Well I'm back folks!
Not really, but bear with me I'll be back in the groove of things as soon as I'm settled. I really have been busy, juggling some major changes around here. You see, among other things, I'm buying a new house and dealing with all the madness that goes along with that process. It's been a hectic couple of months but hopefully, if everything goes well, I'll be baking future macarons in a brand new oven soon.
No, who am I kidding. The next several weeks will be spent packing and moving an entire household. Maybe replacing a few door knobs too, since our builder decided to go with a design that I can only describe as suitable for your Grandma's cottage--on Mars. Anyway, breaking in my bright and sunny new kitchen with a little baking will happen, I just need to get settled in.
Of course, this means you all have to wait and I just feel terrible about that. Those of you who check in regularly are just terrific and so patient and here I am producing nothing to entertain you. So here is what I'm going to do to make it up to everyone:
I'm going to forget this house craziness for the weekend, bake and give away a very lovely book.
And not just any book, a copy of Laduree's Sucre.
Say it with me now, folks: "Oooooooooh"
If you're not 'Ooohing', I'll assume you've unfamiliar with this cookbook. Sucre is an absolute jewel of a cookbook. The velvety little tome in Laduree's signature sea-green with gleaming gilt pages, wrapped in lavender tissue and nestled in a Laduree box. It is filled with such gorgeous photographs of dainty pastries that you will ache from an excess of sugar and cuteness.
|It has a bird on it! Yeah!|
I will note that the cookbook is indeed the English copy of Sucre--no French/English dictionary required--and it includes measurements in both weight AND volume.
So let's break out the book and give my kitchen here one last go before I start boxing up my pots and pans.
I think I know what recipe everyone wants to see too. One of the several Laduree Macaron recipes, right? Which one? Citron? Almond? Framboise? …Chocolate?
How about Framboise! Since it doesn't require me to run to the store. Don't worry though, I'll likely bake others from the book later on.
So this recipe, let's take a moment to talk about the cookbook, the recipe and how it went in my kitchen.
Right off the bat I'm going to warn you this cookbook does not hold your hand. It's very French, handsome and awesome--and you, as it's owner, are expected to be awesome too. At the very least, you're expected to have mastered some basic techniques, as it keeps the instructions succinct.
This recipe is within the general range of points tested during my French macaron madness period (the scatter plot macarons post). The almond flour ratio is towards the higher end, so it does give the cookie a more assertive and appealing almond flavor--especially if you grind your own almonds, as I do--and it is every so slightly less sweet than my own. Nor does it seem prone to large hollows if baked correctly, as every cookie I made was complete. This is all good, but these ratios do have their draw backs (as noted in my original scatterplot tests). The cookies are a bit heavier than my own and don't turn out quite as pretty. This can be considered a reasonable exchange though, as I think they taste a bit better.
|24hr matured macarons.|
See how the jam filling has absorbed into the once dry almond cookie?
The cookie shell now gives way with a delicate crackle and the inside is now soft and tart with the flavor of fresh raspberries.
The recipe does seem to be more crack prone than my own. I had 2 trays that contained 30% burst shells out of 6. My first split shells in years. I'm pretty sure this was my own fault however, due to my oven temperature dropping nearly 50° after my first batch and then my putting new trays in while the oven bottom was hot and re-pre-heating. The back of my oven is also a hot spot and this is where all the burst shells were located. I allowed my subsequent trays of macarons to go into a properly pre-heated oven and everything worked out fine. Still, these cookies may be a bit more touchy when it comes to bursting.
Another somewhat non-issue issue: this is a rather large recipe. It makes a lot of trays of cookies (about 6 half sheets) and it is difficult to handle and bake that many cookies without allowing some of them to rest for ages on the counter. My advice if you're not going to divide the recipe is to pipe the cookies in stages while baking each batch. Avoid piping all the cookies at once. Macaron batter tends to be fairly stable inside of a piping bag, so pipe out trays and limit the resting time to 10-20 minutes. With prolonged resting periods I was seeing stunted foot formation.
