May 9, 2010

PBJ (Peanut Butter And Jam) Peanut Macarons Plus A Cookbook Giveaway!


This is a slightly long post but if you are willing to read through it, I promise you some virtual PBJ Peanut Macarons and a chance at winning a cookbook. That's a pretty good offer, don't you think?
Of course, you could always scroll straight down to the end of this post to read about the giveaway.

It’s been a while since I fell of the French macaron making wagon. There was a time when I was fascinated by the pretty and colourful sandwiched almond cookies that were all rage in the world of food blogs and else where. I so wanted to make a few of my own but had heard how unpredictable these tooth tinglingly sweet cookies could be to make.

I was however convinced that I could make some without too much difficulty. After all what was there to powdering almonds and sugar, beating up some egg whites, folding everything together, piping out the batter and baking them?

A couple of failed attempts were a great leveller. Finally I used David Lebovitz's and I had my first successful batch of Coffee And Dark Chocolate-Nutella macarons.
And the truth is that I haven’t had one single successful macaron batch in a while, despite many grand failed attempts and I bid macaron making as graceful a goodbye as I could.
Then last month some macaron talk on Twitter got me back on the ole macaron bandwagon and I decided to try my hand at making some again.




Since I was trying to get back into Macmode, there’s nothing quite like a fresh start and peanuts instead of almonds in my macarons seemed a good place to begin. I had seen this peanut-chocolate macaron recipe a long time back and that’s what I used here.
One thing different about this recipe is that does not require egg whites to be “aged”. Fresh whites are warmed over warm water, so you can make them even if you don’t have aged egg whites on hand.
I followed the recipe, having learnt from bitter experience that macaron recipes do not respond well to tweaking. I halved the recipe using only 2 egg whites and added a bit of red gel colour to the macaronnage so may macaron shells are a pale pink.
And voila, I had French macarons, the kind with “feet”!

I had filled my earlier macarons with chocolate ganache, so I wanted something else for these.
Somehow, thinking about peanuts took me back to peanut butter and jelly/ jam (PBJ). For us here in India, the “J” in PBJ stands for jam because jelly is not jam but what is referred to as “jello” in the U.S.!

Something as ordinary as peanut butter and jam in something like macarons? Well, why not? It s all about what works together and what tastes good eventually that’s good food for me. So my peanut macarons were filled with creamy peanut butter and strawberry jam.




Here’s the recipe I used. This is the full recipe and I halved this. Please see my previous macaron post for some tips and advice that worked for me.



Ingredients:


2 1/3 cups powdered sugar

1 1/3 cups unsalted roasted peanuts

1/3 cup granulated sugar

4 large egg whites

creamy peanut butter and strawberry jam for filling macarons



Method:

Process the powdered sugar and peanuts until nuts are very finely ground. Take care not to over process the mixture as it will clump and become a paste if the oil from the peanuts get released.

Bring 2 to 3 inches of water to a boil in a medium sized deep pan. Turn down the heat to maintain a very low simmer. In a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk sugar into the egg whites by hand.

Set the bowl over simmering water in pan (bottom of bowl should not touch water) and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved and the mixture feels warm to the touch. Remove the bowl from water and, with an electric mixer on high speed (fitted with the whisk attachment if using standing mixer), whip the egg white mixture until thick, stiff peaks form. Gently fold in powdered sugar-peanut mixture into the egg whites.

Spoon mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip and, with the tip almost touching the parchment, pipe into flat 2-inch circles about 1/8 inch thick, 1 inch apart, on two cooking parchment-lined sheets.

Tap the cookie sheets against table to get rid of air bubbles and allow the piped batter to rest at room temperature for about ½ an hour or so, till the tops of the circle do not stick to your finger when touched lightly.

Place the cookie sheet on another empty cookie sheet and bake the macarons at 130C for about 15 to 20 minutes, till tops are dry and edges have formed “feet”. Let cookies cool completely on sheets, and then remove by gently lifting them up and peeling the parchment away from the bottoms. Store them in an airtight container if not filling immediately.
Spread the flat side of each of half the cookies with a bit of peanut butter and then some strawberry jam. Top each with a second cookie, flat side toward filling.




