Wednesday, May 16, 2012

French Macaroons

This was my week to host and I chose French Macaroon Sandwich Cookies

10 things about me by way of introduction:
1. I am in my 4th year of my PhD in physical chemistry-hoping to day..... :) but for now just hoping to survive a proposal defense tomorrow- aaaahhhhhhhhhhh, cannot wait until it is over, I am going to Japan to celebrate! (and to act as traveling companion to L of course)
2. My husband has a marketing company, does this little disco move where he bobs up and down, likes to rap, is under the impression that he does not need to sleep (and so I stay up way too late!!!!!), and says he is like ice cream (I just asked and that is really what he said) (I guess that means he is very smooth or he has lots of diversity or something)
3. I recently had a small pig (for a very short time)
4. My favorite foods are popcorn, garlic bread, pizza, blue Popsicles, broccoli, snow cones, sour patch kids, hot tamales, and anything that tastes like sugar
5. I am supposed to be looking for a house to buy but I only want to live in a tree house
6. I love to read, travel, find fun things on Pinterest and Amazon, rollerblade, ride cruisers, play games (board games and Wii/playstation/Xbox) and play the piano (though I have not done that in quite some time).
7. I am going to pick up meditation
8. I am following a lot of TV shows-some of my current favs are Merlin, Nikita, The Good Wife, Project Runway, and Sherlock
9. My goals are: ride a camel to the pyramids, ride an elephant, eat 10 different types of beans
10. I love anything Disney!
I found out about the baking club from Jesse, my old roomie, and have had a lot of fun trying out new recipes.

So the French Macaroons-
I saw these all over Vienna last summer. I have had them on occasion, found them to be interesting, and heard that they are so expensive because they are super hard to make. I was curious about all this so I thought I would give them a try. Plus, I thought I could take them to my Mother's Day Dinner.

3 3/4 c (15 ounces) almond flour (which I could not find so I just ground up almonds in a food processor)
3 1/3 c confectioners' sugar
5 large egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar
5 tsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 c butter cream frosting (though I only used about 1 c)

-pulse half of almond flour and half of confectioners' sugar in a food processor for 30 seconds, transfer to a bowl, then pulse the remaining flour and sugar
-whip egg whites and cream of tartar, gradually increasing mixer speed over 2 minutes. Whip in sugar over 1 min. Whip another 3 min or until stiff peaks have formed
-gently fold in 1/3 of almond flour/sugar mix, then vanilla, then remaining almond flour/sugar to form a gloppy batter.

(here is the batter, this is one of the few batters I had no interest in tasting)

-put batter in a pastry bag (I used a large Ziploc bag and cut off the tip) and pipe 2-inch mounds onto parchment paper (on baking sheets of course. Also, grease the parchment paper-I forgot and it was no prob but the book says to do it)
-let the macaroons rest until the feel dry-1-2 hours, this prevents cracking when baking

(here they are, resting away. The book also mentioned you may need to smooth out the tops after piping but mine did not need any help)

-cook one sheet at a time at 325 degrees for 20 min or until lightly browned

(cooked, no problem with cracking)

-transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool about an hour
-can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days
-fill when ready to serve

Butter cream Frosting (which was kind of a pain but really good)
(for a 2 cup batch)
3 egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 1/2 sticks butter (cut into chunks and softened)

-whip egg yolks (standing mixer is nice here) 4-6 minutes
-boil sugar and corn syrup (while eggs are whipping) over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar, about 3 min
-without letting the syrup cool off, turn the mixer to low and slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg yolks (avoid pouring it on the beater or sides of bowl). Increase mixing speed and whip 5-10 more minutes until light and fluffy and the bowl is no longer warm.
-Reduce speed to medium-low and add vanilla and salt. Gradually add butter one piece at a time. Increase mixer speed again and whip until smooth (about 2 more minutes)
Frosting can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Let it stand at room temp for 2 hours and whip it up before using.

(The final product. I made mine on Friday, then filled them and ate them on Sunday and they held up pretty well)

All in all, they turned out exactly like the ones I have had from bakeries (in looks and taste) so I consider the recipe a success. They were super easy, I think they took about 15 minutes to mix up and 5 minutes to pipe onto the pan. I let them sit on the counter for 1 hour, then cooked them for 20 min. Super easy (prob easier than chocolate chip cookies)! The hardest part was making the butter cream frosting-though that would have been easier if I had used my Kitchen Aid instead of a hand mixer :)

A few notes in response to other bakers' thoughts- I bought my almonds at Winco and they were super cheap-about 4 dollars a pound (you need a little under one pound) so these cookies cost about $5-6  to make and I made about 30-35 sandwich cookies (recipe estimated 20), other people found that they did need to smooth out the tops of the cookies after piping-just use your finger (or use a ziplock bag instead of a real pastry bag, worked great for me), the frosting made twice as much as needed in my case, and the cookie is supposed to have a crisp exterior but chewy interior.

These were fun because they feel impressively fancy, out of the ordinary, but are not much work. I even forced one on O and he said they were "rich and refined" :)
I have already had a request for these this upcoming Sat at a shower!

Check out some of the other people in the club who also made the macaroons for more reviews!


Valerie said...

Yours turned out sooo pretty!

Valerie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda said...

They look great! Good to know that they tasted how they are supposed to, I have never had one before. I loved hearing more about you.

Cynthia L. said...

Just joined the group and found your blog! You seem like someone I would love to know. Your French Macaroons look very yummy! Loved reading your description of yourself and your husband! Look forward to coming back and seeing what you have in store (or should I say in the oven)

Rebekah B. said...

Your cookies look PERFECT! Glad to know they taste like the "real" ones... I've never had one before. Fun recipe. Thanks!