December 13: Lemon Macarons

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A year ago, Disgruntled Husband and I spent three days in New York City, which was about as wonderful and magnificent as I ever imagined it would be. At the bakery across from where they film the Today Show, I bought some macarons, which were bright and pricey. Oh Sweet Lord, they were about the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

Fast forward to this November, where I had a hankering for said cookie. I tried to make them, and while they tasted like a macaron, they certainly didn’t look like it. I was determined to try again.

Thanks to an Amazon Prime account, I obtained caster sugar, almond meal, and a macaron silicone pan liner (more on that disappointment later). Today was the day I decided to give it another shot.

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I separated my eggs, keeping the yolks for another recipe I have my eye on. I put four egg whites and the caster sugar inside Old Trusty.

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While those whipped up for 10 minutes or so, I got to work on my dry mixture…powdered sugar, almond meal, and salt…sifted twice.

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(What this picture doesn’t show is that I had to switch to a metal strainer because the use of my dominant hand would be something I’d like to keep this holiday season. This is a heavy mixture, and I discovered quickly that I couldn’t pull the handle that many times.)

I threw out the big pieces of almond meal that were too big to go through my sifting mechanism.

This video was very helpful in my macaron-making:

I folded in my dry mixture as instructed.

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And forced it through a pastry bag and plopped drops on my silicone macaron sheet, and then on another pan but on parchment paper.

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I gently threw the pans down to eliminate any air bubbles. Then I decided that wasn’t violent enough and dropped them a few times from about five feet off my kitchen table.

After 20 minutes, I took the trays out of the oven. And then cursed Amazon.

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No 5 star rating for you.

But I had a helper in disposing of these cookies. My husband said he was glad these didn’t come off the tray because his original plan was to just poke a hole in some cookies and declare them “broken.”

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For the filling, I used another recipe which was pretty straight-forward. No crazy ingredients required. However, it called for only 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, which we *all* know by now is not enough. I’m not sure how much actually went in, but I know it was the entire zest of one lemon.

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I then put that through another pastry bag and squirted my lemony-goodness on a cookie, topping it with another. I should have had more restraint so these would look prettier, but come on, it’s lemon filling. If a little is good, more is better. Right Christina?

(We have a theory about lemon curd, as in the Trader Joe’s variety is good with just a spoon and elicits pornographic sounds from our mouths.)

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They may not be pretty, but they are good.

Macaron recipe (from https://www.howtocookthat.net/public_html/easy-macaron-macaroon-recipe/)

French Macaron Recipe Ingredients

4 large egg whites (or 5 small) 140g (4.94 ounces)
1/3 cup or 70g (2.47 ounces) caster sugar [*US cups 1/3 cup plus 1 tsp]
1 1/2 cups or 230g (8.11 ounces) pure icing sugar [US cups 1 1/2 cups plus 4 tsp] OR 1 3/4 cups 230g (8.11 ounces) icing mixture [US cups 1 3/4 cups plus 4 tsp] 1 cup or 120g (4.23 ounces) almond meal [US cups 1 cup plus 3 teaspoons] 2g (0.07 ounces) salt (tiny pinch)
gel food colouring (optional)

(*cup measurements are metric cups where 1 cup=250ml in the USA cups use customary units so 1 cup = 236ml so you need to add a little bit extra as detailed in the recipe.).

Macaron Recipe Directions

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C (300 in American Fahrenheit)
Place egg whites and cater sugar in a bowl and mix with electric mixer until stiff enough to turn the bowl upside down without it falling out, continue to whip for 1-2 more minutes.  How long this takes will depend on you mixer.  Add gel or powdered food colouring and continue to mix for a further 20 seconds.

Sift the almond meal and icing sugar and salt twice, discarding any almond lumps that are too big to pass through the sieve. Fold into the egg white mixture. It should take roughly 30-50 folds using a rubber spatula.  The mixture should be smooth and a very viscous, not runny. Over-mix and your macarons will be flat and have no foot, under mix and they will not be smooth on top.

Pipe onto trays lined with baking paper, rap trays on the bench firmly (this prevents cracking) and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Check if one comes off the tray fairly cleanly, if not bake for a little longer (make sure you are using NON-stick baking paper or they will stick).

Lemon Buttercream Filling (from http://www.sweetandsavorybyshinee.com/lemon-french-macarons/)

  • • 3 tablespoons (40gr) unsalted butter, softened
  • • 1 cup (130gr) powdered sugar
  • • 2 teaspoons heavy cream
  • • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • • 1 teapsoon lemon zest
  • • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • • 1/8 teaspoon salt

While macarons are drying, prepare the lemon buttercream. In a mixing bowl with whisk attachment, beat the butter until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, heavy cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract and salt and beat until well combined. Fill pastry bag and go to town.

 

Cookies today: 20 (but remember, they are sandwich cookies AND I had an Amazon fail)

Cookies this year: 626

December 10: Pizzles

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Today, I made the crowd pleaser Pizzles, and the actual challenge in these are not eating them the minute they come off the iron.

(Also a challenge? Having a Pizzle iron, but that can be rectified with an Amazon Prime account and a pressing desire to drop $40 on something you’ll use maybe twice a year.)

Pizzles are a wafer cookie from Italy. I made them last year, and they were divine.

They have a hint of anise, but not enough to make you run away, I promise! You barely taste it, and it deepens the vanilla flavor in the cookie.

It starts with six eggs. (I think that classifies these cookies as a health food now.)

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I mixed up the batter and started the long, arduous journey into counter-top desserts.

The good Captain oversees production.

The good Captain oversees production.

I used my cookie scoop to do these, making sure they were centered in the middle of the hot iron. (Oh, and I generally put a little coconut oil on it before I start, just to grease the iron.)

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(And yes, I’m now the asshole cook that uses hard-to-find ingredients.)

I take them off with a non-metal spatula, and start over again. And again. And again. It’s a good thing I had some time to do these. Four minutes isn’t a long time, especially when you are only doing two at a time.

But these? These are worth every minute.

Pizzles (Italian Waffle Cookie)

(from Gooseberry Patch Old-Fashioned Country Cookies)

6 eggs

3 ½ c flour

1 ½ c sugar

2 sticks butter, melted

4t baking powder

1T vanilla extract

1T anise extract

cap full of anise seeds

Beat eggs until foamy. Add sugar and melted butter. Follow with other ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Place 1 teaspoonful on each side and cook until delicately browned. Lay flat until cooled.

Cookies today: 90

Cookies this year: 467