Saturday, February 14, 2009

My First Macarons

I know that by posting this I am contributing nothing to the culinary world, basic recipes for macarons abound, and I just used someone else’s. In fact, if you want to make macarons, I strongly recommend this guide, which is what I used. Nonetheless, I am posting this because these are my first macarons, and I feel like making macarons are some kind of baking right of passage, given their notorious fickleness. Truthfully, these macarons weren’t perfect, the outer shell was very brittle, and there was a large air pocket. And from the descriptions in the guide, I suspect I overbeat the batter, as it was a little too thin when I was piping it. But, they grew feet, didn’t crack, and taste like almond, so I was at least pretty close. I have no idea how many cookies this actually makes, I successfully made 9 sandwiches, but that includes a lot of waste. Also, this recipe is in grams. I bought a small, plastic scale that measures in grams for under $5 from Kmart, so don’t let lack of one stop you. Especially if you’re interested in doing lots of European style baking, it’s worth having. I filled the macarons with a simple chocolate ganache

Basic Macarons

90 grams egg white (about 3 eggs worth) – separated and allowed to sit out for 24 hours (not covered with plastic) 
120 grams almond meal 
145 grams confectioner’s sugar 
75 grams regular sugar

1. Place the almond meal and confectioner’s sugar in a food processor, pulse until it is mixed into a fine powder

2. Put the room temperature egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat the egg whites at high speed until they are foamy and stiff peaks form.

3. Turn the mixer speed down to medium, and very gradually beat in the regular sugar. Continue beating until you get a stiff, glossy meringue (I beat until stiff peaks, but this might have been too much)

4. Remove the bowl from the standing mixer. Pour the sugar-almond mixture over the eggwhites. Using a folding motion begin to combine them (this should not be gentle folding). Continue folding until the mixture reaches a “magma like consistency,” or until a ribbon of batter dropped onto the rest takes about 30 seconds to disappear back into the mass. Tartlette says this should take about 50 strokes.

5. Using a large tip, pipe the meringue onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. The circles will spread out a little, so leave space. Try to make the circles 1 ½ - 2 inches across.

6. Let the piped cookies sit out on the counter for at least an hour. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

7. Put the cookie sheet on the oven’s center rack for 2 minutes. After two minutes, wedge the oven door open with a wooden spoon, and continue baking for another 5 minutes, or until the cookies have developed feet, and are a creamy ivory color

8. Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes. Gently remove the cookies from the sheet and place them on a cooling rack (I lost a few cookies that stuck to the sheet, I’m under the impression this is inevitable).


Chocolate Ganache

9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream 
2 T butter

1. Put the chocolate in a bowl. Pour the cream into a saucepan over medium high heat until it comes to a simmer.

2. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds. Add the butter and begin whisking. Whisk until the mixture is uniform.

3. Let the ganache cool to a spreadable consistency. If you’re impatient like me, stick it in the freezer, removing to whisk every few minutes to keep it even.

4. Gently sandwich the macarons with the ganche. Eat


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