Monday, December 29, 2008

Macarons investigation

I successfully ignored these cookies that I saw popping up in so many blogs for a long time because I was avoiding eggs. But I found myself with a dozen and thought I would give Tartlette's gingerbread macarons a try.

I foolishly did sooooo many things "wrong" but they came out great. Then the second time, I followed the recipe to a T and they came out a bit flat, the skin was wrinkled and they seemed too moist.

So the things I thought I did wrong the first time:
1. Left the egg whites out for 3 days! Hey it was Christmas and I was busy.
2. Beat in the powdered sugar along with the granulated for the meringue instead of folding it in with the ground almonds at the end.
3. Used less powdered sugar than called for. Probably only used 1.3 cups.

I piped one sheet of shells by piping in a circular motion. These turned out cracked on top. I piped a second sheet by holding the tip in one place and just squeezing out the batter so that it spread out into a circle on it's own. These turned out wonderfully, no cracking, smooth shell. I let them sit for an hour and a half and then baked at 280 for 20 mins. These macaron shells turned out very white with nice sturdy skins and very delineated feet. They popped off the parchment with no sticking whatsoever. The cookies were delicious the second day. The shell was airy and almost crunchy with a chewy center (of sweetened butter.... mmm.. butter).

The things I probably did wrong the second time:
1. Left the powdered sugar unsifted when I folded it in. This made lumps in the shells.
2. Maybe I didn't beat the meringue enough?

I also let these sit for 1.5 hours then baked at 280 for 20 mins. These macaron shells were brown looking instead of the nice smooth white of the last batch and they felt overly moist. They plumped nicely in the oven with a good amount of feet but then started to fall during the last two minutes resulting in a wrinkled skin. They stuck to the parchment a lot. I felt like they were too sticky - maybe too much powdered sugar and not enough sifting?

The recipe from trial 1:

3 egg whites (let sit out 3 days in fridge, back of car, cooler, then fridge)
2 T + 1 t superfine sugar
~1.5 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
1.3 cups ground almonds (sift, sift, sift)

Beat egg whites till foamy (I supposed that to mean that 75% of the egg whites were foamed but that was a completely arbitrary assumption). Add in both sugars. Here I had panicked and realized my mistake but then I just beat the hell out of it until all the sugars were incorporated and I had a pretty flowy meringue. By "flowy" I mean that it didn't really form peaks but I could drizzle ribbons of it on top that would hold its shape. Then I folded in the ground almonds until a drop of the batter from a spoon would flatten out.

The recipe from trial 2:
3 egg whites (let sit out 1 day on counter)
2 T + 1 t superfine sugar
1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1.3 cups ground almonds

Beat egg whites till foamy. Gradually add in superfine sugar and beat to a meringue. I beat it to a meringue that held a pointy but droopy beak when I lifted the beaters out. Then I dumped in the powdered sugar and ground almonds without sifting (oops) and gave it a swish to incorporate (which it didn't). The I started folding. I probably did 30 turns before stopping.

I haven't really done too much research so I'll have to do more blog hunting and baking to fine tune these cookies. I really loved the first batch and will have to see how to recreate those. For now I'm going to concentrate on using up those yolks.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

And it's a wrap!

I've been home from Buenos Aires for about a month now. I apologize profusely for leaving the blog just hanging after posting so diligently in the city of tango, parillas and dog poop. But I'm home safe and sound and hey, how come none of you asked if I was okay or wrote me to make sure I wasn't kidnapped?! Oh well.

The last entry was a round up of the milongas and practicas I have visited. I was busy my second week in BA going around the city and taking classes from various studios like Tango Brujo and Escuela (can't remember rest of name - it's located in the Borges Cultural Center in a fancy shopping mall). I took some great milonga classes with Eugenia at Escuela. But then I took a class at DNI and that was that. I spent the rest of the week taking classes at DNI and having a great time. DNI is like a beautiful peaceful hippie commune where everybody shares in the chores, the teachers come around during class, the teachers DANCE with you and the students are friendly and want to connect with the other students. I also found the teaching methodology quite nice and enjoyed all the teachers I took classes from. Even though I fear that DNI is too popular already, I assume that hardly anyone will read this so: If you go to BA for tango, take classes at DNI!

Jackie from Tango Pulse flew into BA early in the week and it was a blast working with her in classes, catching up over pasta and lomos and dancing with her. It made me realize that tangoing in BA is lots more fun with a group. The final night before leaving, we went to see Tanghetto again. The last day in BA was sad. I ate at an Uruguayan restaurant in Palermo Hollywood for lunch and then found myself at the airport so suddenly. A thunderstorm followed us the whole way north and lightening lit up the dark night. Then back in JFK on a cold rainy day, riding the train, feeling tired and quiet.


Chaj√° (amazing dessert with cake, whipped cream,
meringue and fruit all smooshed together)

Next up we'll return to our regular programming ... ice cream and soufflé.