4.27.2011

:: How to make Macarons ::


Macarons are a French delicacy I am completely crazy about, and I have decided to make my own. It’s not an easy task, it needs a lot of patience. I think I get a little bit better each time I make them. I have learned the hard way that macarons are truly little wonders: add a bit of this or that, and your delicate balance tips over; I’ve seen my share of overbaked, flat, cracked and even over -inflated ones coming out of my oven. No recipe is fool proof it seems, but the most important thing is to go slow. Try cautiously with your own instruments, ingredients and oven. You will have to probably try it more than once before achieving perfection. If they were so easy to do, wouldn’t everyone make them?





When I was looking around for recipes, I found some, but very few of them had illustrated steps to guide you through what’s ok or not ok in terms of texture, color and result. No single source can be given as a base for my recipe. I have gathered dozens and then used bits from each until I got what I feel is a good base to begin with. And so, here we go! 

Macarons: Basic Recipe

These ingredients will make the cookies. This is the base, and it's definitely the hardest to master. You should try to successfully bake a couple recipes of basic macarons before trying to mix in other flavors.

3 egg whites {from large eggs}, separated at least 24 hours in advance and kept in the refrigerator

1-7/8 cups powdered sugar

1-1/8 cup g almond meal

1/4 cup regular granulated sugar

What you need – equipment:

It’s best to gather all the equipment you really need before starting. Yes, I did have to buy some of these tools before making my first macarons. Please, do use this as an excuse to go shopping. :)

Hand or stand mixer with whisk accessory {mandatory unless you’re really strong}
Sifter or fine sieve
Big stainless steel bowl 
Another big mixing bowl
Spatula
Pastry bag and round tip (1/2 to 3/4 inch opening)
Large baking sheets, preferably 2 to 4 of them
Parchment paper
Various food color {liquid, gel or powder they are all good}

A couple of days before you plan to make your macarons: Prepare your eggs. Separate them, putting the whites in a clean airtight container and reserving the yolks for another use. Now, your egg whites must “age”: they need to spend at least 24 hours (up to 5 days) in the refrigerator before you use them.
The morning of the day you plan to make your macarons: Take your egg whites out of the refrigerator and leave them to temper at room temperature for several hours.
Making the cookies:
Measure the powdered sugar and almond meal and put them in the bowl of your food processor. Finely grind the two together for a minute or two. Stop the processor, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and process again for a minute.
Yes, you need to do this even though both ingredients are already powdered. This step blends the sugar and nuts perfectly together and gets rid of bigger bits that often remain in packaged almond meal.
You can grind your own almonds, just make sure they are peeled. And that you very finely grind them (add the powdered sugar to the almonds when they are coarsely ground to make sure you don’t end up with a paste).
If you don’t have a food processor, you can still make macarons, but make sure to really thoroughly blend the almonds and sugar together. The consequence is that the texture of your macarons won’t be as soft and smooth.
After processing the powdered sugar and almond meal, you have to sieve the mixture. This is really important (especially if you don’t have a food processor) as it will get rid of the remaining bigger bits and ensure a smooth batter. You will see some of the almond refuses to pass though your sieve (see picture below). Don’t try to force it through; it’s ok to throw it away. The quantity shouldn’t be significant enough to unbalance your recipe.
Here’s what I have left after I sieve half of my almonds-sugar mixture:



How to Make Macarons



Set this bowl aside and take your bigger stainless steel bowl out. Stainless steel bowls helps egg whites get fluffy and firm. Make sure your bowl is cold. Stainless steel usually remains cold by itself, but if it’s not, rinse it under cold water and dry it before continuing. Make sure your granulated sugar is measured and close to you. Put your egg whites in the bowl. Start beating them at medium/high speed with your mixer. Once they start to get bubbly and white and you see that your whisk is leaving light marks, add a tablespoon of the granulated sugar.


