February 14th, 2009

When your husband makes this for dinner:

You can’t just show up with frozen pound cake. So I attempted parisian macaroons using Martha Stewart’s recipe (and incidentally, not the one I posted previously). Oh brother, those French are neurotic in a way that I can appreciate. What follows is what I learned, not necessarily what is pictured. You’ll understand when you start reading.

The making of macaroons can be broken into 3 phases –
1. Preparing the almond meal (1.25 cups whole almonds yields 1 cup almond meal)
I’ve seen almond meal and almond flour for sale, but I couldn’t find it today, and my husband encouraged me to use the less expensive whole, raw almonds we had at the house, so I made it the old fashioned way. Bring a pot of water to boil then drop in the almonds. Let them cook until their skins peel away from the nut. Remove from water and drain. Skin the almonds – watch out, they are slippery suckers! Throw the blanched almonds in a cuisinart or grinder and pulse until the meal is very fine. I ground mine to cornmeal consistency.

2. Making the macaroons
Use the recipe provided on Martha’s website. Absolutely use parchment paper, not a silpat or just a greased pan. I can’t speak for the nightmare in store for you if you use a greased pan, but I had to creatively cut my cookies off the silpat and ended up eating most of them whereas those I cooked on parchment came out perfectly. In any case, my cookies took about 20 minutes (not 15 as described in Martha’s recipe), and I left the door closed. At 15, the chewy center stuck completely to the silpat or parchment; at 18-20, they were still chewy, but they were perfectly crisp on the outside.

Piping the cookies is relatively easy. If you are using parchment, you might draw a handful of guide circles by tracing the lip of a cup so you make your cookies uniform in size. Also, smooth the peaks with the backside of a spoon as they won’t smooth themselves.
(Parchment cookies are pictured. Notice mine aren’t uniform in size. They will be in my stomach, though.)

4. Filling
These suckers are sweet, so I liked the less sweet fillings – green tea, fresh raspberries, and espresso. Though, it being Valentines day, I made a batch with almond paste filling for my sweetie. With all the fillings, I simply mixed the filling mixture described by Martha into a bowl of the flavor. I used ~1 teaspoon of powdered green tea, 1 pint of raspberries, and 1 tbs gourmet instant espresso, respectively.

Martha suggests letting the cookies cool for 2 hours before filling. It was a chilly, rainy day so I waited long enough to prepare the filling. Because of the humidity, my cookies began to get sticky as soon as I’d finished filling them, so I threw a batch in the fridge and one in the freezer. The frozen cookies maintained the crunch and chew, and were remarkably easier to handle when it came time to indulge. The refrigerated cookies were a tad stickier and ultimately drier, I imagine, but mine didn’t stick around long enough to test this.

The child in our house that doesn’t suck down raw salmon like candy ate this: