Tuesday, March 16, 2010

chocolate & strawberry french macarons - am i ready for this?

strawberry french macaroons - 08So after my last bitch entry about how "french macarons are the hardest thing to make", you know what I did? I made another freakin' batch. I'm not going to let one horrible experience cramp my style. I'm going to conquer this recipe, if it's the last thing I do! Okay, just kidding. Apparently they were such a hit last time, that I was essentially begged to make another batch. Sure, whatever, why not. I seriously did want to try it again though; especially since this recipe completely requires practice. And, if practice makes perfect, why don't I just bang out two different types of macarons all at once? Sheesh, I even shocked myself!

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Using the same recipe as last time, (seeing as how it included derivatives for other flavors), I began the first batch- chocolate. Basically it's exactly the same, just substituting some of the almond flour for cocoa powder.

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I made a basic simple ganache, slathered it on one thin macaron, then placed another on top.

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After my little procession line was finished, I took a second to stop and admire my little brown babies. Although they didn't completely replicate the french macarons found in fancy bakeries, they still looked damn cute.

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One little bite caused the little air sandwiches to deflate and crack into the gooey chocolate ganache. I think we can all agree that I'm beginning the get the hang of this.

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Next batch: Strawberry! This variation was slightly different. Only a tiny dash of strawberry flavor went into the meringue itself. The real strawberry flavor would come from the filling. On a side note: Notice the shape of these little babies. I have almost perfected the form of a french macaron. Look at it's little "legs"! It finally rose like how it was supposed to; yayy!

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So why do these little sandwiches scream strawberry flavor? Ahh, a little food coloring does wonders! For some reason we subconsciously associate the physical with taste. Not sure why; but the few drops of red food dye sure did work.

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Between the two pink pillows was a good slather of strawberry preserves. With each bite a drop of rich strawberry chunks oozed out the sides.

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So was attempt #2 and #3 at french-macaron-creating a success or a failure? Let's just say that I am 100 times better than my last time, but still nowhere near those professional bakeries that I adore.

Taken from Martha Stewart.

1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup almond flour
2 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup superfine sugar
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam, for filling

Chocolate: Substitute 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder for 1/4 cup of the almond flour.
Raspberry: Add 1 tablespoon fresh raspberry puree, strained, plus 3 to 4 drops dusty- rose gel-paste food coloring.

1. Pulse confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.
3. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macaroons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees.
4. Let macaroons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. (If macaroons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macaroons.)
5. Sandwich 2 same-size macaroons with 1 teaspoon jam. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Piping the perfect macaroon takes a little practice. Treat it as you would a rosette, bringing the pastry tip to the side of the circle, rather than forming a peak, to finish.

Makes about 35 macaron sandwiches.

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