WAD is coming up on December 1st. Spending time in NYC these last weeks had me reconnecting with two special people I worked side by side with in the trenches of the AIDS crisis in the late 80's early 90's. Barry and Jamie are two extraordinary human beings and it was an honor to be activists together.
We were volunteers at an organization that kept pets with their HIV positive owners as long as possible so they could provide comfort and companionship. You can read more about my experience and the organization and see the Ribbon Angel cookies I made HERE in my last year's WAD post.
Those times were alternately heartbreaking and hilarious. I learned so many things about myself and other people but above all I learned we forged a bond that cannot break despite years and continents between us.
Things have come far since the drug "cocktail" was invented. But there is still so much to do. Particularly affected and vulnerable today are women and children. That's why today I made a donation to the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative.
Click HERE for a link to AIDS support services ranked by Charity Navigator. If you are so inclined or inspired, find one with a good ranking that resonates with you and volunteer or make a donation or both.
World AIDS Day Macarons
With Red Hibiscus Buttercream
For the shells I used the Tartelette's recipe. (Use a kitchen scale for precise measurements)
- 3 egg whites - aged at least 2 days. Let hem sit out on the counter uncovered.
- 25-50 grams of fine granulated sugar
- 200 grams of powdered sugar
- 110 Grams of almond flour*
*You can buy almond flour that has been ground with or without the skin. I use the later (blanched). The former looks really nice if you are not coloring the shells. You can also grind your own almond flour by putting whole or sliced almonds in a food processor or blender. If you do, make sure you throw a little of the powdered sugar in to prevent the almonds from forming a paste.
- Sift the powdered sugar and almond flour together or pulse them together briefly in a food processor. Make sure there are no large pieces and set aside.
- Whip the egg whites. When they start to get foamy, slowly add the sugar. Continue whipping until you can turn the bowl upside down and nothing slides out. (I also add a pinch each of salt and cream of tartar)
- Add the powdered sugar/almond mixture to the egg white mixture and fold, using quick strokes at first then slow down. No more than 50 strokes all together. The batter should have a "flowing like lava" consistency.
- Fill a Pastry bag and pipe circles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or on a silpat. When I first started making macarons, I used to trace circles using a small cookies cutter onto the parchment. Then I would flip it over and use it as a guide for piping perfect circles.
- Let the macarons dry for about one hour until they harden.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
- Bake for 18-20 minutes and here is the hard part - refrain from obsessively peeping though the oven window or opening the oven door to see if they get feet.
- Let cool completely.
Using a small pint brush, I dipped it in vodka and then into red disco dust and painted the ribbons on the shells.
For the Red Hibiscus Buttercream:
- 1 stick of butter softened
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons Red Hibiscus syrup*
- Red gel food coloring (optional). I used Wilton's Red Red
- Cream butter and 1 cups of the powdered sugar together.
- Add syrup and then gradually add the remaining powdered sugar.
- Add gel food coloring if desired.
For the Hibiscus Syrup:
- 1 Cup of Red hibiscus Tea
- 2 Cups granulated white sugar
- Brew Tea
- Transfer to a small saucepan bring to a boil
- Add sugar stirring occasionally until it is dissolved.
- Remove from heat. Let cool and thicken.