While I’m visiting my in-laws in Taiwan with my family, I’ve asked my long time blogger friends to blog-sit for me like asking a good friend to house sit when you go on vacation. They have prepared wonderful holiday recipes for Just One Cookbook readers so I hope you will enjoy reading their recipes. My blog sitter today is Jill of Mad About Macarons.
When I asked my guest bloggers to prepare holiday recipes while I’m on vacation, I didn’t expect Jill and Giulia would come up with similar European holiday desserts using Nougat. Even though nougat seems to be a very popular Christmas dessert ingredient, I wasn’t actually familiar with nougat desserts until I’ve seen Jill’s recipe and then Giulia’s Nougat Semifreddo. It’s nougat season at Just One Cookbook this week so please enjoy this delicious European Christmas dessert!
Jill was born and raised in Scotland and now lives in France with her husband and two children. Her site, Mad About Macarons, features not only fabulous macarons but also shares other desserts and savory dishes on her blog. I always adore colorful round macarons because they are so irresistibly cute!
When I first found Jill’s site back in my early blogging days, I would never imagined that I would become good friends with this cookbook author and blogger. Despite having “cookbook author” title, Jill has been always down to earth and been a good friend to me, making sure I have enough sleep (haha) and I get my priorities in life straight. While she’s having busy schedule with her daughters’ school and extra curricular activities, she makes delicious desserts and meals for parties and school events as well as entertaining her readers on her blog. I really admire her dedication and hard work.
You can get to know Jill better by visiting her online at Facebook and through her cookbook “Mad About Macarons! Make Macarons Like the French”. Please welcome Jill with her classic French decadent dessert.
Welcome Jill! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Jill, totally Scottish, but for the past 20 years I’ve been living and working in France, trying to keep up with my French/Corsican husband and two gorgeous, girly girls, 11 and 9.
Please tell us a little bit about your blog.
In the past year, le blog was born to coincide with the launch of my cookbook, “Mad About Macarons! Make Macarons Like the French”. Ever since, I have been just as hooked on blogging as making macarons, teaching music, and writing!
How do you feel about your own food blogging experience so far?
Blogging has been tremendous fun this year – meeting new friends and sharing similar passions. At first I had no idea how time-consuming it was, though. Luckily, Nami has been a special friend. Her cheerful words have arrived just as I’ve been pulling my hair, trying to grasp the technical side of the website or just feeling snowed under aiming to juggle everything, so her encouraging comments have helped me appreciate that we’re not alone. In fact, Nami responds when it must be 2am for her in San Fran! How is that for dedication?
If you can give one advice to a new food blogger, what would it be?
Giving advice is tricky since I’m still learning! For anyone new to blogging, interacting is paramount. At first, it’s a way of telling people you’re out there, but then you discover it’s more than that. By building relationships, the need to blog and share things that are a bit different becomes stronger. It’s like preparing a meal: you strive to please and dish up surprises. If someone doesn’t say anything, do you assume they didn’t like it? When readers have digested, we’re driven by positive, constructive comments that can be a huge boost. If no comments come in you can either say, I didn’t serve up the right meal or I should have told people it was served. Either way it’s a great way of discovering what works and you aim to improve.
What would you advise to a new cook or someone who wants to start cooking at home more?
Go for it and enjoy yourself! Don’t be afraid of making mistakes or testing your own style: it’s a fun way to learn and build confidence. I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding willing tasters!
Dare I say one thing? I still find it hard to accept when Nami says she’s not good at making desserts/baking. She produces so many fantastic dishes and her Crème Caramel-Purin as a guest post on le blog was nothing short of perfection on a plate.
Thank you Jill! From here I will let Jill take over and show us what she prepared. Enjoy!
There are two reasons why I’m excited to be here today: firstly, Nami is finally enjoying a well deserved break with her lovely family and secondly, it’s a sincere honour to be a guest on Just One Cookbook. I’ve been counting the days until today.
So here’s a simple but effective festive dessert for the holidays. One of my favourites at Christmas is nougat ice cream. It’s a real French classic (nougat glacé) and is usually served as one large slice surrounded by a tart raspberry coulis. As this needs to be dazzling for Just One Cookbook, here’s an orangey concoction in the form of sticky caramel choux buns.
Don’t be put off by the long recipe. This is ridiculously easy to put together quickly and without fuss – my kind of stress-free recipe for a holiday menu. Each of the 3 parts can be made in advance: the caramel can keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks; the ice cream can be made a week or two in advance and the choux pastry can keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
On the day itself, just pipe out the buns, wham them in the oven for 20 minutes, and when ready to serve simply fill them with a dollop of the ice cream and dribble on the warmed caramel. Decorate with the nuts and candied fruit and serve with a chilled glass of Muscat and let the toes curl in front of the fire.
Wishing you sweet, happy holidays!
- 60g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 50g pecan nuts or walnuts, roughly chopped
- 100g candied fruit, preferably orange peel and candied kumquats, roughly chopped
- 4 egg whites
- 3 tbsp runny honey (I used a strong pine honey)
- 300ml whipping cream, chilled
- 140g water
- 100g milk
- 1 tbsp orange flower water
- pinch salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 90g unsalted butter
- 150g flour
- 4 eggs
- 160g sugar
- 120g salted butter
- 200g whipping cream
- grated rind of an orange, or 3 kumquats
- 1 tbsp Cointreau or Grand Marnier
- Put a glass bowl in the freezer in preparation for whipping the cream.
- Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
- Heat the honey in a pan until it starts to bubble. Pour it hot onto the egg whites then whisk for another minute or two.
- Whip the cream in the chilled bowl until it’s stiff. Add the nuts and fruit (but keep some aside for the decoration) and fold the mixture gently into the beaten egg whites.
- Pour into mini muffin molds (I used silicone), or simply into a sealed container and freeze.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Boil the water, milk, orange flower water, salt, sugar and butter in a large saucepan.
- Once boiling, quickly add the flour and whisk until the dough is smooth and comes away from the sides of the pan.
- Transfer to a mixing bowl (or electric mixer) and gradually add the eggs. Whisk until you have a lovely smooth, sticky paste. At this point, you can transfer the pastry to a piping bag and keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.
- Using a piping bag, pipe out small heaps on baking trays covered in greaseproof/baking paper (or Silpat) Leave a good space between each mound, as they will spread out during baking.
- Brush with a glaze of one egg yolk mixed with a tablespoon of water. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Put the sugar with a few drops of water into a small saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, stir it now and again over a medium heat until a golden syrupy caramel forms. This should take about 10 minutes.
- Mix in the butter, still over the gentle heat and keep stirring for about 10 minutes until thickened.
- Turn down the heat and add the cream, zest and liqueur gradually.
- The caramel can last up to 3 weeks if stored in a sealed jar in the fridge. When ready to serve, just reheat gently for a few seconds in the microwave and dribble (the sauce.)
- When choux buns are cool, cut them in half and fill with a scoop or mini mold of nougat ice cream. Warm the orange caramel in the microwave just for a few seconds and dribble over the buns (sorry, I can't help laughing on that one: you don't dribble but the sauce should be dribbled...). Decorate with candied fruits and the extra toasted nuts.