Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Happy Feet

As I type this, I am nibbling on a bit of "Oregon Brittle" - basically hazelnut brittle that I purchased on the Coast. It's delicious and crunchy with a savory tang that is both surprising and satisfying. I have been reflecting for the last few days on what I made this weekend - macarons! Yes, I did it! I finally made French macarons!

French macarons are pretty unique - they are almond-meringue sandwich cookies - usually intricately flavoured and brightly coloured. They are something I have always wanted to make - but it's never been high on my priority list. Let's face it - from what I have heard, they sound like a real pain to make and I have read so many disaster stories from other brave bakers. But after making a batch of ice cream, I had egg whites to use, so....why not?

I used a basic recipe & tutorial taken from Bakerella. If you are inspired to make macarons, I would highly recommend her method and explanation. It was very helpful and informative and I appreciated having a little bit of hand-holding through this first run.

Macarons are only made from four ingredients - ground almonds, icing sugar, egg whites and regular sugar. After beating the egg whites and sugar (regular granulated) to stiff peaks, fold in the almond flour and icing sugar to the desired consistency (thick but slightly runny). Pipe onto a cookie sheet and let sit for half an hour. This sitting turned out to be a crucial step as it creates that shiny and seemingly hard shell - the distinctive macaron pieds, or feet, rise and lift the top shell. It's quite magical actually - it seems to happen in a blink of an eye. One moment the batter are shiny disks on the sheet, and then suddenly *poof* they rise!

Looking back, it wasn't that difficult. Really, it wasn't. But I was stressed. I kept looking over Bakerella's tutorial, reading and re-reading to make sure that I had not missed a word, and I don't believe I did - and they turned out great! That being said - plain macarons are pretty boring. Subtly sweet - they tasted a lot better with some chocolate ganache in the middle. Then again, there is that giant tin of matcha on my counter....


Bakerella's FANTASTIC tutorial
Macronicity Introduction to Macarons
Dave Leb's Take on Macarons

Now. To the goods.

(macaron batter resting before baking - this creates the hard shell)

(Done! And they look perfect.)
(A rather...uneven foot. Hey, they can't all be supermodels.)

(An un-sandwiched macaron tucked beside a scoop of lemon-thyme ice cream served on top of warm stewed rhubarb. A perfect spring dessert!)

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