How to Make Macarons



Continue beating while adding the remaining sugar in very slowly over the next minute or two. Your eggs will now be white and fluffy but not stiff enough. Continue to beat at high speed until peaks form and remain up when you take out your whisk. When the egg whites are ready, you’ll notice that they seem dense and creamy and not as bubbly anymore. Here’s what they look like:


How to Make Macarons

How to Make Macarons



Your egg whites are delicate and you must treat them gently. If you wish to add color, now is the time to do so. Gently fold in the color using a spatula: slide your spatula on the side of the bowl under the egg whites and bring the bottom up to the top. Repeat this until the color is evenly blended. Now is not the time to be in a hurry: DO NOT whisk at any cost as it will deflate your egg whites and your batter will be ruined. At this point, the color of your batter (if you added food coloring) should be at least as intense as you want the final macaron to be. It will intensify and brighten a bit when you add the almonds/sugar mixture. The batter is now light and fluffy:


How to Make Macarons



Continuing your folding motion, start mixing in your dry ingredients a little at a time {you should add the whole thing in 4 or 5 additions}. Carefully blend everything together, always sliding your spatula to the bottom of the bowl and back up to make sure no pockets of dry ingredients remain. When your batter is evenly blended, it will look shiny and creamy:


How to Make Macarons



Prepare your baking sheets. Double the baking sheets 
{It helps macarons rise and cook more evenly} then cover each with a well-measured sheet of parchment paper. 


How to Make Macarons



Now is the time to fit your pastry bag with its tip. I like to use disposable pastry bags that I wash 3-4 times before getting rid of them. I find that plastic pastry bags are more flexible and easier to work with than textile bags. They are also really easy to clean just by letting hot water run through them and they don’t stain.

To make the transfer from bowl to pastry bag easy, I stand my pastry bag in a measuring cup, folding or twisting the tip to make sure the batter doesn’t come out too quickly. If your pastry bags are long, fold it in half to make sure the batter gets to the bottom of the bag.


How to Make Macarons



Take your bag out of the cup, keeping the tip folded or twisted so that the batter doesn’t come out. Unfold the larger end of the bag and twist it shut close to the batter to push it down. As you lay your macarons on the cooking sheets, you will continue this motion {twisting the larger end of the bag with one hand)} to put constant pressure on the batter and ease its way out on the sheets.

Now is the time to work your magic: you have to hold the tip of your bag with one hand to guide it, and hold the larger end with your other hand to push the batter down. Place your tip close to the parchment paper and twist the end of the bag so as to push the batter down and out to form 1 to 1.5” disks. You can set your macarons pretty close together as they won’t expand while cooking. When enough batter is out, stop twisting the end of the bag and swiftly lift your tip up to stop the batter from coming out. This is tricky: you will need practice. Mastering this technique will ensure your macarons are uniform in size and round.


How to Make Macarons



Don’t worry. Your macarons have a pointy tip. Not to worry: as they rest before cooking, they will smooth out. You can help them though: lift your baking sheet up a bit and firmly bang it on the table a couple of times. This will even the caps and take the air bubbles out of them.

If you’re a perfectionist, now is a good time to edit your macarons to make sure they will be perfectly round. I used a small silicon spatula to make oval caps round or smooth down tips that won’t come down. This step is absolutely not mandatory; imperfection can be very charming.

The next step will once again test your patience: you have to let your macarons rest on the baking sheets at room temperature for at least 20 minutes {some say a couple hours is best but I’m not that patient}. This step will “dry” the caps and help them rise later when they cook.

How to Make Macarons


Halfway through the wait, preheat your oven between 275 and 300°F (135-150°C). Every oven behaves differently. I have a gas oven and 300°F (150°C) is generally good for me. In some ovens, this temperature can be too hot, especially for light-colored macarons {you don’t want them to brown}. I prefer to play it safe, cook them at a lower temperature and leave them longer in the oven. You will have to test your own oven and stay close to it to watch over your macarons as they cook so you can better judge when they look done.

Baked the macarons at 300°F (150°C) for 14 minutes. Your cooking time could be anywhere between 13 and 18 minutes. From 12 minutes on, watch closely, and avoid opening your oven door before that. Your macarons are ready when they look dry and matte and seem firm on their crown when you lightly tap on them. Overcooking the macarons will make them too crunchy and feel like meringue. Undercooking them will make them separate when you try to lift them off the sheets. I know, it’s tricky! After a while, you will know your oven and get better at figuring when your macarons are done. In any case, please play it safe when setting your oven temperature. Excessive heat is the macaron’s worst enemy: they will cook too quickly, cracking like meringue and browning, hiding their beautiful color.