I know for many people, especially in the U.S., PBJ is something ordinary, perhaps even comfort food, something that one grew up with and took for granted. But as a child, for me, this was the stuff that my story books were made of.

There was a time when books written by Enid Blyton ruled my world. Sure, I read other books and had favourites like Winnie the Pooh and many others. I even remember reading comic books/ annuals like The Beano and The Dandy (any one remember those?).
As an eight-nine year old many of Enid Blyton’s books opened up a world I naively thought could perhaps be real, and secretly envied. Who wouldn’t want to go to boarding schools where children played pranks on teachers, especially Mamzelles who taught French, and where midnight feasts happened?

Imagine having a cousin whose father owned an island and having summer holidays which were filled with thrilling adventures, one after another! And having friends with whom one formed gangs/ clubs and secret passwords which were the only way to get into the clubhouse?

But one thing which invariably kept popping up in all these books was the mention of PBJ sandwiches. These used to be part of many a picnic or carry along meal in those books.

An Enid Blyton is no longer my choice of a good book, though I did revisit that world with my daughter some years ago and her “Famous Five” series lines a part of our bookshelf. But peanut butter (without the jam) is still one of my favourites, and the PBJ combination seemed the perfect filling for my peanut macarons.

For the month of May, the ladies at Mac Tweets want us to create a macaron inspired by a beloved childhood book, an extract, a character, something from any book from your childhood. So these Peanut Butter And Jam macarons are just the perfect thing for this edition.


And now for the cookbook giveaway I mentioned at the beginning of the post.

You might have read the review I wrote, some time back, of Monica Bhide’s Modern Spice which she wrote to introduce Americans to modern Indian cooking. In her cookbook, Monica uses the spices found in most Indian kitchens to cook up dishes with a more modern and international flavour. Yet, every recipe in this book has a very unmistakable Indian flavour in it.

As Monica herself says, "As a new generation of modern Indians, we are changing everything. We love tradition, but embody change; we respect technique, but are playful; our style is refined, our tastes are global.”




Random House India has just published an Indian version of Modern Spice and the book will be available on bookstore shelves from the 15th of this month.
This edition of Modern Spice is very well presented, and attractively put together with each chapter colour coded differently.

The book is slightly different in its approach and in a few of its recipes, naturally, since the target audience are in India. There are also no pictures in this book, which in my opinion, doesn’t matter much as the few pictures in the American edition will not be really missed.
Guava bellini, Pomegranate shrimp, Crab tikkis, Spicy fig yogurt Curried carrot soup with paneer, Pista-mirch-dhaniya spread, and Pan-seared eggplant with ginger and honey are just a few of the recipes in this book.

The publishers sent me a copy of the new Modern Spice and have also been generous to send me an extra copy of the book to giveaway to one lucky reader of this blog.

So wouldn’t you like a chance to win this lovely book?
If you would, please leave a comment below this post telling me why you would like a copy of this book. That’s all it takes.
You don’t have to subscribe to this blog, follow me on social networking sites, link to this post, mention this giveaway (though you could if you wanted to) on Twitter or Facebook, or tell me how much you love my posts, recipes or pictures (though I wouldn’t mind hearing you say so!).

So please leave a comment here (only one comment per person, please) between today and the midnight of the 20th May. I’ll randomly choose one person to giveaway the book to.

This giveaway is open only to Indian residents. If you do live outside India, but have an address in India you would like the book to be sent to (in case you win) then please feel free to join in.
Good luck!

61 comments:

Preeti Kashyap said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Preeti Kashyap said...

Love the macroons and the clicks! Why would I be interested in this book? One you recommend it and second, I don't have it! Would be a nice addition to my kitchen library!

A&N said...

:) Love the twist to the usual macarons. I got tired of seeing exotic ones, frankly.

I hate the PBand J combo. I just don't get it! but, but I understand Enid Blyton. That is where macaroons (spelling?) fascination began for me.

And crumpets :) and treacle. Sigh.

Junglefrog said...

Not growing up with PBJ anything I have never tried it and hmm, well it just does not appeal a lot to me. But what does appeal to me are your gorgeous macarons! I so have to get back into mac mode myself!! Sounds like a great book but since I am not really living in India.. :) I might have to get a copy myself!

