Monday, February 8, 2010
I've been on a bit of a baking spree lately...slight understatement...So now besides the 2 cakes in the fridge and the 5 filled cookie jars in my room, I also have 6 egg whites sitting in a pretty little ramekin wrapped in cling film. I could make a massive egg white omelette ..but I have no cheese..I could do egg fried rice..but it wouldn't look very good without the yolk for that burst of colour..or maybe a lemon meringue pie..actually ya la...I should've, considering the huge jar of lemon curd and kilo of butter I still have..damn hindsight. pfft..
I digress. I have been aching to make my own french macarons since I paid GBP 2. 50 for an uninspiring one from Paul's London. So with 6 aged egg whites and some leftover ground almonds I found at the back of my cupboard, remnants of an orange cake I made many moons ago [ I disgust myself sometimes], I had the perfect excuse to attempt a dessert that is the bane of most bakers/food bloggers. I have to say, with all those impassioned posts floating about the blogsphere about 'feet' and 'flowing magma', I was properly excited ..even though I don't actually like macarons ;)
Vanilla French Macarons with Nutella and Lemon curd
[adapted from Tartelette, who has an 8-page pdf document on her blog detailing tricks for the perfect macaron and this excellent video on youtube by the owner of Kitchen Musings...I don't know how to do the fancy hyperlink stuff so google it]
3 egg whites [aged, so store them in the fridge for a few days and bring to room temperature
before using. Something to do with reducing moisture.. aren't I helpful]
Pinch of cream of tartar [optional, but I've always used them in meringues so..]
50g castor sugar
200g powdered sugar
110g ground almonds
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1. Mix powdered sugar and ground almonds, and give it a few quick pulses in the food processor to break up lumps. Set aside
2. In a separate bowl, add cream of tartar to egg whites and beat on medium speed till foamy
3. Add castor sugar gradually, still beating on medium speed, until you get soft peaks
4. Add the vanilla and beat until glossy. The mixture should stay put even if you tip the bowl upside down. I know because I tried....3 times.
5. Now add the almond mixture in about 4-5 batches, giving 1 or 2 quick folds with each addition, just to wet the dry ingredients a bit.
6. When all the almond has been added, beat with a rubber spatula. I did 5 rounds of 10 counts each. Shouldn't take more than 30 seconds.7. Now take some mixture and drop it on a plate. If it flattens, giving you an even surface, it's ready. If you're still getting little peaks at the top, give the mixture a few more folds.
8. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe onto parchment paper or a silpat. All the blogs I've read recommend drawing a template, but really, if you have a steady hand, I wouldn't bother. It will flatten out into nice circles anyway. Or if you're really lucky like me, you'll have an awesome friend called Robynne who got you a silpat that comes with ready drawn circles for your birthday!
9. When you're done piping, give the tray a few gentle taps on the kitchen counter to get rid of air bubbles, and leave it to dry for 30-minutes to an hour.
10. Preheat oven to 150 degrees.
11. Touch the top and the sides of the unbaked macarons, they should have formed a skin.
12. The recipe said to bake for 10-12 minutes, but my oven is a bit funny, so mine had to bake for about 15-18 minutes.
13. The instructions above may have sounded like a pain, but it took all of 15 minutes to pull together. The most difficult bit for me was getting the damn things off the tray. Be gentle
14. Let cool and let your imagination run wild with ideas for fillings! I used nutella mixed with melted dark chocolate, for that bitter edge to take the sweetness of the macaron down a notch; and a very tangy lemon curd. Anything to cut through all that sugar.
15. Fill, sandwich, and enjoy~Crisp meringue shells that melt away to a chewy centre...unctuous chocolatey cream....the perfect accompaniment to a steaming mug of thick, black coffee :)