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Operation Macaron.

January 28, 2011

Some excursions onto new culinary frontiers require  knowledge of technique, research, a trusted partner, and an understanding of the basic chemistry of eggs.

This was the case when baking macarons for the first time. I liken the experience to a kingpin drug bust operation, but instead eggs you are dealing with cocaine. My reinforcement  for the evening (this is going to get annoying, I can tell) was long time cooking pal and general BFF Leah, whom I’ve know for about 13 years and have liked for nearly as long.

Macarons are known to be tricky, so I did a bit a research before hand.  I found a great four part article here, at Syrup and Tang. Well, I am assuming that all four are great base on what I read in the 1st half of the 1st two articles. I had to stop because his extensive research and knowledge were starting to make this fledgling food-blogger feel a bit inadequate. (Please say nice things about me).

Surprise, surprise we used a Martha recipe from her Baking Handbook. I am not going to list it here because you can find a babillion recipes and techniques online, and if you are too lazy to do that then baking macarons may not be for you. It was nice to have one person mixing dry ingredients, especially since we were grinding our almonds and one person whipping the eggs. I liked the technique of dipping a round (1- 1 1/2 inch) cookie cutter in flour to mark our circles on the bake pan. You then pipe the batter onto the baking sheet. I’d say these were are most trying moments; a great deal of improvisation and “batter gushing” was going on as we worked through the two batches.  For baking some recipes give a higher oven temperature (about 350) and recommend you crack the door while cooking. We went with a lower oven temperature (300) and kept the door close which yielded the hard, shiny surface we wanted. There were a few learning curves, as is the case with any new baking technique, but really everything went rather smoothly. I suspect over mixing was our problem, but they still rose a bit while baking so I can’t really complain. As far as aesthetics are concerned, they weren’t the prettiest pastries on the plate (BAM!). They kind of looked like whoopie pies, but you forgot about that once they were in your mouth… erm, when you ate them… WAIT, they had the signature textures and tastes of a macaron: a slight crunch giving way to a chewy center, sandwiching a flavorful filling.

Here are somethings that we learned:

  1. We are going to try a new technique next time, this one called for medium soft peaks and it seems like stiffer whites would work better and you wouldn’t have to worry as much about over blending the egg and dry mixtures.
  2. Just buy almond flour. Grinding almonds is inexact and time consuming. In my defense, it was all of 1 degree when I was shopping and I was not about to go in search of almond flour.
  3. Macarons are fickle and take time to make, but they are not that difficult. This holds especially true if you are more concerned about eating them than looking at them.
  4. Swiss Meringue Buttercream is the best effing frosting alive.

Ok, more on this frosting. Here is the recipe we used, courtesy of Martha. We took the recipe down by half, added about 1 1/2 Tablespoons raspberry preserves, and let it chill in the fridge for about 20 mins before filling our macarons.

Almost as pretty as it is tasty, but not that close.

Almost as pretty as it is tasty, but not that close.

Albus, the official frosting tester, approves.

Albus, the official frosting tester, approves.

I bet you are now wondering how this frosting discovery fits into the drug bust analogy? Don’ worry. I’m going to tell you.

Once all the drug…ists are hauled away and the cocaine has been weighed, you and your trusty partner of justice search the back rooms and find a dozen sleeping terrorists and the lost photos of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy.

It is that glorious.

 

Cockadoodledo Mother F*$%er

Cockadoodle doo, Mother F*$%er

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Mom2 permalink
    January 30, 2011 4:45 pm

    I can testify. The macaroons were AMAZING! what’s next on the list formyou and your cooking partner?..

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