When they are done, take the sheets out of the oven and let them cool on a rack. If you need to reuse your baking sheets for the next batch, let them cool 5-10 minutes in the baking sheet and then lift the parchment paper out of the sheet to set it directly on the cooling rack {this is why it’s good to have more than 2 sheets}. Once cooled to room temperature, your macarons are ready to be assembled.


How to Make Macarons



When they are perfectly cooked, they should lift easily from the parchment paper, have a flat bottom and a beautiful puffy crown. If they stick a bit, help them up with a thin stainless steel spatula so that they don’t separate or break. If they’re a bit overcooked, they will be hollow under the cap. You can still use them, you’ll just have to put more cream to assemble them (yum!).

WHAT SHOULD A ‘PERFECT MACARON’ LOOK LIKE?


Match the cap sizes that fit best together. For the filling, the possibilities are as great as your imagination is. For lemon macarons, you can fill them up with lemon curd, or with a lemon-flavored buttercream. If you made pink cookies, fill them up with good-quality raspberry preserves or, if you feel decadent, with a mixture of mascarpone cheese and preserves. The only thing that’s important is to make sure the filling is firm enough to not drip out from the macarons. A great macaron should be able to stand on its side and not lose its filling.

Using an icing spatula {or just a regular butter knife} spread your icing on one cookie. Place the other cookie on the icing and press gently to stick them together.

Once all of your macarons are assembled, in an ideal world, you would put them in an airtight container, in the refrigerator and let them rest for another 24 hours. Yes, you need patience once again. They won’t be bad if you eat them right away. Letting them rest with their icing in really reveals the fine texture of the macaron. The humidity of the icing will get into the crispy caps and that’s what will make them crisp on the outside and so tender on the inside. Try to be patient, trust me, it’s really worth the wait. The good thing is that it’s a great dessert to make in advance and it will for sure impress your guests. They will be at their best if you eat them in the next 4-5 days.

Yes, these French cookies are a really fancy delicacy. No, they’re not easy to make. Yes, they require time, patience and practice to master. But it’s worth it really, and so less expensive than a plane ticket to Paris!


How to Make Macarons



WHAT SHOULD A ‘PERFECT MACARON’ LOOK LIKE?



Here’s a list of essential aesthetic traits:

Shells should be perfectly round and show ‘feet’ or a crown at their base

Top of shells should be perfectly smooth
Bottom of shells should be perfectly flat
Shells should be shiny, and the choice of color should be assorted to the flavor
Shells should all be of the same size
The feet should not be larger than the top of the shell
Filling should be visible and not be runny

Of course, very few macarons feature all of these standards at once. The list may sound daunting when the novice baker attempts to make macarons for the first time, but with patience and meticulousness, I believe the home cook can achieve results that rival the best. No kidding.







Want more recipes? I have quite the collection below. Help yourselves. They are delicious! 








Pistachio Macarons
Makes about 30 macarons.

Cookies:
3 egg whites (from large eggs)
205 g powdered sugar
125 g powdered almonds
20 g unsalted and shelled pistachios
30 g granulated sugar
Green and yellow food coloring


Pistachio Cream:

45 g unsalted and shelled pistachios

1 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the pistachio cream:

Finely grind the pistachios with the powdered sugar in a food processor. Cream this mixture with the softened butter until you reach a creamy consistency. Incorporate the vanilla extract. If the cream is too thick or won’t blend well, add a tiny bit of cream or milk until you reach the right consistency.

To make the macarons:Finely grind the pistachios with the powdered sugar and almond meal in a food processor. Sift mixture to make sure no lumps or bigger bits of almonds or pistachios are left.Whisk the egg whites on medium/high speed for a minute or two, add a tablespoon of the granulated sugar, continue beating and add the remaining sugar slowly. Beat until the egg whites are stiff, dense and creamy.Fold in the green and yellow food coloring with a spatula. For light green, try 6 drops yellow to 1 drop green, adding more using this ratio until you reach a nice pistachio color.Delicately fold in the nuts/sugar mixture in 4 or 5 additions. Slide your spatula all the way to the bottom of the bowl and comes back up several times to make sure no pockets of dry ingredients remain and the color is evenly blended.Prepare your baking sheet by lining them with parchment paper.Transfer your batter in a pastry bag fitted with a ½ tp ¾ round tip. Pipe 1 ½-inch rounds of batter, evenly spaced but still close to one another as they will not expand much.Let your macarons rest on their baking sheets for a minimum of 20 minutes (30 to 60 minutes is best).Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C). Bake the macarons for 12 to 15 minutes.Let the macarons cool to room temperature before assembling them with the pistachio cream. Put them in an airtight container and let them sleep for one night in the refrigerator before indulging.








