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Monday, June 25, 2012

Macaron Take 2

Mrs. Dancer came over again to try to tackle another set of Macaron cookies. Learning our lesson last time with just trying out random recipes I put a little more thought into which recipes we would try.

Even the professionals struggle with macaroons, says Meike Beck, chief home economist at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “Three seconds of overbeating and they’re ruined.” The institute spent a month making hundreds of batches of macaroons, trying to perfect a recipe. In the end it gave up. “They’re best left to the professionals. Macaroon recipes do work. But they are not consistent. -- Times Online

So apparently making macarons is even harder than I originally thought. Like my grandmas raisin bread there is a finesse that these little cookies require that is a unique individual approach. Sure the basics are similar but there is an art to getting the perfect macaron cookie. So this time when looking online for recipes I wanted to try I went back to the recipe we used in class. Since all macrons are made of egg, sugar and a nut base I figured if I could get the ratio of the recipe in class that worked right down then I could find similar recipes on the internet of other flavors to try.

With a much higher confidence that I got the ingredients right then I felt like now I would only really have to worry about my technique. The simple ones I was following are:
1. Weigh all ingredients
2. Pre-mix ingredients in the blender
3. Shift all ingredients three times to get out any chunks
4. Beat the egg whites on low initially to unravel the protein in the eggs and then once you get them to the soft peak stage add the sugar slowly while increasing the speed to high.
5. Better to overbeat the meringue than to under beat it
6. Gently fold in the ingredients in three batches
7. Get the batter to the perfect lava flow consistency
8. Get the trays off the counter to help with air circulation when drying the cookies to create the skin. Don’t cook them until that skin has formed

With more thought and experience under our belts we tried round two. Sadly within the first few minutes I screwed up the recipe. Thankfully we could fix it, if we doubled how many cookies we were planning on making. I guess the surplus of cookies would even out the sadly pitiful amount of edible cookies we ended up having last time we tried macrons.

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Of course by doubling the recipe we had to have double the ingredients. In the end I had everything EXCEPT the lemons. So we had to make another quick run to the store to pick some more up. It was a beautiful day, and since Trader Joes is just two blocks away we took a quick walk. This recipe used SO MANY LEMONS. In the cookies and in the fillings. YUMMMMM lemon.

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We made two separate batches of cookies this time and I have to say both worked out rather well. There was so much batter, and I got overconfident with how much could go in the pastry bag. I made quite a mess. However once we got the cookies out of the oven both batches tasted super similar. The only difference is that they had different consistencies. And we had random issues with the baking times that was driving me nuts. I still need to find out the perfect temperature and length of time to cook the cookies in my oven. An individual thing for sure.

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With the cookies sailing happily along in the oven we turned to the fillings. We wanted to do a butter cream and lemon curd center. I know I know trying a dual center on our only second set of cookies was probably too ambitious. We made the lemon curd fine, even using a different recipe than we tried last time it still came out pretty good. The butter cream however was a NIGHTMARE. The first batch ended up never blending; it sat in a three tiered mess that just wouldn’t foam. After scraping that batch we moved on to the second recipe, this one foamed and tasted ok but once it sat for a few minutes it also started to separate. FINALLY the third recipe worked, and thank goodness for that because we used the last of the butter.

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Once all the cookies were cooked we filled up the pastry bag with the butter cream filling and a zip lock bag with a tiny part of the corner cut off of the lemon curd. We lined each cookie with a circle of the butter cream and then filled the inside of that circle with the tangy lemon curd. OH MY GOODNESS people, this was the best idea I ever had. Not only was the creamy and tart a good balance but sandwiched between two delicious macarons it was simply perfection.

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I think my only criticism of this batch of cookies was that I really have to get my oven times figured out. We took the cookies out too soon so the insides collapsed during cooling. We ended up with a crust and a pocket of air. They tasted fantastic but they weren’t quite right. I think for now everyone is all macaron’ed out so we will be taking a break for now. But we are close.

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1 comment:

paul peggy zeus said...

Perfection will be had.

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