Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Macaron Madness!

One little ad at the side of a webpage was all it took to start the frenzy that has taken over my house for the past two weeks:

Seriously, who could resist these colorful little morsels? I had no idea what they were but I knew I had to have them. Finally after a couple of months of searching I figured it out and have been reading about them ever since! I could not find them anywhere in Austin, except recently in the frozen section of Spec's, so I decided to bite the bullet and try them out. How hard can they really be, right? They're COOKIES.

Despite those cute little ruffled edges (called feet, I have learned) and colorful exteriors, there is quite a bit of work that goes into these suckers and it's not easy. There are two methods of making them- french meringue and italian meringue. My first batch was from a recipe found at Tartelette. Helen of Tartelette, by the way, makes the most amazing looking desserts. She's french, so naturally amazing food and pastries are embedded in her DNA!

Sorry, back to macarons.

Anyway, my first batch was using the french meringue and while they tasted fine, they did not have feet. Booooo... That, and they stuck to the parchment. After reading a bit more, found that beginners find the italian meringue easier since it's more stable. I tried that and VOILA! Feet! Seriously, on my SECOND try I had feet! The kids and I all danced around the oven screaming "WE HAVE FEET!" with Ellie yelling "YAYYYYYYY!". Anyway, the cookies had feet but were completely hollow on the inside. Eh, whatever, they were pretty and I was super done with baking so I made the filling because I had been dying to make another cotton candy buttercream anyway. They still tasted good but were way way way too sweet. You think? They were pretty so I excused the hollowness and ate more than my share, gave a bunch to neighbors who probably think I'm insane and to friends.

Pretty, aren't they?

Well, after reading a long, albeit very entertaining tutorial about what I did wrong, I set about making another batch. This time I was dying to make the lemon meringue fillings that I saw on Tartelette. I made another batch of macarons using the same italian meringue. The exact same way except I let these rest on the counter for an hour to let the shells harden. The bastards let me down. Again. They were still hollow, still super sweet AND to add insult to injury most of them stuck to the freaking parchment paper! Bastards. I basically said screw it and filled them anyway just to taste and take the stupid pictures. I filled them with lemon curd and marshmallow cream. Way too sweet and just a big disappointing meh all around.

I'm the lemon meringue macaron and I'm a bastard

Oh, and after this batch my stupid candy thermometer gave me the big middle finger and shouted "I quit this bitch!". The rudeness was not necessary so I gave up on the italian meringue method. How's that for quitting a bitch?

So, back to the french method I went. I read another tutorial, which actually helped a lot and made a few more batches. Also, I bought a few silpats which I am still not convinced are necessary but I feel all professional like so I use them anyway. Well, I use them on 2 pans at a time because that's all my budget would allow at the time.

I aged my egg whites, which totally grosses me out to let egg whites sit around for a day or two but for the sake of these cookies I did it anyway. Well, after a few changes to my original recipe and method I finally had feet! They still stuck to the silpat/parchment but still a huge improvement over the first batch of those divas.
I filled the suckers with the most delicious dark chocolate ganache that you can imagine and we gobbled them up for breakfast the next morning. Yumminess, sticky feet and all. The french method is way tastier and not as sweet since you don't have the added sugar syrup. Much preferred.

Eat me.

Finally this week I reached near macaron perfection! They were tasty, beautiful and everything I ever dreamed of and more!

It's like the heavens opened up and shined down on us, just for Katie

I filled these cute little bitches with strawberry-white chocolate ganache. I much prefer the dark chocolate deliciousness of last week but they'll still eat.