Friday, January 29, 2010

Macarons Citron et Framboise

Many years ago I was standing in the kitchen of my friend's New York City apartment when she offered me one of, what she claimed were, her favorite cookies in the world. She looked around to make sure there were no children about who might ask for one too as she reached into her cupboard and pulled out a mint green box with gold embossed lettering. She opened the box and showed me the vibrant colors of beautifully perfect round sandwiched cookies and told me that her husband had brought them home for her from a recent trip to Paris. A macaron she called them. I can't remember what flavor I tried but it was incroyable!

This past summer my family had the incredible fortune to live in Paris for 3 months while my husband worked out of his company's French office. Lucky for him, and me, the people working out of the French office were wonderful and kind. Over the course of our stay, his colleagues learned that I love to cook. The day before we left, they presented me with Ladurée's Sucré cookbook and requested that I send them some Macarons. It couldn't have been more special.

Well we've been home for months now and as usual, life gets the better of time and I haven't had a chance to try to tackle what seems to be a very complicated cookie. Until this week. I am pleased to report that I successfully made lemon macarons with a raspberry filling. I should also admit that it took not only the Ladurée cookbook but two other sources for me to wrap my head around the process.

Using the ingredient list from Ladurée as well as some of the instructions, some of the step-by-step photo instructions from i ♥ macarons (a book written by a Japanese pastry chef and sent to me by my wonderful sister-in-law) and some inspirational suggestions from Cannelle et Vanille, a blog I read, I was able to tackle these elegant and tasty cookies. The cookies were actually not that difficult. I think arming myself with all this information reduced my chances of failure. Oh, but there were little failures along the way but in the end I got a beautiful cookie with a crispy outer shell and a soft center, that tasted of lemons, sugar, and raspberries. What could be better?

I am not going to provide a recipe or instructions because nearly every source indicates something different. I will, however point you to the pieces of information I found particularly helpful.

Most sources point toward a butter cream filling, but I wanted something more fruity and Ladurée's Confiture de Framboises fit the bill perfectly.
All sources will tell you to tap the cookie pan on the counter after you pipe the cookies to help form the pied. As you can see, I got a great pied on my cookies!
Spelling out Macaronnage and Macaronner in i ♥ macarons was very helpful. Macaronnage is the French term for mixing flour and meringue to make macarons. Macaronner is the verb for mixing the batter until firm and dripping slowly. Too much macaronnage can lead to oil staining on the cookie and this book spells out exactly how many times to beat the batter.
Cannelle et Vanille, aside from the beautiful pictures, gave me a gram measurement for the eggs which was helpful since I had some whites sitting in the fridge from another baking project and also made two key suggestions. 1. use old eggs, separate them and leave them in the fridge uncovered for a few days. 2. Leave the piped cookies out in the air to dry for more like 30 minutes instead of 15 as suggested in other sources.

So there you have it. Macarons are definitely worth a try and I will be incorporating them into my regular repertoire around here. My daughter loved them and took one to school to show her friends...and of course for a sweet bite after lunch.

PS. Those little mistakes I mentioned earlier? The ones I will try to fix for next time... are shown here....