Friday, 27 July 2018

A Delinquent Sort Of Muxu and a Glass (or Two) of Kalimoxto

You may well imagine that I'm a sophisticated and elegant man-about-town but allow me to disabuse you a little. I can be a thoroughgoing tatterdemalion if I put my mind to it. I was going through a slovenly phase (it was my butler's night off) when I put the following together. I'm probably in a lot of trouble with the people of the Basque region for mucking about with these local specialities but I swear that I do it with a great fondness and respect and only partly because I've had a glass or two of kalimoxto.

Let's start with my errant sort of muxu….Muxus

I fancied something to go with my evening espresso and so I made this inelegant, chocolatey sort of muxu. A few years ago it became the thing (at least among food bloggers) to create sophisticated, professional looking macarons. Quality patisserie is a wonderful thing but it's not what I usually enjoy baking and I'm rather glad that we've moved on a bit. The real muxu is a refined Basque speciality and mine are not the real thing: they're an idiosyncratic, delinquent tribute to the original. They're also simple to make and perfect with coffee. They do bear a distant resemblance to the sophisticated macaron although they'll almost certainly deny it. 

200 g caster sugar
250 g ground almonds (ideally not too fine if you're as haphazard as me)
100 g cocoa powder (preferably a good quality, dark and unsweetened powder)
½ tsp vanilla powder (not essential, but I like it)
4 large egg whites

Thoroughly mix together the sugar, almonds, vanilla and cocoa powder. Whisk the egg whites to the soft peak stage. Gently stir the egg whites into the dry ingredients. This will give you quite a firm mixture - don't worry, that's fine. Any serious baker would probably reach for a piping bag but I just spoon the mixture into circles of around 5 cm diameter on lined baking sheets. You should get around 24 - 28 circles of mixture, but don't worry if you get more or less - you can just shorten or lengthen the cooking time a little to make up for it. 

You now need to set the trays aside to let the crust of the muxus dry for at least 1 or 2 hours or even overnight. If you want to speed the process up, put the trays in a fan oven that's switched on without any heat.

Preheat the oven to 200⁰C. Just before putting into the oven, use a very sharp knife to cut a shallow slash across each dollop. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes. When cooked, the muxus should be crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle.

Traditionally two pieces should be sandwiched together, base to base, while still fairly hot from the oven - they will stick together quite easily. (It's how they get their name - muxu means ‘kiss’ in Basque I'm told). But keep them separate if that's what you fancy. You could also add just a little orange marmalade mixed with a touch of Cointreau to the base of the muxus before joining together. They'll store well enough in an airtight container, but they'll be more chewy than crisp after a day or so. No less tasty, though. Muxus
If you want the real muxu experience then go to la maison Pari├Ęs and, if you happen to find yourself in St Jean de Luz (or Biarritz or Paris for that matter), then why on earth wouldn't you go there? By the way (pardon my nerdiness), muxus are often called mouchous, which is a much more French looking name.
Saint Jean de Luz   
And now that we've worked up a thirst, how about a kalimoxto?

The kalimoxto is the easiest and the least stylish “cocktail” I know. In fact, you might think that I've finally taken leave of my senses. But don't knock kalimoxto till you've tried it. Obviously once you've tried it there's a pretty good chance that you'll knock it with considerable vigour. See if I care; I still like it.

I don't think I should tell you precisely which sort of wine to use, but please don't choose an expensive one. Something fruity, pleasant and reasonably cheap should do the job. Just remember to stick it in the fridge before you're thirsty. I should also be using a cheap cola I suppose but I'm a fan of some of the newer and expensive colas, especially Fever Tree Madagascan Cola and Fentimans Curiosity Cola, and so that's what I use.
Kalimotxo

Put plenty of ice cubes into a tall glass (preferably a very cheap one). Half fill the glass with chilled red wine and top up with chilled cola. Add a generous squeeze of lime. Drink.
One Too Many Muxus

11 comments:

  1. Phil, thank you for introducing me to a Basque macaron and, more importantly, to the word "tatterdemalion." That made my day! I have never made the trendy and colorful French macarons. I have no fear of making fussy recipes, but I did not jump on that particular bandwagon because I don't like to eat them (far too sweet and artificial coloring), so why bother to make them. These I would like. But that "cocktail"? Not for me. It's been years since I've had a cola or any other fizzy drinks, so this one's out for me. And I just couldn't do that to even a "reasonably cheap" red wine! Just pour me a nice cuppa tea to go with my muxu.

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    1. Well I can't say that I blame you for not being deeply moved by the idea of kalimoxto but I must admit that getting tea the way I like it in the Basque country can be a bit of a challenge. I very rarely drink cola but I have to have some around for making the occasional Cuba Libre and the new wave colas are very, very different to the usual brands. Come to think of it, I'm not entirely sure that a glass of one of those colas wouldn't be more expensive than a glass of cheaper red wine although I admit that's not really in the spirit of kalimoxto.

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  2. Some of the upmarket fizzy drinks have as much or more sugar (you know how I am about my sugar intake) than the standard fare, but I believe Fever Tree has less; so if I were tempted, that's what I would choose. But given a choice between a kalimoxto or a bad cup of tea, I'd ask if they could give me a decaf coffee! If not, then I'd ask for an unadulterated glass of the "reasonably cheap" red wine.

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    1. Fair enough. I'd expect nothing else from a sophisticated palate such as yours. If you do find yourself in the Basque region at some time, though, do try some of the young, fruity white wines - they're very different and very enjoyable.

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  3. I like the sound of your kalimoxto, Phil. also going to make your muxu. Not heard of them before and I have tried making macarons. but not very successfully! These sound much easier.

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    1. You're obviously a brave soul to consider the kalimoxto but I think it's a drink that doesn't take itself too seriously and that's not a bad thing at all. Actually, that's true of the muxu as well, at least it is the way that I make them and I promise that they're really easy to make and eat.

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  4. It's kalimotxo, not kalimoxto! I can't quite bring myself to drink that as I hate Coke, but I can down gallons of tinto de verano, the same principle but made with bitter lemon. So refreshing.

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    1. Well I got that spelling from a Frenchman and so I suppose that I should know better. Incidentally the various stories about the origin of the name being based on the names or nicknames of two blokes that happened to be serving it in the 1970s seem about as likely as shepherd's pie being named after Mr Shepherd but who knows?

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  5. First glance at the photo had me make a double take.....they certainly look and sound interesting, so does the cocktail.
    I also never really got on with macarons, either making or eating them, far too sophisticated for me. Scruffy food is more my thing these days, as are the clothes - a sad effect of old age, although we can scrub up well when needed - which is fortunately not too often.

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    1. BTW, I forgot to mention (old age again) that for the last two months my comments have been disappearing into the ether if I use my iPad. I can only leave a comment if I fire up the laptop for some reason and as lounging lazily and browsing with my iPad is my preferred way of reading blogs, this is somewhat annoying. No doubt someone with greater computer skills than me would know why this is and be able to fix it - but I'm too busy lounging around in my pyjamas with my muxus !!

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    2. Scruffy should really be my middle name. I had a very good, refined macaron with coffee in a posh restaurant last week and really enjoyed it, but one is enough. Even when I'm in a posher restaurant I tend to emphasise the "casual" in the "smart casual" dress code. I wish I could help with the iPad problem but I haven't got one. (Are iPads too posh and elegant for me I wonder?) I know someone who had a problem getting his iPad to work with Google programs because it wouldn't pass on his Google user credentials but that was several years ago and I think it was fixed by a browser upgrade. Then again, I might not have remembered that correctly - it's my age, you know.

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