Italian meringue method – French macarons

Undermixed and Overbaked, but look at the feet – - -pretty Feet!

These are the straight, smooth-sided feet I’ve been trying to achieve.

My prior French macaron baking attemps have relied on recipes using the french meringue method of mixing the macarons.  Today, I experimented with the Italian meringue method of mixing the macarons.  I followed this recipe from the King Arthur Flour blog.

The process, as written in the blog, was easy to follow.  It seems that this type meringue method can handle more folding of the batter.  I should have mixed the batter a little longer, as is evident by the peaks on the top of the macaron shells.

The bottom of the feet are a little too brown.

I filled these with Nutella and set them for a cool overnight rest in the refrigerator.

These were delicious with great texture and taste!  I’ll work on ‘pretty’ next.

macaron #12

pounds of brownies

I received a gift today…

The green/gold ribbon, brown window box, green tissue paper packaging was a visual treat.  I just knew there would be something really good inside the box.  (Yes, was—I’ve now ripped that pretty box open like a child on Christmas morning.)  And, what did I behold….but 16…

…16 deep, rich, luscious, c h o c o l a t e brownies.  Huge brownies!

ohhhhhhhhh….

more – - -

This box of 16 – 2″ square, super thick brownies are baked and decoratively boxed by a local baker in Memphis, TN.  Visit their web site HERE (www.zestofmemphis.com)

Up close

Santa watched while I tasted.

peanut brittle

gingerbread men guarding the peanut brittle
This is NOT what should happen!  I failed to stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and salt . And I probably microwaved the ingredients too long (KNOW the wattage of your microwave; a few extra seconds can burn the sugar!)

regroup; changed bowls to a thicker, pottery bowl and began again

pretty…

 delicious, crunchy but not too hard

This recipe is from “Southern Living Ultimate Christmas Cookbook,” sold at Dillards (proceeds go to Ronald McDonald House).  This is a beautiful book, and well worth the $10 that went to a very worthy cause.

cheese cracker men

looking for Rudolph
happy little guys

smiling into the afternoon sun

Thank you, Susan, for sharing the recipe.  Recipe adapted from ‘Savoring Time in the Kitchen.’
Gingerbread (cheese) Man cutter is available at Williams Sonoma.
1/2 c butter
1/2 t salt
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 t. baking powder
2 T water
Mix all ingredients together.  (I’ll add a little paprika next time.)  Wrap in Saran and refrigerate for a while; I refrigerated 3 days, baking small portions each day.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll dough to 1/8″ thick.  Cut into squares, cut with cookie cutters, or cut with a small glass or can.
These will puff a little in the oven, but they don’t spread.  Mine baked 13 – 15 minutes.  They are best just out of the oven when they are most crunchy; however, they remain quite tasty a couple of days later.  And, the house smells wonderful while these are baking.

green French Macarons filled with butter nut brittle buttercream

These macarons were colored using powdered food coloring from LorAnn Oils.
I pulverized a few pieces of butter nut brittle in a small coffee grinder and stirred the powder into buttercream.  I was very pleased with the flavor.
The pink French macaron is from here.  I filled the pink macarons with crushed peppermint candy canes stirred into buttercream.
Continuing to use this recipe for the macaron shells.
macaron #10

Candy Brittle inspired by Anne Thornton

Anne Thornton hosted a few episodes of “Dessert First” on the Food Network.  Her Twitter (@Anne_Thornton) posts say she will be back in the spring.  That’s great news since she makes the most amazing dessssseeerrrtttssss!

After baking Christmas Almond Cakes with my friend V, we boiled some sugar syrup and made Anne’s candy brittle.  The process was quite simple, especially since her husband M let us use his space age, infrared, red laser thermometer to check the sugar syrup temperature.

We used the infrared thermometer to check the accuracy of the bulb thermometer; both read surprisingly close to the same temperature.

strings of sugar

candy ice, poured onto aluminum foil, studded with hard candies, and allowed to cool

my friend V, quite pleased with our project (isn’t her HO HO HO apron so cute!)
Making the candy ice was FUN. We broke the candy and looked at it from all angles and under different light.  This is a happy candy and one can’t help but smile when looking at the festive shards.

Christmas red French Macarons

macaron #9

Just when I think I can relax while mixing the macaron batter, I ruined these pretty Christmas red macarons.  While adding an excessive amount of food coloring gel, I achieved the color, but ruined the shells.  Some of the shells puffed up and then fell off to the side while baking.  Some of the feet squished out beyond the edge of the macaron shell.

In addition to the gel food coloring problem, I only had 84 grams of aged egg whites; they evaporated more than expected.  So, I added vanilla flavoring to compensate for the missing egg whites.  That Did Not work.  Such lessons we continue to learn….

One of my favorite Santa’s overseeing my Christmas baking.  I needed a little of his magic to help these poor examples of the delicate French Macaron.

You might think this doesn’t look bad – that this is acceptable.  Notice there is only one in the picture—that’s because most of the others slid off their feet like snow sliding off a roof.

What did I learn?
I’ll only use the coloring gel if I want a very light color, thereby using only a little of the gel on the tip of a toothpick.
I’ll keep trying until I get this right!
I’ve ordered the powdered food coloring; it’s in the cabinet waiting for its debut in a macaron.
If the recipe requires 90 grams of egg whites, be sure to have 90 grams of egg whites.

Viking Candy Class

It’s December.  Everyone loves candy!  Everyone wants to make candy (…well, those of us who love to cook), and that’s what we did during the Viking candy class.

Our instructor was patient while answering our numerous questions, kept us all safe from the cooking perils of hot sugar, and sent us home bearing boxes filled with candy goodness.

instructions related to candy thermometers

Kerrygold butter is very yellow and very tasty.  This was the beginning of ‘white chocolate cherry fudge.’  We made the fudge using Callebaut white chocolate, marshmallow cream, dried cherries, and the hot sugar mixture below.  Later we added sour cream to the fudge mixture to promote ‘creaminess.’

The white fudge must rest in the refrigerator several hours prior to cutting; however, our well prepared instructor had pans of fudge cooling and waiting to be added to our candy boxes.

another hot sugar mixture boiling away to make ‘Butter Nut Brittle’

coating hot toasted nuts with Kerrygold butter

stirring the hot toasted buttered nuts into the sugar mixture

cooking the sugar to different temperatures yields nut brittle colors from golden to dark golden

cooled nut brittle, cracked and ready for tasting

Thermometers were quite the topic of discussion during the class.  Properly calibrated thermometers are extremely important when working with hot sugar.

digital thermometer

notice two thermometers in the pan of hot sugar syrup

pounding the peppermint

tempering chocolate – heat the chocolate / cool the chocolate / heat the chocolate again
and—-stir, stir, stir

The heating and cooling and heating and stirring resulted in ‘Double Chocolate Peppermint Bark’ that was shiny and broke with a wonderful tempered chocolate ‘pop’ sound.

pecans waiting to be enrobed and become ‘Caramel Pecan Clusters,’ or more commonly called Turtles

add the caramel layer

add the chocolate layer

beginning to box all the goodies

my great team

The Viking classes are fun and informative.  If you have the opportunity to participate in a class, I encourage you to take the opportunity.  Click here to view upcoming Viking classes.
Thanks, Viking, for offering this class. 
(photos above taken using iPhone)
butter nut brittle:
double chocolate peppermint bark; isn’t it pretty