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Macarons – The delicate French invention.

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#61 chezcherie

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Posted 11 March 2004 - 12:10 PM

Those look perfectly delicious, but they don't look anything like a French macaron. A macaron should have a smooth, nearly shiny top and a sort of ruffly rim around the outside.

After an exhaustive quest, I have achieved near macaron nirvana in my own kitchen. A visit to Bay Bread in SF prompted me to buy chef/owner Pascal Rigo's book The American Boulangerie. The Macarons de Paris recipe is relatively simple, and produced not only the frilly edges, but the shiny, smooth tops and the crackle-sinking-in-of-teeth qualities I miss from my favorite macaron-erie in Paris. Did a batch of hazelnut---divine! Another batch of raspberry---swoon. Both disappeared before a photo could be snapped, but I will try to have camera in hand when the next batch (and there will be many---I must try my hand at all flavors!) emerges from the oven. This recipe alone is reason to buy the book, but the croque monsieur is killah! Can't wait to cook my way through this book! Eureka!
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#62 ludja

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Posted 11 March 2004 - 10:20 PM

Wow chezcherie; those look great! Thanks for sharing and good endorsement for the book too, I'll definately check it out!

For the hazelnut ones are there hazelnuts in the cookie or just in the filling?

Please keep us posted on other flavors you try for cookies and fillings. :smile:
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#63 chezcherie

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 08:45 AM

Wow chezcherie; those look great!  Thanks for sharing and good endorsement for the book too, I'll definately check it out!

For the hazelnut ones are there hazelnuts in the cookie or just in the filling? 

Please keep us posted on other flavors you try for cookies and fillings.  :smile:

thanks, ludja. i'm ridiculously pleased with the result, as i have been trying to get a good result for years...this is by far the closest i've gotten.
funny you should ask about the hazelnut ones, because i believe the book contains an error on that flavor variation. it states " in step 1, substitute 1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely ground, toasted hazelnuts for the ground almonds." (then goes on to enhance a standard buttercream with hazelnuts for filling.) BUT the master recipe calls for 4 ounces of almonds...i'm no chemist, but even i recognize that that's (forgive me) a recipe for disaster. i went half and half (almonds and hazelnuts) and they worked well.
the coffee ones were great--filled some with espresso buttercream, and some with ganache....dreamy. i have a great batch of lemon curd (made from my lemon tree, and my own chickens' eggs...how could it not rock?!) that needs to be gently sandwiched between a lemon variation (oddly not included in the eight variations listed in the recipe). so the weekend will certainly include a batch of those!
one of the great things about the recipe (besides the fact that it works..) is that it is sooo easy to split a batch and make a couple flavors, which i always think loks nice. i am spoiled (and inspired) by my favorite macaron-erie in paris, where a display of at least a dozen gorgeous flavors are always on offer. in fact, i have a bakery box from laduree (brought fresh pastries home for the famly in it from my most recent trip), and i have a little fantasy of filling it with an array of my macs! cassis! lemon! pistachio! and how spring-like would those be?
excuse me--gotta go grab the pastry bag!
"Laughter is brightest where food is best."
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#64 nightscotsman

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 09:35 AM

Those are some nice lookin' cookies ya got there, chezcherie. :smile: The "feet" (which is what the frilly bottom edges are called) look especially good.

If you want to do a lemon variation, you should know that most patisseries don't actually flavor the cookie part with lemon. They just use a bit of yellow color and the lemon curd filling is so powerful that is makes the whole cookie tast like lemon. Same for many other fruit flavors like raspberry.

#65 chezcherie

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 09:46 AM

Those are some nice lookin' cookies ya got there, chezcherie. :smile: The "feet" (which is what the frilly bottom edges are called) look especially good.

If you want to do a lemon variation, you should know that most patisseries don't actually flavor the cookie part with lemon. They just use a bit of yellow color and the lemon curd filling is so powerful that is makes the whole cookie tast like lemon. Same for many other fruit flavors like raspberry.

okay. first i get some good mac results.
then, i manage (no small matter for tech-challenged moi) to get those photos onto the eG site. (still not sure how that happened...)
and then-
nightscotsman compliments my feet.
if i print that out, will you autograph it? :wub:
inspired by your gorgeous macarons, i re-launched the quest, which i had abandoned in frustration. especially after dorie greenspan (whose book paris sweets i purchased in hopes of unlocking mac secrets) dashed my hopes by saying that proper macs really couldn't be made at home.
thanks for the tip on the lemon macs--would a bit of zest be amiss? and, moreover, thanks for the kind words....now working on the smoooooth tops...my piping focus last time was on size consistency.
"Laughter is brightest where food is best."
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#66 ludja

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 10:08 AM

quote from chezcherie:

thanks, ludja--just came over here to rave (espresso and chocolate with fleur de sel macs baking right now--just to see if the magic holds...) about this book, and i see that you have helped me spread the word. financiers are next!


