Winter Birthday – French Macarons

December 23, 2009

in Cookies,Cremes & Custards,French,Gluten-Free,Macarons,Recipes


Not sure if it’s just me, but lately I’ve been seeing French Macarons everwhere, at Starbucks even!

I recently had the pleasure of tasting my very first Macaron during a trip up to San Francisco, and let me just say… after taking the first bite I realized what the fuss was all about.

Having read many of the Daring Baker’s Macaron Challenge posts I was made aware of all that could go wrong when making them, I learned the about the anatomy of a macaron, mainly their feet, crispy shell, and smooth/creamy filling. (Yum!) I also recently joined the Daring Baker’s group but missed the French Macaron challenge.

We were invited to celebrate a birthday this past weekend at Takami in LA and I thought these would make a great gift and it would also be the perfect opportunity to attempt to tackle this little feat and have my own little Macaron Challenge.


This is the view from the restaurant which is on the 21st floor in Downtown’s Financial District, pretty nice right?

OK, back to the Macaroons…




Winter Birthday – French Macaroons
from Tartlette’s Recipe – Candy Cane Macarons & Eggnog Macarons

Shells

90 gr (use eggs whites that have been preferably left 3-5 days in the fridge)
25 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like)

Prepare the macarons

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the granulated sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry.

Place the powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. (I used slivered almonds) Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10.

Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets.

Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour (I let mine sit out for 1 hour) to harden their shells a bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280F.

When ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture (This tip was a life saver…). Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.


For the buttercream

1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 sticks (180gr)(6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
a few drops of peppermint extract (optional)
crushed candy canes


Put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes.

Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.

Divid the buttercream in two portions.


Leave one portion plain or add a few drops of peppermint extract, and add the cinnamon and nutmeg to the other one.


Candy canes awaiting meat tenderizing mallet…


Added Eggnog spices to half of the buttercream… this was my favorite filling of the two!


Fill half the shells with the eggnog flavored one (cinnamon-nutmeg) and half with the plain/peppermint buttercream.



Roll the plain filled shells in the crushed candy canes.

Le Macaron… C’est magnifique!

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