Macarons have always been on my radar screen. Recently, they have been a recurring topic of conversation and food lust. Naturally, I found an excuse to experiment with crafting these mouthwatering French cookies. A couple nights ago, a good part of the debate team came over to cook and consume macarons, and dinner, too, of course.
The first order of business was basic vanilla macaron batter in pink and white, followed by chocolate.
With these treats safely in the oven, we started on the filling: bittersweet chocolate, caramel, and raspberry.
Here is the caramel sauce. Unfortunately, the chocolate and raspberry disappeared so quickly that the following record is all that’s left.
But dessert wasn’t the only memorable culinary experience of the evening.
My signature sun-dried tomato hummus got rave reviews.
The truffle risotto was rich, flavorful, and oh so decadent.
Finally, we assembled the macarons.
The consensus was that the caramel was the best. That being said, the plates were empty within minutes.
As if we hadn’t eat enough already, a second dessert course followed the macarons: red velvet cupcakes kindly provided by a friend.
Basic Macaron Cookies
Adapted from Macarons: 30 Recettes Faciles by Daniel Patzelt
- 125 g almond powder
- 205 g icing sugar
- 100 g egg whites
- a pinch of salt
- 65 g white sugar
- a splash of vanilla extract
- a few drops of food coloring
- Preheat the oven to 150ºC (300ºF).
- Mix the almond powder and icing sugar. Pulse through a food processor to remove clumps and refine the mixture.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. When they are about halfway done, gradually add half the granulated sugar. When they are done, add the rest of the sugar and the vanilla.
- Gently fold the dry mixture, one third to one half at a time, and food coloring of choice into the beaten egg whites. (The French verb for folding in this context is actually macaronner. It’s sort of perfect!) The mixture is done when it is “lisse et brillante” or smooth and shiny.
- Cover two cookie sheets with oven paper and using a pastry bag, or a zip lock bag with one corner cut off, in my case, pipe out small rounds, separating them by a few centimeters.
- Leave the cookie sheets alone for 30 minutes before putting them into the oven and allowing them to cook for 12-15 minutes. The cookies are done if they feel hard when tapped in the center and can be peeled off the paper easily.
For the chocolate macarons and ganache, I used David Leibovitz’s recipe. His instructions are always clear, his ratios well-vetted. Here are the recipes for the Caramel Fleur de Sel and Raspberry Fillings. We lessened the amount of butter in the caramel by about 1/2 to 2/3, as 140 g seemed a little excessive. For the raspberry, we started with all of the amounts given but had to add a little extra cornstarch to bring it to the proper consistency. All of the fillings should be chilled before assembly. Trust me, this makes life so much easier.
Truffle Risotto to serve 4
Inspired by Bevan Smith’s recipe for Broad Bean Risotto
From Riverstone Kitchen: Recipes from a Chef’s Garden,
(A book acquired in New Zealand with lots of delicious, albeit rich, recipes)
- 1/2 small red onion
- 1 stick celery
- 15 g unsalted butter
- 30 mL olive oil
- 300 g (a scant cup and a half) carnaroli risotto rice
- 120 mL Noilly Prat dry vermouth
- 700 mL vegetable stock (I used hot water and vegan bouillon cubes.)
- roughly 1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped mushrooms
- 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
- juice of half a lemon
- another 15 g unsalted butter
- 40 g grated parmesan
- salt and pepper to taste
- however many truffles you want, finely chopped
- Finely chop the onion and celery. No big chunks, please. Think about what would taste good in a bit of smooth, creamy risotto.
- Sauté the mushrooms with a touch of extra butter until soft. Set aside.
- Sweat the onion and celery with the olive oil and first dose of butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat.
- Add the rice and continue to sweat for another 2 minutes, or so.
- Add the vermouth and reduce the mixture until there is almost no liquid left. Then, begin to add the stock, stirring constantly and pouring in a little bit at a time. You may need more than 700 mL to cook the rice properly. Taste it when you think it’s getting close and add more water if it’s still too al dente.
- When the rice is cooked, add the mushrooms, then the cheese, extra butter, lemon juice, and parsley. Next toss in your truffles, salt, and pepper.
They may not look quite as good as the real deal, but I’d say not bad for a first attempt.