Stories shared sweetly

Friday, May 7, 2010

Picture this: a stifling hot classroom, an extremely boring maths lesson, an old-fashioned desk with a drawer recess you could secretly balance a book on. Angled just the right way, with the chair tipped back ever so slightly, a girl could just about finish reading her storybook without getting caught.

Fast forward many years later and the reading is no longer clandestine, but the compulsion continues. Staying up way past bedtime becomes a sacrifice to be endured. The extra dose of caffeine the next day a small price to pay for the satisfaction of finishing the last few pages.

This addiction seems to run in the blood. I see that bookworm from the past mirrored in my own little girl. The intense concentration, the furrowed brow, the rapid blinking as she emerges like a mole from yet another adventure in the land of words.

Already she has formed her own opinions and developed her list of “favourites”. I am secretly sad each time she rejects my recommendations but rejoice when she finds her way to the books I used to love.

Which brings us, in a very roundabout way, to this month’s Mactweet: STORYBOOK MACARONS. Deeba and Jamie set this challenge for us: “Our May Mac Attack challenge sends you forth to create a macaron inspired by a beloved childhood book, an extract, a character, something from any book from your childhood.”

I knew exactly which author I wanted to reference – Enid Blyton. Sure her ideas and plotlines may seem a bit old-fashioned, even un-PC, these days. But through her books, a world of friendly fairies, brownies, gnomes and talking toys opened up before me. And as I grew older, I went on adventures with The Famous Five and The Secret Seven, and thence on to boarding school at Malory Towers.

Ms. Blyton seems to have been preoccupied with food, her books are peppered with fairy cakes and Pop Biscuits, picnics and midnight feasts. A lot of the food she described were things I could only dream about in my tropical childhood – treacle pudding, wild blackberries, strawberries and cream.

My favourite Blyton series was the Faraway Tree trilogy, I longed to find that tree and visit the lands that appeared at the top. I wanted to hang out with MoonFace and Silky and the Saucepan man. Most of all, I wanted to eat Pop Biscuits and Google Buns.

I’d forgotten all about these until MC Senior started reading the Faraway Tree stories. We found this description:

“Soon they were all sitting on the broad branches outside Moon-Face’s house, eating Pop Biscuits and Google Buns. The buns were most peculiar. They each had a very large currant in the middle, and this was filled with sherbet. So when you got to the currant and bit it the sherbet frothed out and filled your mouth with fine bubbles that tasted delicious. The children got a real surprise when they bit their currants, and Moon-Face almost fell off the branch with laughing.” ch: The Land of Dreams, book: The Magic Faraway Tree.

Here’s our take on this magical treat: Google Bun Macarons. A currant sits atop the macaron shell and the filling is a simple lemon cream cheese frosting I found in the freezer. Home-made sherbert was pressed onto the sides of the macaron.

Surprisingly, MC Senior loved these. She doesn’t usually go for macarons because they are too sweet (she’s got a pretty savoury palate). The sherbert helps cut the sweetness a lot, which is probably why she liked them.

Or perhaps the sherbert and lemon reminded her of another favourite series…(10 points for guessing which).

I look forward to sharing many more books (and macarons) with both the mini-critics. And that is my cue to wish all you special mummies out there a very Happy Mother’s Day!

Google Bun macarons:

I tried a “newish” recipe this time. A science-based one from Ms. Humble, over at Not So Humble Pie. She’s a scientist who churns out delicious and sometimes hilariously funny creations, and needless to say I love her site. You can find the macaron recipe here.

I got feet but I STILL have hollows inside and overbrowned tops on my macs. I think this is something beyond my control, it’s possibly the oven. I’m still only baking with the top element working…I know I should get it fixed, but when I heard how much they wanted to just come and look at it, I pushed it on the backburner (cooking pun intended).

Ah well.

As for home-made sherbert, it’s really easy:

1 scant teaspoon citric acid
1 scant teaspoon baking soda
about ½ cup pure icing (powdered) sugar.

Double sift the ingredients and store in a dry container. The “fizz” is provided by the reaction between the acid and the baking soda when they get wet. The icing sugar provides the “flavour”. Adjust to taste as necessary.

I found that I could poke a hole in the bottom of my shells and fill it with sherbert. I preferred having the sherbert on the outside though, because I could taste it first. Sherbert on the inside kind of just melded with the filling and left a lingering aftertaste that couldn’t quite be defined.


Xiao Yen Recipes said...

I've never had macarons. They sure look wonderfully delicious. How cute with the tea set!

Bonnie said...

I am not familiar with these books but the photos look so fun. What a treat for your daughter. Sherbert is also new to me. It sounds magical to bite into these and I'm guessing that they fizz, is that right? They just look "magical" and so pretty.

shaz said...

Xiao Yen - I love macarons. Some find it too sweet but in small doses they're wonderful

Bonnie - thank you. Yes, sherbert is fizzy. It's a tangy tasting powder, and the commercial versions come in different flavours. Kids dip lollipops in sherbert, or even just eat it with a spoon. Our macarons fizzed only a little bit because I didn't want to overdo the baking soda/citric acid - it tastes disgusting on its own.

Heavenly Housewife said...

Great post. I've kind of put my macaron making on hold. I have just been getting to frustrated by the whole experience. Rather than giving myself macaron headaches from treats that don't come out right, I'm just buying them at laduree and enjoying them... cause i'm naughty.
Have a wonderful weekend.
*kisses* HH

grace said...

you're so clever, and so talented at macaron-making! lovely goodies, shaz!

3 hungry tummies said...

This is such a cute post! You are the macaron queen! they always turn out perfectly! Happy mother's day shaz!

Jamie said...

This is utterly beautiful! I felt and still feel the same way you do about reading and the magic of reading and you are lucky that your daughter delights in books as well. These are gorgeous macarons and perfect, just simply perfect Google Bun Macs! Thrilled you baked these with us!

dessert girl said...

I love the idea of making a macaron based on a children's story. So fun!

Kitchen Butterfly said...

We're twins for this'll see soon. clue - I love Enid B too! Love your creation too!

pierre said...

nice macarons bravo !! Pierre de Paris

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

Such a sweet post! Happy mother's day, Shaz!

shaz said...

Heavenly Housewife - If I had access to Laduree, I'd be making them less often too :)

grace - thank you grace...I still feel a bit frustrated at the imprfections but hey, as long as it tastes good.

3 hungry tummies - thank you :) They're not really perfect but I'll take the compliments anyway.

Jamie - thanks for such a fun challenge. I really enjoyed this one. The beest so far I think.

dessert girl - I was really excited when I saw the challenge, I thought it was heaps of fun too

Kitchen Butterfly - can't wait to see you post Oz!

pierre -thanks Pierre

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) - and happy mother's day to you too :)

Y said...

So adorable! I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton's books and The Faraway Tree was by far my favourite. Google Bun macs are such a fantastic idea :)

shaz said...

Thanks Y, I'm glad that the MC Senior is into the books, gives me a chance to reread them :)

Eni said...

In fact I put Enid Blyton's so-called "un-pc" in its hisorical context as well as food in her literature in a sub-segment headline in my book on her, as well as a cursory look at The Faraway Trilogy in my book on her, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (,
Stephen Isabirye

Deeba PAB said...

Faraway Tree was one of my faves, and so was Enid Blyton. I always wanted the fun stuff they carried in their tuck boxes, and now we have to recreate that!! LOL ... you did a FAB job Shaz! Love the pun, and love the fizz. What a sweetly shared story ... won my heart, it did! ♥♥♥

Cristie said...

I can't say that I've ever heard of this book, you've given me a new one to look up. Darling post.