Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A French Treat in the Land of St. Honore'

Once upon a time in the land of St. Honore' the baker stood in the middle of the bridge overlooking the Seine. It was very, very early in the morning, long before dawn. She would be working soon but first she had a mission. She heard footsteps and saw him pass under a streetlamp...as dark and handsome as she had been told. Too bad he was married now.

"Macarons" he said and she thought again that it was a silly password, considering. "Mr. Bond" she said, passing him a cookie tin."I hope that Mother approves of these new flavors" although she really didn't care. The only reason she took this assignment was because she wanted to meet James Bond. Then she handed him a large case marked "Fragile- Medical Samples". Giving him a smile full of mischief she assured him that the case was lead lined. If he checked it through on his flight home, M should receive the macarons inside in perfect shape, as planned.

"So what is in the tin" he asked?

"Ah, I thought you might enjoy a little snack while you wait for your flight." The tin had macarons identical to those in the case. "Don't let those women in the shops have any, though...some of them are spies." He admired the curves of her apron and wondered how one could tell.

"So where is my French kiss?" he asked. She pointed to the tin of macarons, although she wouldn't have minded being kissed by the legendary Bond. Too bad he was married now.

With a sgh she turned and walked away.

"Agent Mimi" he called. She looked back over her shoulder. "Nice backside" he said, but she smiled again, then ignored him and kept walking until the darkness swallowed her up.

He would never know how little effort had gone into making those macarons. The cookies were simple...egg whites, ground almonds, confectioners and granulated sugars and flavorings. Oven time had taken most of the time needed, although piping the batter required patience.




The fillings had taken more effort, but were still easy. The results had been classic...crisp thin shells on the outside hid moist, chewy insides and the flavors of the fillings tied it all together...the macarons even had the requisite "feet".


The flavors? A return to classic vanilla macarons and semisweet chocolate ganache filling for half


and a fall medley of cinnamon macarons paired with a cream cheese and maple and apple filling for the other half of the batter.


She knew that if Mr. Bond had been given the combination to open the "medical samples" case that M would have found there were only crumbs left for whatever she needed the macarons for. Good thing that he had been effectively distracted by her apron and never requested a combination. With another tiny smile, she entered the bakery where she worked.

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

(Elle's Note:I followed the recipe, but divided the batter in half. Half received vanilla extract. The other half received 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon. I tried to pipe regular amounts of the batter, but some were a little smaller or larger than others, so I matched similar sizes once the cookies had cooled and lined them up that way before filling so that I could put the top cookie on as soon as I piped the filling on the bottom cookies.)

The vanilla and chocolate combination was classic and delicious, but both Sweetie and I enjoyed the cinnamon -maple-apple-spice ones even more. They were so good that I'm going to make more just so I can try different flavors. Thank you Ami for choosing such a great challenge recipe!
As usual, there are many, many dozens of Daring Bakers around the globe who have created stunning macarons for you to view. The blogroll can be accessed through this link.

Thank you also goes to a long time baking buddy and very experienced and creative Daring Baker, Dharm of Dad~Baker and Chef. His vision of the airport in the Land of St. Honore' is referenced in the tale that begins this post- it really is fiction even if the macarons are real.

Macarons

Preparation time: Not taking into account the amount of time it takes for you to bring your egg whites to room temperature, the whole baking process, including making the batter, piping and baking will probably take you about an hour to an hour and a half. How long it takes to make your filling is dependent on what you choose to make.

Actual baking time: 12 minutes total, plus a few minutes to get your oven from 200°F to 375°F.
(Elle's Note - I baked one sheet at a time, so the baking time was extended to allow for the oven to heat up and cool off for each sheet.)

Equipment required:
• Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment
• Rubber spatula
• Baking sheets
• Parchment paper or nonstick liners
• Pastry bag (can be disposable)
• Plain half-inch pastry bag tip
• Sifter or sieve
• If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off
• Oven
• Cooling rack
• Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets
• Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nuts (ouch!)

Ingredients
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.

2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.

4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.


(As you can see, I sprinkled a little cinnamon over the piped cinnamon batter rounds.)
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).


6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.

7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Yield: 10 dozen. Ami's note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons.


Semisweet Chocolate Ganache Filling
Heat ¼ cup heavy cream in the microwave 1 minute on high power. Remove bowl from microwave and add 2 oz. of semisweet excellent quality chocolate that has been chopped finely. Stir with a small spatula, very gently, until chocolate melts and thoroughly combined. Avoid adding extra air.

Let cool 2-3 minutes, then put into a pastry bag and pipe about ½ tablespoon on half of the macarons on the flat side. Top with the other half of the macarons, rounded side up. Let the ganache firm up before serving.

Makes enough to fill half of the batch of macarons in the Daring Baker’s recipe.


Cream Cheese Maple Apple Filling
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sour cream or plain yogurt
1-2 teaspoon(s) juices from Maple Apples (below)
OR 2 teaspoons maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon
½ cup confectioner’s sugar

Cream the butter, cream cheese, and sour cream until fluffy (I used a whisk attachment and my stand mixer). Add the maple apple juices or the maple syrup and cinnamon, Beat until well combined.

Beat in the confectioner’s sugar until completely combined.

Place the filling in a pastry bag and pipe about ½ tablespoon on half of the macarons on the flat side. Top with the other half of the macarons, rounded side up. This filling won’t harden, so serve it as soon as you wish.

Makes enough to fill half of the batch of macarons in the Daring Baker’s recipe plus about a cup left over for another use.

Maple Apples
3 medium apples, cores and stems removed, chopped
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
dash allspice
dash nutmeg
dash cloves
1 tablespoon water

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan. Stir to combine well. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Let cool. Use the juices to flavor the filling and use the fruit as a fruit compote with ice cream or over cooked cereal, pancakes, or waffles.

9 comments:

Dharm said...

Bravo! Clap, clap, clap!! Loved the Bond story and loved how you weaved in the apron bit!! Laughed out loud as Bond said "Nice Backside" You are getting almost as raunchy as I am!! :)
Your macs are superb, Elle. I love the filling choices too.
I always use the blogger future scheduler to get my posts up on the correct day - otherwise I'd never get them up on time! Bravo once again!!!

Engineer Baker said...

I love your fall variation - cinnamon & apple sounds fabulous! And those are very pretty macarons.

Andreas said...

Your macarons have nice backsides, too.:)

Claire said...

Love it! And Dharm is right, that little "backside" comment was just perfect. Wish I had gotten such beautiful feet as yours. Oh, well!

Katie said...

Yay another great Bond adventure! I can just picture it playing out. Both your macarons looks wonderful but the cinnamon macarons paired with a cream cheese and maple and apple filling have stolen my heart. They sound amazing!

Kelly-Jane said...

Fantastic macaroons, realy well done :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Bond & St. Honore ... just incredibly beautiful and perfect ... just like all sides of these macarons!

Trissa said...

I loved the Bond story - so cute! I wish you had written more - where is part 2??

George@CulinaryTravels said...

Beautiful macarons. Cinnamon and apple sounds gorgeous, a great seasonal feast.