10 June 2010

Funky Monkey Macarons

This month's MacTweets Challenge comes hot on the heels of my trip to Food Blogger Connect, in London. It was an incredible trip, one of the best things being tha I finally got to meet a few of my fellow MacTweeters like Cecilia with her One Vanilla Bean, Bethany and all of her Dirty Kitchen Secrets, Pam a.k.a. the Cooking Ninja, Sarah, who lives at the fabulous Maison Cupcake, the fabulous Mowie of Mowielicious fame, and the darling Meeta, who asks What's For Lunch Honey? In anticipation of this trip, however, I was most excited to finally meet the brilliant Jamie, one of our fearless MacTweets leaders, who writes beautiful stories about how Life's A Feast - and she is just as sweet and kind as I had hoped she would be.

For this month's challenge, Jamie & Deeba (who was unable to attend FBC) challenged us to "Walk on the Wild Side" with our wild animal inspired macarons. I have to admit, I was a bit stumped by this one for a while, if only because I don't always associate many wild animals with my food. If only I had seen this beautiful fella, sitting in the lobby of the Hempel Hotel in London, before I made my macs (he's the perfect embodiment of this challenge!)

A few days before I left for the conference, hubby was called away for a business trip, which meant I was on my own for a few days. Typical of moest people, we each have our different food likes & dislikes, and when we are apart, we tend to indulge in the things the other hates. When I am out of town, hubby gets to enjoy all the soup he wants (that's right - I'm a freak, I hate soup. Even the smell of it makes me gag), and when I'm on my own, I go and get myself a few bananas for simple treats like bananas & cream (a childhood fav), banana bread or bananas foster over ice cream. Spying them sitting on the counter one night, inspiration struck and the Funky Monkey Macaron was born...

I whipped up a batch of chocolate macaron shells, which turned out quite pale compared to previous batches of chocolate macs, and then got to work on making a delicious banana pastry cream for the filling. I dug through all of my recipe books, looking at recipes for banana cream pie, but every recipe simply layered slices of banana in the pastry cream-filled shell. This was not what I was looking for, so I decided to just add a single mashed banana to my favourite pastry cream recipe. That's when I discovered why the pie is made with slices... pastry cream with a banana blended in does not set up. I learned the hard way that the custard that normally firms up just enough to stay in place in a pie shell or pâte à choux becomes a delicious but runny mess when you add a mashed banana. I'll try making it again, adjusing the recipe to see if I can get it to gel, or if all else fails, next time hubby's out of town and I bake with bananas, I'll just blend them into chocolate ganache, or else take a lesson from Pierre Herme and add a tiny piece of banana in the centre.

So while they may not have turned out quite as pretty as I had hoped, they did turn out to be quite yummy. If anyone out there has a recipe for a tasty banana filling that actually sets up, I invite you to give this one a try, and let me know how it works out for you.

The recipes for both the macaron shells and the basic, non runny pastry cream can both be found in previous posts on this blog. Just click on the link and it will take you there!

16 comments:

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Oh yum Julia - these look amazing!!!!!

Jamie said...

Oh, maybe add gelatin next time?

Jamie said...

Julia, I am so flattered that you wanted to meet me and even more so that you liked me! I was really excited to meet you and loved talking with you and getting to know you like an old friend! You are everything that is lovely, kind, generous, charming and loads of fun and laughter and I so look forward to more time spent together. Truly! And how I love chocolate and bananas together! Yum! Monkeylicious! Great macs!

MeetaK said...

haha! i love this. especially the picture of the elephant is regards to the wild macarons! julia it was such an awesome pleasure meeting you this past weekend. i loved you and it seriously had nothing to do with all the chocolate you fed us! oh those ginger ones! looking forward to staying in touch via twitter and email! many hugs!

Valentina said...

I have loved meeting you. In addition to your lovely friendly personality, I was also quite taken by the beautiful props you brought along. What an interesting discovery -s hame that it kind of spoilt you plans a bit. I have never had any fillings with banana so I might have to read about it a bit and then try to come up with something.

Heather Davis said...

It was so great to meet and chat with you Julia! And share all my camera woes x

Bonnie said...

Julia, I made a similar macaron this challenge. I just put a slice of banana inside my filling. I made sure to "bury" it, hoping that it wouldn't turn brown and it worked. The banana is still an appetizing cream color. I will have to try your pastry cream filling next time.

Cristina - TeenieCakes said...

The chocolate color of your shells turned out beautiful! Maybe a banana filling used for cookies might work? Congrats on this month's MacTweets challenge!

Leave-Room-for-Dessert said...

Wow. Thank you all so much for the lovely lovely comments. It truly was an amazing experience to meet you all at FBC, and I am thankful for all of the new friendships we have begun. Friendships that I hope continue for years to come... Hugs and kisses to you all xoxox

Sari said...

Oh, love your funky monkey macarons! What a wonderful name! :) It was great to meet you in London at FBC!

Cristie said...

I think your mac's look great, but really the taste is oh so important! So how lovely that they tasted GREAT! Sounds like you had a great time in London :)

Deeba PAB said...

Happy Feet Dance is on for you Julia. Wish I had been at the FBC too. Would have love to meet you finally!! Those are some great macs, and yes, I know what you mean by 'like most people'! My daughter gags at soup, and the son adores a cuppa! Poor hub has changed a lot of tastes for me so life is good!
Thanks for monkeying around on the wild side this month. Wonderful to have you at MacTweets!

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Funky Monkey is a cool name, reminds me of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Great looking macs, I haven't made any for couple of months, I need to get my mac hat back on again.

The Cooking Ninja said...

It was great to finally meet you. Thanks for bring those delicious chocs to FBC 10. Btw: Mind if I ask you how much did you pay for that little elephant? I thought of buying one for our home - they are just too cute!

Aparna said...

YOur macs look beautiful. Have been seeing that pretty elephant (and a green one) on all FBC posts in blogdom. :)

I can't stand soups either though my husband likes them. Luckily, we all love bananas.

Leave-Room-for-Dessert said...

Thanks so much for all of your lovely comments - it was the trip of a lifetime to go to London & hang out with all you talented & wonderful people! for next year's "trip of a lifetime" we need to get even more people out there!

Bonnie - great idea about using just a slice of banana! Loved your monkey macs too!

Darling Jamie - Yes, I think gelatine will do the trick, though I also managed to find some agar, so I'll give that a try first! big hugs and kisses to you

Sarah, my fellow red-head! - so great to meet you in London. Yes, you must come back to MacTweets! We need all the help we can get!

Ninja Pam! That "little" elephant was in the lobby at the Hempel - but Cecilia & I found lots of small ones you could buy at Selfridge's. I looked, but I couldn't find the strawberry one - lots of others though.

Aparna & Darling Deeba- so sorry you couldn't be at FBC this year. Next year! So glad to know there's other soup-haters in the world. Here I'm like a circus freak because I don't like them! LOL