27. listopada 2009.
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.
No matter how hard I try, I simply cannot see (or taste, for that matter) what all the fuss involving these little French cookies is about. I know I'm in danger of making the macaroon lovers around the globe (and quite a crowd it is, apparently) really angry, but I just had to say it. I mean, they do taste good enough, don't get me wrong. But there are sooo many better and tastier desserts in this world I'd indulge rather than macaroons. It is a matter of taste, of course, and my tastes are apparently a bit different than the majority of people. I never did fancy any kind of meringue really, now that I think about it. It's just way too sweet for me. And although I knew that macaroons wouldn't be any different, I still felt I had to give them a chance and see for myself why the world has gone crazy about them.
This was the third time I made macaroons, each time hoping that I will somehow learn to like them more. Unfortunately, I just get disappointed every time. Their sweetness is just overwhelming, no matter how light, fruity or sour the filling is. I also must say that I was not very impressed with Claudia Flemming's recipe. I tried Pierre Herme's recipe twice and it worked really well. Those macaroons grew perfect little feet and had a really nice texture. And here's the evidence: Chocolate Ganache Macaroons and Lemon Cream Cheese Macaroons. Flemming's macaroons were, however, really fragile and had to be handled with an unusual amount of care or otherwise they would literally pulverize in your hand. It was just nerve wrecking! And the baking time was just too complicated for me: put them in, take them out, raise the temperature, wait a few minutes, put them in, wait some more... Oh boy, that lasted even longer than making them in the first place. And, for some strange reason, almost all of the macaroons from the last batch mysteriously cracked and generally looked terrible. The first two batches came out just fine. Go figure. One would think all my macaroon miseries came to an end there. However, the worst was yet to come. After I filled my little pink macaroons thinking that all is finally well, they just started melting after a while, believe it or not. So, as we speak they are slowly turning into a sticky, gooey pink...well, I don't know what to call it but it ain't a pretty sight. So right now I just about hate macaroons. However, I must admit that out of three different kinds that I've made so far, these macaroons look the worst but taste the best. Every cloud has a silver lining, I guess. :) Still, I don't think I'll be making macaroons again any time soon.
Oh yeah, in case you were wondering, I made hazelnut macaroons with an orange mousse filling. The base for the mousse was this orange curd recipe. I did everything by the book, from aging my egg whites to grinding the nuts (half almonds and half hazelnuts) with the icing sugar and letting the mixture dry up for 24h before using it. I used powdered food coloring and weighed all the ingredients precisely so I can't figure out what went wrong and why the macaroons are melting. Anyone?!
Claudia Flemming's Macaroons
225g confectioners’ (icing) sugar
190g almond flour
25g granulated sugar
5 egg whites (at room temperature)
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.