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Entries in macarons (3)

Thursday
Oct202011

Walnut Macarons with Maple Bacon Bourbon Filling Recipe

Image: Les Petits MacaronsLet's talk about macarons, those fancy little French sandwich cookies.

In general, my thoughts are that they taste so much better when someone else makes them (especially if that someone is Pierre Herme, for instance); however, the newly-released book Les Petits Macarons: Colorful French Confections to Make at Home might just be the book to change my mind. The recipes at first glance seem long and daunting, but really, they're just full of informative tips and are ultimately quite user-friendly. The book covers various methods of macaron-making in great detail, so you can choose your own adventure--sweet! Plus, they have all sorts of fun flavor combinations in their recipes--here follows a recipe, which is very international as it employs the Italian Meringue method of macaron-making and contains all-American bacon in the filling: Walnut Macarons with Maple Bacon Bourbon filling. As the French would say, "Le nom".

Walnut Macarons with Maple Bacon Bourbon Filling

Makes 40 macaron sandwiches

For the macarons

  • 1 1/4 cups walnut flour
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup aged egg whites from 4 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

For the filling

  • 12 ounces bacon, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed and strained orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • pinch freshly ground pepper

Procedure

  1. Place the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse 4 times for 3 seconds each to combine. Scrape the bowl in between pulses with a spatula. Sift with a fine-mesh strainer onto a sheet of waxed paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes.
  3. While the egg whites are whipping, heat the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. If sugar crystals stick to the edges of the pan, use a small pastry brush dipped in water to remove them. Cook until the sugar reaches 235 F (use a candy thermometer). 
  4. When the candy reaches 235 degrees F, quickly and steadily pour the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl, with the mixer running on medium speed. Rest the lip of the saucepan on the side of the bowl so the sugar does not hit the whisk attachment and splatter all over. Continue whisking until stiff peaks form and the meringue is lukewarm and glossy, about 4 minutes. Do not overwhip the meringue or the "feet" won't form correctly (although they will still taste good, so don't fuss too much!). Turn the bowl upside down to check that you have reached the right stage: the meringue should not slip in the bowl.
  5. Place the sifted dry ingredients into the bowl and push them toward the sides to form a well in the center of the bowl. Spoon the lukewarm meringue into the center. With a rubber spatula, stir the meringue from the center out in a circular motion, as if you were making a pasta dough. The meringue will pick up the dry ingredients from the inside to the outside of the bowl; this process should take about 1 minute.
  6. Spoon the batter in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip (or, simply cut a 1/2 inch opening in the bag). Fill the bag halfway, leaving the rest of the meringue in the bowl while piping; cover it with plastic wrap while a batch is in the oven. If you overfill the bag, you'll not be able to squeeze it hard enough to pipe even shells. Twist the top of the bag to close.
  7. Pipe into quarter-sized mounds, about 1/4 inch high, on a silicone or parchment-lined sheet, with 1 1/2 inches around each. Bake at 200 degrees F for about 15 minutes; increase temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 9 more minutes, or until the shells feel firm and just come off of the paper or silicone. repeat until all of the batter is used.
  8. Once all of the macarons are baked and cooling, prepare your filling. Line a large plate with paper towels. Cook the bacon in batches in a saute pan over medium-high heat until it is crispy, 8-10 minutes. Remove the strips to the lined plate and let cool enough to handle, then chop finely.
  9. Cook the orange juice, maple syrup, bourbon, and bacon in a wide saute pan over medium heat until warm, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure that nothing sticks to the pan. Remove from heat, and immediately spoon the filing onto 40 macaron shells, evenly dividing it. Top with another shell, twisting slightly to secure the filling, and serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Saturday
Mar202010

Mac Daddy: Lovely and Amazing Macarons by Pierre Herme

I'm going to start Macaron Day (March 20, natch) by saying something bold: Macarons are not the new cupcake.

Don't get me wrong--in spite of this statement, I am not a macaron hater. It's just that I firmly believe that a good macaron is harder to come by than a good cupcake. Too sweet, too eggy, too chewy--the pitfalls with macarons are numerous, whereas cupcakes, like pizza, seem to go by the adage that even when they're bad, they're still kind of good.

