Macarons 2014 – Batch 11 – Purple Chocolate

Testing out the piping skills by creating initial macarons

Testing out the piping skills by creating initial macarons

…AND more birthday macarons.  This time for a friend with some RAD initials.

Almost all of my adventurous energy went into the coconut flour version, so these were kept simple.  Basic Mad about Macarons shells colored purple inspired by purple bangs.

The filling is a coffee chocolate ganache.  I heated whipping cream (same amount by weight as the chocolate) with instant coffee (one tablespoon) over medium heat until just too warm to touch.  Then poured through a sieve onto broken Chocolove chocolate bar.

Birthday chocolate macaron

Birthday chocolate macarons

After letting sit for three minutes, stirred until the chocolate was smooth.  Added a splash of almond extract.

Result: 56.5 (113 shells) approximately the size of a quarter plus three initials.

Aerial view of birthday macaron batch 11

Aerial view of birthday macaron batch 11

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Dreaming – Ice Cream

I’ll have a cup of tea and tell you of my dreaming
Dreaming is free – Blondie

I love plotting my next macaron adventures. I am having a craving for ice cream, perhaps it is the upcoming weekend of above zero temperatures (with the possibility of going above zero, oh my).  Today’s dreaming list is all about using macarons to make a sophisticated ice cream sandwich.

First, a little video inspiration from Francois Payard demonstrating making Mango and Coconut Ice Cream macaron. I adore him. Watch how he gets all the sugar syrup in the meringue with his Italian method and not stuck to the side of the mixing bowl.

Other ideas:

Pumpkin Ice Cream and Pepitas – with suggestion of pistachios instead of pepitas

Almond Ice Cream – keeping it simple

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream – Breakfast?

Ice Cream Cone – Freakin’ cute ice cream cone shape

Black Sesame Matcha – green tea love

Roasted Pistachio – roasted goodness

Pistachio – bonus: uses yolks for the ice cream (oh and pretty stenciling)

Mint chocolate chip – ok – so this is a recipe for mint chocolate chip buttercream – but wouldn’t it be lovely with mint chocolate chip ice cream instead

Neopolitan – I wonder if I would have the urge to leave all the strawberry shells behind.

 

 

Macarons 2014 – Batch 10 – Chocolate Peanut Butter

Birthday inchworm cake with macaron eyes

Birthday inchworm cake with macaron eyes

More birthday macarons.  Most of the family do not like German Chocolate so another flavor was needed for brother’s birthday macarons – Chocolate Peanut Butter.  These were also the back-up flavor in case the German Chocolate was a complete fail.

Keeping it simple and familiar, chocolate shells were made using the Mad about Macarons recipe. The filling is peanut butter – ground peanuts from the Co-op – no sugar added.  About half of them also were filled with a bit of chocolate coffee ganache.  The adventurous portion was testing out my piping skills to make couple of macarons in the shape of my brother’s initials – J.K. – no joke!

Inchworm cake aerial view

Inchworm cake aerial view

In addition to the macarons, I made an inchworm cake (most obvious choice). My five year old niece helped out by decorating the presentation board.  A turtle and a little <3.

My sister claims these beat out the salted caramel. I am not so sure, but I do agree they rank high.  The bonus is the ease of having a ready made filing option.

Made 54 (108 shells) approximately the size of a quarter plus two initials.

Aerial view of the Chocolate Peanut Butter macarons

Aerial view of the Chocolate Peanut Butter macarons

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Macarons 2014 – Batch 9 – Coconut Flour?

German chocolate macarons for brother's birthday

German chocolate macarons for brother’s birthday

Birthdays are a great excuse to make macarons.  My brother’s favorite cake is German Chocolate, so naturally that is the flavor I chose.  Somehow the usual chocolate shells filled with the coconut pecan frosting seemed too simple.

Bob's Red Mill Coconut Flour

Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour

I decided to try substituting coconut flour for almond flour to get even more coconutty goodness.  I was warned coconut flour sucks up the moisture so I used a little less and upped the egg whites.  I even added a dash of oil.   The result – taste was spot on yummy, texture was a SUPER FAIL.  You can see the cracked desert texture instead of the usual smooth top and only a small foot.  They were so crunchy I think my sister may have broke a tooth with her sampling.

The texture did improve a bit after letting them sit filled, but still not the usual awesomeness.  The flavor is so nice, I will attempt this again.  However, I need to do more research before attempting.

Ingredients:

  • 160 grams egg whites whipped to stiff peaks

    Coconut flour macaron shell just piped and resting.

    Coconut flour macaron shell just piped and resting.

  • 30 grams egg whites added to the mix after started mixing
  • 90 grams coconut flour
  • 40 grams almond flour
  • 100 grams granulated sugar
  • 270 grams powdered sugar
  • 1 T oil
  • 20 grams cocoa powder

Next time I may use more almond flour and less coconut flour.  Also, I think I will use more egg whites mixing half with the dry ingredients without whipping.German chocolate macaron

Macarons 2014 – Batch 8, the Grammy Edition

0126141614Batch 8 was a last minute request. I was invited to a friends’ house for fajitas and watching the Grammys.  When I asked if I could bring something, the request came for macarons. I initially said there wasn’t enough time because I do prefer to have the macarons mature for at least 24 hours after being filled.

When scanning the cupboards and refrigerator for some other dessert inspiration to strike, I saw my already separated ageing egg whites and remaining buttered popcorn filling (from macaron making earlier in the week).  I couldn’t resist the challenge.  So I whipped up a batch of macarons using the ingredient ratio in Les Petits Macarons and my usual mixing and baking technique (14 mins at 300 degrees).  I chose to color them pink in honor of P!nk who would be performing at the Grammys and for whom my friends are big fans.

