Macaroons & Margaritas

Sometimes, life is just too short to make everything from scratch – and you know what? Often people don’t even notice…

On Sunday, thanks to the virtue of a time difference that lends me a two day birthday, I was justified in celebrating my birthday the night before its official date. I decided to make it an occasion for cocktails and cake, because, quite frankly nothing says birthday (or potentially even Sunday) than cake and cocktails.

Yes, I made some cake from scratch – there were ginger biscuits (the recipe of which I will post next time I make them as they were meant to include dark chocolate and I forgot) and my very special brownies; plus slightly cheating mini tarts (well, ready-rolled pastry is quite a big cheat I guess). There was a carrot cake that may have originated from a Sainsbury’s packet mix – but I was very honest when it was complimented. Then, there were French style raspberry macaroons…

Anyone who knows anything about baking knows that these things (which are hugely popular at the moment) are rather complicated and thus, it was with some interest that I discovered packet mixes for a variety of flavours in Carre Four – the local supermarket when at Chateau Duffy. Given as I return to Limoges next week, I thought it was worth testing the mix so I’d know if it was worth buying others.

If you’re familiar with the Betty Crocker style mixes, you’ll know that the usual method is as follows:
Open packet; empty into bowl; add eggs/liquid; mix with electric whisk; pour into tin; bake…

With the macaroons this was not the case. My method went something like this:

  • Locate translation of package instructions. (Found here 3 months ago).
  • Make jam element of package in saucepan, carefully ensuring it didn’t burn.
  • Separate 2 eggs and place whites in mug. 
  • Get electric whisk ready.
  • Discover macaroons need to begin their bake in a cold oven. 
  • Realise oven won’t be cold until following morning.
  • Put eggs to one side.
  • Accidentally wash up mug containing egg whites.
  • Sleep.
  • Separate another 2 eggs.
  • Whisk whites with electric whisk, ensuring bowl is completely dry.
  • Add mix. Combine.
  • Drop teaspoons of mixture onto lined baking tray.
  • Bake. Realise they’re going to spread too far.
  • Cool with oven door open. 
  • Sandwich macaroons with jam.

See, when it comes to French packet mixes, nothing is simple. But, aside from the mixture spreading in the oven, they worked rather well. Another time I’d bake each of the two trays separately as they were rather different in quality at the end. They certainly looked pretty in pink…

The other cheat came in the cocktail element of the evening. There was no cheating as far as the G&T’s and Pimm’s were concerned, but quite a considerable amount of it with the frozen margaritas. 
Ah yes, frozen margaritas! A Texan discovery that has been dreamed of since. Lacking a slushee maker, I had to come up with an alternative method. My solution owed something to a Texan suggestion – that you pre-mix the margarita (they sell such things in pouches in Walmart, not so in the UK), pour it into zip-lock bags and freeze it. Because the alcohol won’t actually freeze, it simply goes slushy – which is the precise consistency you want. On discovering a pre-mixed bottle of margarita in Sainsbury’s, I decided this was the way to go. I mixed it with a small quantity of soda water to ensure that it froze, and left it for 48 hours. The arrival of my guests provided two extra ingredients: Agave Syrup and festive straws. With this, adequate frozen margaritas were created. They may not have been perfect, but they were enjoyed by all…
I should point out that Baby J was only participating in the festive straws element of the cocktails. 
We did not serve him booze… 
Here’s to more cheating, more macaroons, more frozen magaritas and most of all, more birthdays! 

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