It's that time again for our Secret Recipe Club reveal for group C. I have enjoyed this group very much over the last several years.
This month my assigned blog was Tara's Multicultural Table. Tara is a stay at home mom with two little ones, a boy and a girl. She loves reading, cooking, scrapbooking, dance and traveling. She loves all cuisine and it is seen widely in her recipe box. Like many of us, she started her blog as a way to share her recipes. Read more about her travels in her About Me page.
I am always so wary of trying things too much out of my comfort zone. I hate being disappointed or feeling like I'm wasting money. BUT as I was going through her blog I found a recipe for macarons. They are something I have enjoyed eating and have always wanted to try making them after watching several cooking shows where they were made and just looked so tricky, they intimidated me. Soooo, I decided to be brave and give them a try. I had a backup recipe just in case it didn't work out. The other recipe I was going to make was her Australian Soda Bread. I still may try it because it looked so good!
Okay, so macarons, not to be confused with macaroons (which I can't stand..lol) are:
Macaron = A macaron is a sweet meringue-based confection made with egg white, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder or ground almond, and food colouring
The cooking shows are adament as to how hard these are to perfect because they have to be "perfect". Perfectly smooth, perfectly round. I was intimidated. BUT, I decided to try anyways. Earlier in the year my daughter and I went to a great little place in downtown Portland, Oregon before a soccer game and tried macarons. I can't really remember what they tasted like now in order to compare mine so I'll have to just go back and try there's again.
I didn't want to make the full recipe, because that was A LOT of macarons, so I decided to half it. Now, this could be where I went a little wrong because my batter was thicker than I think it should have been. So when I banged it on the counter it didn't really "fall" and It wasn't smooth and glossy so possibly my almond meal wasn't fine enough. These factors made me a little nervous because I wasn't so sure they'd rise like they should. Well, they rose, and looked right (just not pretty or glossy smooth). I think if I tried again I'd make them a bit smaller. Tara, maybe you can give me your thoughts on what I did wrong. They did taste really good, and can I just say, um, I love the taste of meringue..haha.
Macarons with Vanilla Cream
(makes 72 macarons...not sure if this means separate or sandwiches)
2 1/2 c. ground almond meal
2 c. + 1 1/2 Tbs. powdered sugar
6 egg whites, room temperature
pinch cream of tartar
1 c. + 3Tbs. Caster sugar
a few drops of food coloring
5 1/2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
5 Tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbs. milk
1. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 210 degrees F.
2. In a food processor, grind almond meal until the texture becomes fine. Spread the almond meal on another baking sheet not lined with parchment. Bake in preheated, tossing occasionally, until most of the moisture has evaporated and it no longer clumps, but is not darkened, about 15 minutes. Place in a large bowl with powdered sugar.
3. In a large clean bowl, beat egg whites on low speed. Once they become foamy, add cream of tartar and increase speed to medium high speed. Once soft peaks form, add caster sugar and increase speed to high until stiff peaks form.
4. Fold in 1/4 of egg whites and food coloring into almond meal mixture. Fold in the remaining egg whites, then smear against the side of the bowl about 12 times, until the mixture becomes glossy and peaks fall within 5 seconds.
5. Transfer mixture to a piping bag, fitted with an 8-10 tip (or just cut tip off a plastic bag enough for mixture to come out. Pipe even circles about 1 1/2" in diameter, on prepared baking sheets about 1/2-1" apart. Rap the trays against the counter a few times and allow to rest 30-45 minutes until a skin forms and is no longer sticky to touch.
6. While the shells are drying, place oven rack in the middle and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
7. Bake one sheet at a time for 15 minutes, then open door slightly 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cookies.
8. To make filling: In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese on low til smooth. Dice butter and add to cream cheese. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth and creamy. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla. If it's too thick, add some milk. Transfer mixture to piping bag, again fitted with an 8-10 size tip.
9. Pair together the cooled macaron shells that are similar in shape. Pipe the filling onto half of the bottom side of the shells. Top with remaining shells and gently twist until filling fills the interior.
10. Refrigerate 24 hours before serving.
I know....it's a lot of steps, but really wasn't that hard. I think I'll try them again, trying to figure out where I made my mistakes. I also think I made the filling a bit too sweet. Enjoy and thanks Tara for challenging me.
With Joy Unquenchable,