I've heard people fleur de sel macs (and also on Laduree's and Herme's web sites)--in what part of the dessert is it incorporated? (buttercream?, sprinkled on top?)

I'm really intrigued by the ones that mention caramel fleur-de-sel; again wonder how that is put together re: flavorings in cookie vs in buttercream...
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#67 chezcherie

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 10:43 AM

i have had bittersweet choc ones with fds sprinkled on top. i did that on a couple yesterday, with good results. wasn't sure whether the tiny sprinkle would melt in the baking process, but it did not. (also, the macs are too dry on top when baked to sprinkle it after baking.)
the caramel ones, i think, have the fds in the caramel. i do so love a slightly salty caramel, and while you lose the texture when you use the pricey salt in the caramel, it doesn't take much. i suppose you could garnish with a few grains on top of the cookie, as a visual clue?
not macaron-related, but on the subject of fleur de sel. i recently had the opportunity to taste some artisanal chocolates (lucky me!)--i think they were fran's (seattle)? there were several types that incorporated different salts, including one with smoked salt (be still, my heart!), and i knew i was in for a treat when the fellow who was talking them up (and giving the samples) suggested that i put the caramel in my mouth upside-down, to better appreciate the salt on my tongue....yeah! oooooh yeah.
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#68 ludja

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 11:59 AM

Thanks for the speedy info chezcherie.

Not too barrage you or others with questions but I have another one if you or someone knows... :smile:

How is the caramel incorporated into the mac? Added to the buttercream, used instead of buttercream? Is the cookie plain almond?

Mille grazie...

The chocolate tasting sounds incredible too.
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#69 chezcherie

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 08:43 AM

Ludja-- according to my new guide for living (American Boulangerie), caramel is used in place of buttercream for filling. Rigo suggests (somewhat oddly, I thought) to add a pinch of chopped hazelnuts on top of the piped macarons before baking, for the caramel ones. Not sure whether that is to enhance caramel flavor, or as a "marker" to distinguish what flavor it is, like the chocolate squiggles on the sampler chocolates?
"Laughter is brightest where food is best."
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Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

#70 tsquare

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Posted 19 March 2004 - 06:35 PM

Here you'll find some delicious macaroons,pure ,with lemon,with pistachio nut,and others----
Really very good!
This shop is one of my favorites!
I think that the macarroons are back in style

And here in Seattle, you can stroll in the Pike Place Market to "Le Panier, Very French Bakery" and buy chocolate, mocha, vanilla, or pistachio macaroons. Lovely.

#71 ludja

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 11:01 AM

I finally dove in and made macarons at home. :smile: I used a recipe from Healy's The French Cookie Book (egullet-amazon link) for lemon gerbet macarons.

They came out pretty well! Tops were smooth with few cracks and the insides nice and soft--got a few ruffled sides but not as much as I'd like. Anyone have hints to improve the ruffling?

The cookies seems to come out better when I piped them small, about 1 inch diameter. I followed the recipe pretty close to the letter but used parchment paper rather than plain newsprint. Although I was initially intimidated by the steaming method for removing the cookies; I used it with success.

I made and filled them the day before serving, storing in the fridge in a sealed tin. The filling was a little different than the few I've tasted at bakeries; beside butter, sugar, lemon and lemon juice there are also ground almonds. I brought them to a party where they were well received---even by a Frenchman who declared (probably to be nice...) that they were very good. He was pretty surprised that I made them at home.

Thanks for everyones suggestions and comments on this thread!

and chezcherie, I still plan on buying Rigo and Moore's American Boulangerie. (egullet-amazon link) Thanks again for the tip!

Edited by ludja, 22 March 2004 - 11:18 AM.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#72 nafnaf

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 04:27 PM

Has anyone successfully made gerbets or the larger size macarons/oons using liquid or dried egg white instead of fresh eggs? Heresy, I know, but if Laduree makes 5000 a day, do his chefs break 15,000 eggs? Maybe not.

Or used commercial almond flour?

Hey, je vous remercie beaucoup.

