|recipe from my class|
Last weekend, thanks to a gift certificate from my parents, I got to go to a cooking class at Le Cordon Bleu. Just walking through those doors feels good. I took a short course demo on macarons, and have tried them once at home. While I'd love to say I mastered the technique in one go and made amazing, lovely macarons, this would be a lie. But hey, they tasted good! It was one of my most ambitious baking projects, at least as far as technique went. There seem to be so many places where things could go wrong with this. But, here's take one.
First lesson: this.
|THIS IS IMPORTANT.|
I started by preparing things: almond flour, icing sugar, egg whites, and granulated sugar. While measuring things out on my new digital kitchen scale, my first thought was "kitchen scale, where have you been all my life, and why was I so foolish not to get you earlier?" It's wonderfully foolproof for measuring. But I digress.
|dear mixer, I love you.|
|ready to pipe!|
The macarons then have a nap. They sit on their cooking sheets, waiting to dry. Which, chef told us, could take anywhere from half an hour on a dry day to a couple of hours on a humid summer day - which is the reason you never make these on a hot summer day. 20-40 minutes was ideal. After they were dry enough, into the oven they went, 250F for about 14 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.
I startled R a bit and made her look at me askance when I pulled them out and gleefully said "they have feet!". Macarons should have a sort of ruffle at the bottom, called a foot, a crispy shell, and no large air pockets; the list of attributes of properly-made macarons reads like something out the of AKA breed standard book. Mine seemed to have feet and the crispy shell. Some of them collapsed a bit, though, and most had too much air in them, a sign I hadn't beaten/deflated them correctly. Removing them from the parchment paper was a bit of an adventure, as they tended to stick a bit. Some time in the freezer (a trick from the class that I remembered) did help that, though.
The filling was an Italian meringue buttercream. Yes, there are different types of meringue. I really had no idea. French meringue is egg whites beaten plus sugar, then more beating. Italian is egg whites beaten plus a hot syrup, then beaten until it's cooled.
I broke it. Breaking, in cooking, is when something leads to an emulsion separating. It's a bit of science reduced to a simple word. It can happen in sauces as well and usually leads to me yelling "aaah!" followed by some sort of rescue attempt, some more successful than others. The yelling may not be proper cooking technique, but I use it anyway. After a few google searches, I was able to rescue it and get it to a nice piping consistency to fill my cookies.
Result and reviews: Cookies need work on the consistency and texture front, but tasted amazing. They are delicate little bites, almondy and sweet but light and airy.Wow, wow, wow. I can see why they're so popular. The main reviewer comment was a request for more. Some technique to refine, but I'm happy with this start.