Maple & Pecan Macarons

Makes about 30 macarons.


Cookies:
3 egg whites (from large eggs)
205 g powdered sugar
62.5 g almond meal
62.5 g pecan nut meal
30 g granulated sugar
Brown food coloring


Cream:

Because I love an intense maple flavor & because it’s so much easier 

I cheated by simply filling my macarons with maple butter. 

Not a trace of butter in this, it’s just maple syrup 
whipped to a creamy and decadent spread.




To make the macarons:
Process the pecan nut and almond meals with the sugar. Sift mixture to make sure no lumps or bigger bits of nuts are left.Whisk the egg whites on medium/high speed for a minute or two, add a tablespoon of the granulated sugar, continue beating and add the remaining sugar slowly. Beat until the egg whites are stiff, dense and creamy.Fold in the brown food coloring with a spatula. If you don’t have brown, you can make it as I did with the basic colors with the following recipe: 1 drop green, 3 drops red, 3 drops yellow. Your eggs will look a bit orange but everything will turn out fine when you incorporate the nuts mixture.Delicately fold in the nuts/sugar mixture in 4 or 5 additions. Slide your spatula all the way to the bottom of the bowl and comes back up several times to make sure no pockets of dry ingredients remain and the color is evenly blended.Prepare your baking sheet by lining them with parchment paper.Transfer your batter in a pastry bag fitted with a ½ tp ¾ round tip. Pipe 1 ½-inch rounds of batter, evenly spaced but still close to one another as they will not expand much. You can sprinkle a bit of ground pecans on your caps to make them even prettier.


Resting Pecan Macarons



Let your macarons rest on their baking sheets for a minimum of 20 minutes (30 to 60 minutes is best).Preheat your oven to 275°F (135°C). Bake the macarons for 14 to 18 minutes.Let the macarons cool to room temperature before assembling them with the maple cream. Put them in an airtight container and let them sleep for one night in the refrigerator before indulging.









Laduree's Macarons Framboise 
Raspberry Macarons 
From LadurĂ©e's Sucre: The Recipes 
Yields approximately 50-60 1" cookies

Macaron shells  

275g (2 3/4 cups + 1 tbsp) ground almonds (almond flour)250g (2 cups + 1 tbsp) confectioners (icing) sugar210g (6 1/2) egg whites (I used fresh egg whites)210g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) granulated sugara few drops red or maroon food coloring gel


Raspberry Jam Filling225g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) granulated sugar2 tsp powdered pectin375g (3 cups) french raspberries1/2 lemon

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.

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.







Laduree's Chocolate Macaroon Recipe
Ingredients

275 g icing sugar

140 g ground almonds

4 egg whites (~120g)

25 g cocoa powder

325 g bitter chocolate

300 g heavy cream

75 g unsalted butter



Method

Grind almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder in a food processor for about 5 mins

Whisk egg whites until stiff then combine the almond mixture with the egg whites (you will need to keep mixing and macaroning until you achieve the correct consistency)

Pipe into rounds and allow to rest until a skin forms

Bake at 180 degrees (or lower, I would recommend) for 11-12 mins, leaving door slightly ajar with a wooden spoon

Use the bitter chocolate, cream and butter to make a ganache (heat cream, add chocolate, then butter)

makes 10 large or 50 small macaroons 







Swiss Meringue Buttercream

• 4 large egg whites
• 3 sticks (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
• 1-1/4 cups sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ( I used vanilla bean paste and it was yummy!) Macaroons
• 1-3/4 cup confectioners sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or other flavoring or combination (again I used vanilla bean paste – I love the pretty brown flecks)
• 1-1/2 cups (4 ounces) sliced almonds, finely ground, or almond flour
• the whites of 3 large eggs
• Pinch of salt
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 recipe Swiss Meringue Buttercream


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Sift confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Whisk in ground almonds; set aside. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy; add salt. Gradually add granulated sugar 1 teaspoon at a time, until the whites reach medium-soft peaks. Transfer to a large bowl.
Sprinkle half of the sugar-almond mixture over the egg-white mixture. Using a large rubber spatula fold until just incorporated. Add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and remaining sugar-almond mixture, folding until just incorporated. Firmly tap the bottom of the bowl on a counter or work surface to eliminate any air pockets.

