Saturday, December 6, 2008
I generally don't like trends. I try to avoid trendy clothes, trendy furniture, trendy decor. The problem with trends is that most of the time we move on, we change our tastes and our perspective. And then those items that were so in, all of a sudden so aren't. So I am of a mindset that everything in my life should be timeless. And so far, through that, I've been able to avoid a variety of embarrassing moments, from not having a bad high school yearbook photo to not regretting the color on my walls.
However, there are some cooking trends that I have fallen victim to. It all started with no knead bread. Like most trends, I was so reluctant to jump on the bandwagon that I made my version long after it was the talk of the blogosphere. But when I did....ohhhh...heavenly! So this was what everyone was talking about! So once again, although I'm behind the times, I decided to give trendy food a shot. I bit the bullet and made macarons with all my extra egg whites from last week's pumpkin pie and tiramisu. And you know what, they really are pretty cool. I was amazed at how easy it was to replicate flavors in the egg white medium. And with a little practice and adjusting, they really aren't that difficult.
Sometimes trends are destined to be classics. The macaron has a timeless appeal because of the dizzying array of flavors that are possible. I'm proud to say I'm no longer a macaron virgin! And I'm confident that this will not be my last batch!
For my initiation into the world of macarons, I relied on THE macaron reference, an article published in Desserts magazine by Helen of Tartlette. Although it was immensely helpful, I did have some minor problems to work through. The biggest one was that my cookies were not cooking all the way through at the time and temperature she provided. But with some minor adjustments, they really came together.
Since I was already being so trendy, I wanted to go with some very classic holiday flavors. Eggnog and nutella macarons were the perfect dessert to top off our friends' annual wine and cheese bash.
Eggnog & Nutella Macarons Modified from Tartlette- invest in a scale - it's important to do this by weight!
100 g egg whites (about 3)
55 g hazelnuts
55 g almonds
200 g powdered sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla powder
50 g sugar
The day before you want to make the macarons, set the egg whites out to age in a covered dish in a cool corner of the kitchen.
The next day, pulse nuts, powdered sugar and vanilla powder together in a food processor until thoroughly ground to a powder (about 2 minutes of pulsing). Sift into a medium sized bowl and set aside.
Whip the egg whites on medium high speed in a stand mixer. When meringue reaches soft peak stage, add sugar gradually while mixing. Whip until firm peaks or reached, or until you can hold the bowl upside down without anything coming out.
Use a rubber spatula to fold in the dry ingredients, scraping up from the bottom and turning it over the top. Stop after the first three folds. Split into 2 different bowls.
For Eggnog Macarons: add 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
For Nutella Macarons: add 1 1/2 Tbsp high quality cocoa powder
After adding the flavorings, continue to fold until mixture gets shiny, dry ingredients are all incorporated, and batter drops in thick ribbons and flattens itself out without any poking or prodding.
Empty into a pastry bag or ziploc bag with a hole cut in the end. You can use a pastry tip that's 1/2 to 3/4 inches wide. I just use the pastry bag as is, since the opening on mine is just about that size.
Line 2 baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper. Pipe the batter in 1 1/2 inch diameter circles on the prepared pan. Let sit for 30-60 minutes so that they can develop a skin. In the meantime, preheat oven to 335 degrees F. (I know - it's a weird temp, but it was the only one that worked for me)
Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until you can touch the "feet" of a macaron and it is firm, not mushy. Let cool 10 minutes on pans, then remove to a cooling rack. (If they're cooked all the way, they shouldn't stick.) Let cool completely before filling.
For Nutella macarons: fill with nutella! Couldn't be simpler!
For Eggnog Macaroons : Eggnog Ganache
1/3 cup eggnog
1 1/4 cup Green & Black's white chocolate, broken into little pieces
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Heat the eggnog until it is just below a simmer. Pour over the chocolate and stir to melt. Add nutmeg and stir until ganache is smooth. Let sit until cool and just barely spreadable. Fill eggnog macarons with a thin layer and sandwich them together.