And Then, There’s Swiss

In what is beginning to feel like a never-ending quest for perfection, I’ve realized that there is a third method for making French macarons. When I made the Grapefruit Macarons, I didn’t realize that they used this method, also called the Swiss Meringue Macarons. The difference in this method is that the egg whites and sugar are mixed together, then heated au bain marie (double boiler method) until the sugar has melted and incorporated into the whites, then beaten to stiff peaks before adding the icing sugar and almond.

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Perspective does strange things… my whisk is NOT that long and skinny. Honest!

In doing even more reading, I found that this method is the least well known of the three but is more stable than the French method and more delicate than the Italian method. Of course, you know that I had to give it another go, right? I’m stubborn that way.

I found a couple of online pdfs, one from Chef Joseph Cumm, and another from Chef Ryan Zimmer; both recipes are similar in their ratios. This time, I’m following Chef Joseph’s recipe. I’ll be adding red powdered food colouring to the batter and will be filling them with a raspberry chocolate ganache (already made and cooling). His pdf even has a troubleshooting guide at the end.

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The tops are a little rough looking; I probably should have whizzed the almonds and icing sugar before running them through the sieve but I like to live dangerously. Coming out of the oven, the shells are very fragile and I wasn’t, apparently, very careful.

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Once I let them cool, they were better. I learned a little “trick” on one of the (many) videos I watched – push the bottoms in a bit. It gives more room for filling and pushes the insides up to the top, helping to fill in the hollows.

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I filled these with dark chocolate raspberry ganache.

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I’m not sure how long I can wait before trying these. I have to say, making macarons can be a bit confusing. In everything I’ve read, there’s been conflicting information. The oven’s too hot. The oven’s too cool. The meringue is over beaten. The meringue is under beaten. The macaronage isn’t processed enough. The macaronage is processed too much.

Will I ever reach macaron perfection? Does it really matter? No matter how they look, they still taste the same. Will I keep making them? Oh yeah. As often as I have over the past few weeks? I don’t think so.

But I WILL keep researching.

 

Valentine’s Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day, the day that one of my co-workers calls “Singles Awareness Day”. Yes, she’s single. That surprises me, actually. She’s smart, she’s funny… kind of like my daughter… who’s also single. However, I digress.

I’m not a huge holiday celebrator; never have been, never will be. I do like having an excuse to make things, though. Especially when those “things” are sweet, yummy, and, let’s face it, pretty. Macarons fit the bill perfectly.

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(Yeah, I know, I’m on a macaron kick. No one around here is complaining… except John; he’s convinced I’m trying to kill him, with sugar as my weapon of choice. Now that I’ve got it down, though, I’m having fun! And that’s all that matters, doesn’t it?)

I wanted to make some heart shaped macarons flavoured with raspberries. I went hunting, by foot and by phone, for freeze dried raspberries in this town. I couldn’t find any. I’ve ordered some on Amazon but they won’t arrive until the end of next week. I did, however, find freeze dried pomegranates. They also have that nice, tangy, fruity flavour I was looking for.

When I found a recipe for red, white, and blue (raspberry, banana, and blueberry) macarons, using the Italian method, I printed it up and compared it to other macaron recipes.

Ok, this is where I digress again.

Remember in my last post, I wrote about the formula for macarons? Well, in my searching, I’ve realized that there are about four main formulas (or is that formulae?). There’s the Syrup & Tang formula that I used to make the Coffee Kahlua macarons last weekend. There are three others: Annie’s Eats, Mercotte, and Not So Humble Pie. They’re all similar but all vary slightly in the percentages but not by much. In my spreadsheet, I’ve taken all four ratios and averaged them out. The averages are: 1 (being the egg whites); 1.33 almond flour; 1.33 icing sugar; 1.53 white sugar; .35 water.

The recipe I used for the Pomegranate macarons is the exact ratio of the Annie’s Eats formula (1; 1.23; 1.23; 1.37; 33). Incidentally, the only measurement that is consistent across the board is the water at 33%.

For the macarons, I ground up the freeze dried pomegranates and ran them through the sifter with the icing sugar and almonds; I also added a little red gel colour to get the pink I was looking for. I also made a pomegranate curd and made a small batch of French buttercream, using more ground pomegranates as colour and flavour.

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The batter was piped on to parchment paper using a heart template. Everything went well but…. I still have hollows. (insert frown here)

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Ah well, I’m not going to make them over just because I have hollows. After drizzling half the hearts with white chocolate ganache and filling with a dollop of curd and buttecream, I think they look perfect for Valentine’s Day.

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Now, what will we have for dinner?

Macarons – Another Attempt At Perfection

In my quest for the perfect macarons, I made another two batches yesterday. Ugh! The first batch was to be another batch of the lemon macarons that looked so good the first time around. I still had some lemon buttercream left over, along with half a jar of lemon curd (why is it disappearing so quickly??) so I thought it would be a good idea to use them up. This time, I made the mistake of not trusting my scale, added too much almond flour, and they went flat, although some of them did have feet.

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The second batch I made was a small batch (about a dozen) of Kahlua macarons. They turned out REALLY well. In addition to the almond flour, I ground up some cocoa nibs with granulated sugar in my coffee grinder (btw, it’s a great way of cleaning out your coffee grinder!) and added about 50 grams (after taking out about 50 grams of the almond/icing sugar mixture). I filled the macarons with Kahlua butter cream. Oh my!

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Just look at those feet!

I think I’ve got my oven figured out now. If I set the oven for about 250ºF and leave it on while I’m letting the macarons dry out a bit, it’s the perfect 325º by the time they’re ready to bake (yes, that’s a 75º difference!). Most recipes call for the cookies to bake anywhere from 12 – 18 minutes. I’m finding they’re just about right at the 15 minute mark. I’ve also realized that the oven heats unevenly so I’ll have to try what I’ve seen suggested on numerous websites – place an empty cookie sheet on the bottom rack. I guess one of my old, beat up cookie sheets would be perfect for that. Next time.

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It would be very tempting to try another batch tomorrow but I’ve used up all my icing sugar and most of my eggs. Two batches are enough for one weekend’s baking.