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Look what I can do! (plus an AWESOME Friend of the Blog gift)

August 31, 2009

I was feeling a little frisky today, probably as a result of the amazingly fantastic weather we’ve been having, so I was looking for a good challenge. So I thought … hey. Why not make some macarons from scratch?

Chocolate macarons!

Chocolate macarons!

Agh! I’m just so proud of myself! Upon researching the whole “how to make macarons” thing, I came across a fantastic article by David Lebovitz, which I highly recommend you read. I don’t know why I don’t just bookmark David Lebovitz’s site and go there first, but I like punishment, evidently.

In his post, he essentially tries out 7 different methods (see? There ARE other people in the world this obsessed with food) and talks you through his bottom-line best one. Now. Before you start looking at his gorgeous little macaron puffs and comparing them to my slightly more home-made looking ones, bear in mind the following: I had to start from absolute scratch. This means grinding up shaved almonds from the store. And since I have no food processor, this means I did it in the blender. So mine are a bit lumpier than his. No worries.

Powdering the almonds

Powdering the almonds

I also didn’t have any dutch-process cocoa powder, so I used regular Ghiradelli cocoa powder and honestly they came out just fine.

Dry ingredients

Dry ingredients

These macarons were surprisingly easy – probably because David already spent the time and effort fool-proofing his recipe, leaving us fools with a fantastic result. Probably the most difficult/tricky part of this whole ordeal was knowing when the egg whites were beaten stiff enough. The recipe said “very stiff and firm.” Well, this is basically what they looked like:

Egg whites

Egg whites

Then, you have to fold the dry ingredients in with a spatula, taking care not to over beat the whites. One of the most ingenious ideas from David’s website was putting your pastry bag (in my case, a large ziploc) in a tall glass so you can fill the bag easily.

Pastry bag

Pastry bag

It worked great! Then I piped the suckers onto the parchment papered cookie sheet (sorry – forgot to take a photo til they were in the oven), smacked them well on the counter (see his post), and stuck them in the oven.

Cookies!

Cookies!

15 minutes later, beautifully crisp, well-footed macarons were ready to go!

Chocolate macarons

Chocolate macarons

Cooling on the pan

Cooling on the pan

Once the cookies were baked, it was time to do the filling. Macarons are essentially sandwich cookies, like Oreos (only French and pretentious) so you have to pick your filling to suit the cookie. These were chocolate cookies, so I elected to do the chocolate ganache recipe (from David’s website) and used some leftover caramel sauce from this past weekend (from Simply Recipes) to fill the cookies.

Ready for filling

Ready for filling

Chocolate filling

Chocolate filling

Caramel filling (a little messy!)

Caramel filling (a little messy!)

And the final result:

Caramel macaron

Caramel macaron

With flash

With flash

All lined up

All lined up

And of course, Emily and I had to split one, to taste it. We tried the caramel-filled ones and They. Were. FANTASTIC!

Tasty treats!

Tasty treats!

So. Tip of the day? Give a random recipe a try – sometimes it’s not as hard as you’d think.

Shout Out:

And finally – a MAJOR shout-out to Friend of the Blog (and friend of real life) Jessica, for this amazing little gift I received in the mail today (being modeled by Tortellini, the roommate’s cat).

La Cook Book!

Le Cook Book!

Friend of the blog Jessica caught this little gem off eBay – Ginette Mathiot’s Je Sais Cuisiner, or “I know how to cook.” It’s essentially the Joy of Cooking for the French homemaker. Think Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but more accessible.

They’re doing a reprint, following the recent success of MAFC (evidently translated by Clotilde of C&Z), but Jessica did some searching and found me a 1965 original printing in English, featuring all the fantastic French meals you could want to prepare, but set in terms a lay person can understand and implement.

Thanks, Jessica, for the AWESOME gift! Can’t wait to pick out my very first recipe. šŸ™‚

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rob permalink
    August 31, 2009 10:56 pm

    I’m licking the screen. That’s all I can say.

  2. Robert permalink
    September 1, 2009 9:29 am

    Wow, who knew sitting on your Grandmothers counter watching her and your Aunt Nathalea cook would have such a wonderful result. I sat on Mom’s counter and all I did was talk.

  3. Melissa Lambert permalink
    September 1, 2009 9:31 am

    omg, i feel so bad for all the people who read your blog from long distance, b/c i get to read about your adventures, and then sample them at work! lucky me!

    btw – tortellini is just as cute as you described, if not more.

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