Monday, May 31, 2010

The Mac Quest

I'm relatively new the Mac world and this weekend I got to test them out.
I must say that they are sweet and pretty...
... pretty difficult to master.

No, no, no, I'm not chatting about Steve Jobs and his Apple Mac. No, definitely not.
I'm talking about on about French Macarons...

No, not coconut macaroons. Only one "o".
It actually sounds similar to macaroni, without the "i".

So what is a French Macaron?  one word: AWESOME.

A Macaron is made from a mixture of: 
  • - egg whites
  • - both granulated and confectionery sugar
  • - almond flour
ALMOND FLOUR!? The last time I was in the grocery store, I couldn't find it in the flour isle and I looked for a long time.

Later I learned that it is made from crushed almonds. 
That was perfect because I had tons of almonds... costco tons.

So what do these French Macarons look like?
  • - smooth, domed top 
  • - ruffled sides
  • - flat base
  • - egg shell-like crust 
  • - moist and airy interior
  • - oh and there is an obvious picture at the beginning of this post
How are these made?
      Just whisk the egg whites and granulated sugar.
      Then fold in the icing sugar- almond flour mixture with 50 strokes or less.
      Yes, I did count ... out loud.

      Then pipe them on to a piece of parchment paper circles, not turtle-shaped blobs.

       Ah, much better.

       This is what happens when you run out of parchment paper and use wax paper instead.
      Lesson learned: parchment paper ≠ wax paper (which is thinner... and waxy)

       I made a Vanilla Honey Buttercream for the center filling.

       I wasn't sure any of them would work and I was so happy when 1 of the 3 trays semi-turned out!!
      A 33% semi-success rate is better than 0%!!

      But after this little test run, I have more questions than I started with. This experiment had too many changing variables! 
        • - Did one tray stick to the parchment paper because I didn't cook them long enough? Yes, I think so.
        • - Were they too chewy because I added too much sugar? I was still under the max sugar limit!
        • - Was the airy interior too big? Yes..
        • - Why did one tray have a collapsed side? I don't know...
        • - Would it have made a difference if I used oven racks and baked them all at once? No...?
        • - Why didn't the wax paper work? Because it was thinner than parchment paper...?

        Well it seems I will just have to keep trying until I get them right. This will be my Mac Quest, not to be confused with Map Quest.

        Thanks Amanda for letting me use your food scale and Chris for the food processor!   :D 

        Recipe for French Macaron
        Printer Friendly Version
        For the shells:
        90 gr egg whites (roughly 3 egg whites)
        25 gr to 50gr (2 Tb to 1/4 cup) granulated sugar
        200 gr ( 1.5 cups + 2Tb) powdered sugar
        110 gr almonds ( 3/4 cup) (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like)

        What to do:
        Prep the eggs: 48 hrs in advance, separate the whites from the yolks and place the whites in a super clean bowl. Leave at room temp, uncovered or loosely covered with a towel at least 24 hrs. Refrigerate after that if desired. You can use eggs that have been “aging” for up to 5 days.

        Prepare the macarons:
        Place the powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Sift a couple of time to remove bits and pieces. Regrind if necessary. You can also use a coffee grinder for the nuts.
        Once your nuts and powdered sugar are mixed together, rub them in between your fingertips to break the bigger pieces.

        In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry.

        Add the nuts and pwdered sugar to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.

        Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit.

        If using convection: preheat the oven to 280F. If using regular electric or gas, preheat the oven to 300F. When ready, bake for 18 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool.

        Recipe from here

        1 comment:

        1. Thanks for visiting my blog! Your cakes are absolutely amazing! I've been wanting to make macarons for so long, but I'm worried that it would be a long quest indeed...


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