Monday, April 11, 2016
ALL THINGS FRENCH~MACARONS
My own French Macarons
There is something about France that keeps calling me back to her. It might be the glorious old stone buildings, cathedrals and castles or it might be the couture-the clothing there is devine or it might just be the food. 'Mais oui bien sure'- French for “But of course.” It's the food.
I dined on glorious desserts, breads and many of the over 600 types of cheese available throughout France and, did I mention the wine? The wine was plentiful at such good prices I just had to take advantage of it and have my daily dose.
This time, I went to France, primarily, to take a cooking class. My granddaughter went with me and we stayed with my friends Betsy and Chris, who live in Nantes. Believe me, with all the amazing castle jaunts in the Loire Valley (known as the valley of castles) I was lucky to fit the class in! I learned to make the 'oh so French Macarons.' These cookies are sold absolutely everywhere there are patisseries or weekend markets. You see them used to dress shop windows because they are so colorful and whimsical. I must tell you though, they are not that easy to prepare, as we found out. Chris acted as our interpreter for the class since our chef spoke very little English.
Our French Chef
My Granddaughter, Marcy
Piping the Macarons
Betsy and our Interpreter, Chris
After An Afternoon Immersed In Almonds, Sugar, Pistachios, and Gnash, The Cookies Were Ready To Fill.
I made several attempts to recreate the macarons once I got home and finally, with the aid of a silicone baking mat that is marked with circles for the cookies, I was able to achieve the look and taste of French Macarons. Below the recipe, I have added links to 3 of the items I used while making the macarons. I tend to use Amazon because I have little time to shop but I'm sure you can find subsitutes at other local stores.
Here is the translation of recipe for Macarons. Since our ovens are different here, I modified the ingredients and method a bit from the French version I learned in class but the taste and look is the same.
3 egg whites that have been placed in refrigerator for 2 days (covered with wrap)
2/3 cup of almond flour
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
5 T. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
l.Preheat oven to 325 degrees and position rack in the center of oven. Most recipes say to line a baking sheet with parchment paper but I found after many trials and error that a silicone baking sheet is best. I found one at Amazon that has circles drawn on them so that you can position batter perfectly. I'm sure others will work as well. You can also use the parchment paper if you prefer and place the silicone mat under the parchment since it is transparant and use the pattern.
2. Sift almond meal and powdered sugar using a hand held colendar with small holes or flour sifter. At this point we used a powdered colorant to keep down the amount of liquid entering mixture. A gel is also recommended for this but not the liquid baking coloring.
3. Place egg whites in a bowl and beat until frothy. Then add 5 T. granulated sugar a little at a time until stiff peaks form. Gently stir in the vanilla. I found the best vanilla ever while in France at an outdoor market. It was called bourbon vanilla. It actually has an abundance of very finely ground vanilla right in the extract.
4. Add the sifted mixture slowly (three separate portions) to the meringue mixture and mix with a spatula, pulling up the mixture along sides of bowl and punching down again and turning bowl until mixture resembles a kind of lava look. You want to get the air out of mixture.
5. Place mixture into a pastry bag or large gallon size zip lock bag. Pipe out 1 1/2” mounds onto silicone sheet and then place on a thin cutting board or sheet and lift in the air and let drop on the counter. This ensures the air is removed and the bottoms achieve the frilly look strived for in macarons, which are called “feet.” You can drop the cutting board 2 or3 times. Let sit out for about 15 minutes or until only a small indentation forms in them when you touch.
6. Now turn down oven temp to 300 and preheat. Then, place macarons on baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Open oven and turn rack around and bake another 5 minutes. Do not overbake. You don't want tops to be brown and do not underbake because they will be too mushy. All ovens are different. Experience will tell you when they are done but I have found that about 10 minutes altogether is perfect. The top should be crunchy and the inside chewy.
7. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Assemble with fillings after they cool. They should be placed in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then taken out and allowed to sit on counter for 20 minutes. I have found that they freeze very well and even taste better, if that's possible. The fillings are an important part of the cookie. I make pistachio filling, almond filling, cashew and chocolate gnash filling. You can find hundreds of good ones on line since Macarons are very trendy right now.
I hope this post helps all of you who have struggled with macarons. Remember, I went all the way to France to learn and still had to tweak for my own oven and local ingredients. Have fun and have patience.
I'm selling them on our Farmer's Market now so if you are local, come on down and try them. I think you will be glad you did. Thanks so much for visiting today. Also, please let me know if you have success with this recipe. Don't give up.
Posted by Healing Woman at 7:20 AM