Transfer mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (I didnt have a tip this size so I just use the coupler without a tip…worked fine – or so Rachel said! ). Pipe mixture into 1 1/2  – 2 inch circles on parchment lined baking sheet.


macaroons2.jpg

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until macaroons feel slightly firm to the touch and can be gently lifted off the parchment (the bottoms will be dry), 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer parchment and macaroons to a wire rack to cool completely.


macaroons1.jpg


Carefully remove macaroons from parchment. Spread Swiss Meringue buttercream on the flat sides of the half of macaroons; sandwich with the other halves, keeping flat sides down.


macaroons3.jpg


Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes, before serving. Filled cookies can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (This is comical isn’t it? The recipe made about  48 halves or 24 filled cookies so, I have no idea how long they will last in the frig!)
Isn’t this a beautiful cookie???? 
macaroons4.jpg







Ladurée macaroons citron

Preparation Time: 2-1/2 hours
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients (makes 50):

Lemon cream:
160g granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp cornstarch
3 eggs
110ml lemon juice
235g softened butter

Shells:
275g ground almond flour
250g icing sugar
61/2 egg whites
210g granulated sugar
Yellow food colouring


Method:

Step 1: For the lemon cream, mix the sugar, lemon zest, cornstarch, eggs and lemon juice together in a saucepan and heat until it simmers.
Step 2: Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Add the butter and blend. Refrigerate for 12 hours in an airtight container.
Step 3: For the macaroon shells, mix the almond flour and icing sugar in a food processor then sieve.
Step 4: Whisk six egg whites until they foam then add a third of the granulated sugar and whisk until dissolved. Add another third, whisk then add the remaining sugar and whisk for one more minute. Fold the sifted almond flour and icing sugar into the egg whites. Add the food colouring. Beat 1/2 egg white and add to the mixture.
Step 5: On a baking tray lined with parchment, pipe small rounds (3-4cm) of the mixture. Preheat the oven to 150°C, then bake for 12-15 minutes.
Step 6: Remove baking tray from the oven and pour a tiny amount of water in between the tray and the parchment paper, so the macaroons peel off easily.
Step 7: When cool, place half the macaroon shells upside down on a plate. Pipe a coin of lemon cream onto the macaroon shells using a piping bag and top each with the remaining shells before refrigerating for 12 hours.




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Ispahan Entremet
by Pierre Herme

300 grams Almond Powder
300 grams confectioner’s sugar
Combine together with a whisk or a food processor

Pink macaron biscuit 
600 grams TPT
red food coloring
110 grams egg whites (fresh)
300 grams sugar
75 grams water
110 grams egg white (aged)

Mix the TPT with egg white and food coloring. Cook the sugar and water to 245 F. Whip the egg white to soft peaks at high speed, then lower to the 2nd speed. Once sugar syrup reaches 245F, pour it on the egg whites. Keep stirring until the meringue reaches 122F. Fold the meringue into the almond mixture until the right consistency is obtained.

Pipe 7 cm circles and dry the tops for 20 minutes. Bake in a convection oven 320F for 20 minutes. 
Rose Petal Cream 
Italian Meringue:
125 grams egg whites
15 grams sugar
250 grams sugar
75 grams water

Boil the sugar and water to 245F, after syrup reaches 220 F start whipping the egg whites and sugar to soft peaks. At 245F pour the sugar syrup on the meringue and let it cool on 2nd speed. Once cool, reduce speed to 1st speed until use.

English cream 
180 grams Milk
140 grams egg yolk
180 grams sugar

Boil the milk. Pour half of the milk into the egg yolks and sugar mixture, stir and add this mixture back into the remaining milk. Heat while continually stirring until the mixture can coat the back of the spoon. Cool the mixture in a mixer at high speed until it becomes light and airy. 
To complete the rose petal cream:900 grams butter8 grams rose essence56 grams rose syrup500 grams English cream350 grams Italian MeringueCream the butter. Add the English cream and the rose essence and syrup. Mix well before folding in the Italian Meringue.

