Showing posts with label macarons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label macarons. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cute, Colorful and French

I know, I know.  Macarons are so 2012.


I should move on to whatever this years big dessert treat is!  (actually, I have no idea what is supposed to be "IN" in 2013.  The internet says it's fancy popcorn, figs and push-pops.)  But you know what?  I love macs.  I think that they are cute and colorful and French, so I will go on making macarons until I run out of flavors to make!  Especially now that I've found my method for macs that works consistently without all the fuss.


First, I got these handy egg tools from OXO (through their blogger outreach program).  OXO suggested I make myself a nice omelet, but quite frankly, I don't really go for omelets.  I'm much more of a cinnamon bun for breakfast kind of girl.  If I'm going to eat eggs, they are going to be scrambled and it is going to be after six pm.  Worry not OXO, these egg tools fit perfectly for my other egg related plan - macarons!


I received an egg separator - perfect for separating those whites from yolks.  I also got a person powered hand mixer - just what my tired arms need for whisking sugar into egg whites over a simmering pot of water.  Finally I got a fancy spatula.  The tag said it was an omelet turner.  I put mine to use in the oh so important macaronage step of macaron making.  These tools should be remarketed to the macaron maker.  They worked perfectly!


The other reason I decided to make macs?  I found these freeze-dried raspberries at a gourmet grocery store in South Orange, NJ.  I knew they would make an amazing ingredient to a macaron, since the best way to flavor the cookie itself is with dry ingredients.  If you find freeze-dried mangos, let me know.  I totally want a mango-flavored mac.  How the French would sneer at a mango macaron!


With the tools and the cookies taken care of, there was just one thing left to deal with.  The filling.  Searching my cabinets I happened upon a block of Callebaut white chocolate.  Raspberry macarons filled with white chocolate buttercream?  That sounds just delicious enough to work.  (Would I rather have filled them with white chocolate ganache?  Yes, but I was out of heavy cream and I wanted to eat the cookies ASAP.)


So now we have raspberry and white chocolate macarons, OXO has a new marketing campaign for their egg tools and my pantry is cleared of two of the more eccentric items.  All in all, a good day!


See, so cute.  So colorful.  Bonjour macarons.

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Macaron Method!

Wednesday I left you with the question of whether I could reproduce my workshop macarons at home.  Today we have the answer.  Yes, I can! 


Sure, it was a little more difficult to do this on my own.  I was wishing that I hadn't gotten rid of my hand mixer while I was whisking the meringue.  All on my lonesome, my arm got pretty tired!  I had to keep switching between left and right arms.  I also learned that I am not ambidextrous when it comes to whisking things.  My left arm is terribly uncoordinated and not at all good at whipping egg whites.  I'll have to give it a bit more practice.

Boyfriend helped to style this particular photograph

The batter was flowing like lava, I think.  I'm still a fan of the disappearing line method for testing the batter consistency.  The batter piped well, forming nice round shells.  The shells dried up in thirty minutes and when I put them in the oven I was hoping for the best.  With my fingers crossed, I set the timer for seven minutes and walked away. 


When I came back to turn the pans I was thrilled to see round tops and pretty, frilled feet!  I can do this at home!  While this isn't simplest recipe, requiring you to heat the meringue over a water bath, I choose to go with a consistent recipe rather than an easy, unreliable one.



Haven't found a favorite macaron recipe yet?  Give this one a try!  I know that this is my go to recipe from now on.  Thank you DessertTruck!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mastering the Macaron!

A few weekends ago, boyfriend and I bundled up and headed into Manhattan.  I was very excited about our Sunday plans, while he was less so.  I told him that if he behaved, I would buy him S'mac for lunch.  What were we planning on doing that Sunday afternoon?  I had signed us up for a macaron class!


Several months back, okay I think it was sometime in July, Groupon was offering a half price macaron class at Dessert Truck Works on Clinton St.  I didn't even hesitate and bought us two seats in one of their classes.  Boyfriend wasn't super excited about the class, since he's a master of boxed macaroni and break apart chocolate chip cookies, but he was willing to come with me.