Soma said...

They have feet! and pretty ones too ;-)

I do not like PB+J but can do with a PB sandwich when I am really hungry.

I still love Enid Blyton. It is with a lot of difficulty that i found a few books here in the library. DD loved it. It is a shame that they are not popular here in the states.. the reason I was told is that of becoz of a british author!! Kinda hard to digest that.

I love the simplicity of Bhide's recipes and the out of the ordinary way she combines the ingredients and makes it sound like an everyday thing. Besides you have reviewed it before...

Ruchira said...

Love your blog, and down-to-earth writing and reviews. Would love to get my hands on Bhide's book, it looks interesting, I loved the names of the recipes that you have mentioned in your post.

Pavithra said...

Cute cute cute mac's yummy... awesome clicks as well...

Sumi said...

Would love to add Bhide's book to my cookbook collection..
lovely macaroons.I really want to try out some after seeing your post, but donno when..:)

Nags said...

i'd been meaning to order the book since i read yours and a couple of others' review. the fact that it has no pics is a bummer but i am curious to check out the recipes of course :)

ps: had to say this about your macs. They are so perfectly domed and have such awesome feet. i am not even feeling brave enough to try making them!

Soumiya said...

I just started cooking and go through a lot of cooking blogs. I would love to have this book to check out the new recipres

Divya Kudua said...

LOL abt not having to subscribe or follow your blog.That is a big dampener for giveaways I think:)No offense to anyone..:)

Love the PBJ macs..I am always amazed at your pics which truly makes the dish stand out..hats off!!

I have heard rave reviews about the book too and would like to see whats its all about.As Nags says,no pics is a bummer!!

PJ said...

macaroons are so delicious and they look so picture perfect too! i am not staying at india right now but my family is.. so count me in :)

Simran said...

I've totally given up the macaron making after 2 or 3 failed attempts. My good ones are too few and far between to keep me going.

Oh! And I love the idea of a spice a dish rather than the ubiquitous garam masala that goes into everything. Pick me! Pick me! Pick me!

jayasree said...

Am here after a long time. Looks like there is so much to catch up.

Lovely macaroons and great photography. Peanut seems to be a good change as I have seen more of almonds and cashews in macaroons.

Indian edition of modern spice sounds interesting.

suma said...

Cute macaroons!! Would love to have this book on my shelf!!

Nidhi said...

Love ur macs!
I have been slowly cooking my way through most of ur recipes and shouting fr help when the going gets tough! Love ur cooking style and how generous you are with ur time!
That said, wud love to check out the book n compare notes!

Lata said...

Hi

I stumbled upon your blogs recently. I just love the way you write. I would love to have the book so that I could improve my cooking...

Lata

maria said...

Hi Thank you for the giveaway and Macroons..

why I would like to have a copy of the book is simply b'cos I like trying out new recipes....

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Adorable macs and glad you got your mac mojo back to join us at MacTweets!!!

That book? Oh I would love to win it because it's already on my list and also it's my birthday this week - would be a lovely present!

Happy Cook said...

Hi hi that is how i tempt my hubby for macarons, with peanut butter filling :-)
I didn't join up this month. Didn't had time and didn't had feet.

Suzana said...

Aparna,

Lovely combination! You got me really curious about macarons with peanuts... Sounds really unusual. :)

MeetaK said...

PB & J I have mixed feeling about that one. I have not had a PBJ sandwich in something like 5-6 years and that was when I made it for Soeren for the first time. He did not take to the taste too much either.

What I do live though are these macarons they looks like little dreams of perfection Aparna! perfect!

Asha said...

Hope you had a great Mom's day Aparna. Just woke up, still sleepy to read the whole post but good luck. Books look awesome, I have Bhide's book. Have a great week! :)

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Congratulations on conquering macarons again!! Love the twist, and all those words about Enid Blyton sent me back. I still have all the books :)

This is the first time I've ever seen an Indian only giveaway. Even though I'm not big on cookin, I'm going to enter, just for that :)

Rachana Kothari said...

PB&J... dosen't appeal me.

Your macroons looks perfect Aparna :)

I have heard great reviews about the book and would love to check out:) I am not in India though but my family is...

shellyfish said...

