Monday, May 25, 2009

Busy Weekend: Macarons!!!!!

I finished the last batch of the macaron favors right before I left to go for our emergency dance lesson Saturday.

Yes, that's right. I'm making macarons for our wedding favors!!!! Why would a girl who is notorious for not baking decide to bake one of the most difficult pastries in the world for her favors?

Because I love them and I'm obsessed with Laduree. By now everyone knows I love macarons. And no self-identified foodie could get away with NOT making her own something for her wedding, right? Right...if she's crazy. And so it goes...

I attempted the ridiculous and actually succeeded after several tries. There are many different macaron recipes out there, but there are really only two techniques: French and Italian. Many say the Italian method is more reliable, and I suspect it is if you can get the temperature right on the sugar. But I could not, so I found more success with the French method.

Here is the recipe from Martha that I modified a little bit. I have had the most luck with this adaptation of the French method.

French Macarons

2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 1/4 cup almond flour

1/2 cup aged** egg whites (KEY STEP: Aging the eggs)

Pinch of salt 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Directions To make the macarons: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, blend the confectioner's sugar and almond flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar.

Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form.

With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners' sugar mixture until completely incorporated. It should be the consistency of lava, and peaks should melt away at this point.

Add six drops of whatever food coloring you want. (I added red drops for light pink and green drops for pistachio green).

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Trace one-inch circles two inches apart from one another. Be sure to flip the parchment over so you don't bake the pen ink or pencil carbon into the macaron!!!

Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch #4 round tip, and fill with batter. Pipe 1-inch disks onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little.

Tap the sheet against the counter to get the air bubbles out. One or two taps will do.

THIS IS KEY: Let stand at room temperature until dry, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macarons and the shiny surface turns dull, about 30 minutes.

Bake, with the door of the oven slightly ajar (I put a wooden spoon between the door and the oven to keep it the tiniest bit open--THIS IS ANOTHER KEY STEP). Bake for about 12 minutes.

The macarons should have "feet" those little bubbly-edged things at the bottom. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the parchment. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macaroons from the parchment. Use immediately or store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

I made mine in several different batches in the past couple of months and froze them.

I'm filling the macarons with ginger jam for the green and grapefruit marmelade for the pink (I looove grapefruit, and we're also serving grapefruit-flavored Italian soda as our little signature refresher at the cocktail hour). But if you want to make your own filling, the recipe is below.

Macaron Filling

To fill the macarons: Fill a pastry bag with the filling. Turn macarons so their flat bottoms face up. On half of them, pipe about 1 teaspoon filling. Sandwich these with the remaining macarons, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

I haven't filled them yet. I'm packing them frozen for the trip down to our venue and then will do them the night before and put them in these tiny Chinese take-out containers that I made labels for.

Good luck!!!! It's not at all hard once you get the hang of it!!!

Next up...last minute bachelorette party!!!!

**Aging helps concentrate the egg whites. You put them in a bowl and set them out for 24-36 hours. Be sure to use pasteurized eggs!

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