I graduated from high school a few years ago, well maybe more than a few years,. I was the first born, my dad’s sweetheart and did very well in school. For graduation day my mom, like every every mother in Syria, made heaping bowl of tabbouli, a plethora of fresh Jordan almonds (an Arab dessert) and a extensive tray of baklava. Uncle, aunts and grandparents stopped by with gifts of clothing items or expensive fountain pens. That was it. I was not prepared for all these elaborate high school graduation open houses in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. So, preparing for my daughter’s has become quite the task. First, you start with the senior photos. You have to make an appointment with a photographer in May for a session in late summer/early fall. Come my daughter’s photo session day, she spent five hours getting ready. Later, after two hours, five outfits and 5 locations later you are done. Next, you have to schedule another appointment with the photographer to select the photos you like invitations and your own personal keepsake. Wait, I am still not done. You take your favorite photos and order the cards for your open house. Mind you, the graduate still send invite to their friends on Facebook. Yes, Facebook so the number of guests seems to be infinite. The cards are mailed to family and close friends. After that, you have to plan a menu and try to estimate how many empty stomachs you’ll be feeding.
Because I did not grow up here, this is all intriguing and exiting to me. The only thing that is giving me nightmares is not having enough food to feed everyone.
In addition to the savory dishes, my daughter asked me to make her favorite desserts for her open house: French macarons, cinnamon biscotti, tiramisu and lady’s fingers. You have to know that I have never made French Macarons and I strongly believe that meringues don’t like me so, I avoid anything that has to do with them. Now I have to make about 300 French Macarons for my daughter- the things I do for love.
I found this great recipe online but, being me, crazy, I decided to use pistachio flour and orange blossom water for flavoring and whipped mascapone cheese for stuffing. Well, they did not turn out the way I hoped, but they taste great. Here is the recipe I made and I will keep you posted with all of the graduation/open house madness.
Pistachio French Macaron
3 Egg Whites
¼ cup white sugar
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup very fine unsalted pistachio flour
pinch of salt
¼ tsp cream of tartar
Mascarpone Cheese Cream
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
-Allow three eggs to warm up to room temperature. I left them sitting on the counter for 1 hour.
-Beat egg whites until foamy, then add salt, cream of tartar and white sugar for 8 minutes.
-Whip until they form a peak that stands upright. I think I under-whipped the egg whites.
-Then add the green food coloring.
-Sift pistachio flour and the powdered sugar.
-Fold flour sugar mixture into the egg white mixture. This an important tip from Beth TIP This is where all your hard work can really go wrong. Under mix and your macaroons will be lumpy and cracked when the bake with no feet, over mix and your macaroons will be flat and won’t have feet, the mark of a well-made macaron. In my experience 65-75 turns of your spatula when folding is about the right amount of time.
-Transfer batter to a pastry bag.
-squeeze about 1 inch rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
-Tap the pan hard at least 2-3 times to release the air bubbles. This will prevent the tops of your macaroons from cracking. Few of my macaron cracked.
-Let the macaron sit out for 2–30 mins, or up to an hour if you want. This will allow them time to dry out a bit before hitting the hot oven.
Bake for 20 minutes.
-To make the mascarpone cream: whip the mascarpone cheese with the sugar, the heavy cream and the vanilla extract into smooth paste.
-Hold one cookie shell pipe a small amount of the filling on back side and then top with the other shell.
I know that I will be trying couple more time before I can proudly serve them at my daughter’s open house.