Saturday, December 8, 2012

Adventures in Macarons

Macarons have been on my radar recently, as I'm sure many other foodies will agree.  I've even heard it said that macarons are the new cupcakes.  Having never tasted one, I've been quite intrigued by the excitement surrounding these little delicacies.  Apparently they can be quite finicky to bake, but I have to admit that the first articles I read about making them, on BraveTart, really took the mystery out of it all: among others, there's one about how to make them, and even better, one that busts so many of the myths about how difficult they are.  They were pretty much a perfect introduction to macarons, since it made them accessible to me, right away, while taking away the intimidation of attempting them.

Over the past few days, I've read and reread those articles, along with some others, like the ones at Food Nouveau, and I gathered everything I needed, so I'd be able to take a crack at it tonight.

In the end, the only equipment I was missing is my oven thermometer, which means that I am a bit unsure how accurate my oven temperature is (apparently a serious issue in making successful macarons.)  I learned with the first batch that my oven is far too hot on the left, since that pan cracked completely.  The second pan was all right, perhaps a bit overdone.  For the last pan, I turned the temperature down juuuust a touch, and they turned out oh-so-beautiful.  Look at those little frilly feet and round tops.  As you can see, I went the "imperfection is adorable" route, and left the little nipples on top of the cookies.  If I had wanted to, I could have flattened those out before baking.

The recipe for Swiss Buttercream on BraveTart is a large one - it calls for two pounds of butter, if that gives you some idea of the volume of it - but it makes enough for several batches of macarons.  After filling these ones, I put the rest of the buttercream into the freezer for another day.

I ate a couple of the halves while assembling (a chef has to test her work, after all) but mostly I just filled and assembled them and stored them in the fridge, since I'm told that they are better after a day (or two) of resting. They were pretty lovely and crunchy and meringuey today - hopefully they will be even more heavenly tomorrow.

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