Originally I had scheduled us for a class in October, which is right when we decided to go to Thailand.  The next class they had available?  February!  I wrote a reminder note on the marker board in the kitchen.  As the class drew near, I kept reminding myself to go to Dessert Truck on February 12th.  The morning of the class, the tri-state area woke up to frigid temperatures.  It was one of those days where I would have stayed in our apartment all day long, but we had to get on the train and head into the city.


I'm glad we got out of bed and went to the class because the class was completely worth it.  Held in the little bakery on Clinton street, the shop is closed until after the workshop, giving you one on one attention from the pastry chef.  We arrived and were given tea and coffee to warm our hands against the cold outside.  The group assembled and we were twelve macaron makers of all levels.  From those that had never even eaten a macaron, to those that love the cookies, to me, who had made a batch or two in the past.  We were all ready to learn a little something about these delicious French cookies.


The macaron teacher explained the basics of the cookies and told us of the three different varieties of macarons.  She described them in the best way that I have ever heard, macarons are like European men.  The French macaron - like a French man.  Sensitive, unpredictable and finnicky.  The Italian macaron - like an Italian man.  Strong, sturdy & dangerous.  The Swiss macaron - like a Swiss man.  Somewhere in between the Frenchman and the Italian.  I don't know a whole lot of Swiss men, but her descriptions of the French and Italian men seemed pretty funny, and right.


Personally, I've only ever made French and Italian macarons.  I can agree with her comparisons to European men.  I've had varying success with the French method while I've made some good batches with the Italian ones.  I was so excited that we would be making macarons with the Swiss method, because it was not something I'd ever done before.  We split up into groups and were ready to start whipping some egg whites.


Our instructor suggested our group of four split up, in order to get more hands on time.  I explained that boyfriend would not be handling the food at all, he would be taking pictures.  There was a little back and forth, but it was determined that it would be best for all (especially the final macaron product) if boyfriend didn't touch the cookies.  I kind of wished that he did participate, because my arm got tired whipping those egg whites!  He did make a good photographer though, I got some interesting pictures.  Yep, that's me in all these pictures, Hello!


The Swiss method consists of whipping the egg whites and granulated sugar over a simmering pot of water.  This gently cooks the egg whites and builds a little structure in the meringue.  The three of us took turns whipping the eggs, trading off when our shoulders couldn't take any more.



Once the egg whites reached the stiff peak and were slightly warm to the touch, we got prepared to combine all of the ingredients.  First, some unwhipped egg whites were added to the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture.  Next, we added the meringue and started the macaronage (aka, the stirring/folding).  This was the part that I wanted clarification.  What is the correct consistency to stop working the batter at?  Again, the "flowing like cooling lava" description came up.  I preferred the test of cutting the batter down the middle with the spatula.  If the line disappears in ten seconds, then your batter is ready.


We added a little red color for make our macarons cute and pink.  After transferring to the piping bag and pressing out all the air, we piped rows and rows of pink cookies.  Practicing piping identically sized macarons is tricky, something that I still have to work on.  We came out with a tray of pretty nice looking circles. 


Since the workshop was only three hours long, we didn't have time to wait around for the shells to dry, then bake and cool.  So we did a little swap!  Pink cookies went onto the drying rack, yellow and green ones came out!  We were given a series of delicious fillings, chocolate ganache, salted caramel, blackberry buttercream and toffee and told to fill our new cookies. 


We got to come back a few hours later and pick up our baked macaron shells.  I was so excited to see that they had feet!  The only question remained, could I do this at home? 

