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Daring Bakers – Macarons

October 27, 2009

Wow…what a morning! I was so excited when I found out my first daring bakers challenge would be macarons! I’ve been wanting to make them since I first laid eyes on them (you could say it was love at first sight!) but was hesitating, coz I’m SUCH a perfectionist and I knew that there was a huge chance they wouldn’t work out perfectly.

Well, they did! (eventually :) ) And I learnt something along the way, not to throw a tantrum in the kitchen when everything goes pear-shaped…just breathe…in…out…and start over.

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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.

The first batch I over-mixed a little, and then piped them too close to one another on the baking sheet so they ran into each other a bit. I decided to bake them anyway and see what happened. Obviously I couldn’t use them, as it was one big mass of gooey, crispy macaron. But I did see some feet around the edges! So I felt I’d gotten part of it right, and decided to try again.

Second time round I mixed less and piped them in 1 1/2 inch circles, 1 inch apart and that did the trick. So there I was doing my happy-dance around the kitchen squealing “I got feet!!!” to no one in particular, except for Peach (our cat) who looked down her nose at me and proceeded to plonk her butt down and lick her backside. (Nice)

The Macarons were still a little sticky on the bottoms and wouldn’t lift off the greaseproof paper easily so I turned off the oven and put them back in to dry out for a little while. Then I filled them with salted butter caramel cream that I’d made earlier that morning. It came out well, but slightly too bitter for my taste as I’m not a huge fan of bitter caramel. Next time I won’t cook it for as long. Because of the bitterness I added some dark chocolate, which transformed it into something truely devine.
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Here’s the recipe…

Chocolate Macarons with Salted Caramel Cream…

Chocolate Macaron shells…

Ingredients
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)  (I used ground almonds and processed them with some of the icing sugar into a fine powder)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

(I added 1 tbsp of cocoa to the icing sugar to make chocolate macarons)

Directions:

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.

Salted Caramel Cream… (from www.he-eats.com)

200g Sugar

330g Whipping Cream (this is my translation the original recipe calls for Creme Fraiche Liquide)

30g  Salted Butter + 140g Softened Salted Butter

1. Add about 50g of sugar to a saucepan, let this melt then add another 50g sugar and let this melt. Continue three times until all 200g of sugar has been incorporated and melted (can anyone tell me why its done in this way I have never heard of making caramel this way).

2. Let the syrup caramelise until it has turned a very dark amber. Remove from the heat and add the 30g butter. Add the cream which will spatter and bubble and may seize up and harden but will melt in the next stage.

3. Put the pan back on the heat and cook until it reaches 108C on a candy thermometer. Pour into a dish and cover with plastic wrap to avoid it developing a skin. Let this cool, I left it about 10 minutes which was not enough as it melted the butter in the next stage so let it cool until it wouldn’t melt butter.

4. Beat the remaining butter for 8 to 10 minutes and then incorporate the caramel in 2 additions. Add this to a piping bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe into half of the shells and then sandwich another shell on top. Store the Macarons in the refrigerator for 24hrs and then remove 2hrs before serving.

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