Super-duper exciting news: Skyfall was finally released in New Zealand yesterday!! I’ve been vastly unimpressed at having to wait a month after its release in the UK to see it, particularly since I’ve been hearing how good it is. Miraculously, I’ve managed to avoid hearing about or seeing any spoilers, which, over the course of an entire month spent on facebook and Twitter, is a rather impressive feat, though I’m assuming that I’ve managed this mostly through sheer luck. And I suspect that perhaps some of my closest friends who share my Bond love have carefully avoided posting spoilers since they knew I wouldn’t be able to watch it yet. If so, I’m incredibly grateful. Anyway, the suspense has been killing me. Not helped by having to walk past a giant Skyfall billboard every day…
I was finally able to watch Skyfall yesterday evening with some of my labmates. Wow. Fantastic. I can’t really say much more without giving away any spoilers, but I loved it. Whilst Kat, Craig and I were watching our way through all the Bond films during the summer between our third and fourth years of undergrad, Craig made us a particular cocktail one evening. I believe it’s mentioned in one of the books (possibly Casino Royale), so we didn’t really invent it, but I think he slightly adapted it and then we re-named it. It consists of equal parts of gin, red vermouth and Campari and then topped off with tonic to fill the glass. So basically a Negroni with tonic.
But we wanted a Bond-themed name for the cocktail, and we eventually settled on Leiter Fluid (that’s Leiter as in Felix Leiter). By “we” I really mean Kat and Craig – I’m not particularly inventive, so I was probably more focussed on sampling the drink itself. Anyway, in honour of Skyfall’s release and also of this month’s Baking with Spirit theme of “gin,” I decided to take the Leiter Fluid and turn it into a macaron. Leiter Fluid macarons – oh yes. I decided that the flavours of the drink (particularly the Campari) would pair well with a dark chocolate ganache, and indeed they did, although they ended up coming through rather more subtly than I expected. Which is no bad thing. And the sweet shells balance the bitter ganache perfectly. My only gripe is that the shells didn’t come out quite as swirly as I wanted, but luckily that doesn’t affect the taste!
Leiter Fluid macarons
Makes about 60 small macarons (so about 120 shells of 1.5/2 cm diameter)
Macaron shell recipe based on Mad About Macarons!
Ganache recipe by me
I used Gordon’s gin in the ganache since I find that the Campari and red vermouth mask any real subtleties of good gins. The ganache can be a little finnicky and is best if you can avoid cooling it in the fridge as it may cool too quickly and harden. If you do need to cool it in the fridge, just make sure not to forget about it! (Not that I’m speaking from experience…) Make sure you leave these at least 24h before eating them, in order to allow the ganache to soak into the shells a bit. They’re best stored in an airtight box in the fridge – just remember to bring them out at least 30mins before eating them, so that you can appreciate the flavour fully!
For the macaron shells:
Red food colouring paste or gel (optional)
100g room temperature egg whites (take them out of the fridge 2h beforehand)
66g caster sugar
120g ground almonds
180g icing sugar
For the ganache filling:
50g whipping cream (NZ: pure cream)
150g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
20g red vermouth
A small glug of tonic
To make the macaron shells:
1. Line three or four flat baking sheets with baking paper and set aside. Prepare a piping bag with a plain round piping tip. If you want to make the macarons swirly, brush three or four lines of food colouring up the inside of the prepared piping bag (this might be a bit messy. I did three stripes).
2. Blend the icing sugar and ground almonds together (don’t skip this step!). Sift them through a medium sieve into a large bowl. Sift them again if necessary.
3. Make the French meringue by whisking the egg whites into glossy firm peaks, gradually adding the caster sugar. If you want to make the shells a uniform colour, add a few drops of food colouring gel to the mixture just before the end and mix well.
4. Incorporate the French meringue into the dry ingredients using a large spatula and mix well. Now work on the mixture by pressing down well with the spatula, going backwards and forwards, to press out the oxygen from the egg whites (this is the macaronnage stage), until you have a smooth mixture. Don’t do this for longer than 5 minutes. The result should be a soft and brilliant mixture that forms a “ribbon” on the spatula.
5. Transfer the mixture to the previously prepared piping bag and pipe out the desired size of rounds (mine were about 1.5-2cm in diameter). Press the nozzle right down on the paper and finish off with a flourish to obtain a nice round. Leave a good space between them so they can spread out.
6. Sprinkle the shells with the raw sugar and leave the shells to set for about 30 mins (this helps to produce the feet). Preheat the oven to fan-oven 160°C. When you can feel that a skin has formed over the top, they are ready to go into the oven.
7. Bake one tray at a time in the centre of the oven for about 8-10 mins (to see if they are done, touch the top – if there is a “wobble,” leave them in 2-3 mins longer). Leave them to cool on the baking trays, and when they are completely cool, carefully remove them and pair them up by size.
To make the ganache filling:
8. Whilst the macarons are setting and cooking, make the ganache filling. Heat the cream, and as soon as it starts boiling, add the chocolate (broken into pieces), the Campari, gin, red vermouth and a glug of tonic and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth (don’t let it boil or you will boil off the alcohol and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?). Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to thicken on the countertop (or in the fridge if necessary – if it’s taking too long or not setting).
10. Once cool, use a teaspoon to deposit a dollop of ganache onto one shell of each pair. Then place the partner shell on top, and use a slight twisting motion to squash the shell down onto the filling.
11. Leave in the fridge for at least 24h before serving (I know, it’s difficult! But so worth it!!)