The Mactweets Challenge this month—summer flicks—could include anything as unappetizing as metallic action blockbusters to sugary romantic comedies—plus a sleeper indie that might be temporarily satisfying but leaves you hungry in an hour. I wanted a movie that would be stylistically feasible and fully satiating to translate into my macaron concept. I needed something more long-lasting.
The classics could work nicely. Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia, All about Eve, and Gone with the Wind, all deserve a macaron in their honor, but I, as least, wasn’t getting a culinary vibe from them. And then it hit me—Auntie Mame with Rosalind Russell. It’s about the unconventional socialite who raises her young nephew following her brother’s untimely demise.
Many years ago, I spent my first New York summer with a new job and a few good friends to hang out with. We lived in the same apartment complex, so it was like living in a college dormitory. We hung out in each other’s apartments, ordered takeout, and watched movies, when we tired of exploring the steamy city. It was our version of Friends (minus the oversized NY apartments of the TV version) but everyone came in with a simple knock on the door.
It was one Sunday afternoon during this summer, while channel surfing, that we came across Auntie Mame. I had never heard of it, but one of our friends had seen it before and insisted that we all watch it. He gave us a quick synopsis so we could jump in and have an idea why he was so intrigued. Within minutes of the stunning visuals and quick wit, we were hooked, too. The movie is based on the book of the same title by Patrick Dennis, aka Edward Everett Tanner III, which he wrote like a fictional memoir, but many have speculated that it’s actually based on his Aunt Marian. Mame raised young Patrick in the most outlandish manner, including some very adult instructions on entertaining guests. She also instilled a world of wisdom in him. “Knowledge is power,” she utters as she explains to the bank trustee why Patrick knows how to make a perfect martini at a very young age. Mame’s life philosophy is “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving. Live! Live! Live!” The movie starts at the height of the 1920s and takes us through the depression of the 30s and onto the 50s with vignettes of adventures that give Patrick true life experiences.
A few years later, I came across the DVD of Auntie Mame in a retail store, so I bought a copy for remembrance of things past, since my friends had left NY. The movie had a much deeper meaning the second time around. I wanted to live by Mame’s motto of experiencing life to the fullest. With hard times of her own during the Depression, Mame became the star in a rather drab production of Mid Summer Night’s Dream that turned Shakespeare into slapstick and raised the audience spirits when her noisy bracelet stuck on her best friend’s dress. Once, I threw a cocktail party in honor of Mame, with martinis and colorful NY personalities. It was my version of the opening scene party with its grand Chinese dragon door chime and Swedish modern decor where young Patrick first appears at Mame’s door. She offers the young child something to eat. He doesn’t quite know what to make of the “salty fishberry jam,” but he did later develop a taste for caviar. During the last scene, Mame entertains the now grown Patrick, his fiancé, and her parents—locked-jaw souls from Connecticut. Mame, true to character, serves up pickled octopus and a special cocktail called the Flaming Mame, which of course, she serves flambé.
I decided to combine the red velvet dress from Mame’s stage performance, the innocent name of fishberry jam, and the fabulous flaming cocktail to create a luscious red raspberry macaron with the chocolate ganaché filling that resembles the fishberry jam. The color represents not only Mame’s dress and the cocktail but her vivaciousness. We should all be so lucky to be able to experience life to the fullest as Mame. Live! Live! Live!
Flaming Mame (Raspberry) Macarons
Recipe by hungryrabbitnyc, 2010
Make 32-35 macarons
2/3 cups (3 oz) ground almonds
1-1/2 cups (5 1/4 oz) confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons dry raspberry powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon table salt
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 drops rose food coloring
1. Prepare baking sheet and template: Using two half-sheet baking pan, fit each pan with a sheet of parchment. Use either a circle template or the wide end of a pastry tip, draw 1-1/8 inch-diameter circles on the papers, spacing them at least 3/4 inch apart. (I get 35 circles per sheet). Set aside.
2. Attach an Ateco #806 tip to a pastry bag. Twist the bag to hold the tip tightly. This prevents the batter from leaking out. Place the pastry bag, tip down, inside a measure cup or any container that will hold the pastry bag vertically. Set aside.
3. Grind almonds confectioner’s sugar, raspberry powder, cornstarch and salt in food processor until powdery, about 30 sec. Sift almond mixture through a medium-mesh sieve. Set aside.
4. Add egg whites into the bowl of a hand mixer or a standing mixer with whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for 45 seconds to break up the whites. Increase speed to medium high and beat until foamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue to beat until meringue holds stiff, glossy peaks, about 1 minute.
5. Reduce speed to low, add food coloring and vanilla extract to just combine. Remove bowl to a work surface. Using a silicon spatula, fold in half of the sifted almond mixture with a circular motion (scooping from bottom of bowl) until just incorporated. Fold in the rest of the almond mixture with same motion. (Meringue will deflate slightly.)
6. Press and spread out the batter against the side of the bowl. Scoop the batter from the bottom and turn it upside down. Repeat this process about 12 times. This is what the french refers to as ‘Macaronnage’. This technique gives the baked macarons a luster. Be careful not to do it too many times, or you might get oil stains on the surface of your baked macarons, not so pretty.
7. Pour batter into prepared pastry bag, twist or clip to close.
8. Pipe the batter onto the center of the circles. Make small circles since the batter will spread out after it’s piped. (You’ll get the hang of it once you’ve piped a few.) Rap the baking sheet firmly on the counter. This will help the macarons to hold the rounded shape and pied (little foot) to formed.
9. Adjust oven racks to middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350°F.
10. Dry the batter at room temperature, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes. A slight crust should form on top of the macarons. (This might take longer on rainy or humid days). The batter is ready if it doesn’t stick to your finger when you touch it gently.
11. Place one baking sheet in middle rack and immediately reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Bake macarons for 8 minutes. Rotate baking sheet, front to back and place it on rack in lower-middle position. Continue to bake for another 8-10 minutes, until crisp and interior does not give easily when gently pressed. (Check macarons around 16 minutes into baking to make sure they don’t brown. You can place a piece of foil or parchment on top at this point to prevent top from browning. When done, move baking sheet from the oven and cool on wire rack. (Residual heat from baking sheet will harden bottoms), about 30 minutes. Loosen macarons gently from parchment with offset spatula (they will be fragile).
Chocolate Ganaché Filling
make 1 cup
1 ounce heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon corn syrup
Pinch of table salt
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Framboise (optional)
1. In a small saucepan combine the corn syrup and heavy cream. Bring to a simmer and add espresso powder, whisk to combine.
2. Add chocolate, whisk until smooth. remove from heat and stir in vanilla and Framboise (if use). Let ganache firm up and cool completely at room temperature, about 30 minutes.
To assemble the macarons
Sandwich flat side of macarons together with a generous teaspoon of Chocolate Ganaché.
1. Filled macarons can be kept in an airtight container wrapped in plastic wrap, chilled 2 days or frozen 1 month. Bring to room temperature in wrapped container (to avoid condensation), about 1 hour if chilled or 2 hours if frozen.
1. If you are making macarons in hot humid weather, add an addition tablespoon of cornstarch to the almond mixture. This helps to dry up some of the moisture in the batter. (I made these during a sweltering heatwave.)
2. Refrigerating the batter for 20-30 minutes also helps to firm up runny batter.
3. Use a smaller tip, Ateco#804, for better piping control.