Friday, January 22, 2010

Macaron madness

Ever since my failed attempt at making macarons for a Daring Bakers' Challenge a few months ago, I've been torn: do I try my luck with these tricky devils again, or do I relegate them to the list of only-to-be-bought-at-patisserie items? The decision was taken out of my hands when a batch of crème anglaise I made left me with a whole lot of egg whites. So, armed with Helen's guide, Demystifying Macarons, I soldiered on bravely. Like all of her recipes, this one seemed approachable for a novice, and as always, is written with a generous dose of humor and common sense.

I was pretty skeptical about whether I would pull it off, so I opted to make plain almond macarons. No fancy flavors or colors just yet, imagine if I were saddled with, say, a bunch of collapsed and sticky green cookies! I probably wouldn't even be tempted to scrape them off the sheet to snack on. Anyway. Just as I was subjecting the meringue to Helen's grandmother's anti-gravity test, the husband wandered into the kitchen. His shock at seeing me calmly turn a full bowl upside down quickly gave way to astonishment when the contents stayed put inside! The batter was fairly quick and easy to put together, and once I'd piped the shells out began the agonizing wait to see how they would turn out. The piped shells are supposed to dry out for an hour before baking to help them develop the distinctive "foot" around the base.

I popped them into the oven, set a timer, and refused to peek until it went off. Et voila! The shells had risen nicely, each with the cute little foot, or pied, at the base. Once they cooled, I sandwiched them together with chocolate ganache in two flavors - one made with dark chocolate, and the other with Toblerone, from a pack of minis I had sitting around.

The macarons weren't perfect - in my trepidation of squeezing all the air out of the meringue, I probably didn't fold my batter enough, so they were a bit more airy than they're supposed to be. Still, I'm very pleased with my elegant and delicious confections - I will be making these again, and the next time I'll be brave enough to try other flavors. Thanks Helen!