You can see from the picture I rushed the mixing a bit as the last little peak didn’t go away.  Just a couple of more folds and they would have been picture perfect.   They sat for about five hours before the first nibbles, so they were a bit chewy.  The flavor of the buttered popcorn filling was still quite lovely.  I bet the ones I left behind were fantastic the next day both in texture and flavor.

This is why I should just make some to freeze for spontaneous little gifts.  Can I trust myself to have them sitting in the freezer?

I didn’t stick around for all of the Grammys, but I did stay long enough to enjoy watching P!nk and her acrobatic performance.

Macarons 2014 – Batches 4, 5, 6 and 7

Les Petits Macarons

Big ol’ tray o’ macarons

These macarons happened because I discovered the book Les Petits Macarons.  I love this book.

The book gives details of four methods for making the shells: Italian method, Swiss method, French method and Easy French method.  Inspired the “right” method is the one that works for you, and the only method I had used so far had been the French method.  I had to confirm there wasn’t a better method for me out there.

Now I didn’t follow the book exactly because I wanted to really compare apples to apples.

For all batches, I used the same quantity of almond meal, sugar, and egg whites as written in the book.  I didn’t add anything else that was called for in some, such as cream of tartar or egg white powder.  Also, I didn’t follow the baking directions.  Instead, I did my usual rest for thirty minutes (give or take) and baking at 300 degrees for 14-16 minutes.

Les Petits Macaron results

Side by side comparison of the different methods, left to right: Italian, Swiss, French, Easy French

The French method was the clear winner.  Besides looking the best, I actually enjoy the process the best. Italian method was a close second as far as appearances, but I totally botched it with the heating sugar part.  Most of it ended up on the side of the mixing bowl – FAIL.  I enjoyed the Swiss method as I do enjoy whipping over a double boiler, but they look crazy.  As crazy as they look, they were impressively consistent in they craziness.  The little hats were askew on all of them in almost the same way.  The Easy French method may be appealing to some, but they look funny and I didn’t enjoy the process.

In addition to the shell recipes, there are some fabulous flavor/filling ideas.  The strangest sounding one was the Buttered Popcorn filling, so that is what I made.  It is subtle on the popcorn, but quite delightful.  I am fairly certain I will be making that one again.  Actually all the fillings I did this day are worth repeating.

Look at all that sugar that ended up on the side of the mixing bowl

Look at all that sugar that ended up on the side of the mixing bowl

Details:

Batch 4 – meh:

  • Italian method – pouring hot sugar syrup into the egg whites
  • Color: Blue
  • Filling: Buttered Popcorn (recipe: Les Petits Macarons)

Batch 5 – ruh-roh:

  • Swiss method – partially cooking the egg whites and sugar by whipping over a double boiler before whipping to stiff peaks
  • Color: Green
  • Filling: Wasabi white chocolate (based on recipe in Mad About Macarons) – Note: next time I will double the wasabi, too subtle for my taste.

Batch 6 – Woohoo!:

  • French method – just pouring the granulated sugar into the egg whites
  • Color: Yellow
  • Filling: Buttered Popcorn

Batch 7 – ruh-roh:

  • Easy French method – no egg white whipping, but batter resting
  • Color: Purple
  • Filling: Balsamic Fig (ricotta cheese mixed with fig jam and balsamic vinegar to taste) – fabulous quick and easy filling

These were shared with my peers who are always willing tasters – even when the macarons do not look the part of proper macarons.

Image

Macarons 2014 – Batches 1, 2 and 3

0110140752aFor 2014, I have fallen prey to the beginning of the year goal setting affliction.  The goals are to make 52 batches of macarons this year and to document them.  Why 52?  Who knows, it sounded like a reasonable number to average one batch a week.  I often make more than one batch at a time, but there are some weeks I don’t make any.

The first macarons of the year – Chocolate Salted Caramel – were presented at the Minnesota Public Radio | American Public Media Employee Cabaret Bakery Showcase.  Every year employees of MPR and APM, take the stage at the Fitzgerald theatre and perform for the co-workers, family, and friends.  It is great fun. It helps there are so many talented people working there.  This year included a bakery showcase which I eagerly volunteered to make some macarons.

The details: shells were made using the Mad About Macarons basic recipe, plus what I had left for cocoa divided into thirds (probably about 10 grams each).   The filling is the Salted Caramel using Manu’s Menu’s recipe.  One batch of the filling was plenty to fill all three batches of the shells.

Mentions were made some of these were taken home for partners who were not able to attend the event.  This sounds like a stamp of approval to me.

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Separating the egg whites – the beginning

Separate egg whites

Prep for marathon macaron making includes separating a couple dozen egg whites

Separating egg whites is the first step in making macarons.  It is a messy and delicate process.  I have had some success by taking a shortcut with store bought egg whites.  Yet I continue to come back to separating my own.

I enjoy the tactile experience of cracking the eggshell, letting the egg white pour in between my fingers while I gently roll the egg yolk across my fingers.  It is the opportunity to notice how each egg is a little different.  Some eggs have really shells so thin I have to be careful to not squeeze the egg too hard while picking it up. Others have pretty tough shells. Then there are all the different variations of egg yolks from pale yellow to a rich sunny orange.

Aging egg whites

Egg whites sitting near the window aging

In the end, I have a jar of pale gooey egg whites. Can you believe this goopy mess can be transformed into delicate beautiful sweet shells?  I have done this a few dozen times, and I am still in awe of the magic.

And so begins my documentation of this love.  I don’t pretend this journal will be nearly as transforming or magical, but I will do my best.

Now go let the egg whites age.  (Yes, I do age my egg whites unless I am being impatient.)