Thursday, January 14, 2010

French Intimidation

AKA How I overcame my fear of making French macarons. I have only had one macaron in my life. It was at Kee's Chocolates in NYC. We were visiting them as a destination on a foodie walking tour and really stopped in for their chocolates, which are wonderful, but when I saw their display of lovely jewel toned macarons, I had to try one. I chose the rosewater lychee macaron and as soon as we were out on the sidewalk I took it out to taste it and it tasted just as good as I thought it would. The crisp shell yielded to reveal a soft and slightly toothsome center with an intriguing bit of lychee buttercream. It was an ethereal treat between the flavors and the light as air texture. It was so good- I immediately became obsessed with macarons. Of course, no longer living in the city I do not have ready access to such delights so I have mostly obsessed from afar. Meaning lots and lots of time on the internet.

I knew I wanted to make some but there is a certain intimidation factor to making your own macarons. And then I found the Mac Tweets blog www.mactweets.blogspot.com which had tons of pictures and links to other macaron makers. I wanted in. I obsessively searched for the perfect recipe. It had to be one that had the ingredients listed in volume as I still have not broken down and purchased a food scale, though one is at the top of my Amazon wish list. And then there was the matter of the almond flour. Do I make my own? Do I search out a source? Order it online? I found some at a pricey health food store in Saratoga- twelve dollars for a small bag!? Ouch. So now I had the ingredients and the equipment, which is nothing special- cookie sheets lined with parchment, something to pipe the macaron batter...I had everything. It was time.

Recipe from A La Cuisine www.alacuisine.org

Macaron Batter

- 1 ¼ cups confectioners sugar
- 1 cup almond flour or finely ground almonds
- ¼ cup plus 2 TBS egg whites at room temperature
- pinch of salt
- ¼ cup granulated sugar

Allow egg whites to thicken by leaving them uncovered at room temperature overnight.

On three pieces of parchment, use a pencil to draw 1-inch circles about 2 inches apart. Flip each sheet over and place each sheet on a baking sheet.

Push almond flour through a sieve, and sift confectioners sugar. Mix the almonds and confectioners sugar in a bowl and set aside.

In a large clean, dry bowl whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip to stiff peaks – the whites should be firm and shiny.

With a flexible spatula, gently fold in the confectioners sugar mixture into the egg whites until completely incorporated. The mixture should be shiny and ‘flow like magma.’ When small peaks dissolve to a flat surface, stop mixing.

Fit a piping bag with a 3/8-inch round tip. Pipe the batter onto the baking sheets, in the previously drawn circles. Tap the underside of the baking sheet to remove air bubbles. Let dry at room temperature for 1 or 2 hours to allow skins to form.

Bake, in a 325F oven for 10 to 11 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door slightly ajar, and rotate the baking sheet after 5 minutes for even baking.

Remove macarons from oven and transfer parchment to a cooling rack. When cool, slide a metal offset spatula or pairing knife underneath the macaron to remove from parchment.

Pair macarons of similar size, and pipe about ½ tsp of the filling onto one of the macarons. Sandwich macarons, and refrigerate to allow flavours to blend together. Bring back to room temperature before serving.



Macaron shells waiting to be slathered with caramel buttercream...



That is not a finger swipe mark in my salted caramel buttercream. Okay, of course it is. Be happy my face print is not in there. It's that good.



I probably should not be left alone with these.

9 comments:

  1. As I just looked through a few of your blogs, I think I gained 5 pounds. These look amazing!

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  2. Jennifer, your macarons are gorgeous! I love how you undertook the challenge...as I love the slathering of caramel buttercream...nom nom nom!! Will incude you in the round-up at Mactweets. All you need to do is link back to the Mactweets announcement, and grab the logo if you like. Would you like to be added to the blogroll?

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  3. Thanks for getting in touch with us (Deeba & I) about your wonderful macs. First time? They are great! To be included in Mactweets and have your macs included in our round up, just make sure you mention Mactweets and Mac Attack and link back to our blog in your post. Then leave a comment over on the Mactweets blog with the link to your mac post! Easy as that and so happy to have you baking macs with us!

    http://mactweets.blogspot.com/

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  4. Thanks Deeba and Jamie!

    I left my comment over at the Mactweets blog and I put a link in my post. I'd love to be added to the blogroll. I tried to grab the Mactweets logo, but I was having trouble getting it. Will try again today.

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  5. Yum, these look great! I mean, caramel buttercream filling?! Are you kidding me? It would have been hard to NOT eat them all!

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  6. My favorite is the one on the top of the pile. It's gorgeous. Well done.

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  7. Very nice...you did a great job; did leave me dying for the recipe for your filling...yum!

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  8. wow, way to go! Those look great!

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  9. nice job! they look amazing! thanks for giving me hope that i can one day create these!

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