Sunday, February 7, 2010

French Chocolate Macarons, featuring my new Digital Scale

Good evening!

This Sunday, like most, meant some quality time in the kitchen for me.  I've had an itch to make French macarons, like so many, and finally decided to give it a try.  These bit-sized confections involve various kitchen tricks, including working with egg whites, chocolate, and piping bags.  As more home cooks are finally trying to replicate the popular boutique dessert on a small scale, macarons have gotten quite a reputation on the internet for being tricky. I decided today was the day and set out looking for a well reviewed forumula.

I found a different recipe for every website I went to, so I decided to start with one from the trusted Dave Lebovitz.  While I didn't end up with the picture-perfect macarons I'd dreamed of, they were delicious, which is what it's all about, right?  There are a few things I'd like to change next time in an effort to reach that ideal, but these are certainly worth a try.  His recipe, my photos and commentary.

You'll get to see my awesome new kitchen scale in action!  It's this one from OXO, and it's fantastic.  It reads in both US and metric, has the necessary tare function, an illuminated display, AND the panel detaches so it can accommodate large bowls.  I love it.  I'm finally seeing just how much my measurements vary when I use volume instead of weight.

French Chocolate Macarons

100 gr (1 c) powdered sugar
50 gr (1/2 c) almonds, toasted then ground
25 gr (3 tbsp) good cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
65 gr (5 tbsp) granulated sugar

After I weighed the ground almonds, I hit that zero button and then weighed the powdered sugar.  In the meantime, have the egg whites whipping to soft peaks.

Combine these and the cocoa powder in a food processor and mix.  (Next time I make these, I'll blend these further.)

Add this mix to the egg whites.  Fold in.  (Next time, I will mix them more. I think I quit before all the ingredients were thoroughly mixed.)

Scoop this (I used a soft bowl scraper to mix and scrape this out and it was perfect for the job. Truly a dollar well spent) into a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip.

Pipe onto parchment paper in one inch disks, leaving one inch between cookies.  Many people have mentioned having trouble getting the cookies off the paper, but I had no trouble.  (Next time I will use a wet finger to smooth the tops of these, in the hopes that the tops would be smooth and not cracked.)

Bake at 350 for 16 minutes.  Let cool completely before removing from the pans.

Chocolate Filling

Bring to a boil

1/2 c cream 
2 tbsp corn syrup 

Remove from heat and add

120 gr (4 oz.) dark chocolate chips 

Let sit one minute, then stir.  Then add

1 tbsp butter, chopped up

Stir until melted.  Cool completely before spreading between the cookies.

These are quite sweet, and are very good with milk or coffee.  I wish that I'd gotten the "feet" at the base of each cookie, and they are pretty chewy in the center.  That said, they have an excellent crunch and the filling is a great contrast in texture. 

I look forward to making these again and tweaking the things that I mentioned above.  

Is there a recipe that you find intimidating?  The internet, for all its faults, can make almost every recipe accessible to home cooks.  

Until next time, enjoy the snow if you've got it, and the sun if you don't!

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