Sunday, October 25, 2009

French Macarons


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.

Yes, I had heard of Macarons but I hadn't tasted them or much less even seen them. What I had heard was not promising for a mere home cook trying to recreate this French speciality. But that's what I love about The Daring Kitchen - we are cajoled (shoved, prodded and pushed) out of our comfort zone. Macarons are an almond and meringue cookie with a thin, egg shell like crust and a chewy, melting interior which is sandwiched with a filling - traditionally ganache but there are a myriad of choices. A macaron requisite is that they acquire "feet" - a frilly edge at the bottom of the cookie.

The recipe we were given, which you will find on the Daring Bakers website, was slightly different to previous macaron recipes I had looked at because the piped macarons were prebaked at a low temperate for 5 minutes before being removed then replaced to finish cooking at a higher temperature. Most recipes instead require macarons to dry for an hour or so prior to baking this creates a skin on the surface of the macaron. However our host gave us lots of free reign in this area. Thanks Ami S.

So I chose to dry my macarons for an hour prior to baking. Egg whites for macarons are aged for 3 or 4 days which helps stabilise the meringue. I used leftover eggwhites I had frozen. I defrosted them in the refrigerator then aged them cover with a paper towel for 3 days on the kitchen bench.



Drying the piped macarons on an insulated oven tray. Two or three oven trays can be stacked if you don't have insulated oven trays.



Whoohoo, I have "feet"


Alas, they all stuck!


I sandwiched my cinnamon flavoured macarons with nutella. I found them too sweet and really couldn't see what the fuss was about but my kids loved them.

So I back to the drawing board... ahem... computer to discover the secrets of macarons!

This time I tried a recipe by delectable deliciousness and began to whisk and fold in my dry ingredients

and pipe

And, oh my, after a few brushstrokes with a bit of food colour I felt like a professional!


By this time I was being helped by fellow DB, Audax, and reading hints by Tartlette. So I followed Helen of Tartlette's recipe for macarons to go on to create my own flavours.

Mint - using the contents of a herbal pure mint teabag


Then my thoughts moved to my freshly made Mulberry jam and the Mulberry tree which was still heavy with fruit. Could I dry the fruit and successfully grind it to a powder to flavour the macarons? And the big question would the powder still taste of true mulberry or would the flavour change? There is only one way to find out so after a bit of research on on drying fruits I decided to wing it and just have a go. I first blasted the mulberries in the microwave until the juice was starting to evaporate then moved them to a very low oven to dry, checking them regularly. To my surprise they dried beautifully and I could grind them quite fine as the pic below shows.


I mixed a heaped tablespoon into a the macaron mixture along with a little food colour.

These were definitely my favourite with tart mulberry jam in the middle surrounded by white chocolate ganache all sandwiched between two sublime mulberry macarons.


Espresso Hazelnut with milk chocolate ganache, Mint with dark chocolate ganche and Mulberry with Mulberry jam and white chocolate ganache.

Many thanks to our host Ami S. because without this challenge I wouldn't have had the guidance required to produce gorgeous macarons! Also thanks to Audax and Helen of Tarlette ( I love saying "Helen of Tartlette" it sounds so regal!) for sharing their incredible knowlegde. If you liked this, check out some other DB's sites here.

18 comments:

thelastsparerib said...

Such amazingly vibrant colours!

Marcellina said...

Thanks! At the time I thought it was a bit ridiculous. Now, I'm OK with it.

shaz said...

Wonderful, wonderful work Marcellina. Wow! I shied away from berries because of the liquid content but you got it to work, well done!

Karen @ Citrus and Candy said...

I love the colours and the feet on the mint macarons!

shez said...

Absolutely stunning! I have some mulberries at home that I haven't gotten around to eating - might try making a powder out of them as you did :) You've gone to such great lengths and made so many batches - well done!

Ellie said...

They all look so perfect. Very nicely done!

willowbirdbaking said...

Fancy and gorgeous, Marcellina! What a great idea with the mulberries!!

Loie said...

They look really good! You were very daring in your experimentation, good job :)

trissalicious said...

Mulberry macarons? Wow - that sounds yummy. I normally find macarons too sweet but I think that would be just right! Your macarons are very pretty.

Audax said...

Lovely work and very batch got better and better you are very talented when it comes to macarons congratulations. Cheers from Audax and thanks for the nice words.

6p01053695af5a970b said...

Yours are so beautiful! I agree that the resting period seems pretty important...maybe if I tried the challenge recipe but add that it would work out. As it was, I had to use a different recipe to get feet. Great job!

Lauren said...

Fabulous job! I'm swooning over your mulberry ones. They just look so darn good! The rest look amazing as well!

Simon said...

Nice work with the macarons. Really like how the mulberry one turned out. Bet it would have tasted so good! :)

Food lover said...

your macarons look specially amazing - well done!

Namratha said...

Lovely colors, mulberry mac..wow, that's amazing!

Marcellina said...

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments. Yes, the mulberry ones really were delicious and drying berries was not really that difficult.

Valerina said...

Wow! You really put the word Daring into the Daring Bakers challenge. That was a brilliant (and brave) idea to dry out the mulberries.

Well done! All your cookies look beautiful. :)

Barbara Bakes said...

I stopped by after reading your nice comments on my post on this month's DB challenge. Your macs look amazing! I had the pleasure of visiting Port Douglas last year. How wonderful that you can call it home!