Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Macarons!

I have decided that 2013 is the year I take on more challenging recipes. Recipes that push me out of my comfort zone and hopefully, like this one, make me realize that yes, I CAN do it. It will also help me understand different techniques of baking that I haven't dabbled in yet. (Or I'll learn from my failure with the new techniques.)
Do you have any resolutions for this year? The baking one is the only one I have. I find that if it's something concrete like taking a comerical acting for camera class or doing a night of stand up comedy that I complete the resolution. However, if it's something a little less concrete like complementing people more, I fail at the resolution. Yes. I've done stand up and had a blast but giving more complements was just beyond me. (Not that I don't GIVE compliments, I just don't give them often. I often think them and never voice the thought. Thus the resolution 2 years ago to compliment more. But it just wasn't in my being. So if you DO get a compliment from me, it means even more! At least that's the way I justify my flaw. Ha!)
Speaking of flaws, I approached these macarons by researching a lot. I didn't want to start with a really demanding recipe, so I eased into macaron baking with a Martha Stewart recipe so as to avoid a flawed first go.
I have to say that for someone who doesn't have a whisk attachment, these sweet things turned out marvelous! I used Nutella and raspberry jam (not together) for the fillings. They are a tad on the sweet side, but got good reviews from the taste testers.

Things I plan to do for the next time I make them:
       1. Get a better food processor so I can get a really fine almond base.
       2. Not burn some of the first batch. (These things will burn quickly!
           Thankfully I only lost a couple to overheating.)
       3. Use more food coloring and maybe even change the flavor of the
           outsides.
       4. Use the French Macaron cook book my friend from Toulouse gave
           me. It's all in French.

So far 2013 is shaping up well in my kitchen. Here's to an adventurous year!
Parisian Macarons (from Martha Stewart)
1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
1 cup (4 ounces) finely ground sliced, blanched almonds
6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
(your own filling)

To make the macarons: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar and ground almonds. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. (Erika's Extras: This is the time to add the NON oil based food coloring. Add more than you think you need because the color will become a little dull in the oven.) Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form. (Erika's Extras: I did this with normal beaters in an electric hand mixer. It took about 8 minutes, but the peaks finally do form.) With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners' sugar mixture until completely incorporated.
 
Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. (Erika's Extra: Feel free to draw circles on the parchment paper to give a guide for perfect sized macarons.) Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch #4 round tip, and fill with batter. Pipe 1-inch disks onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little. Let stand at room temperature until dry, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macarons and the shiny surface turns dull, about 15 minutes.
 
Bake, with the door of the oven slightly ajar, until the surface of the macarons is completely dry, about 15 minutes. (Erika's Extras: Mine seemed to only need around 12 minutes in the oven.) Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the parchment. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macarons from the parchment. (Erika's Extras: I peeled them off the parchment paper right away.) Use immediately or store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
 
To fill the macarons: Fill a pastry bag with the filling. Turn macarons so their flat bottoms face up. On half of them, pipe about 1 teaspoon filling. Sandwich these with the remaining macarons, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Bake well and prosper!

3 comments:

  1. Hi Erika! Your macarons look good for a virgin attempt!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Erika,

    I have tried baking Parisian version of macarons and always prefer the Italian meringue method for its reproducibility.

    I remember my virgin attempt of macarons baking... It was disastrous and yours is so sos so much better :D

    Zoe

    ReplyDelete
  3. Happy New Year to you. I love macarons and I make them all the time. :) Good that you're getting into making these beauties as well. I usually measure my ingredients on a digital scale for accuracy. hehe.... I love grinding my own almond flour from whole almonds too. They taste much better than using pre-ground almond flour. ;) Have fun baking.

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Thanks for taking time to leave a message! xo - EB