EyeSwoon

Opposition, contrast, a distinct duality is woven through just about every aspect of life. There is both a lightness and a darkness inside each of us—neither completely one or the other, both qualities coexist. I celebrate my polarizing qualities: I have to honor my purity but at other times, I must honor my fiery cravings—those internal expressions that spill out externally with reckless abandon from day to day, moment to moment. When Donna Karan Fragrance asked me to translate their new Liquid Cashmere Black fragrance into a visual experience, I knew it would be a perfect opportunity to talk about the dualities of my life. This mysterious, sensory experience was in perfect time with the seasons.

There is no denying it: fall is upon us. The days are delightfully crisp and cool, the swoony fall foliage is starting to turn, gourds are everywhere… I may spend the better part of summer near a beach and barefoot, draped in ethereal caftans, but as the seasons change so does my lifestyle. Urban life is a stark, but not necessarily unwelcome, contrast to my laid-back Amagansett summers. Thrust into NYC life, back to school, fashion week, work and the responsibilities that come with it, there will be back-to-back meetings and events to attend, with more structured, architectural clothing and sky-high heels to wear.  It all gets a little hectic to say the least. While the transition is dramatic, it is also a necessary yin and yang of my life.

As temperatures drop and the seasonal vibe shifts, I yearn for cozier, cocoon-like environments—I crave a bit of moody hibernation and more intimate experiences to balance my packed days. That doesn’t mean the indulgence lacks, however. I like to spend my weekends in the city this time of year and since my husband travels often, Saturdays are an ideal time for re-connecting with my girlfriends.  When the husband’s away, the ladies will play (plus, the child at a sleepover). The ritual looks something like this: I buy the red wine, they bring the macaroons and the night becomes a boozy mélange of boy talk, laughter, and late nights where the conversation often borders on risqué but never leaves the room.

As an homage to those indulgent ladies’ nights in, I created a visual feast inspired by the intoxicating raw elements of Donna Karan Liquid Cashmere Black—essences of black cherry, raspberry, praline and rose. What fantastical fun it was for me to play like this, to discover an extravagant, enigmatic experience for all of the senses. When I think of blackness there is a sensuous and evocative allure, but cashmere brings to mind silky textures and self-indulgence. A lighter-than-air, creamy, yet rather mysterious French macaroon immediately struck me as the desired edible expression—as a starting point to be engulfed in a lush, epicurean utopia.

Red wine, decadent chocolate, lush concord grapes, black plums, raspberries, sweet black cherries, and nero macaroons mingling with deep and dark blackberry sorbet swooned me as I took in the alchemy of these elements, inspired by Donna Karan Liquid Black Cashmere and sending me into irresistible reverie.

My interpretation of the pure, clean counterpart found in Donna Karan Liquid Cashmere White is here. Both sophisticated, positively swoony scents evoke the dramatically opposed energies found in every woman.

Black Praline Macarons

Evan Kalman Adapted from Kathy Gordon

  • Ingredients

    • Black Praline Macarons:

      Yields about 40 macarons

      • 165 g almond flour
      • 165 g confectioners’ sugar
      • Black food coloring gel
      • 5 g powdered egg white
      • 150 g granulated sugar
      • 3 g cream of tartar
      • Pinch of sea salt
      • 115 g aged egg whites
      • Raw cacao nibs and finely chopped hazelnuts
      • Praline buttercream

      Hazelnut Praline Buttercream:

      Yields 1 pint

      • 5 ounces (1 cup) hazelnuts
      • 400 g (2 cups) sugar
      • 22 ml (1 1/2 tablespoons) freshly squeezed lemon juice
      • 200 g (2 cup) granulated sugar                                                             
      • 2 oz (1/4) cup water
      • 3 large egg whites
      • 226 g (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter

  • The Prep

    • Black Praline Macarons:

      • Pulse almond flour and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor 5 times for 3 seconds. Sift in a sieve to remove any clumps.
      • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix the powdered egg white, granulated sugar, and cream of tartar. Add egg whites and whip on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 11 minutes. In the last minute, turn the speed up to medium-high. In the last minute, add a few drops of the food coloring.
      • Working quickly, fold the dry ingredients into the meringue with a large, rubber spatula until the batter is just starting to show movement and is slightly shiny, single mass. In one fluid motion in the shape of a “J” draw your spatula down through the center of the bowl towards you and then scrape it against the curve of the bowl folding the batter on itself. Start in the center, end in the center. Turn the bowl one-quarter after each stroke. You’re finished if you drop some of the batter on itself and it reincorporates in about 10-20 seconds.
      • Spoon batter into a piping bag fitted with 1/2 inch-tip and pipe quarter sized circles on a silpat or parchment paper. Slam the pipped trays on a counter 3-5 times to remove excess air. Slam HARD!
      • Sprinkle some shells with the chopped cacao nibs and hazelnuts and leave others smooth. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the foot and edge of the shells are firm.
      • Baking Method A: If you have a convection oven or one that heats evenly, bake the shells low at 200 degrees F for 15 minutes to dry out the shells. Then, increase the temperate to 350F until the foot and edge of the shells are firm, about 10 minutes.
      • Baking Method B: If you have an older oven or one that doesn’t heat evenly, pre-heat your oven to 400F. Put the baking sheet into the oven and turn the oven off. After 7 minutes, turn the oven on to 400F and bake for another 7 minutes.
      • Baking Method C: If the above baking techniques don’t work, follow Baking Method B, but place a single, empty baking try one or two racks above/below your piped trays to defer your oven’s heat. If you have a top heating oven, put the empty tray above your cookies. If you have a bottom heating oven, put the empty tray below your cookies.
      • Remove the Silpat or parchment paper and let cool on a wire rack. Once fully cooled, remove the shells.
      • Match up similarly sized shells. Pipe the filling on half of the shells and sandwich together. Mature in a refrigerator overnight.
      • Keep filled or unfilled macarons in an airtight container in the refrigerator (up to three days) or freezer (up to 1 month).
      • Hazelnut Praline Buttercream:
      • First, prepare the praline paste
      • Spread nuts on a large dry skillet and toast over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer nuts to a clean kitchen towel and rub nuts in towel vigorously to remove the most of the brown skins.
      • Combine 400 g (2 cups) sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until an amber caramel forms, about 10 minutes. Do not stir! Cool for a minute and then stir in lemon juice.
      • Add the nuts the caramel and stir to coat. Pour caramel-coated nuts onto a sheet pan lined with a Silpat. Set aside to cool, at least 30 minutes. The praline should harden like glass.
      • Using a heavy rolling pin, break the praline into large pieces. Place the praline in the bowl of a food processor and process until the praline is very fine powder.
      • From here, continue to process until the oils start separating out, and the mixture looks like wet sand. Continue to process until a smooth paste forms.
      • Make the buttercream
      • In a saucepan, heat 200 g (1 cup) sugar and water until mixture reaches the soft ball stage, about 235F-245F.
      • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip on medium speed until egg whites form soft peaks. With the mixer running, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the eggs whites. Whisk the meringue until stiff peaks form and the bowl is cool, about 10 minutes.
      • Switch to a paddle attachment and add butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Add the next piece of butter only once the last piece is fully emulsified into the meringue. Once all the butter has been added, turn up the speed to high and mix until completely smooth and fluffy. Add in 2-3 tablespoons of the praline paste and mix until incorporated.

Blackberry Rose Sorbet

Evan Kalman

  • Ingredients

    • Yields about 1 quart

      • 24 oz fresh or frozen blackberries – thawed
      • 250 g (1 1/4 cup) sugar
      • 8 oz (1 cup) water
      • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) lemon juice
      • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) rose water

  • The Prep

      • Combine sugar and water in small saucepan and bring to boil over high heat about 1 minute. Transfer syrup to a heatproof container and chill until cold, about 2 hours.
      • Puree blackberries with juices and sugar syrup in a blender until smooth. Strain into a large bowl to remove the seeds and stir in lemon juice and rose water.
      • Process berry mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a container, cover, and freeze until firm, about 6 hours.

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