Sociable

Monday, February 14, 2011

Macarons!

Happy Valentine’s Day!
I may not have a red treat to share with you today, but I definitely feel like this little macaron is fitting to share today. Just as relationships require love and devotion, this cookie demands the same. The reward? A beautiful, delicate cookie that has me head-over-heels.

Just like a first date is met with anxious excitement, cracking and separating the eggs made me daydream into the future and of what could be, if I only iave them a chance.

Then there is the dreaded ‘no calling for three days’ rule. A time when you can do nothing but wait, planning your next move without actually following through on it. Aging the egg whites in this recipe is important, most likely because the water that evaporates leads to a denser concentration of protein bonds in the egg whites, creating a stronger, more forgiving shell. My egg whites had been sitting and aging in my fridge for days as I tried to muster up the courage to make these little beauties. I have read about the headaches and heartaches many a baker has had over these delicate little treats, so I will admit I was a little worried about how they would turn out.

Onto the second date. You’re feeling a little better about the whole situation, but still some uncertainty remains as to whether this could blossom into something more, or whether the love affair will fizzle out as a dry, cracked, feetless failure.

I mixed with a firm but loving hand, incorporating the ingredients just enough that they could be piped onto the sheet. They piped out beautifully, and I then let them sit on the counter for an hour so that the cookies could get a slight skin on top prior to baking..
But, the true test of any relationship is a trial by fire. Into the oven they went at 280 degrees, as I watched like a hawk to see if the cookies would blossom into something beautiful, or have an epic meltdown on the baking sheet.

I’m pretty sure it was about minute 7 into the baking time, I noticed that little feet were forming! I was about two seconds away from channeling my best Dr. Frankenstein and yelling “IT’S ALIIIIIVE!” but then realized how nuts I might actually look to my hubby, who, I’m sure at times, is already questioning how much remaining sanity I actually have.

Ok, so I squealed. And made him come over and look in the oven window with me as I pointed out the feet. And, like a good husband, he smiled, nodded and then went back to what he was doing.

Once they came out of the oven and cooled, I paired them as closely as I could with a suitable ‘cookie mate.’ Since I did not draw any stencils or templates for the cookies – maybe I did not have faith that I’d get as far as I would to actually pipe them out and bake them – I freehanded all the cookies and some were much more, uhm, generously piped than others. Oddly enough, I ended up with a mate for every half, so it worked out in the end. Fate must have had a hand in the matchmaking.
After filling them with ganache and letting them set up, I finally tried one.

And, I see what the fuss is about. The delicate top shell gives at the first bit of resistance, and yields to a soft, slightly chewy meringue-like center. The natural almond flavor is perfect, and cannot compare to anything flavored with artificial extracts. It is the perfect marriage of chocolate and almond flavors and is luscious and glamorous without being too rich.

I am so excited to make these again and am no longer intimidated by the legendary macaron!





I think this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.



Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours!


If you want to see the full post on Bakerella’s website (which is where I got the recipe I used) go here. Otherwise, here is an abridged version of the overview, and the recipe.





Ingredients

90 g (approximately 3 egg whites, from large eggs), aged 1 day at room temperature or three days in the fridge, covered
110 g Ground almonds
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
200 g Confectioner’s sugar

Directions

Whip the egg whites until they are foamy. Gradually add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar until you have a glossy meringue. Don’t overbeat.
Place ground almonds and powdered sugar in a large bowl
Add your whipped egg whites to the almonds and powdered sugar and fold. You don’t have to fold too gently, but you don’t want to over fold either.
If you want to color them, add the powdered food color about halfway through folding.
When the batter is ready, pour it into a large pastry bag with the tip inserted. It will ooze out the end, so keep the bag folded or you can crimp the bottom until you are ready to pipe. (a #807 tip was recommended, but I just used the largest round piping tip I had – and it worked just fine)
Then make small piped circles on a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat or parchment paper. (You could draw circles on the ‘wrong side’ of the parchment paper to use as a template if you’re like me and can’t make similar sized circles to save your life)
Once your tray is filled, let it sit for about an hour to harden the outer shell before baking.
Bake at 300F for 18-20 minutes in a regular oven or 280 F if you have a convection oven
Let them cool. If you can’t get them off the sheet, another tip I used was to run cold water in between the parchment paper and the baking sheet. My cookies popped right off after doing that, and I didn’t splash a single cookie with water!
And you can whip up some ganache or buttercream for the filling. Or just fill with a fruit jam.

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8 comments:

Kelsey said...

is that a heart-shaped one?? omg these are perfect for valentine's day! mmmm look SO GOOD!

Georgia (The Comfort of Cooking) said...

Caroline, these macarons are so beautiful and impressive! I hope to one day pull them off, too. Great job on them, and happy Valentine's Day! I'm so glad to have found your blog. I'm looking forward to exploring your recipes and seeing more! :) - Georgia

Caroline said...

Kelsey - yes, that was my attempt at a heart-shaped macaron! They're really difficult to get to bake like a heart, but I am happy that one turned out. I was so surprised how much the hubby liked these, I will definitely be making them again for Valentine's Day!

Georgia - thank you so much! I am so glad you are liking what you see on my blog, I hope you keep coming back! Happy (belated) Valentine's Day to you, too, I hope you had a good one! The macarons may not be 100% perfect, but I'm definitely pleased with how my first attempt went! Let me know if there is anything you'd like to see on the blog - I'm always a fan of input!

Allison said...

They look great. I have never tried French Macaroons but I think I will have to they just look so delicate and beautiful.

Elizabeth said...

Oh yum! I am a sucker for macarons. These look divine!

Caroline said...

Allison, I definitely think it's worth a try. It took me forever, just because I was too scared to try and fail miserably, but that's how you learn, and mine actually looked more like macarons than I expected - such a pleasant surprise!

Elizabeth, I didn't know how much I would love macarons until I made them. They are so light and delicate, yet so full of flavor. I'm totally smitten!

Tia said...

great job! i've never made macarons but they scare me a little

Caroline said...

Thanks, Tia - I was totally intimidated, too, but if you don't try, you'll never know! I was actually expecting an absolute failure, so I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome!

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