as with all events in life - and in cooking -there is always the first time. and with cooking, who is going to serve the guest round one? being aydan's birthday on the weekend - and me being crazy - i have decided i really want to create something special for her. last year we had just moved to this province two months before her birthday and knew not a sole. it was for this reason we made that one a special family day (luckily her aunt tracy was able to fly out for the occasion) giving her a new bed (courtesy of several family members) and taking her to the grand amusement park. la ronde (courtesy of grandma).
this year she has friends. so me being me i want to make this extra-special as i did with coop's in december. and maybe this being a summer occasion i am going a tad overboard. i'm just so inspired! so much so i have decided to re-visit a recipe that eluded me once before. i made my very first batch of french macaroons 2 summers ago to a grand review of thumbs down. since then i have definitely grown as a baker and decided to try my hand at them once more. they are after all the new cupcakes. haven't you heard?
i thought these delightful treats would make a great addition to the dessert buffet i'm going to make (that's my crazy idea) but decided i need to do a dry run before hand so i can master the technique. my experience with the notions of dry-runs comes from my grandfather. i heard tales growing up that a week before a camping trip he would make everyone pack and he would pack the car and drive to a place at the side of the road and unload the car just to make sure they were prepared and could do it. so true to form i decided a week before the party i would try my hand at these beauties just to make sure i could do it.
they were wonderful. i ended up using the recipe from the martha holiday magazine that my mother had loving sent me after mine from four years ago has seemed to grow legs and walk away. which is quite inconvenient as it was filled with notes from my past experiences with the recipes. (*i have come to learn that all those recipes are in her cookies cookbook which i will be asking santa for this year.) the great thing about the new magazine is that it filled with recipes that are new to me and when i saw this gang in there i couldn't help but do them. i have been reading on the web - from david lebovitz to giverslog - on what the proper technique for said cookies would be. david sure invested his time into figuring out how to get them just so but if he had just had a copy of this zine he would have saved himself a lot of time. they were perfect and quite easy. things just took time. and if you can wait to have beautifully shiny & thick egg whites, wait for the domes to get a slightly hard shell before popping them in the oven and hang around the kitchen to turn the pan during cooking - you will be enjoying these as well.
for my first batch i made the standard with a nutella filling- i bough the nutella a while ago to see what all the hype was all about (big displays are everywhere here in quebec. i have never seen anything like it.) and want to use it up as i tend to reach for the natural peanut butter more. for the party i am going to stretch my culinary reach and make pink one filled with nutella and lemon ones.
martha's french macarons
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup almond flour or very finely ground blanched almonds (i used ground almonds)
2 large egg whites, room temperature
pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup superfine sugar (you can buzz regular white sugar through the food processor to achieve this)
1) pulse confectioners' sugar and almonds together in a food processor until combined. sift mixture twice. use the back of a spoon if you have to to get some of that mixture through the sieve.
2)preheat oven to 375 F. whics egg whites with an electric mixture on medium speed until foamy. add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. reduce speed to low; add superfine sugar. (this is the time to add your colour or flavour - ie: 2 tsp. of lemon juice). raise speed to high; whisk until stiff peaks form, 8 to 10 minutes. (if you have added colour or flavour it may take a minute or two longer to stiffen up). sift flour mixture over egg whites; fold thoroughly until mixture is smooth and shiny.
3)transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4 inch plain round tip. pipe rounds about 1-inch in diameter, 1-inch apart, on parchment lined sheets. as you release sweep the tip to the sides of rounds rather than forming peaks (if you do get peaks wet the tip of your finger and smooth them down very lightly). tap the bottom of sheet on work surface to release trapped air. let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes until tops are dry to the touch. place sheet in oven. reduce temperature to 325F.
4)bake, roatating sheet halfway, until crisp and firm, 10 to 12 minutes. (i think next time i'm going to go for 14). if making more than one batch be sure to raise the oven temp to 375 for at least 5 minutes between the batches.
5)let cookies cool completely on sheets, then transfer to a wire rack. use an off set spatula to release cookies. if any stick, dab a small bit of water on parchment underneath the cookie. unfilled cookies can be stacked between parchment and kept at room temperature in an air-tight container for 2 days.
6)to fill: sandwich 1 teaspoon of desired filling between 2 same sized cookies. macaroons are best served the day they are filled.
filling: i will be making this all lemony for my lemon version of these treats.
4 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugr
1 tablespoon of milk
2 teaspoons of lemon juice (optional)
in a bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. add milk: stir until smooth and spreadable. add flavour, if using. stir again. use immediately.