Tuesday, October 27, 2009

DB: Macarons- Parlez vous francais?

I was really excited to see macarons as the challenge for this month's Daring Baker's Challenge! When I first discovered the food blog world I saw the abundance of macarons out there in cyberspace, all colors and flavors, and I even tried to make them a couple times. I was expecting this a long time ago, and after a few months of being in Daring Baker's with no macarons I was beginning to think the challenge was never going to happen! Alas, finally, the macaron challenge!

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.


For those who are not familiar: "In the United States, the term “macaroon” generally refers to a cookie made primarily of coconut. But European macaroons are based on either ground almonds or almond paste, combined with sugar and egg whites. The texture can run from chewy, crunchy or a combination of the two. Frequently, two macaroons are sandwiched together with ganache, buttercream or jam, which can cause the cookies to become more chewy. The flavor possibilities and combinations are nigh endless, allowing infinitely customizable permutations." Take a look and see- explore other Daring Bakers to see what they came up with!

So below is a picture of the macarons I made following the Gramercy Tavern Recipe. Strawberry and Chocolate, with a salted caramel filling or a chocolate ganache. Clearly these macarons were unsuccessful. No feet, didn't rise much, but boy did they look pretty! Many people in the forums commented on the ratio of nuts to whites to sugar, and apparently this recipe does not have the optimal foolproof ratio. To make them flavored I added dried strawberries to the food processor to make strawberry powder, and for the chocolate ones I substituted 2 tbsp cocoa powder for powdered sugar. I recommend using Tartelette's recipe or Veronica has the Macaron Chronicles detailing how to make macarons and the many steps. For the ganache I just used about equal parts heavy cream and chocolate chips and a touch of oil for shine.

After that try I gave up on that recipe and went back to Tartelette's recipe that I've made successfully before, but I only had maybe 1/4 amount almonds, so I used that little bit of almonds and supplemented the remainder with hazelnuts. Tartelette recommends using at least half almonds, but mine worked perfectly even with far more hazelnut than almond. I used Veronica's Caramel Fleur de Sel Recipe (except just with Kosher salt!-aka salted caramel). It is good enough to eat with a spoon. It is sweet and salty and not too rich. It is the perfect combo of flavors, and the consistency is smooth and thick. Delicious. It tasted great with the macarons. My only complaint is that they are so sweet! I measure everything out by weight, so I'm not sure if it's something I'm doing or if they're just super sweet by nature, but it's borderline too much! I think I'd enjoy them more with a bit more nut flavor and less sweetness. I want to try more flavors, because I liked the taste of the strawberry and chocolate ones, even though they did not work out well. For a beginner baker they may be intimidating, there are a lot of steps that require a certain amount of precision. I believe weighing the ingredients makes it more accurate and turns out a better recipe. Also good ideas are baking them in low humidity, because higher humidity increases failure rates according to what I've seen. As for the aged egg white question: I used both aged and microwaved in my attempts. I didn't see a lot of difference, but I would recommend one or the other instead of using fresh whites. If pressed for time, just pop them in the microwave for 5 seconds, twice.

Great Challenge Ami!
Basic Macaron Recipe:

Preparation time: Not taking into account the amount of time it takes for you to bring your egg whites to room temperature, the whole baking process, including making the batter, piping and baking will probably take you about an hour to an hour and a half. How long it takes to make your filling is dependent on what you choose to make.

Actual baking time: 12 minutes total, plus a few minutes to get your oven from 200°F to 375°F.

Equipment required:
• Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment
• Rubber spatula
• Baking sheets
• Parchment paper or nonstick liners
• Pastry bag (can be disposable)
• Plain half-inch pastry bag tip
• Sifter or sieve
• If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off
• Oven
• Cooling rack
• Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets
• Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nuts (ouch!)

Ingredients
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Yield: 10 dozen. Ami's note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons.

Additional Information:

Get inspired by our own Tartlette!: http://www.mytartelette.com/search/label/macarons
Go behind the scenes of Paulette: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXIvX0-CEu0


1 comment:

Elra said...

awww Jess, your macarons look perfect! Well done on this month challenge.