Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Don't let them get you down

It was time for more macarons last night. The more I make these cookies and give them away to friends - the more I'm establishing a very solid Favorite Flavors list. So far it looks like this:
1) Pistachio with Pistachio Buttercream
2) Vanilla Bean with Salted Caramel
3) Green Tea with Green Tea Buttercream
4) Pecan Praline with Dulce de Leche
5) Lemon with Lemon Curd
6) Raspberry with Chocolate Ganache

Since I sorta promised co-workers a batch of macarons and will also be attending a Dancing With The Stars season finale party at a friend's place tonight - the pistachios came out of the fridge for grinding! I decided to try the Italian Meringue recipe since I've read over and over again about how much more stable the cookies are. Apparently a BAD IDEA. I don't know what I was thinking - when one is getting ready to try a completely new recipe it's probably not a good idea to do a huge batch on that trial run - especially a tricky, tricky item like French macarons.

People don't understand when I talk about how macarons are so difficult to make. Well this is why... if you do ANYTHING wrong like try the Italian Meringue recipe (or stir the batter a little too much, or don't let them sit long enough before baking, or let them sit too long before baking) they turn out like the picture here:

Failed Macarons

See how they have no feet, are cracked all over, lumpy looking and totally not even uniform?... What a waste of ingredients!!!!! They tasted okay - like pistachio meringues - but look horrendous. I'm not going to offer these to anyone to eat - therefore if I don't want to truly waste them, I will have to eat them. Remember what I said about gaining 3 pounds last week? *sigh* My difficult life...

But what happened?? There was VERY OBVIOUSLY too much meringue/egg whites in this batter. But every recipe I read sounds the same so unless I measured horribly incorrectly, I guess I'll stick with the French method. I just bought myself the no-longer-in-print Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé . Pierre Hermé is the French macaron (and oh so many other desserts) master. He supposedly has an Italian Meringue chocolate macaron recipe in there which I will be studying.

Successful Macarons

As you can see from this picture - I did eventually end up with successful macarons after I went back to my WELL tested and becoming quite trusty French method recipe. What a disappointment that Italian method was. And what a late night I had!!

I sometimes shake my head that that only electric tools I own and therefore use to assist in making macarons are these:

Mixer only goes up to 5 speeds; Spice/coffee grinder is 20+ years old

I decided it was time to finally upgrade my cooking/baking arsenal. I've somehow managed without a stand mixer for literally 10-12 years (since starting college and not having Mom's at my beck-and-call). I just steered away from bread and candy making. And if I really needed it - I'd prop the hand mixer on top of my recipe box and it actually worked quite well! But since my birthday is coming up in less than a month...these guys top my wish list:

KitchenAid Professional 600 KP26M1X; Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus

I must admit - I actually already bought myself the food processor . The mixer will likely come from Mom since she's already told me she wants to try it for massive bread making before deciding what to upgrade her KitchenAid Artisan with. And if you buy the KitchenAid Professional 600 and submit your rebate before May 31st - you can get a free ice cream maker attachment!! That certainly won't help my waistline any...


  1. Watch out! Lisa is armed and dangerous!!
    I read your comment about the tea reduction and I wish I had paid attention to the time, maybe 10 minutes max....I kept watching it closely after 5 minutes but did not time it. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

  2. I have the KitchenAid Pro 600, I like my standard 5-quart KitchenAid better. The extra quart of the 600 is nice of course, but mechanically, the Pro-5 just feels smoother, particularly how the speed-lever feels. I've had the Pro-5 since 1990 and used it at my Dad's bakery for 5 years. I bought my dad the 600 last year when I saw him mixing something within 1/4" of spilling over. So I bought him the higher capacity model, but after a month, he took back the 5 and gave me the 600. :p

  3. even the failed ones look pretty good...i'd eat 'em!

  4. Aaah...i just tried my first macaron at financier in new york and now I'm obsessed. if only i could make themself...your's look divine!

  5. Those look delicious@ I the pistachio on pistachio combo!

  6. Beautiful! How do you keep them from browning on top? I've had bad luck with my macarons (of any flavor) turning a golden brown instead of staying the color they're supposed to.

  7. Weeva - I've never had to do this (I guess my oven behaves) but I've heard of a suggestion to put a piece of tin foil on the rack above you rack you are baking on. This should keep them from browning too severely! Good luck!

  8. Ooh, good idea. Thanks Lisa!

  9. I have those food processor and pro 600. I just bought an ice-cream maker attachment 2 months ago. I wish I have hand mixer instead of pro 600 when I want to whisk small amount of egg whites.
    p.s. your macaroons look great.