I went baking mad this weekend… My kitchen was like a scene from a culinary war zone: Bowls, scales, flour, chocolate, sugar, food processor, milk and eggs were strewn all over the counter just waiting for me to create something heavenly.
I’ve always enjoyed unusual combination and when I came across Molly Wizenberg’s Pistachio & Apricot cake from her book ‘A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table’, I knew it was something I had to try. The preparation was good fun: as I reduced the pistachios to sand-like crumbs in my food processor, I couldn’t help but be in awe of their beautiful green colour. Not only was it going to be delicious, but it was also going to be good-looking. The batter was thick and once I gingerly added the honeyed apricots, it was ready for my oven. The result was visually mouth-watering: the top of the cake was perfectly browned and you could see the apricots just peaking through.
The taste was unusual and a little peppery and the apricots added tartness where I was looking for sweetness. I’d really recommend getting some very good (and ripe) apricots. If they are a little too tart like mine were, I would double the amount of honey you use to sweeten them up.
John & I enthusiastically tucked into two slices each before going for a walk. I think it might have slowed us down. This cake is very filling!
Another Orangette special I attempted this weekend was Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate Ganache. OH MY GOODNESS, heaven in a biscuit: moist in the centre but still chewy with the dark chocolate balancing out the sweetness of the coconut. You will win yourself friends and massive favours if you hand these out.
Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate Ganache
From ‘A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table’ by Molly Wizenberg
Makes 18 macaroons.
3 cups (lightly packed) sweetened shredded coconut
150g caster sugar
180ml egg whites (about 5 large eggs)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
115g dark chocolate, finely chopped
120ml cup double cream
Place the coconut, sugar and egg whites in a large, heavy saucepan, and stir to combine. Cook over medium/low heat, stirring regularly, about 10-12 minutes, until the mixture is pasty but not dry. Stop cooking when it no longer looks creamy but is still sticky. Remove from heat. Mix in vanilla extract. Spread out the coconut mixture on a baking sheet or a large plate. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Using your hands pack the coconut mixture into domes, and place them on the baking sheet. You should have enough to make 18. Bake the macaroons until golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool.
Place the macaroons on the wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet or some foil. Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the double cream in a small saucepan until it is very hot and steamy but not boiling, remove from the heat, and pour it over the chocolate. Wait a couple of minutes, then stir until smooth. Pick up each macaroon in turn and dip it in the chocolate so they are covered on top. Refrigerate the macaroons until the ganache sets. This takes at least 2 hours. Transfer the macaroons to an airtight container, and refrigerate.