Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Daring Bakers: French Macarons with Cranberry Curd

French macarons was the October challenge for Daring Bakers! Since I started reading food blogs on a regular basis, about a year ago, this little beauties were popping up everywhere. They are also more and more available in cafes and patisseries all over the place.

My first attempt using the original recipe failed miserably. The macarons looked more like a milano cookie, they were totally flat, had no feet and would stick on the parchment paper. Since I made macarons before, I was surprised that everything went so wrong, but I was not alone, as I could read in the Daring Bakers Forum. After reading the many tips and advises (especially Tartelette and Audax), I switched to Tartlette's recipe, which uses more dry ingredients but the same amount of egg white.

My second batch failed out of different reasons. I oven was way too hot, because I was also roasting a chicken before. They came out a little brown of course, but they still had the feet. They were still yummy, just a little crunchy.

Then came my third and last attempt. I was so happy when I saw they all got little feet and none of them were broken.

For the filling I used cranberry curd, which you can find at my last post. The magenta color of the curd gave a great contrast to the white shells, and the taste from sweet to tart was very good.

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s "The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern" as the challenge recipe.

French Macarons with Cranberry Curd

adapted from The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern by Claudia Fleming

2 ¼ cups (225g) confectioners’ (icing) sugar - I used 125g powder sugar
2 cups (190g) almond flour - I used 70g ground almonds
2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar - I used 30g granulated sugar
5 Egg whites (at room temperature) - I used 2 egg whites, aged for 2 days at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.

Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.

Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper). - I used 2 sheets of parchment paper per baking sheet

Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.

I followed the instructions from Tartelette for the baking process:

Preheat the oven to 280°F (140°C). Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture.

Cool on a rack before filling.

Pipe the cranberry filling with help of a pastry bag on the center of one shell and top with another one.

Enjoy and Guten Appetit!

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