Those macs look so beautiful! You've really got the magic touch.
Don't enter me in the giveaway- I wrote a review of Modern Spice for the Daring Kitchen last year - and really liked it! Just stopping by to say hello :)

Priti said...

Macs looks nice and lovely colour...hmm recipe book sans the pics..interesting....

shaz said...

Wow! Great macarons Aparna. Might try this method next, sounds interesting. I grew up in Enid B too :)

(Not eligible for giveaway but soudns like a fabulous book)

Asha @ FSK said...

Gorgeous Macs aparna!! Glad you got back on the wagon :) I continue to be off it coz there are no takers for the super sweet little things here...

Jamie said...

I love your macs this month and so want to taste them! Love pbj sandwiches and they bring me back to my childhood. Wonderful macs and so perfect with these books!

Would love this cookbook! I so want to learn how to cook with spices so much better than I do. Spices intrigue me and I love all the different flavors and creations possible but I am still rather uncomfortable experimenting myself. This book would be perfect for me!

Chitra said...

Very nice and Lovely macrons..I wish to try all these ..But I shud buy a better MW first..HAve bookmarked this :)

simply.food said...

Beautiful macarons,
Beautiful posts
Beautiful Blog
Beautiful click
Beautiful book which of course I would like BUT I live in the UK!!:(

sra said...

I don't want the book. Your post has me decided to read at least one FF when I go home at the end of the month - I have a whole library of our childhood books, including all the Nancy Drews and ACKs, and some school series from my mother's childhood too!

Funnily enough, I remember boiled eggs, fresh tomatoes and bread, but not PBJ sandwiches. I always thought it was an American thing, and while I've never ever tried it, I've never liked the idea of it!

Deeba PAB said...

Love the perfect macs Aparna, and am so glad you are back on the mac-wagon! You've done a perfect job with flavours that are making my heart sing!
What a wonderful give-away!

Topher said...

Never really had the opportunity or chance to cook indian. I'd love this cookbook. Thanks for the great giveaway!

Chris

zekks at yahoo dot com

Ria Mathew said...

Beautiful Macs, A! Even I made it in time to post for this month's Mactweets!

I would love to win this book because I have heard a LOT about it from you and from other blogs!! So it MUST be good!

Sandy a la Mode said...

mmm yummy! i love macaroons! what a great giveaway too!

sandyalamode(at)gmail(dot)com

Tia Maria said...

The macarons look great! I think you have got the hang of them. The book sounds exciting! I cook a lot of Indian at home and I like the pea puff recipe of Monica's that you posted a while back. Thanks for the great recipes!

Jayashree said...

I like PB & J separately, but can't stand the combo. Malory towers and St Clares were favourites with me too.

jayasri said...

I have never tasted PBJ!!, I want to try making Macarons again!!, I have kept the egg whites out!!, I am so scared to try them out!!, I get confused what to do exactly with different techniques, This is different again!!. They look perfect with their feet!!.
OH! how I wish I could get them!!, Lovely give away, I would like to have it in with my cooking books, I did see one or two of your posts of Monica's, I am curious to know more about it,as I love my spices!! count me in please...

Natalie... said...

Ok this definately sounds like the best macaroon ever!! Wow amazing!

Manggy said...

GREAT flavor. I love PB and J - such a classic. Anyway, for future reference, I see the effects of high humidity and high top heat on your macs. Hopefully they will be more successful on very cold days. If the heating element of your oven is on the top, try using a baking stone and baking far away from the heating element.

♥Sugar♥Plum♥Fairy♥ said...

Am so thrilled to find an Indian Giveaway!!

Fantastic choice!!

If i win .ill gift it to somebody in India.
BDW, me too jus posted a giveaway which is more Indian ,than international;-))
U love baking,u will love this!!

http://brightmorningstarsfoodie.blogspot.com/2010/05/summer-poemes-on-mothers-day365-jam.html

And ur macroons sure are absolutely beautiful!!!

Debugcooking said...

Love the PBJ mac's...PB is still my fav....and the giveaway sounds fun!

Eni said...

