Archive for the ‘Macarons’ Category

Mad about Macarons 2011

Monday, January 10th, 2011

              Macarons

A post on macarons is long overdue on this blog and so it would seem most appropriate that macarons be the subject of my 1st post of 2011.

The flavours from top to bottom are vanilla caramel fleur de sel, mixed berries with mixed berries white chocolate ganache, green tea with chestnut buttercream and dark chocolate.

Macarons

I was very happy that I hadn’t lost the ability to churn out a good macaron, but I wasn’t too pleased with the chocolate ones. The feet were tiny and the shells were domed. Of course, it could very well have something to do with my having run into the kitchen and opening the oven door 5 minutes into baking, thinking that the timer had already rung. :( I guess this is what 9 months (and counting) of sleep deprivation can do to a person.

              Green Tea Macarons

My favourite ones from this batch were the green tea ones for several reasons. Pretty feet, flat tops (which made the last photograph here easy to take) and most of all, these tasted the least sweet.

I also experimented with a white chocolate ganache filling for the mixed berries macarons, which turned out tasting far from satisfactory due to the awful grainy texture of the ganache. I’m not sure if it had to do with the way I made the ganache or if it was the white chocolate itself (I used Valrhona) that had that problem. I sure could use a recommendation for a good white chocolate for baking!

This post (and this batch of macarons) would not have been possible if my mother-in-law hadn’t most kindly stayed home on Saturday to help watch Ashley, so thank you, Mami! :)

Mad about A Macaron Croquembouche

Monday, January 4th, 2010

              Macaron Croquembouche

The Occasion
H’s birthday was this past weekend, but he didn’t want me slaving away in the kitchen to make him a birthday cake, insisting that I get some much needed rest during the New Year weekend because I’d been sleeping poorly the past 2 weeks.

Fortunately, I’d made a batch of macaron on New Year’s eve on a whim and decided to assemble a macaron tower for him instead! It would be experimental, but at least he would have some sort of a birthday dessert. Plus it would be way grander than any birthday cake if it worked out. :)

The Experiment
I’d always wanted to make a macaron croquembouche, but was concerned about a few things.

1. What to use for the cone base
2. How to attach the macarons to the cone
3. Whether the macarons would stay in place, given the weight of the fillings
4. Whether the macaron fillings would turn soft and melt before all the macarons had been attached

The Results
Concern #1 was easily resolved with a homemade cardboard cone covered with baking parchment paper. I’d originally considered using a styrofoam cone, but had no idea where to buy one.

I decided to go with caramel as the “glue” since traditional cream puff croquembouches are so constructed. I started attaching the macarons at the bottom and was really delighted when the 1st layer appeared to stick on to the cone really well. What I hadn’t counted on was the caramel not hardening well.

              Macaron Croquembouche Closeup

As it turned out, concern #3 was also a valid one, especially since the macarons in the upper layers began to slide downwards, resting on the bottom layers when the caramel started to soften, possibly from the condensation from the macarons, which had been refridgerated prior to being attached to the cone, or perhaps from a poorly made caramel.

Despite the air-conditioning being turned on, the macaron fillings also started to melt somewhat. This was particularly true of the buttercream fillings. I had originally contemplated filling the macarons with a simple jam filling to overcome the melting issue, but didn’t want to spend hours making the shells, only to end up with overly-sweet macarons that would then be unpleasant to eat.

And so it was that H’s birthday croquembouche stayed intact for a grand total of 10 minutes before I decided to take everything down, mainly because the assembled croquembouche was too tall to fit into my fridge and the bottom layers were getting squashed from the weight of the other layers sliding down and resting on them. I was miffed that many of my painstakingly-made macarons were now either somewhat squashed, smeared with sticky, non-hardened caramel on one side or had part of their delicate outer shells left hanging on the cone when I attempted to remove them. Fortunately, they still tasted good and H didn’t mind in the tiniest bit, especially since his favourite chocolate ones had remained intact.

Experiments to come
I’m determined to try this again some other time and I’ve got some other ideas on how to better attach the macarons to the cone (reducing the amount of macaron filling being one of them and possibly using only ganache), but I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got any suggestions on how to solve the problems I encountered!

Mad about Macarons Again

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Heart-shaped Ispahans

A Baking Session
It’s been a while since I posted an entry on this blog and an even longer while since I baked macarons. Given the amount of time and effort that goes into macarons, I had no problems avoiding macaron making. That is until H invited WL over for a baking session one Saturday.

I was initially hesitant about WL’s suggestion to bake macarons for 2 reasons. First, the weather had been horribly wet and humid, which is generally bad for meringue making, not to mention macaron making. Which meant it would be safer to go with italian meringue instead of french meringue. Which in turn led to the second reason for my reluctance.

              Rose & Lychee Macarons

Italian Meringue Macarons
The last few batches of italian meringue macarons I’d made had a huge air pocket between the shell and the base. Since I’ve had many successful batches before with italian meringue, this is something that still has me puzzled. There are just too many possible reasons. Drying time? Baking temperature? Baking time? Unstable meringe? Still, we forged ahead.

Macarons

The Result
The flavours of the day were cocoa shells with dark chocolate ganache and hazelnut shells with salted caramel buttercream. As I’d expected, the shells did end up with an air pocket each, but once filled and bitten into, it didn’t matter at all. The overall texture and taste were still right. Most importantly, WL seemed more than happy with the salted caramel ones. :)

Heart-shaped Ispahans

French Meringue Macarons & Heart-shaped Ispahans
Unhappy about the air pockets, I made another batch of macarons with french meringue the following week. The weather was once again far from ideal; it was pouring outside while the egg whites were being whipped in my Kitchen Aid mixer. Fortunately, the heart-shaped Ispahan macarons turned out fine (1st and last photographs of this post) as did the regular sized ones, which I filled with rose cream and lychee pieces (2nd photograph of this post).

The Ispahans were visually impressive as always and my sister loved the combination of the tart raspberries, lychees and vanilla cream. But the best part for me was the lack of air pockets, which more than made up for the smaller feet that macarons made via the french meringue method seem to have.