Saturday, October 30, 2010

Macaron--a life lesson learned (updated with recipe)

Chocolate Macarons

I have a love-hate relationship with macarons. I love it because it is so beautiful and yummy, but I also hate it because it is so finicky to make. It took me more than 10 times to get it right and give me consistent results. If you ask 10 bakers what is the most challenging or difficult thing to bake, I bet 9 of them would say: macaron. It is made up of 3 simple ingredients: almond flour, egg white and sugar. But it is hard to conquer. Cracked tops, no "feet", hollow shells...and there are so many factors affecting the outcome, like quality of egg white, almond flour, humidity of the kitchen, over beating or under beating, over folding or under folding, baking temperature...Long story short, just before declaring defeat, my son said, "Don't quit, mom! They are so good." I said, "Ok, one last try."

Thank God for making me a mother. I learn so much from raising my two lovely kids. Patience is the number one lesson. I wrote in my first blog post that I'm not a procrastinator because I'm always on a fast track, but at the same time, it means I have no patience and just quit when I hit a roadblock. Making macarons not just teaches me a culinary lesson but most importantly a life lesson.

macarons with dark chocolate ganache

lemon cream macarons
For the shells:

90g egg whites (use eggs whites that have been preferably left 3-5 days in the fridge, covered or 24-36hrs at room temperature, covered)
25g granulated sugar
200g powdered sugar
110g almonds, finely ground

1) Place the powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground.

2)  In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Add any food color at this point and mix thoroughly.

3)  Add the ground almond and powdered sugar to the meringue. Give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
4)  Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. 5)  Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. It should feel dry when touched.

6)  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280 F. When ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size.
7)  Let cool comletely before removing if you use a Silpat. If you use parchment paper, remove them and cool on a rack.

8)  Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.

Recipe modified from: Tartelette

Dark Chocolate Ganache Filling

Boil 250g heavy cream. Pour onto 200g finely chopped dark chocolate. Let stand for a few minutes and stir until the chocolate is melted and blended. Add 35g room temperature butter and stir until smooth. Let cool before using.


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