just perfect. and yes mr darcy makes me swoon too but more your macarons. lovely flavors!

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20 Sunita May 12, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Thank you Meeta :-)

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21 Hima May 13, 2010 at 1:22 am

Nice books collection and macarons
Reading your post, you made me remember the days when i read Secret seven, famous five books.

This may be your secret of all those beautiful writings.

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22 Cecilia May 13, 2010 at 1:28 am

Your macarons are so pretty! I would have never thought to use quark as filling! I always see quark at my farmers market but never know what to do with it. Will definitely try it now.

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23 deeba May 15, 2010 at 4:37 am

Love the tale, the storybook connect and the reflection on your childhood Sunita. Such an enriching experience and great macarons to top it off. Rosemary in there is very intriguing, and the quark filling won my heart! Thanks for joining us at MacTweets. Glad you’ve jumped back on!!

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24 Cristie May 15, 2010 at 5:59 am

Wow! Completely amazing. Your macarons are perfect and I love the one egg white version. The post was delightful to read.

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25 Bonnie May 15, 2010 at 2:44 pm

What beautiful macarons. I love the last picture. That mac looks so moist and soft in the middle. Enid Blyton is new to me. It’s been so fun to see what books everyone grew up reading.

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26 Jeanne @ CookSister! May 21, 2010 at 12:23 pm

What a gorgeous post – and gorgeous macs! My mom also did a masters in English Literature (on Jonathan Swift) – I have always longed to do one, but headed off into law instead. What was I thinking?! I have also always loved books – and I can think of nothing nicer than settling down with a book and one of your fab macarons!!

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