I am exhilarated to learn that Enid Blyton's books were part of your life as you were growing up. in fact macaroons and sandwiches filled up a couple of her books. You have fantastic macaroons. Yes, people often drift in and out of Enid Blyton's books as they grow older and at times, the liking of Enid Blyton and her books could be a cyclical process. I agree with Soma that Enid Blyton's books are a rarity in American presence and psyche, though nowadays, these books can easily be obtained either online (Amazon, Navrang, Ebay, Abebooks, etc) or through inter-library loan book schemes. I discuss Enid Blyton's complex relationship with the USA in a sub-segment, titled, "Enid Blyton and America," as well as the food phenomenon in her literature, under the sub-titled segment, "Food in Blytonian Literature," in my book on her, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.bbotw.com).
Stephen Isabirye

bake in paris said...

Wow, peanut as a substitute to almond.... that is novelty... and look at your result.... fabulous..

And the addition of a love shaped decoration at the side of filling is a charmer....

Btw, nice photos too!

Sawadee from Bangkok,
Kris

Hilda said...

They look lovely and filled with love Aparna. I'd never had a PB&J sandwich until well after we moved to the US. I only like it with some kinds of jam but it's not a comfort food for me, though I know it is for most of my American friends.

Hetal said...

Hi Aparna:
I had not heard of this book prior to reading your book. This book definitely sounds interesting and I would love to win a copy!!
My son has a lot of food allergies and I am on a constant lookout for recipes with an Indian flavor, but does contain his allergens like besan, nuts which are staples in most of the Indian foods.
I love your blog! Keep up the good work!
Hetal

A Musician's Kitchen said...

Hi Aparna

I actually hadn't heard of the book until I read about it on your blog. Why I would love to own it? I'm a second generation Indian, born and raised abroad who is now living in India. While I've tried my hand at pure Indian cooking, it really isn't my cup of tea. Having been raised on an international diet, I'm always looking for ways to bring together Indian and international cooking and this book sounds perfect for that.

Rituparna said...

Hi Aparna !
I am a first time visitor to your blog and am already in love with it. I have been waiting for quite sometime to meet a fellow Indian Food Blogger and I found you. I just love those macaroons and would love to get that book as well. It would be a good addition to my every increasing library and through you I also discovered her blog and would like to know about her a little more soon. The best way of doing that is to receive her book.

Bonnie said...

Hi Aparna, I bake with HBinFive and also MacTweets. So nice to see your Macaron post. They are lovely. PB and J macarons are wonderful. I make peanut butter macarons shells often and they are a favorite with the men in my life. They have a much more pronounced flavor than the almond shells. You macs are lovely.

Latha said...

Hi my name is Latha . Just like you, I was also a very keen reader of Enid Blyton. Sometimes I would skip my dinner to finish the book. Just like how my daughter is struck to Harry Potter books, in the same way I was struck to Enid Blyton's book. I loved it very very much. Thanks

Ken said...

Your macs have gorgeous feet and the flavor profile is spot on.

zlamushka said...

Hey Aparna,

I would love the copy of the cookbook because as my blog suggests - I am completley nuts abt spices :-) and whats better than inspiration from the land of spicy food :-)

Nupur said...

Your macaroons are drop dead gorgeous- the kind I've seen in pictures of French bakeries, kudos to you!

Thanks for the giveaway. If I am lucky enough to win, the book will go to my dear sister in Bangalore :)

Parita said...

Your macs look beautiful, especially those cute red hearts! Love the idea of using Peanut butter and jam!
Giveaway sounds exciting, thanks!

DEESHA said...

I love Macaroons. They look gorgeous

M D said...

Loved this peanut butter jam Macarons. Brilliant pics too. Loved the review of ur book and appreciate the way you write. Nice give-away too. Would love to grab a copy of this. Again, appreciate the awesome work done with this blog!

BangaloreBaker said...

Great pictures. I loved the sprinkle heart on the side. Can make a wonderful valentine's day gift. I have too many western books, not many Indian spice books. Testing my luck.

Cassidy said...

these are so cute ! i love the little heart sprinkle ; hehe it's the perfect touch . i'll have to make these some time .

Aparna said...

Thank you all for the wonderful response for the giveaway. The winner has been announced.

Also appreciate the comments on my blog, the macarons and pictures. :)