To Assemble:Litchi, raspberries, rose macaron biscuit, rose petal cream.Cut up the litchis into small chunks and drain for 2 days otherwise your macaron biscuit will become too soggy.
How to Assemble the Ispahan:

Fill with the rose petal cream
* Leave 1cm from the edge when you pipe the rose petal cream. I was appalled by the amount of buttercream and admittedly scraped some off. But in the succeeding ones, I changed my mind. :)

Arrange the raspberries
  * Push the raspberries against the buttercream. This will keep it in place.

Top with lychee pieces
* I would have put more lychees but I did not drain them enough since I was impatient. I probably would have chopped them a bit smaller too.


Pipe another dollop of buttercream
* After piping some buttercream on top of the lychees, 
affix the top shell and very gently press down on the Ispahan.








Pumpkin French Macarons with Pumpkin Buttercream

Yield: Makes 30 sandwiched 1 ½ inch macarons (60 halves)



Ingredients82 grams almond meal/flour (Bob's Red Mill is a good brand)82 grams homemade pecan meal/flour* Directions belowPinch of fine sea salt¾ packed cup (165 grams) confectioner’s/powdered sugar1 tablespoon (5 grams) powdered egg whites (*adjustment for high altitudes)1 tablespoon (5 grams) pumpkin pie spice½ cup (115 grams) aged* egg whites (about 4 eggs): divided into two equal parts *aged at least 2-5 days1/4 cup (38 grams) water5/8 cup (125 grams) granulated sugar4 drops gel food coloring (optional)

Homemade Pecan Meal/Flour

* Place 1 cup pecans in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse for 1-2 seconds at a time so they don’t get too warm and turn into a paste.  Pulse about 30 times.  Be very careful not to pulse more that about 1-2 seconds at a time, so the nuts do not heat up and turn into a paste. Measure 82 grams of the pecan flour, and add it to the dry ingredients along with the almond flour.

*For homemade nut flours, the batter tends to get thin and runny quickly, be extra careful when you fold, and when whipping your egg whites for form a meringue, whip until stiff, this will help the batter to not be too thin.

Directions: {Be sure to follow directions precisely}

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.  Pulse the almond flour, pecan flour, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and confectioner’s sugar in the bowl of a food processor 4 times for 4 seconds each time.  Sift the mixture with the powdered egg whites.  Stir in ¼ cup (57 grams) of the aged egg whites to form a thick paste, mix with a wooden spoon.

Put the remaining ¼ cup (57 grams) of egg whites in a electric stand mixer with a wire whisk attachment.  Whisk the egg whites on medium speed until FOAMY/SOFT PEAKS form.  Meanwhile, heat the granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook without stirring until the sugar syrup reaches the beginning of the soft ball stage (test this by removing a drop of the mixture on a heat proof spatula.  Drop a drop of the mixture and if it forms a half circle and the bottom edges are still domed, then it is ready to go.  If the mixture is still runny, and doesn’t stay in a soft form, it needs a little longer.)  Once it hits the soft ball stage IMMEDIATELY remove it from the heat, and slowly pour the hot syrup down the side of the mixer bowl into the soft peaked egg whites as it mixes on a medium speed.  Continue to whisking the mixture until the meringue forms a medium to stiff peak so it is marshmallow-like. About 3-5 minutes. Do NOT over whip or it will cause the cookie to crack when cooked!

Fold the meringue mixture one-third at a time into the dry ingredient paste (BE DELICATE!).  It will gradually lighten it and make a smooth batter.   Don’t mix too much or the macarons will crack.  To make sure that you have reached the right point, once the ingredients appear combined, lift some of the mixture about 1 inch above the bowl with the spatula.  If it retains a three-dimensional shape, fold it again.  When folded just enough, the mixture should fall right back into the bowl, with no stiffness, in a continuous drip. (It should be like lava, if it is too stiff it won’t get a nice three-dimensional look)

Pipe the macarons into 1 1/2 inch circles and 1 ½ inches apart on a silicon baking sheet lined (or parchment paper lined) pan. Pipe 1 ½ inch circles with a ½ inch round piping tip.  Use the hand you write with to squeeze the top of the bag, and the other hand to guide you to the next circle. Twist with your wrist, and move out without moving up. After piping all the circles, be sure to remove the excess air bubbles by slamming the pan onto the counter (holding it 6” above the table then slamming it down 6 times)  Let the macarons air dry at room temperature for ½ hour (*can take longer if raining) until a skin/crust forms.  Bake 1 sheet pan at a time on the middle rack of the oven for 13-14 minutes (less for convection) (for 1 ½ inch size) until the macarons just come off the baking sheet when you lift them by grasping their sides (the centers will have risen, and will not have any dark indentations).  If the macarons darken too quickly, put a wooden spoon in the door of the oven to prop it slightly open.  Cool completely on a wire rack before filling.



