Decisions decisions

Shhh.. don’t tell anyone, but I think I’ve got it sussed. Life, my friends, is just one big decision after another.

Unfortunately for me, this revelation is not particularly helpful as I’m pretty bad at making decisions. If life were as straightforward as one of those choose-your-own-adventure books, I’d be the one caught flicking forward to find out which storyline had the better ending, before taking that path. As a kid, we used to own quite a few of these books, but I think I completely missed the point of them.

So I’m sitting here, chewing on an extreme-seeded roll (my favourite Luneburger treat, aside from their pretzels) with avocado, browsing online for a swimsuit, and it strikes me that a) I never did decide who was sexier : Betty Rubble or Wilma Flintstone. Or Judy Jetson, and b) surely “sexy leather bikini” is a bit of a misnomer.

Either I’m falling between the cracks of any potential swimswear target market, or this life-changing decision is just beyond me. Is leather really an appropriate material for a bikini? A search for suede bikinis yielded too many serious results for me to make any jokes about them as well.

Anyway I’m hoping (praying) for some last minute inspiration, as I have yet to make up my mind about what to pack for the holiday B and I are taking next week.

Also this week, I am meant to be making an all important decision regarding my current job. But I’m baking instead.

Nougat, lime macaroon, or lavender berry teacake?

Decisions decisions!

Pistachio Nougat :
(This recipe comes from the Pier cookbook. If you try it and like it, feel free to let the Pastry Chef know 🙂 )

6 sheets sweet rice paper
3 egg whites from 55g eggs
375g whole pistachio nuts [I used a mixture of pistachios, almonds and dried cranberries]
400g caster sugar
100g honey
200g liquid glucose

Preheat the oven to 150’C.

Prepare a baking tray by lightly coating it with olive oil spray, then line it with baking paper, making sure you press the paper into the corners. Place three sheets of the sweet rice paper (or enough to cover the tray) over the baking paper.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer.

Place the pistachio nuts on another baking tray lined with baking paper and warm in the oven for 15 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, honey, glucose and 150ml water and cook until the mixture reaches 142’C on a sugar thermometer. When the syrup reaches 118’C, start beating the egg whites on medium-high speed until almost at the stiff peak stage. When the syrup reaches 142’C, pour the syrup into the beating egg whites in a slow steading stream (make sure not to pour the syrup onto the beaters). Turn the machine off and with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula mix in the pistachio nuts.

Spread the nougat quickly and evenly onto the prepared tray. Cover the top of the nougat with the remaining three sheets of sweet rice paper. Allow the nougat to cool to room temperature, then wrap it well in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Cut the nougat into desired shapes with a serrated knife and serve. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Lime Zest Macaroons :
(makes about 30; from HomeBaking by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid)

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups dried shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons pastry or cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
grated zest of 2 limes

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 148’C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the egg whites, sugar, coconut and flour. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, vanilla, and zest.

Immediately begin shaping the cookies : Scoop up a heaping teaspoon of the mixture and drop onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until the mixture is used, leaving nearly 1 1/2 inches between the cookies.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the coconut shreds have turned opaque and the cookies are very lightly browned on the bottom.

Lift the cookies, still on the parchment, onto a rack to cool and firm, then peel them off the paper and let them cool completely, so they crisp up a little. Store, once cooled, in a well-sealed container. These cookies keep beautifully.

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