Macarons 2014 – Batches 13 and 14 – NewBo style

Cedar Rapids, IA has this fantastic little main street district called Czech Village/New Bohemia or NewBo for short.  It includes a fun indoor farmer’s market, NewBo City Market, an independent book store, coffee shop and artist studios.  It was in one of these artist studios where my macarons made their public début in Iowa.  It was a combo party – studio opening for Russ Fagle and 50th birthday party for a dear friend.

Posing in front of a Russ Fagle print getting ready to celebrate NewBo style

Posing in front of a Russ Fagle print getting ready to celebrate NewBo style

Russ Fagle has a great variety of work – in medium, subject and style.  I am a fan of his NewBo poster series.

A great number of people came to the party. And I must say the folks of Cedar Rapids are quite fabulous. I recommend checking out the area if you ever find yourself in the neighborhood.

As for the macarons, I have already written about the woes of the lemon curd macarons in Batch 12.  Batches 13 and 14 were made on the same day.

Action pose by nephew as he pretends to eat the salted caramel macaron

Action pose by nephew as he pretends to eat the salted caramel macaron

They were an improvement as I mostly figured out the temperature to use in my sister’s oven. I also cut the sugar mixed into the egg whites by 50 grams for Batches 13 and 14.

They still had some “character” and were not ideal in their form, but were still tasty enough to share.

The filling for Batch 13 was my go-to salted caramel recipe with a slight twist.  Instead of mixing the caramel with butter, I used cream cheese.  This is my go-to recipe because I tried it and I had success.  I have since been able to repeat the success, so I figure why fix what ain’t broke.

Batch 14 was a chocolate ganache – heavy cream, vanilla, coffee and dark chocolate.  These are my go to flavors when serving a crowd and not wanting to be adventurous.

The macarons had some great company at the dessert table.  Cakes made and decorated by my dear childhood friend (her husband was the one celebrating the big 5-0). He is a big fan of Bob Dylan and it has become a tradition for her to decorate his birthday cake with a Bob Dylan image.

The whole experience was well worth the wee bit of adventure in a snowstorm.

Macarons had some great company on the dessert table

Macarons had some great company on the dessert table

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Macarons 2014 – Batch 12 – Snowstorms and learning a new oven

Batches 12, 13, and 14 were going to be so straight forward…more of an exercise aiming for consistency rather then experimentation.  Straight forward because they were intended to be a gift to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday in Iowa. I had an entire day planned to leisurely make three batches and three fillings.  I had aged my egg whites.   I was ready to make my best macarons – EVER.   Then I looked at the weather…temperatures dropping and a SNOWSTORM…timed to make my originally planned travel day not an option.

After a couple of hours reviewing the different weather forecasts, researching options for revising my car rental in hopes of not spending a ridiculous amount of money, and packing; I finally decided to travel instead of making the macarons.

I drove for about six hours going 40 mph or less on highways mostly looking like this:

Driving on Interstate 35 in the snowstorm.

Driving on Interstate 35 in the snowstorm.

The trip normally takes 3.5 hours.  It was a long, exhausting day, not the blissful macaron making day I had planned.

This was not enough to stop me from making macarons.  That is right, I am obsessed. I still had a whole day to make the macarons, but now there were challenges.  I was no longer going to be making them in my own little kitchen where I know my oven.  Thankfully, I have used my sister’s oven before so I knew it ran hot.

The challenge I hadn’t planned on was having to whip egg whites by hand.  But I was able to do it!!  I did learn that when whipping egg whites by hand, don’t add the sugar until you reach soft peaks.  It takes much longer if you do it sooner – something I never really cared about when using my stand mixer.

Whipping egg whites to stiff peaks by hand.

Whipping egg whites to stiff peaks by hand.

To add to the challenge, I agreed to do chauffeur services for the niece and nephews.  Three kids with three different school schedules.  This meant almost always someone around to watch over and no nice big chunk of time to crank these out.

The first batch – batch 12 – had some serious variation while I experimented with resting times and oven temperatures.  The result:

Variations within one batch of macaron shells

Variations within one batch of macaron shells

Notes:

  • I clearly didn’t fold long enough as there are still little peaks.
  • Shells (left most) looked the best with little to no resting and an over around 225 degrees with a double pan at 16 minutes.

I am actually quite please with how they turned out.  I thought I was going to have an entire batch completely screwed up, instead I got mediocre.

The recipe for the shells was from Les Petits Macaron.  For the filling, I used the lemon curd recipe from the same book.  This was my first making of lemon curd, and I think it was quite a success.  I look forward to trying more in the future.

Filling the macaron shells with lemon curd.

Filling the macaron shells with lemon curd.

It was not all hard work.  We did take the time to enjoy some tea and silliness.  More on batches 13 and 14 to come in the next post.

Tea party during the middle of macaron making.

Tea party during the middle of macaron making.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

Islands of Adventure - Seuss landing

Islands of Adventure – Seuss landing

Dr. Seuss has a lasting impression on me.  He was one of the first authors who created a world that I wanted to live in – visually.  The closest I have come to this world is visiting Seuss Landing at the Islands of Adventure. Today is his birthday, so I thought I would look around for some Dr. Seuss inspired macarons.

The Lorax is a popular choice in the shapely macaron category.

There is the Cat in the Hat for color inspiration.  You know that Dr. Seussian red and blue combo.  A truly inspired choice for coloring and flavor – Kool-Aid.  Thing 1 and Thing 2 are an easy reference with a little decorative writing.

Sam I am and his Green Eggs and Ham.   While these are not Dr. Seuss – the technique for piping could be used to make some green eggs.

I wasn’t able to find a lot of them, so I think I will consider this in my future macaron making.  It seems like there is a place for these fantastic colorful little cookie in the world of Dr. Seuss.

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