Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Baking for the Firemen: Macarons by Cecile Cannone #Review
About the Book:
About the Author:
Cecile Cannone was born and raised in Paris and is well-known for her baking skills. She opened the first Macaron Café in 2007 in New York City and recently opened a second location in New York to meet increasing demand. Cecile still bakes macarons everyday and enjoys coming up with new flavors.
I have done a lot of baking in my day but I had never made these delightful little French cookies. The book offers lots of tricks and tips to help a beginner get started. A beginner macaron maker that is; I think to make these crunchy little delights one should have some decent baking experience behind them. I may be wrong but I don't think these are the kind of cookies a newbie in the kitchen will be knocking out easily.
The book gives recipes for French and Italian meringue macarons and the cookies require specific ingredients. They are not cheap to make. But, I must admit that the instructions were easy for me to follow for the shells. I also made the Vanilla buttercream and that recipe was a bit challenging - if I didn't know what I was doing I think it would have just been a big mess. Fortunately I had made this kind of buttercream before. The instructions were not very clear - "compact batter" what exactly is a "compact batter?" Well, I have a photo later on in the post.
I made two batches and while not perfect I (and the firemen) were happy with them. I do think that 2 1/2" is a bit large for a cookie this rich. When I make them again I am going to make them smaller.
The many varieties of filling recipes was great to have and I know I'll be trying several of them in the future.
Now please enjoy French Meringue Macarons:
2 3/4 cups Almond Flour
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup egg whites (7 - 8) at room temperature
pinch of salt
3/4 cup superfine granulated sugar
5 - 7 drops gel paste food coloring
Create a template for your cookies. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and put the template underneath.
Preheat the oven to300° with convection or 325° without.
Sift together almond flour and powdered sugar to remove all lumps making the mix as fine as possible.
With the wire whisk attachment on a stand mixer whip the egg whites and salt until frothy. Slowly add the superfine sugar then the food coloring if using as they whip to stiff peaks.
I made two batches, one peach using copper colored gel and one green using mint gel.
Add the egg whites to the flour mixture.
Fold in gently using a rubber spatula. There is a trick to getting the batter right and I suspect that it takes some practice. I think I did alright for my first try!
Now the book says to fill a pastry bag and insert a #8 tip. I had a #7 and a #12. I started with the 7 but found the 12 worked much, much better.
Pipe the batter onto the rounds. It's a matter of just letting the batter flow out of the bag and onto the circle. My first run didn't go so well but by the second try I had it down pat!
Let them rest for 15 minutes before they go in the oven. Bake for 14 minutes; after the first 5 open the door to let the steam escape.
Let the baked cookies cool completely before removing them from the sheet.
Now for fillings. I made two; Chocolate Ganache and French Buttercream. I had never seen ganache made this way before and I probably won't make it this way again, but this is how it was made in the book:
I made a half batch - for a full batch you need:
7 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 TBS honey
2 TBS unsalted butter
In a saucepan over medium heat gently stir together the chocolate, cream and honey until the chocolate melts and the mixture comes together.
Pour into a bowl and add the butter.
The recipe says to let this sit a room temperature for 30 minutes and it will be stiff enough to use. I did not find this to be the case. I had to refrigerate it.
French Vanilla Buttercream
1 cup superfine granulated sugar
seeds from two vanilla beans or 1 TBS vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 TBS chilled, unsalted butter
Beat together the eggs and sugar at high speed until they double in volume and become fluffy.
Pour into a saucepan, add the vailla and heat over medium heat, stirring, until if forms a compact batter (?). This is basically making a very thick pudding base.
Anytime I work with eggs I strain. So I strained this into a shallow dish and put it into the refrigerator to chill. It was very compact - gloopy even.
When it has chilled take the butter, cut it into small pieces and add it to your mixer. Beat it until it gets fluffy.
Add the cool egg mixture and whip it, whip it good.
Now you are ready to fill your macarons. I will say that I made the cookies one day and the fillings on the second day.
Line the cookies up for filling.
I did half of them with the buttercream and half of them with the ganache.
Very, VERY lightly press the top cookie on the filling until it spreads to the edges.
These WERE a lot of work but I have to say that they were worth it. I loved the, the hubby loved them and the firemen loved them.
And they are pretty!
You can purchase Macarons at Amazon.com
Disclosure: I received a copy of Macarons from Ulysses Press gratis. Any opinions expressed are my honest opinions and were not impacted by my receipt of the free book. I received no monetary compensation for this post.