My mother-in-law sent me a macaron-making kit from a company called Dana’s Bakery. The companion video at www.danasbakery.com/macaron-kit includes a few tricks I haven’t seen before. Apart from the fact that the eponymous Dana, in her video, keeps calling them “macaroons”, how does it go? (read on …)
At some point, I will go back to making macarons, but before I do, I’d like to try something easier: xiao long bao, also known as Shanghai soup dumplings. It’s very simple: you roll out a perfectly round, delicate dumpling wrapper and fill it with a ground pork that has been mixed with a gelatinized broth so that, when you steam it, the gelatin melts and you have a pork meatball nestled in a hot spoonful of soup, all held inside a tender-yet-firm wrapper that you bite to slurp out the soup before popping the rest of it into your mouth.
I’m kidding, of course: they are a total nightmare to make. Continue reading
(From last Friday:) I’m trying to cut back on sugar and cholesterol, but I’m bored today, so I’m making macarons: after all, I don’t have to eat them all. I can just make them, sample just one for the final report, and then give the rest away on Monday.
Just eat one and give the rest away. No problem.
Today’s attempt comes from Les Petits Macarons: Colorful French Confections to Make at Home by Kathryn Gordon and Anne E. McBride. I’ve used this book in the past without success, but given my track record, I doubt that will make any difference. Les Petits Macarons is a good book with lots of wonderful recipes, but I made the mistake of buying it for my Kindle; and when you have to keep waking up and unlocking your iPad to figure out what to do next, and then you can’t just flip to the right page, it becomes a problem.
The recipe for chocolate macarons calls for 115 g of egg white, which is more egg white than I usually use in my recipes. If nothing else, the shells will be a lighter than ones I’ve made in the past. Specifically, the ingredients are:
- 145 g almond flour
- 145 g confectioner’s sugar
- 25 g Dutch-processed cocoa
- 115 g egg whites
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 150 g granulated sugar
- ¼ cup of water
I didn’t age the egg whites, so I am making these with the Italian method. For the filling, I’m making a simple dark chocolate and rum ganache (1 cup of heavy cream, 8 ounces of chocolate, plus a tablespoon of unsalted butter and a tablespoon of golden rum).
I put all the ingredients together, and the results are tasty – it’s rum and dark chocolate, after all – but the shells are flat and footless, and so the win goes to the meringue. I cannot find the right philosophical reference to explain it, but I say that I am making macarons; the things I make contain all and only the ingredients one finds in macarons; these things are prepared with the equipment and the processes that are used for making macarons; and yet, they are never macarons themselves. They are not even simulacra of macarons. I think it is time to quit the macaron business until I take baking lessons.
I was looking back at some early posts on this blog, and I realized that some of my first attempts were far closer to the mark than the later ones. Attempt no. 2, for example – the shells have little proto-feet! I am going to try these again, particularly now that I know what “molten lava/ribbon-like texture” looks like.
My technique, however, clearly was not the problem. There is a Greek macaron shop on Athinas Street, Makaron Lonis, just up from Monastiraki Square and their macarons don’t have feet. So this is what I have been up against. I should have been studying French philosophy all along. Unfortunately, given my track record on macarons, I think I have to start with the Existentialists, and specifically, Jean Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. (read on …)