French Chocolate Macarons

I have wanted to make french macarons since I began culinary school. It just seems cliché, perfect, a responsibility of sorts for being in french cooking school.  But did we learn how to in Baking and Pastry?  Nope.  

It was time to take matters into my own hands.  I’ve got 5 weeks left of school and I have to work my remaining class time in Technique, the schools restaurant. So, I approached one of the chef’s about my macaron dilemma and he suggested I find a good recipe and test it out. Free rein and all the products at my finger tips?  OK!

Thank you David Lebovitz, this recipe is pretty darn amazing! (adapted with my own minor tweak from The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz)

Macaron Batter
1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup almond flour, needs to be really fine
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons,  granulated sugar

Chocolate Filling
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces

**Special ingredient, optional. Get Ready….  Fleur de sel.  SEA SALT MACARONS.. I know, crazy. AND TDF (to die for)

Macaron Cookies

Preheat oven to 350*F

Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients;  powdered sugar, almond flour, and unsweetened cocoa powder, set aside. *If mix is clumpy, pulse in a food processor to get a smooth flour like mixture.

Whip egg whites in a mixer until white peaks begin to form, add granulated sugar and whip until peaks are firm.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).

Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined/silpat baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.

Bake for 9-11 minutes.  *Oven temps will vary so please test out a cookie or two before you bake.  The book recipe calls for 15-18 minutes, but I found in my commercial oven that 11 minutes dried them out completely, 10 minutes was ok, and 9 minutes was perfect for a crunchy outside and chewy inside.  It all depends on what texture you are looking for.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Filling

Heat the cream in a small saucepan with the corn syrup. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth. Stir in the pieces of butter. Let cool completely before using. The chocolate will turn into a spreadable paste, but should not be runny.

Spread or pipe a bit of ganache on the inside of the macarons, sprinkle a pinch of coarse Fleur de sel, then sandwich them together. Let them stand at least one day before serving, to meld the flavors.

Since we perfected the recipe to our liking, I decided to make little drizzle cookies for my other classmates to try. All agreed David Lebovitz is the man.

Thanks for reading and have fun making these delicate treats! xo-G

Did I mention, I’ll be in PARIS IN THREE WEEKS!! Ever been? Please comment with suggestions to do/see/eat!!


Caramel Covered Marshmallows with Fleur de sel … On a stick!

See that yummy caramel, marshmallow, delight up there?  Well that was one of the best sweet treats I’ve ever had on a stick.  Since indulging at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory in Park City, Utah last month, I’ve had my sights set on how to recreate this gooey fun treat!  With a little help from one of my favorite websites, America’s Test Kitchen, The Feed.  (The same site that also published my cookie photo!  shameless plug…) I plan to make these little treats for a girlfriend’s 30th birthday this weekend.  (Laura, I hope you don’t read this post until after Saturday).  My biggest concern is how can I keep the caramel at the right temperature to coat the marshmallow without the marshmallow melting and without the caramel setting too much?  Any ideas readers?  I suppose this will have to be a little trial and error.  Maybe the integrity of the marshmallow wont be compromised if  I can cool the caramel coat fast?

I guess we’ll see what happens!  In the meantime; here is a fool-proof recipe for salted caramel that you should tuck away in your recipe box.

Sugar Cookies, perfected by America’s Test Kitchen

Crunchy outside, chewy inside!

The folks over at America’s Test Kitchen sure know what they are doing.  I first became acquainted with ATK and Christopher Kimball’s, Cook’s Illustrated after my grandfather  started sending me a subscription of it. Soon after receiving the first copy, I was hooked.    The masterminds’s behind America’s Test Kitchen employs a 70 person cook staff who reinvent the wheel week after week. They aim to  make the home cook more efficient and better at technique and cooking; testing small appliances, kitchen gadgets, and recipes.  They’ve been at this game for awhile now, so they are a trustworthy, go-to source for finding some of the best recipes available.

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Using good ingredients is key!

Where has the summer gone?  Is it really August already? I’ve traveled the last 7 weekends, and now I’ve woken up this quiet Saturday morning feeling unsure of what to do with myself. It’s been a little hectic going full speed since the end of June with back to back weekend trips; Skaneateles, Nantucket, Lake George, Skaneateles, Napa, and back to Skaneateles again. I’ve been waiting for this quiet rainy morning all month!  But I really have nothing to do today?  I click open my iPhone and check my calendar just to be sure I haven’t scheduled a brunch or hair appointment or something… Nope, nothing.  Hmm, it’s rainy and humid, and definitely not a good beach day. I have a  surprise 30th birthday party to go to later tonight, so let’s bake!

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