Monday, May 14, 2012

Vive la French Macaron

Thanks to recent trips to the International Home and Housewares Show and the National Restaurant Association show in Chicago, I have begun a love affair with a short, dark and tasty treat.  French Macarons.

I had to try my hand at making them and as a first time effort, they turned out very nicely. I didn't quite get the "foot" I was attempting but I also didn't have the time to truly age my egg whites as several places listed as critical to getting the perfect macaron.

I was able to see Kristen Ryan of the French Pastry School of Chicago do a demonstration on how to make the treats at the International Home and Housewares Show in conjunction with KitchenAid's release of the new iconic look and launch of their recipe book with the treats on the cover.

I drooled over the color of the mixer but felt my trusty KitchenAid mixer might be jealous if I came home loving the new one.  Instead I fell in love with the cookie.  I never did find my download link for the book but will find her recipe somewhere.  I know I will!  Unless I find a benefactor to pay for a weekend class in Chicago, I can commute!

Instead of her recipe, I used the instructions from David Lebovitz.  They appeared to be straight forward and easy to follow. 

I didn't grind my almonds and powered sugar in the food processor. I had found almond flour at Caputo's Market.  I found it to be easy to work with and sifted the almond flour and powdered sugar twice before adding Guittard Cocoa Rouge cocoa powder to make it a chocolate macaron. I then sifted twice more.

Then I focused on the egg whites.  Following the directions, I used my KitchenAid mixer at a medium speed until the whites were frothy, then slowly added six tablespoons of sugar one at a time and making sure they mixed in well.  Turning to a medium high speed, I let the whites whip an extra 3-5 minutes until I had a nice stiff peak with a lot of volume.

Folding the mixture does get to be a workout. It is easy to see why traditional bakers had one arm bigger than the other!  Once mixed to a "lava" like state, I piped onto my sheets and popped them into the oven. Several sites recommend allowing the macarons to sit and crust while others say it is nonsense. This first time, I couldn't wait and popped the chocolatey rounds into the oven.

The aroma perfumed the house. Everyone was commenting on luscious chocolate smell.  A quick 15 minutes later they came out firm, crusted but no feet.  Maybe next time I can get that traditional pedistal with either warmer egg whites, older egg whites or the waiting period.

The first taste was crispy outside, light creamy inside that was reminiscent of a very good brownie with the addition of the cocoa.  I knew I wanted to fill them with Nutella for a simple filling. I don't know what else could be better than the dark chocolate hazelnut filling inside the dark chocolate pastry.

I can't wait to take them to work and my favorite chiropractic team tomorrow.  They certainly won't wait three to four days to age well.  I think that I will definitely be trying more flavors and combinations as I search to perfect the classic cookie.

I hope you enjoy as well! Let me know if you make them and how your recipes turn out.  I'd love to hear from you.