Staying true to the macarons it features, I’ll try to keep this post short and sweet. We’re coming to the end of Pink October – an annual international health campaign organized by various breast cancer charities to raise awareness and funds for research – and any mention of the dreaded ‘c’ word inevitably lends a certain seriousness of tone to proceedings. However, while cancer undoubtedly brings sadness and suffering to everyone it touches, the communities and support networks it creates are incredible. Rather than dwelling on the hurts and horrors, this post is intended as a celebration of life, of humans finding strength in adversity; above all it’s a toast to every woman who has ever been affected by this destructive disease.
Writing a food blog has made me think about what we eat in a very different light. While some simply consume for sustenance, there is a whole community out there for whom food is so much more. Cooking is an opportunity to explore our creative sides, to share experiences and mouthfuls with family and friends, to try new things, take a trip down memory lane, to celebrate, commiserate or simply to indulge. Food can also be used to positive effect, from the good old Blue-Peter-style bring-and-buy charity bake sale through to bigger events such as Action Against Hunger’s Love Food Give Food campaign.
This month, the lovely Mactweets ladies have challenged their community of bakers to ‘Think Pink!’ with a macaron dedicated to Pink October. Dozens of bloggers around the world will be posting pretty pink recipes on their sites in aid of Breast Cancer awareness, using something as simple as baking to spread the word about this terrible disease. A tall order, perhaps, for a frivolous confection consisting mainly of sugar, egg white and air, but not one to be underestimated. I think we can rise to the challenge.
Already numerous bloggers have posted their recipes, sharing personal stories, raising awareness and helping hundreds, if not thousands, of women out there to realize that they are not alone. If just one person reading this post is encouraged to donate some money, to check themselves for lumps and bumps or even to bake a batch of popping pink macarons to celebrate the life of a woman they love, then I’ll be happy.
When coming up with this recipe, I tried to think which ingredient would best represent the message I was trying to convey. I considered raspberries and strawberries, rich dark chocolate shells filled with purple-pink cherries and custard creations sandwiched with sticky rhubarb jam. Roses felt fitting for the girly theme, but the flavour of rosewater is a somewhat acquired taste, and I just wasn’t in the mood for its punchy floral overtones at the time. In the end I alighted on a single ingredient that signals celebration around the world, that opens with a pop and flirtily fizzes before disappearing completely in a flurry of bubbles. A message, if ever there was one, to live for the moment.
So here it is, the popping pink champagne macaron; a simple coloured shell filled with bubbly pink buttercream and a swirl of white chocolate and popping candy. It’s a celebratory sweet which pops and fizzes like a real glass of champagne, making grown adults feel like big kids, and reminding us that even when times are tough, simple pleasures can inject just a little joy into the everyday.
Popping pink macarons with pink champagne buttercream & white chocolate ‘pop’
(makes about 20)
For the shells:
I made the macaron shells using my favourite fall-back macaron recipe from the Ottolenghi cookbook. You can find the recipe and instructions here (just omit the cinnamon and replace with a couple of drops of natural pink food colouring).
For the filling
100g unsalted butter, softened
135g icing sugar
15 – 20ml pink champagne
Few drops pink food dye (optionl)
50g white chocolate, melted & cooled slightly
50g popping candy
Edible glitter & pens
Cream the butter til light and fluffy then add the icing sugar and blend til smooth. Slowly add the champagne to your blender to taste. If the colour isn’t pink enough for your liking, add a little pink food dye.
Mix the popping candy into the white chocolate.
Pipe a swirl of pink buttercream onto half a macaron shell, place a blob of white chocolate popping candy in the middle, then sandwich together with a second shell. Repeat.
Decorate with edible glitter, writing icing or a dusting of icing sugar.