Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Macaron Saga .......

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
Dating back to the 18th century, the Macaron is a traditional French pastry, made of egg-whites, almond powder, icing sugar and sugar. This sweet pastry came out of the French courts’ baker’s oven as round meringue-like domes with a flat base.
Macarons, also anglicized “macaroons”, are not to be confused with a similar pastry also called ‘macaroons’. Macarons are sandwich-like pastries made with two thin cookies and a cream or ganache between the cookies. Macaroons are dense cookies made either with coconut or with a coarse almond paste.
The Macaron’s origin isn’t clear, but it may have been brought to France from Italy as early as 1533 by Catherine di Medici and her pastry chefs. Macarons gained fame in 1792 when two Carmelite nuns seeking asylum in Nancy during the French Revolution baked and sold Macarons in order to support themselves, thus becoming known as “the Macaron sisters.” The Macarons they made were a simple combination of ground almonds, egg whites, and sugar. No special flavors and no filling.
It wasn’t until the 1900s that Pierre Desfontaines of Parisian pastry shop and café Ladurée decided to take two cookies and fill them with ganache. Today Ladurée continues to be one of the first stops for macaron-crazed fans in Paris. No longer a humble almond cookie, the macaron turned into a versatilely flavored treat with a thin, light crust briefly giving way to a layer of moist almond meringue following by a center of silky smooth filling.
Oh OMG! This was my first reaction when I read about the challenge for this month’s daring bakers. For ages, I have been drooling over of this pretty French dessert. I have been admiring at all those lovely Macarons on Tartlettes blog and everytime thinking “I must try this. I’m usually game for challenges of any sort be it baking or life in general, but the stories of disasters with this temperamental dessert has always made me take a step back.
I tried it not once, not twice but thrice and the “Feet” avoided me like the plague. I aged the egg whites, sifted the almond flour, rested the piped batter for one hour, had the oven at the right temperature, lowered the temperature after 5 minutes and still no luck. Was waiting anxiously for the feet to appear........ but my Macarons were retarded...no feeeeeeet. The third time they faintly resembled ‘Macarons’…..but by that time my almond meal was over and the clock was ticking as ‘Reveal Date’ was already here. So here I am with my ‘Feetless Macarons’…… and with a vow that one day soon I’m gonna conquer Da Macaron…….by its feet …..
I made Macarons with a Chai Latte flavour as a friend of mine had dumped a packet of Bondi Chai Latte- Vanilla flavour, on me a few weeks ago……. They tasted very yummy and quickly dissappeared from the platter.

The following is the recipe that we had to follow.
IngredientsConfectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)
(I added 2 teaspoons of chai latte powder to the batter)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.7. Cool on a rack before filling.
We were given the freedom to choose the flavour of the macarons and the filling. We could also use other nuts apart from almonds.

I used Nutella for the filling.


Aviva O'Byrne said...

You know the feet totally avoided me too. I had them for the first tray and then poof! I couldn't get them back. Beautiful photos.

Anonymous said...

yum, your macarons look great! love the nutella filling