Friday, February 19, 2010
Spent another morning experimenting with macarons.
It is an absolutely gorgeous, sunny day in Seattle so I am going to wrap up in the kitchen early and go spend some time at the park with the little Humble.
I created three different types of macarons today and I will start with my hands down favorite: Blueberry Macarons with Orange Blossom Water Butter cream.
(To my No Blue Food follower: please don't hate me, they're actually violet. Besides they match my blog layout beautifully...)
Not So Humble Blueberry Macarons
130 grams almond meal
150 grams confectioners sugar
20 grams of freeze-dried, unsweetened blueberries
120 grams egg whites, room temperature. (I'm using 12hr, counter aged whites today)
185 grams granulated sugar
50 grams water
gel food coloring (violet/navy)
buttercup petal dust (optional)
Preheat your oven to 335°F and line 2 thick aluminum pans with parchment/or silicone baking mats. Stack each of those pans on top of another pan and set aside.
(The purpose of stacking the pans is to insulate the top pan and reduce the heat applied directly to the bottom of the cookie. The necessity of this depends on your oven, mine has a strong heat from the bottom. Without the second pan the cookie's interior can rise very quickly, creating awkward feet and cracked bodies.)
Prep a large pastry bag with a #11 Ateco tip (or a similar medium sized round tip, little under 1cm) and set aside.
Place the freeze-dried blueberries in your food processor and grind them until they are very fine.
Weigh out your confectioners sugar and almond meal and add them to the food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds. Pour this mixture into a medium sized mixing bowl and set aside.
Weigh out 60 grams of egg whites into the bowl of your stand mixer (make sure the whites are yolk free and your mixer's bowl and whisk attachment are very clean and free of any traces of oil). Also measure out 35 grams of granulated sugar into a small bowl and set it near the mixer.
Weigh out another 60 grams of egg whites into a small bowl and set aside.
Weigh out 150 grams of the granulated sugar into a small sauce pan. Add 50 grams of water to the sugar, attach your candy thermometer and place it over medium heat.
(Note: Even in my smallest sauce pan this mixture is only about 1/2 an inch deep, which was/is difficult for my candy thermometer to read accurately (we're talking -50°F!). I had to gently wash the sugar syrup up a little higher (about the 1" mark) on the thermometer using a spoon to get an accurate reading. Some really cheap candy thermometers don't read well unless submerged at least two inches. So, keep that in mind if you have a similar candy thermometer)
Okay, now you're ready to rock and roll.
When the sugar hits 210°F, start beating the egg whites in your mixer on medium low speed until foamy, while keeping a close eye on the sugar syrup. No need to stir the syrup, just let it come to a boil over medium heat (you're aiming for 245°F). Once the eggs are foamy, slowly add the 35g of sugar and beat until the meringue is barely forming soft peaks.
When your sugar mixture hits 245°F pull it off the heat, increase the speed of your mixer to high, and slowly pour in the syrup. You want to let the mixture trickle down the side of the bowl, so it doesn't splatter and get tossed onto the sides of the bowl. You want the sugar in your meringue, not a candy coated bowl.
Now you can relax, the hard part is over. Allow the mixer to beat the meringue for about 5 minutes to let the mixture cool.
While waiting on the meringue, combine the remaining 60g of egg whites with the sugar/almond mixture and mix until well combined. Add 2 drops of violet and 2 drops of navy coloring gel.
Once the meringue is ready, add it to the almond/sugar mixture and quickly fold it together. You should fold until it is just barely uniform, using as few strokes as possible. It is very, very important you don't over mix as the batter will thin considerably with each stroke of the spatula. Your batter is perfect when you lift your spatula and a thick ribbon slowly cascades off, back into the bowl. Though I tend to err on the plop/thick ribbon side of things. If that makes any sense... which I'm sure it doesn't.
Now you're ready to fill your piping bag. If the mixture is just right, it will ooze from the tip slowly under its own weight. (If it oozes out quickly, something went horribly wrong and you'll need to start over.)
Pipe 2.5cm macarons onto your baking sheets, spacing them a few centimeters apart.
Once you complete a full pan, knock it on the counter gently, to bring up any bubbles and quickly pop them with toothpick.
Allow the macarons to rest like this for 15 minutes. (They can sit longer if you want to bake one or two sheets at a time, but will develop slightly thicker shells.)
Bake at 335°F for 10-12 minutes.
Allow them to cool for at least 30 minutes before attempting to remove them from the baking mat.
After they cool they should pop off easily. If you have sticky bottoms then you might want to double check your oven temperature. Even 10 degrees too cool gives me sticky bottoms and 10 degrees too hot gives me hollow shells. Such a temperamental cookie.
Orange Blossom Butter Cream
460 grams (4 cups) confectioners sugar, sifted
226 grams (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons milk or cream
orange blossom water
Using your stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer), cream the butter until smooth. Gradually add the sifted sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the cream and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the orange water, just a drop or two at a time until you reach a the desired flavor (I only needed a few drops). This is strong stuff, so be careful or your butter cream will taste like laundry detergent.
Add a little more cream or confectioners sugar to reach the desired consistency.
Fill a piping bag with an Ateco #11 tip, or even a sandwich baggy with the corner cut off (yes, this is one of the rare occasions I use them like this) and pipe a swirl onto the cookies. Sandwich with a second cookie.
If using the petal dust, grab a soft paintbrush (one you reserve for cooking), dip it into the dust and brush a little onto the cookie. To add the flecks, flick it off the brush onto the top of the shell.
This recipe yields roughly 2 dozen completed cookies. With a few extra for noshing or mistakes.