Pink Macarons

Delicious pink bundles of goodness…

Everyone loves macarons. EVERYONE.

These are dairy free too, so lower in fat than your average macarons!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 240ml icing sugar
  • 180ml ground almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • 120ml caster sugar
  • 5 tbsp. butter (soya for non dairy recipe)
  • dash of milk (soya for non-dairy recipe)
  • vanilla essence
  • cocoa powder (2tbsp)
  • red food colouring

(This started as an experiment, so everything was weighed in millilitres…sorry…)

  1. Sieve the icing sugar and ground almonds into a bowl. Mix the ingredients and set aside.
  2. Separate the egg yolks and empty the whites into a bowl. Do NOT throw away the eggs yolks – you will use these later. Whisk the egg whites until there are soft peaks, then add half the sugar. Continue to whisk until the peaks stiffen. Add your red food colouring here until pink.
  3. Fold half the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then add the rest. Fold it until fully incorporated. Scrape the mixture against the side of the bowl to get rid of the lumps and the consistency is smoother. 18552789_120332000851139311_261711236_o (1)
  4. Pipe the mixture in equal sized circular shapes onto greaseproof paper. It is very important that you allow these time to set. I usually wait up to an hour, or until I can lightly press the macarons and leave a dent, with none of the batter coming off on my finger. Bake in the oven an 150’C for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how large your circles are.
  5. Now the filling. Whisk your egg yolks in a pan with a dash of milk and the other half of your sugar. Continue to whisk over a medium heat until it thickens. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the butter, then stir in the cocoa powder and a few drops of vanilla essence.
  6. Allow the macarons to cool completely, then pipe the filling evenly onto half of the macarons, using the other half as a ‘hat’ to cover them. Your macarons should look like little burgers!

 

Experiment with your decorations!

 

 

 

Velvet Spice

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Malta

Smooth waves, sunny skies and soft scoop…

Having never been to Malta before, I had no expectations whatsoever about the country prior to my visit. During my time there, I found the island to be historically rich, with a culture heavily influenced by various countries which had occupied Malta at some time or another. I also had an amazing time sampling the food…

While visiting Mdina, an ancient city dating back to the 8th century, I experienced a few new foods. One such food that stood out was Ftira, traditional Maltese bread. My Ftira 18452249_1518468864891929_1246488470_o (1).jpgwas served sandwich style with chicken, salad and herb sauce. Interestingly, the McDonalds in Malta also served Ftira… however I would still recommend Mdina’s version.

We also sampled a variety of meats. While in Bugiba, I tried different cold meats and hot meats, but the shining star was the portion of ribs with sticky sauce. You see, I have had my fair share of ribs in my time, but none quite like these. The meat on the bone – endless. The sticky sauce – delicious. and the combination of the two made these the best ribs I have ever had. What I would give to have those ribs again…

The last thing I would mention is the ice cream. Now of course, like many warm countries, the ice cream was in great supply. But as an intense ice cream lover, excluding them from this 18450039_1518468834891932_1512580749_n.jpgarticle would be scandalous. There was ice cream everywhere in Malta. Specifically, there was always pistachio ice cream in Malta. Which meant I was always happy in Malta. The best ice cream shop I found there was in Gozo, the island north of Malta. There was a tiny ice cream shop there which a waiter had recommended for me. The ice cream was oh. so. creamy. The creamiest ice cream I have ever had. Lacking slightly in flavour but oh the creamy-ness. Amazing.

I feel bad for not mentioning any shellfish or fish-related food in this segment. But my stomach was slightly off during the trip, and my one regret is not feeling secure enough to try any. I will say that there was A LOT of fishing going on. And there was fresh fish being sold EVERYWHERE. If I ever get the opportunity to return, I would jump on those oysters in a flash…18451820_1518468828225266_2044415605_o

Malta is an amazing island and I fully endorse any thoughts you may have on travelling there. The entire island is overflowing with beauty, from its history to culture to food.

Velvet Spice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen of Tarts

Found this gem in the great city of Dublin, Ireland

I later found out that there are actually two of these cute cafes in the city. I happened to visit the smaller of the two – and I strongly recommend it to others

Located on a bustling main road, this quaint red store manages to hide and yet stick out like a sore thumb. And while small, this café possesses an undeniable charm.

18362547_1513239668748182_1592927886_oThe café offered different herbal teas and coffee, tarts, cakes, desserts and (of course) breakfast food. Amazing.

In my opinion, if a café or restaurant’s menu makes your decision hard, its the place for you. In this circumstance, I had to ask the waiter to return in 5 minutes… let just say more than once.

I eventually settled for the Chocolate and Pear Almond Tart. I was not disappointed. Rich, but not heavy, flavoursome but subtle. I’ll say it again – amazing.

This is one café that I would heavily recommend anyone staying in Dublin should visit. As you eat, you can get a fantastic view of a city monument, and may even spot a cavalry re-enactment.