Pumpkin Butter Cream Filling

Pair with pumpkin macarons


2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
½ cup pumpkin puree 1 tbs pumpkin pie spicepinch of sea salt1lb 9 oz confectioner’s sugar, sifted1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1) Cream the butter, salt, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin spice for about 2 minutes.  Slowly add the confectioners sugar ½ a cup at a time with a paddle attachment on the stand mixer on medium speed.  Mix until light and fluffy and combined, about 5 minutes, add vanilla bean paste.
Pipe into completely cooled macaron shells with a 1/2 inch round pastry tip, then sandwich the cookies.








4.18.2011


Where do you hide your secrets?

We all have them. Of that I am sure. And, some of us do a very good job at hiding
those secrets. Where do you hide your secrets?

||: In a wax sealed love letter ||: in the gentle hush of whispers ||:  inside trinket boxes ||: running wild through crafted lands ||: in overgrown gardens ||: buried in our hearts and minds ||: between sealed lips ||: on the tip of my tongue ||: inside a heart's ventricles ||: hidden inside origami ||: placed in lockets and give them as a gift ||: a big steam trunk ||: an unopened letter ||: buried in the ground ||: hidden in the obvious ||: small locked boxes ||: written inside a paper boat and set upon the water ||: at the bottom of the ocean ||: Put in a bottle and thrown into the sea ||: under a pillow ||: between the pages of a book ||: in the pocket of a coat ||: ......

Or, perhaps it is time to tell someone. If you have decided to divulge a stressful secret, 
choose your listener wisely. Here's a few tips to help your revelation a positive experience.

Choose someone who you know from past experience is open-minded, nonreactive, nonjudgmental and trustworthy. Choose a good listener, someone who will be willing and able to give you his or her full attention. Select a time and place where you know you'll both feel sage and comfortable, and have privacy. Take the other persons obligations into account - don't confide in someone with divided loyalties who may end up in a compromised position as a result. Keep in mind, therapists and clergy are sworn to secrecy, If your secret doesn't involve potential harm to another person, it safe with them.




4.11.2011


I was thinking about what a friend and I were discussing the other day, and I realized that I have achieved a few things that I had set up as goals for myself just a short year ago! That is always exciting! So, I am going to pass on to you some goals that may help you as well!

1.} Challenge yourself.
Set goals that make you s-t-r-e-t-c-h. It is a cop-out to make things too easy - always take it to the next level and don't be afraid to fail. I would rather fail than to never try at all.

2.} Make yourself a brand.
Sit down and decide what you want to be, and what you want people to associate with you. Map it out and then work hard to make it a reality. When people think of me they think of three things: someone who they can talk to {a good listener}; an honest person {I won't tell you wrong} and last, I am a family orientated woman. My family comes first. My home is organized, clean, and beautiful, my food is delicious, and my door is always open.

3.} Realize that happiness isn't something you "obtain".
The sooner you realize that happiness is not something you obtain like a piece of furniture or a job, the more likely you are to achieve it. Happiness is created, not acquired. Have you ever wondered why - as a general rule - people with less are happier than people with more? Do and surround yourself only with that which you love.

4.} Live responsibly 
This has many meanings to me - but basically it means don't ignore injustices, treat others with respect, do what is right for the world and the environment, and quit thinking it is "someone else's job.

5.} Get a dog.
A dog loves you unconditionally. A dog thinks you are the greatest, coolest, smartest, most successful person in the world. Get a dog and work hard to live up to its expectations. It is not as easy as you may think it is!





4.07.2011


polaroids

I find myself drawn time and again to the water. Any body of water. 
There is something about the movement of the water, the crashing of 
the waves, the babbling of the brooks, the calmness of the lakes, 
the swiftness of the rivers, the smell of salty sea air, rock pools, 
sander-lings, and the cries of a seagull,  that make me feel so alive, 
so present and truly in the moment. And, we always meet there.

Where do you feel most alive?