Monday, October 31, 2011

french macarons and a happy halloween!!!

I made MACARONS!!!!
I want to cheer like the biggest cheerleader right now because for the second time in my pastry career, I have (somewhat) perfected the famous macaron!!!! The first time I ever made these was in pastry school eons ago and I blame the perfection and execution on the commercial ovens we used and the guidance of our outstanding instructors. I have tried a few times to make these French confections and have failed....sadly. But this time I was inspired by my friend Julie who posted about wanting to know how to make macarons on facebook and since it was snowing on Saturday I did a little research and found this one. I chose this recipe mainly because I had the ingredients in my pantry but I absolutely adore the macarons found on these two blogs, Tartelette and Cannelle et Vanille. These two ladies are amazing food bloggers and photographers. I love!!!

Let's get back to really what is important here.....macarons!!! I followed this recipe to a tee as far as the cookie ingredients. But when it came to a filling I made orange tinted, vanilla Swiss-meringue buttercream in honor of Halloween. If you're still frightened to try and make these, here is an incredible story on how-to make macarons and a step-by-step tutorial.

French Chocolate Macarons
borrowed from David Lebovitz
makes about 15 

Macaron Batter
1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces, 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized) ***I used Trader Joe's Almond Flour***
3 tablespoons (25 gr) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder ***My go to cocoa powder is Valrhona cocoa powder for it's dark color and deep chocolatey flavor***
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350º F (180º C).
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.
Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn’t quite fine enough.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.
Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).
Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.
Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

Buttercream Filling ***Makes enough for two batches of macarons***

1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1 - tablespoon pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
orange food coloring
***For chocolate buttercream  - add 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled*** 
***For peanut butter buttercream - add 2/3 cup peanut butter and increase salt to 1/8 teaspoon***

Combine sugar, egg whites and salt in a bowl of a stand mixer. Place bowl over simmering water. whisking gently but constantly, heat mixture until slightly thickened, foamy and registers 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 2 - 3 minutes. 

Place bowl in stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat mixture on medium speed until consistency of shaving cream and slightly cooled, 1 - 2 minutes. Add butter 1 piece at a time, until smooth and creamy. (Frosting may look curdled after half of the butter has been added; it will smooth with additional butter.) Once all of the butter is added, add vanilla, food coloring and/or melted chocolate or other flavorings. Mix until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, and thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds, scraping beater and sides of bowl with rubber spatula.

Pastry I - raspberry macarons - 2006
I mean seriously, check these babies out.....I don't even need to give you a side profile of these because you can just see it's "footing" from above. And yes, I was slightly penalized for the fluorescent pink don't judge.

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