I’m in love. With Morocco, that is.
My friend and I had the most amazing trip. Ever. Really. It was great.
We arrived in Fes on the Wednesday, where we promptly discovered that our “conservative floor length skirts” were really not necessary.
After hours of walking up and down the long, hilly stone streets, we successfully found (probably the only) wine in Fes. Served in glass coca-cola bottles. Obviously.
(P.S. Moroccan wine is delicious. And, the only way to drink Moroccan wine is with the also delicious vegetable Moroccan soup (wine and soup really isn’t as bad as it sounds, I promise).)
On Thursday we traveled by train to Marrakech. All seven hours were complimented so nicely by screaming children.
But, Marrakech was worth it! After some taxi bargaining, we reached our second hotel, which was right by Djemaa El Fna, a massive square in the old part of the city.
((Djemma El Fna by day))
((And by night))
More love. So much love.
The hotel in Marrakech (well, and in Fes, too) was beautiful, and the people running the hotel were extremely kind. (I had poetry recited to me while I sipped on mint tea.) We spent the next two days getting completely lost in the old Medina, wandering through markets of all kinds – jewelry, vegetables, street foods, and more, and drinking (SO MUCH) mint tea… or “Moroccan whiskey”. We walked from the old part of Marrakech to the new part, and back again after getting even more lost than the first time in the Medina.
Returning to Fes by train was about as much fun as the first time… gotta love screaming children.
Two more days of market wanderings completed our stay. We did nothing big (ahem, Morocco on a budget), but it was so peaceful.
Of course when we arrived in Paris it was snowing and the temperature was sitting at freezing.
Aye. Welcome back to real life.
Now, since we’ve gotten past my dreamy words about the lovely Morocco, let’s talk Valentine’s Day.
If you’re single, or if you’re taken… Valentine’s Day can work for everyone!
There’s so much love going on in my life between my friends and family, that everyone deserves a little Valentine’s lovin’!
These macarons have been on my “to-make” list, and after shaping them into hearts, they really do make the best lovey-dovey treats!
(Adapted very slightly from:
Strawberry Heart Macarons – What you need:
- 100 grams aged egg whites (rested at room temperature in a sealed container for 24 hours)
- 110 grams almond poweder
- 150 grams confectioner’s sugar
- 50 grams strawberry Nesquik
- 35 grams caster sugar
Strawberry Heart Macarons – What you do:
I would recommend first drying out the almond powder by placing it in a pre-heated 100 degree celsius oven for about 10 minutes, stirring it occasionally. I always have better results if I dry out the almond powder. Just a note! Make sure you weigh the almond powder AFTER you dry it out – a lot of moisture will evaporate in the drying process.
Pulse the almond powder, confectioner’s sugar, and strawberry Nesquik in a food processor for 30 seconds to a minute, then sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric beater on high until foamy. Slowly add the caster sugar, and continue beating until stiff peaks form. The egg whites are ready when you can turn the bowl upside-down without the egg whites sliding down the bowl.
With a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the almond powder mixture. First stir rapidly to incorporate all the ingredients, then slowly finish stirring the macaron batter until it is ribbon-like and shiny! Make sure not to overbeat – I count my stirs to make sure they’re under 50.
Separate the batter.
You want to place 1/3 of the batter in a pastry bag fitted with a very thin tip. This will be for outlining the hearts.
Place the rest of the batter in a pastry bag with a wide tip. This will be for filling in the outlined hearts.
I used a heart template (that I made) to trace hearts on the parchment paper.
Allow the outline to set for a few minutes, and then pipe in the rest of the macaron.
Tap the macarons a few times on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
Allow the macarons to sit at room temperature for around an hour. This prevents the shells from cracking in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 140-150 degrees celsius.
Bake the macarons for 12 to 14 minutes, depending on size, rotating the baking sheet in the oven half way through.
Allow the macarons to rest on the baking sheet for a minute after they are finished baking, then pop them off onto a cooling rack. If the macarons stick to the parchment paper, allow them to bake for a few minutes more.
These aren’t my prettiest macarons… I think I have to work on my heart shaping techniques… but I think they get the point across clearly enough! At first I thought it was the macaron recipe, or some weird variable that was off in my macaron baking… but my normal shaped macarons turned out just fine!
For the filling…
Mascarpone and Honey Filling – What you need:
- 75 grams butter, softened
- 125 grams mascarpone cheese, softened
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
Mascarpone and Honey Filling – What you do:
Beat together the butter and mascarpone until creamy. Add the honey, beat well. Add the confectioner’s sugar, and again, beat well.
Spoon the filling into a pastry bag and pipe the filing onto one macaron cookie. Sandwich the cookie with another macaron.
As I mentioned before, I made some normal macarons too from this recipe. With sprinkles. Obviously!