Friday, January 7, 2011

French Macarons!

The buzz around the Internet has been all about macarons lately, specifically how annoyingly difficult they are to make. So, naturally, I had to try them and I figured NYE would be the perfect opportunity. I settled on chocolate and decided to use the recipe from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine because it was the only one I could find that listed ingredients in volume rather than mass. Well, this is Clear Lake and gourmet isn't exactly the type of grocery stores we have, so I had to make my own almond flour, in my blender no less (a food processor is one of the very few kitchen appliances I do not own). Luckily, I had done some research prior to baking day so I already had my egg whites aging, and once the almond flour was prepared, I was ready to go. The tricks of the trade, according to the famed Tartlette's Macaron Guide are to 1)age the egg whites at least 24 hours, 2)do not over fold your meringue! 3) let the batter sit on the baking sheet for an hour before baking. Here are my little cookies:

Chocolate French Macarons (base recipe from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine)

2c almond flour
2 1/4c powdered sugar
2T sugar
5 egg whites at room temperature for at least 24 hours (I place mine in a cup and covered the top with a paper towel and sealed it with a rubber band and left it on my kitchen counter overnight)
2T cocoa
1t espresso powder

Preheat to 200F. In medium bowl, combine powdered sugar and almond flour. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form (you should be able to hold the bowl upside down and have the egg whites not move). Sift 1/3 of the almond mixture into the egg whites. Add flavoring now (I chose cocoa and espresso powder but you can add any flavoring, preferably in a dry form). Fold to combine. Sift in another 1/3 of the almond mixture. Fold until just combined. Sift in the last 1/3 of the almond mixture. Fold until just combined. Try not to over fold, 50 strokes should be enough. Put batter into a pastry bag with a plain tip or just a bag with the end snipped off at 1/2 inch. Pipe 1 inch mounds of batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Allow the batter to dry for 1 hour on the baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and increase temperature to 375F. Bake for an additional 7 minutes. Cool completely.

I used a cream cheese frosting filling because I had some leftover, but I think these would be delicious with a chocolate ganache as well.

Now that I've mastered the finicky macaron, time to experiment with flavors! Oh and go to France to try macarons from the master, Ladurée!

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