Taste vs the real thing? Indeed the macarons shells are very similar in looks, taste and texture to bakeries' own cookies. They're very good.
Okay let's get to the recipe. I'll even throw you by-volume cooks a bone for once and include the measurements in cups for the recipe.
Laduree's Macarons Framboise
From Ladurée's Sucre: The Recipes
Yields approximately 50-60 1" cookies
275g (2 3/4 cups + 1 tbsp) ground almonds (almond flour)
250g (2 cups + 1 tbsp) confectioners (icing) sugar
210g (6 1/2) egg whites (I used fresh egg whites)
210g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) granulated sugar
a few drops red or maroon food coloring gel
Raspberry Jam Filling
225g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) granulated sugar
2 tsp powdered pectin
375g (3 cups) french raspberries
Start by preparing the Jam. In a large bowl combine the sugar and pectin. In your blender or food processer, puree the fresh raspberries and then pour into a medium sauce pan. Over low heat bring the berries to just barely warm then add the sugar and pectin mixture and the juice from the half lemon. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for two minutes.
Pour the jam into a bowl and cover, allow to cool and then refrigerate until chilled.
(Note: It is perfectly okay to substitute your favorite store-bought or homemade jam to save on time. Pick a jam that is bursting with fresh flavor and isn't too runny.)
To make the macaron cookies. Preheat your oven to 300°F with an oven rack in the lower third (If your cookies tend to burst, move the rack higher. If your cookies tend to brown, move the rack lower).
Combine almond flour and confectioners sugar together in a food processer and blend thoroughly. Sift the mixture through a medium gauge sifter to remove any lumps or large pieces of almond and repeat until fine.
In a large clean dry mixing bowl, beat your egg whites until foamy and then slowly add the granulated sugar beating on medium speed. Once the sugar has disolved, increase speed to medium high and beat until a thick glossy meringue forms. Add the food coloring and beat briefly to combine.
With a large flat rubber spatula, fold one third of your sifted almond/sugar into the egg whites until combined. Repeat, until you've added all the almond mixture. How much mixing beyond incorporation is the tricky part to describe.
If you're used to my most recent macaron recipe, you'll find that this recipe needs a few strokes more mixing. The batter is thicker and packs a lot of air and if you don't deflate it during mixing your shells may have nipples or crack.
|My batter could have used a few more turns of the spatula.|
It was still a little thick and piping left the nipples on the cookies seen on the left. A few smacks of the pan on the countertop helped level them before resting and baking.
Pipe your cookies onto parchment or silicone baking mats (I used parchment and a Ateco round #11 tip) and then allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before baking.
Bake one sheet at a time for 15 minutes. To prevent hollows, I recommend snatching one cookie from the oven and breaking it open prior to removing the cookie sheet. If the insides are still overly moist or molten, leave the cookies in the oven for 1-5minutes longer until the insides are set. This will prevent the insides from collapsing during cooling and forming hollows.
Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet.
Fill the cookies with a small dollop of jam and then arrange in an air tight container. Refrigerate the cookies for a minimum of 24 hours to mature. Then bring to room temperature and serve.
Okay, so back to this cookbook and how you win it!
Let's do something silly… I have some jellybeans on my nightstand. Take a guess at either the number of jellybeans OR the total weight (in grams) of the jellybeans here in my possession at this very moment--I won't eat any, don't worry--and post below (those who can't post below can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org). You have until noon (PST) next Sunday to enter, then I will select the winner. (You can leave your email address below, to make it easy to contact you about the book).
The best guess will win the cookbook and ANYONE can guess. In the event of a tie guess, I'll flip a coin or use a random number generator. Yes, even my international readers can participate. I'll ship this book anywhere my local post office allows (Try not to be located at an antarctic research station, okay?). However, I can't be held responsible for any duties, taxes or crazy customs regulations that your country may engage in.
Thanks for being so patient while I settle into my new home!