#73 tchorst

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 05:24 PM

I could see using wholesale egg whites, by the container full. However, I'd like to imagine some young apprentice spending day after day cracking huge amounts of eggs under the guise of learning. :shock:

I use commercial almond flour pretty much exclusively. I go through too much to make my own. Nice products as long as they are stored properly.

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#74 halland

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 05:35 PM

Is that how you get such finely ground almonds? I just cant grind them fine enough in my food processor for my tastes.

Hal

#75 nightscotsman

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 05:45 PM

Is that how you get such finely ground almonds? I just cant grind them fine enough in my food processor for my tastes.

Hal

Exactly. "Special Machines" and all that, you know.

#76 pastrymama

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 07:16 PM

you can grind them very fine in a coffee/spice grinder. I use one at home that holds about 1/2 cup and it grinds the almonds as fine as the almond flour I use at work. The grinders are usually less than $20.00 at any place like Wal Mart.
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#77 Steve Klc

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Posted 26 March 2004 - 05:53 AM

Commercial almond flour cannot be duplicated at home--you might be able to duplicate the fine particle size (though I have not been able to myself--you need special commercial equipment to grind almonds as finely and evenly) but you cannot duplicate pressing the almond oil out of the almonds, as almond "flour" usually has been pressed. This matters in some applications, less so in others.
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#78 nafnaf

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Posted 26 March 2004 - 09:10 AM

Merci a tous,

If the almonds are pressed in almond flour, doesn't that subtract from the flavor of the macaroon? Using the Herme recipe that interests so many (including me), how much flour? Would less sugar be necessary?

Has anyone actually used commercial egg whites for fancy-schmancy type baking? I have heard that dried egg white powder produces rubbery results, but maybe liquid egg whites in bulk are OK. Some have additives for stiffer mixing (so you don't have to leave it out for a few days.) I really have trouble believing that bakeries break hundreds of eggs.

Thangya, thangya verra much.

#79 nafnaf

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 12:53 PM

They are gorgeous. They're full-sized macarons (not gerbets), right? Please, how can I find Lousisa's thread?

Some one mentioned pre-heating the batter slightly. Anyone know about that?

And --- If Herme sprays the inside of the macaron with syrup for some flavors, does he do it for the chocolate?

#80 ComeUndone

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 01:07 PM

The recipe was written for full size macarons but I made mine gerbets. I found that smaller rounds are easier to pipe. Since my piping skill is far from spectacular, I used a template underneath the parchment paper so I can get all the rounds about the same size. Using a small round cookie cutter, I penciled in as many circles as needed onto a piece of parchment paper. This served as the template. Just slip the template under another piece of parchment before you pipe.

I didn't preheat the batter. Rather, I warmed the egg whites to room temperature using a bain marie before whipping.

Hope this helps.
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#81 nafnaf

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 03:00 PM

I didn't preheat the batter. Rather, I warmed the egg whites to room temperature using a bain marie before whipping.

Hope this helps.

It does. Thank you.

Did you use fresh egg whites or did you keep them in the fridge for hours/days first? Whatever you did, it was exactly right.

Have you ever used Eggology liquid egg whites?

Are the full-sized macarons supposed to be as glossy as the gerbets? Mine are not. I wonder if Herme's are. I've seen pictures of full-sized ones made according to his recipe by other people but they were not smooth. Has anybody succeeded in making glossy full-size macarons? Maybe they ain't meant to be glossy.

#82 ComeUndone

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 04:50 PM

The egg whites had been sitting in an airtight container in the fridge for at least a week. Wasn't intentional....I didn't have the time to work on the macarons until then. I think the whole idea of using old egg whites at room temperature is because they whip up the most volume. I have read elsewhere that sometimes meringue powder is added to the egg whites in order to strengthen the mixture without adding extra liquid.

I did not experiment with liquid egg whites.

The glossy surface is the result of drying the piped mixture until a skin is formed on the surface. Similar to royal icing (meringue and icing sugar), the macaron will dry to form a smooth surface when left at room temperature. The time it takes for the skin to form depends on the humidity, the viscosity of the mixture (i.e. how dry is your mixture), and the size of the macarons. Naturally, gerbets macarons take less time to dry than full size. Perhaps your full size macarons need more time to dry before going into the oven?
Candy Wong
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Want to know more? Read all about me in my blog.