Velvet Spice

The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning

29th September: save the date

Macmillan Cancer Support runs an annual coffee morning in aid of cancer research. Supporters are invited to host their own coffee mornings in their houses for friends and family. All proceeds are sent to Macmillan. For two years now I have participated in this event. Last year, my family and I hosted it in our house… which smelled of sugar for a month afterward. 18406278_1517730264965789_1439063225_o.jpg

In addition to being for a good cause, the coffee morning gave us all a chance to experiment. We baked old favourites such as macarons and brownies, but we also tried new recipes… to interesting effect. The cinnamon roll dough decided to quadruple in size, effectively overflowing the bowl AND worktop. Its curious how ‘hilarious’ and ‘alarming’ overlapped so often during those times.

I also gave new cake recipes a try. Lavender and lemon cake was a surprising success. After putting too much lemon into the cake, I had to even it out with an absurd amount of fresh lavender. I was sure the cake would be too much but apparently my oven drains flavour… as a result, the cake went down a ‘treat’ (I will never apologise for excellent puns).

I was also able to experiment with frosting. I learned how to make roses 18426500_1517729021632580_1749769718_o.jpgand new techniques for piping. I discovered that adding lemon flavouring to frosting is ALWAYS a good idea. Always.

So while stressful, the event was definitely fun, and for a good cause. I would recommend for any fan of baking, especially since all proceeds are sent to Macmillan Support. If I remember correctly, we raised over £400 from donations.

The ‘aftermath’ is the only way I can describe what our house was afterward. Our kitchen looked as though the Terminator had torn through it: sugar covering every surface, dough on the walls, colouring spilled on worktops, every free surface piled high with dirty dishes. And the rest of our house had crumbs and (somehow) paper plates everywhere for days after, not matter how much we hoovered and cleaned.

Be warned, people. Bake sales are a battlefield.

 

 

Velvet Spice

Ireland

Fantastic food and where to find it…

Even though Ireland is a hop skip and a jump away from Glasgow, I had never actually visited before. It had always been a dream of mine (after a passionate school project on the Giant’s Causeway) and last week I finally got the 18426886_1517642558307893_1499092231_o.jpgopportunity.

My apartment was in Dublin city centre, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t travel. I was able to see Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway, Howth and various Game of Thrones sites (amazing) in addition to Dublin. And the food…oh the food…

The first restaurant of note  was Sophie’s. Near the city centre, this restaurant was a bit pricey but ultimately fantastic. The restaurant is high up with seating available indoors and outdoors, with heating. The view from the top is great, the food even better. We shared a pulled chicken, red onion, gorgonzola and porcini mushroom pizza, with roast veg and parmesan chips… coupled with the active yet dignified atmosphere, the restaurant was amazing. 18451820_1517643368307812_142959669_o.jpgEspecially at night when the city is lit up and the energy in the restaurant reaches its peak. I highly recommend this to any traveller willing to pay extra for more.

Furthermore, there were little surprises I found along the way, such as the Eatyard in the Rathmines area. While wandering the city we came across this market. Comprised of various stalls, the Eatyard sold a number of different  goods. Plants, food, your general flea market. I eventually settled for a cone of fried chicken with lemon mayo, grated lime and linseeds… pretty damn amazing.

Howth had some amazing fish on offer. To be completely honest, we spent a full hour ignoring the sea and instead focussing on the fresh fish available at the many many fishmongers. After a chilling walk along the coast, we found a cosy place to eat 18379312_1514568318615317_1988187048_ocalled The Bloody Stream. They used fresh, local fish in their meals. I chose a prawn and parmesan linguine while my friend opted for a fish platter. Her prawns were slightly disappointing, but aside from that the meal was a success. Howth: recommend, recommend, recommend.

Our last day included a trip to a confusing pancake store. While they had a variety of toppings on offer, it wasn’t entirely made sure which toppings we could have, especially since our waiter pretty much chose for us. The pancakes also turned out to be high protein, which you could tell once the food settled in your stomach and then STAYED THERE. However, we learned about ‘Cleantella,’ a healthy form of Nutella, which sparked some interest an potential experimentation…

Our last meal embodied the phrase ‘best til last.’ After visiting the Guinness Factory, we ate at the restaurant on the top level. This was the cherry atop a perfect trip. We shared sticky Guinness wings, oysters and mushroom crostinis. All of it was outstanding, to the 18426902_1517642541641228_1868824831_o.jpgpoint that we were completely stuffed and still eating. Incredible food with an equally incredible view of the city: since the restaurant was on the factory’s top level, and our seat was right beside the window, the entire city was visible.

I definitely recommend a trip to Ireland. Besides the outstanding food and whiskeys that could even rival that of Scotland, the people here were great. Incredibly helpful and pleasant, they really made our trip.

There were, of course, other places we visited but these were the highlights. You can find the review of Queen of Tarts in my ‘Review’ section. It was too good to mention briefly.

If you are a lover of good food, good sights and good people, I recommend Ireland 100%… Just remember your jacket.

 

 

Velvet Spice