Sunday, 5 December 2010

In the Kitchen: Time to Make Some French Macarons

If I were to be the judge, I would proclaim the macaroons, macaron in French, as the national cookie of France. There is a bit of history about how these cookies were developed: "Created By Italian Monks, Refined By French Pâtissiers." http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/Main/cookies/cookies2/history-of-macaroons.asp

The macaroons come in different sizes, colors and flavors.

Technic is key in making this cookie. For this, my friends and I decided to take a "Macaroon" class at the Henckels Store, 12 Boulevard Madeleine
75009, Paris, in their demonstration kitchen.

Preparations to be made beforehand:
1. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
2. Heat water for the bain marie (double boiler)

A. Chocolate Macaroon Cookie
INGRDIENTS:
1. COLD, 3-day old of 250 gms. egg whites ( one egg = 30 gms. yolk and 30 gms. egg white)
2. 500 gms. glace sucre (very fine sugar) to be added to the egg white
3. 500 gms. almond flour
4. 500 gms. glace sucre (very fine sugar) to be added to the almond flour
5. 20 gms. of cocoa powder (Van Houten bitter chocolate)
6. pinch of salt
* Need a piping/frosting plastic bag readied on the side

PROCEDURE TO MAKE THE COOKIES:

Beat cold, 3-day old egg whites slowly

When the egg whites get to a moussy consistency, add half of the sugar (250 gms.) until it dissolves. Increase speed a little bit when the whites get shiny and add the rest of the sugar (250 gms) at high speed, until it gets stiff. Set aside.


On a separate bowl place the almond flour, remove the lumps. Then, add to the other 500 gms. of sugar glace with a spoon...


add a pinch of fine salt, plus the cocoa powder.


Blend in the almond powder/sugar/chocolate mixture into the beaten, stiff egg whites by hand, using a spatula, until you get...


something like this.


Push the cookie mixture into a piping/frosting plastic bag.
TIP: Place tip side of the bag into a glass as you fill the plastic bag.


Cut the pointed tip to make a 1 cm. opening.


5. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, press the bag to make the mixture come out, in a spiral direction, making 1 inch (app. 2.5 cms.) circles, and lay them out on the cookie sheet...


in this arrangement. Rest for 30 minutes to dry out the sugar. Tap cookie sheets to get air out.


Bake at 200°C (app. 390°F) for 5 minutes, then bring down to 165°C (app. 320°F), for a total cooking time of 12 minutes, or 20 minutes for a larger oven. Set a timer, more or less for the approximate time. Also, your nose is a good indicator of telling when the cookies are about to be cooked. When done, take out the cookie sheets and allow to cool.

B. Cookie filling - chocolate ganasche
INGREDIENTS:
1. 300 gms. chocolate 70%, sugar free, cubed
2. Whole cream 15 cl.
3. Add 1 Tbsp. of cold butter, cut up
4. orange zest + a drop of rose arome
* Need a piping/frosting plastic bag readied on the side

PROCEDURE to make the filling:

In a double boiler set up, using a stainless-steel bowl for the top,...


throw in the chocolate chunks and stir until softened.


Remove top pan from the double boiler and set it down on the counter.
Blend in 1/2 of the whole cream (150 gm) by hand, with a spatula.
Add 1 Tbsp. of cut-up cold butter and blend in.
Then, add the rest of the cream.


When the chocolate mixture starts to separate from the side of the bowl, add some orange zest and rose flavor, and blend further.


Place the chocolate ganasche into a pastry bag and refrigerate to cool down.

ASSEMBLING THE MACARON:

Squeeze the bag to test the flow of the filling.


Pick up a cookie half and press out a big dot of the filling on the cookie's center.


Get another cookie half, and press it, then, turn the two sides in opposite directions until the filling thins out to the circumference of the cookies.


Voila! The macaroons are ready to be enjoyed.

From the ingredients, you can see that this is a more high-protein cookie compared to most because of the use of almond flour, which needs to be at least 80% of the flour ingredient, and the rest is 20% wheat flour. Luckily, there are a good number of macaron fabricants who use 100% almond flour, and this works well for my daughter who suffers from the celiac disease.


Let's venture and check out other recipes in the internet or make our own variations. My favorite flavors are fleur de orange (orange blossoms), dulce de leche (caramel), rose, pistache, framboise (raspberry), pasion fruit/chocolat, and so many other flavors to still try or concoct! I'm thinking of making a more diabetic friendly recipe.

I'll be in the kitchen, experimenting!

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