#83 nafnaf

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 03:10 AM

I added more dried egg whites and less fresh, that made a huge difference in my piping consistancy

Did the egg white powder you used have stabilizers added (like meringue powder) or was it just egg whites? Do you remember what brand you used? Henningsen only sells dried egg white in 50-pound bags, which yields (if you're adding about 10%, the rest being real egg whites) about 3 tank cars full of product. It would be good to know where you can buy smaller amounts.

#84 nightscotsman

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 05:54 AM

The egg whites had been sitting in an airtight container in the fridge for at least a week. Wasn't intentional....I didn't have the time to work on the macarons until then. I think the whole idea of using old egg whites at room temperature is because they whip up the most volume. I have read elsewhere that sometimes meringue powder is added to the egg whites in order to strengthen the mixture without adding extra liquid.

Actually, when recipes for macarons refer to "old" egg whites, they mean whites that have been left to sit uncovered (very important) at room temperature for about 24 hours. This causes some of the water to evaporate so you basically get "concentrated" egg whites - something that will never happen if they are covered in the fridge. This will give you a much more stable foam when you whip them. And yes, it is completely safe to leave them at room temp as long as they are not covered. If you left then uncovered in the fridge they would pick up nasty odors and tastes.

You can also add pure egg white powder (not meringue power, which contains sugar and other stuff) to help strengthen the whites. I think Herme actually recommends a mixture of fresh whites, old whites, and powder in his professional recipe.

#85 nafnaf

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 11:25 AM

I think Herme actually recommends a mixture of fresh whites, old whites, and powder in his professional recipe.


Yes, I have seen Herme macaron recipes on eG and elsewhere but never the recipe that contains the actual proportion of fresh, old, and powder that Herme uses. It may be fairly important for his consistent successs in making 5000 a day, eliminating a good deal of trial and error. Does anybody actually know that proportion?

Your info is always valuable, Nightscotsman.

#86 McDuff

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 11:47 AM

the recipe from The Patisserie of Pierre Herme is


560 g peeled Marcona almonds
960 g non starch confectioner's sugar

400 g beaten egg whites
1 g powdered egg white

1/3 of the whites should be fresh, 2/3 old.

Grind the nuts and sugar. Beat the whites with the powdered egg white till stiff. Mix all together with the whisk. Stir to deflate and pipe and bake.

There is no mention of drying the macaroons before baking, a specificity he must feel the merely mortal can get along without.

#87 Scotty O

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 12:27 PM

What is the best way to grind the nuts without ending up with almond butter? Would having the sugar in the mix during grinding help keep things dry, or should you start the nuts until they are sandy and then add the sugar and contiue until its nice and fine?

#88 ludja

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 02:10 PM

This is amateur advice--but I grind the nuts with some of the sugar. Also, as per in Healy and Bugat's book, I grind until relatively fine using pulse mode; then sift through sieve to capture larger pieces. Then, regrind the pieces retained by sieve with some more sugar. Doing this in two steps yields finer, more uniform powder; not oily--and the macarons came out well. (Also, when I blanch my own almonds I wait an extra day to make sure they are nice and dry).

I actually had trouble the second time I made macarons using pre-ground almond meal--almonds were not blanched. I changed a few other parameters though and I haven't isolated the problem yet.
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#89 nightscotsman

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 02:20 PM

Another way to get really fine ground almonds at home is to put them through the grating disk in the food processor before processing with the steel blade. Or even better, use a Microplane rotary grater - time consuming and a real pain, but you get almond flour that's even finer than most commercial sources (though the almonds won't have the oil pressed out as Steve mentioned before).

#90 FoodMan

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 02:28 PM

Tami ground almonds then weigh and add to large bowl. Sift powdered sugar then add, whisk to uniform then turn to papered plaque. Mount whites, add sugar and seal. Add red food colouring to pale raspberry pink and whisk uniform. Have partner fold paper lengthwise then gradually add almonds and powdered sugar to whites while folding well with spatula. Have partner turn paper over and magnet corners. Seal and work to fluid and shiny. Scraper sides down then over. Pipe from top, about 3 cm, sealing point to side, staggered rows. Bake about 15 minutes. Remove plaque from oven and pour some cold water under paper, rest several minutes then metal scraper off carefully, cleaning scraper often, to papered grill, face down. Set aside to dry.



Can someone please translate this for me !!! I am not sure what this means.

ComeUndone's cookies came out so wonderful that I have to try it after the miserable failure of my previous attempt with the Nigella Lawson recipe. However, I honestly do not understand what this paragraph is saying exactly (I am a little slow today).

Thanks
Elie

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