good afternoon! sam and i rushed back from portland yesterday morning, and i went straight from the airport to work. . . it always sounds like such a great idea to save $50 and get an extra night with your friends when you're buying the plane tickets, but i'll tell you, waking up at 4 am after a late-night sushi party is ROUGH. and working through it is rougher. i spent yesterday in major zombie mode.
before we left for portland, i made a batch of extra-large macarons. when i was in school, we were taught to make them about the size of a quarter - petit four size - and it has been a really hard habit to break, maybe because you get so darn many out of a batch and they're so tiny and cute that way. i decided it'd be easier to travel with extra large macs rather than a box full of delicate little guys, so i made them about three times their usual size, and i will never go back.
raspberry vanilla macarons with dark chocolate ganache
100 g aged egg whites, preferably at room temperature
28 g sugar
5 g egg white powder
1 t bakto vanilla ground vanilla beans (or vanilla bean paste, or just plain vanilla if that's what you have on hand)
1/2 t bakto raspberry extract
a few drops of deep red food coloring
120 g almond flour
200 g powdered sugar
200 g dark chocolate
about 3/8 cup (or 6 T, or 1/4 cup plus 2 T. it's a clumsy amount.) heavy cream
as always, get everything measured out and a nice big space cleared. i like to go ahead and prep 3 baking pans by trimming parchment to fit them and securing them down with butter before i start, and get a piping bag ready with a tip about the size of a pencil eraser.
sift together the almond flour and sugar and set aside. now combine the sugar and egg white powder. using a handmixer, whip the egg whites until they are foamy and no longer yellow; slowly add the sugar mixture and beat until you have a nice meringue, with peaks that will still droop a touch. before you're finished, add the extracts and color and mix until they're evenly combined. the egg white powder does a good job of preventing an over-mix, but you want to make sure not to under beat it, too - it should be nice and shiny.
at this point, shake off the beaters and grab a good, flexible rubber spatula. grab the sieve you used to sift together the flour & powdered sugar, and add the flour/sugar mixture to the meringue in five additions, sifting it through the sieve again each time to evenly distribute it. gently fold the flour each time until you don't see streaks anymore.
all right! pour all this into your eagerly awaiting piping bag; i usually fit mine over a quart container, twisting the tip, so i can pour it in there with both hands and get every bit out of the bowl.
move to your trays. the trick we were taught in school was to count as your piping, a quick "one-two-three," so that they all turn out the same size; err on the size of giving yourself too much space between cookies, because they'll spread a bit after being piped and even a bit more when baking. after you pipe a sheet, tap them once, hard, on the table to release air bubbles.
then just let 'em sit. while this is happening, turn your oven to just under 300; i'd definitely get a thermometer, if you don't have one already, as my busted old brooklyn oven actually burns at 375 when i have it set to 300, so i have to watch it and adjust accordingly.
let them rest, preferably not somewhere super hot or humid, until they develop a skin, and you can poke them gently without the batter coming off on your finger. pop them in your preheated oven and set a timer for six minutes, then rotate them and bake for six more - this is perfect for my oven, but yours might need a bit more or less time, so watch for them to start to barely turn light brown on their feet and take them out then.
let them cool entirely before peeling them off the parchment; you can refrigerate or freeze the shells if you don't want to fill them immediately, otherwise melt 2/3 of the chocolate with the cream over low heat on the oven, and mix in the rest of the cold, chopped chocolate after it's all melted. this should give you a good consistency for piping; pipe a dollop onto one sandwich, match it with a mate, and voila. these things only get better with a day or two in the fridge, so don't be afraid to make them ahead of time.
i know i've done macarons to death, but i continue to be delighted with them; as a pastry chef with a seriously stunted sweet tooth, i never tire of the mix of textures and the fact that you can make any flavor combination under the sun with these things. the raspberry flavor in this is as good, or better, than when i've tried pulverizing dried raspberries to use - i highly recommend all the flavors bakto offers. the woman behind the company is a scientist really does an incredible job of extracting the most natural tasting flavors. give 'em a try.
that's all from me for today. we had such a fantastic time up in maine and have lots to show for it, as soon as i've rested up and gotten my act together a bit.
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