If, however, all macarons were made like the ones at Pierre Hermé, it might be a different story.

Dubbed the "Picasso of Pastry", Pierre Hermé is basically--dare I say it--the mac daddy, the closest thing to a rock star that the macaron could possibly claim.

This is a lot to live up to for pastry pilgrims like myself, and so when we approached the macaron mecca on Rue Bonaparte, I must confess to a soupcon of hesitancy. 

But you know what? If there is a macaron that will make you a believer, it is probably going to be from Pierre Hermé.

We picked up three from the eclectic menu: the Marron et the Vert Matcha (chestnut and green tea), the Fragola (strawberry-balsamic), and the Magnifique, an unlikely pairing of strawberry and wasabi.

(Warning: I'm about to wax very poetic about these little burger-cookies.)

I said it on Serious Eats, and I'll say it again. Biting into one is like biting into a cloud: the macaron is light as air, and yields perfectly to the generous dab of ganache, which is smooth, rich, and creamy without having a texture that is incongruous with the delicate cookie base.

And that's just the texture--the flavors are just as thoughfully balanced and delicious. Each of the flavors we sampled, while unusual, not only worked, but worked well. This was most notable in the strawberry-wasabi flavor. The wasabi was not so much a smack as a whisper, giving the sweet strawberry a little nudge and certain je ne sais quoi. It wasn't spicy per se though, and you really shouldn't be scared of it.

So what is this all to say? Pierre Hermé makes a mean macaron. If you're in Paris, go there.

Pierre Hermé, various locations in Paris (we visited the one on Rue Bonaparte); online at pierreherme.com.

Sunday
Mar142010

Cake Byte: Portland's Pix Patisserie Now Shipping Macarons!

Pix Pâtisserie in Portland, Oregon is pretty much the cutest place ever, and I feel sorry for anyone who has never visited.

Happily, now you can get a taste of the action even if you don't live near Portland: they've just started to ship their macarons nationwide!

Per a recent press release, owner Cheryl Wakerhauser

gives a nod to the classic French macaron with some taste make-overs for many of the 30 rotating flavors. The macaron flavors at Pix are inspired by artisan ingredients and the highest quality products available such as locally distilled Trillium Absinthe, Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Fleur de Sel Caramel, and homemade peanut butter...and tempts the flavor palate with hints of sweet and savory from maple bacon to pumpkin spice, espresso, curry and Taylor Fladgate 10-year Tawny Port. And, there are always the French classics represented like cassis-violet, pistachio, and chocolate (only the Pix chocolate is triple chocolate dipped in 75% origin chocolate). For the real adventurer there is the Meka Leka Hi Meka Hiney Ho flavored with Trillium Absinthe and loaded with chocolate covered pop rocks.

Here's the full list of flavors:

  • Raspberry
  • Woodford Reserve Bourbon
  • Hazelnut
  • Passion Fruit
  • Espresso
  • Rose
  • Cheesecake
  • Taylor Fladgate 10-year Tawny Port
  • Pistachio
  • Chocolate Cinnamon
  • Curry
  • Spanish Almond and Sherry
  • Coconut Rum
  • Blueberry
  • Cassis Violet
  • Candy Cane (seasonal)
  • Spring Bank 10 Scotch Whisky
  • Fleur de Sel Caramel
  • Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil
  • Chocolate Chip
  • Pumpkin Spice
  • Chocolate Covered Cherry
  • Meka Leka Hi Meka Hiney Ho (Trillium Absinthe and Chocolate Covered Pop Rocks)
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Chestnut Whisky
  • Maple Bacon
  • Apple Pie
  • Sesame Matcha Tea
  • Lemon Basil
  • Triple Chocolate 

Like, whoa.

Want the 411? These macarons are available in a 14-piece Chartreuse Box or seven-piece gift tube online with USPS overnight delivery and a 4-day advanced order on their online store. For a catered selection of flavors available by the dozen, please contact info@pixpatisserie.com. Shipping costs are $30 for the first dozen and $5 for each additional dozen. 

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