Saturday, 17 September 2011

macarons or macaroons?

Recipes for macarons keep coming to my attention.  A naturally gluten free food, though one I couldn't buy from a bakery as it would be made in a contaminated environment.  So, why bother learning to make them?  Well, I have a Private View in a few days, and I need bite sized foods that can be made ahead and be enticing.

The first step was to understand the difference between macarons and macaroons.  They both have the same ingredient - meringue and ground almonds.  As I see it, macaroons are the country cousins - simple, unfussy, and whatever size and shape comes naturally.  Macarons are the haute-couture end - total precision, aspects which don't affect taste still matter, and produced in wild colours and a myriad of flavours.

The first macarons I made were not smooth on the top.  However, the mixture that I scraped from the inside of the piping bag and dolloped on the tray did have that smooth shiny surface and the slightly bubbly looking 'foot'.  Reading a few more recipes and I have decided that I whipped the meringue slightly too stiffly, was too gentle with my folding, and should have blitzed the ground almonds to be a bit finer.  The mix needs to be sloppier than you would want a meringue if you were making a pavlova.

There is an important stage of leaving the trays of raw mixture blobs to sit and dry for a while.  I couldn't see the difference between the ones that I left for fifteen minutes and the ones I left for half an hour (the recipe said to bake one tray at a time).  Being able to leave these once piped makes this a lower stress job. They need to be left long enough that the top drys a bit - one blog said until they weren't sticky anymore.  The time this takes will vary depending on how humid the weather is.

The next uncertainty is how long they keep.  One blog said eat immediately, or freeze. Another said you need to leave the filled macarons for between one and four days (depending on filling) for the moisture balance to be right.

The little cooked macarons that I made are very munchable, though really more like mini macaroons.  We will keep trying them over the next few days to see if the texture changes. In the mean time, the fantasist in me is having a lovely time planning flavours and colours, though I probably wont go as far as the gold leaf.

Initial macaron blog - came to through a twitter feed

a master class - useful information about textures

I've been thinking  orange would be good:

and maybe coffee

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