If you happen to be visiting NYC or live in the area, I would highly recommend heading over to Dessert Truck for a workshop.  We had a lot of fun and I learned a lot about what I was doing right and wrong with my macarons.  It was great to learn another method for making these wonderful little cookies and the instructor was fun, helpful and informative.  You might have to book a ways in advance, this particular workshop was very popular after the Groupon deal!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blueberry Macarons

The year is coming to an end. Have you accomplished your new years resolutions and goals? At the beginning of 2010 I made several resolutions and decided upon a number of goals. My resolutions might sound a bit strange, but I wanted something that would be attainable and fun at the same time. During my first BodyPump class of the year, I shared my goals with my class. There were mixed reactions. I think it’s because none of my goals and resolutions were fitness or health oriented. Maybe next year, I’ll have to think on that and get back to you on Friday! Here were my resolutions for 2010.



1. Wear more Hats. Now, I was not trying to be metaphorical, suggesting that I wanted to become more of a renaissance woman. I meant that I literally wanted to wear MORE HATS. Berets and cowboy hats, beanies and chapeaus. I look good in hats. Sadly, I did a poor job of accomplishing this goal. Send me pictures of cute hats, I need to try again this year.

2. Eat more Chinese food. Why? Because it is delicious. I’m not sure if I can check this one off the list. I think that if I had made it a more generic goal, like “Eat more Asian cuisine,” then I could put a check mark there. I ate an exceptional amount of Thai food this year. I’m going to include all the Indian food I ate as well, since India is on the continent of Asia. Asian Cuisine accomplished.

3. Complete current work project. Easy enough to understand - finish my total synthesis. A work goal. Sometimes being a synthetic chemist is a little disappointing because it can take an entire year (or five) to complete a single project. Thankfully it is done and I’ve moved on to another project, which will hopefully be done soon!


Making French macarons was not on my original resolution/goal list. They weren’t even on my radar in the beginning of the year. This year I have transformed into more of a foodie, with the start of Wilde in the Kitchen and my many worldly travels, I have learned so much more about cooking, baking and eating! Here’s to 2010! I hope that whatever the year brought you, you’ve learned, loved and had some great moments along the way.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Macarons

There are some things that I have not been able to succeed at. Roller blading without looking like a starfish. Maintaining a sleek hairstyle while living on the East coast. Avoid meeting the other people that live in my building. Try as I might I just cannot manage to accomplish any of these tasks. I mean, I go rollerblading with boyfriend and he skates circles around me. Literally. He takes great joy in circling me like a shark as I stumble and try to maintain an upright posture. Is it so bad to use the trees as methods to stop? Why else are there trees on the bike path?


While living in Colorado I enjoyed month after month of humidity-free days. My hair never looked to good. In fact, in the two years that I lived in Colorado I never once got a haircut. It was so well behaved I was able to wash and wear. Run out the door without being concerned about the craziness that would take over my head later in the day. The East coast hates me, or at least my hair. I step outside of my apartment building and the little frizzies start to creep in. Just this morning a gentle mist in the air destroyed my perfectly straightened hair. Just the right amount of curl at the end. Then BAM! Humidity, blast.


But one thing was not going to beat me. I would succeed at the French Macaron! These cookies are the talk of the culinary world. Adorable little cookies, filled with decadent frostings, ganaches and jams. Walk by a shop that sells them and you encounter a rainbow of cookies. Do a Google search and you’ll find so many different suggestions and recipes. There are cookbooks about macarons being published every month (I have three!). Yet with all this information, there is nothing to do but throw yourself in the deep end and give them a go.


My first attempt was less than successful. The macarons rose like cookies. They were feet-less monsters. Yet I still filled them with peanutbutter and ate every single one of them. Yes, the texture was off, but they still tasted delicious.


My second attempt, armed with a new cookbook, was much better. Weighing out the ingredients and following the directions perfectly I was rewarded with cute little chocolate cookies. Shiny tops with a high foot (or pied, as the French would call them), my macarons were beautiful. And since I’m a sucker for the chocolate peanut butter combo (and I was too lazy to whip up a ganache at ten o’clock at night) I sandwiched them with Jif. Fantastic. Even better after sitting in the fridge for a few days.

Give these cookies a try. All you need in patience, and a good recipe to use up all those leftover egg yolks. I recommend making pie (more to come!)

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