Friday, March 14, 2008

Vanilla Macaroons

The vanilla macaroons recipe was probably the most complex of all I've done so far, at least in terms of the number of ingredients. I did not have high hopes at the beginning, as there are a couple of other people like me that didn't have too much success. No matter what happened, I was at least going to eat the ice cream I made with these so the night would be a partial success at a minimum.

Keller introduces the recipe with a disclaimer that you had better not screw up the size or they will not be good. Hmmm, good start I guess.

The prep work here consists of drawing a bunch of circles on parchment paper. 72 to be exact. It took me longer to find something to trace around than most of the rest of the recipe combined, but I was able to move on after some Inspector Gadget-type creativeness.

Now it's time for food. Here's the ingredients list: almond flour, confectioners' sugar, egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, vanilla beans. You also need some buttercream, but that gets it's own write up. Wait, you don't have any almond flour? Make some. Flour is just a fancy way of saying 'thoroughly processed blanched, slivered almonds'. Either way, be prepared to spend nearly $20 to acquire the smashed up nuts. Here's what everything looks like:

Combine the almond flour and confectioners' sugar (which I've already done in the picture above. Combine them thoroughly using a food processor, which should also lighten things up a little bit. Meanwhile, add some egg whites. Gradually add in some sugar and then a bit of cream of tartar and beat until the whites hold stiff peaks.

Now it's time to put the two separate mixtures together. Start by folding in just a little bit of the flour mixture, add in the vanilla, and then finish adding in the flour mixture little by little. Eventually it will come together. Don't mix too violently though, you whipped those whites for a reason.

Next up, getting this semi-dry blob of dough onto a baking sheet in something shaped like a macaroon. Keller says use a 'pastry bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip'. Don't have one? Me either. What I did have was a gallon-sized ziploc bag which I cut the corner off of. Perfect.

The next step after piping 36 macaroon halves is to sit around and wait for somewhere around 90 minutes. Apparently this is an important step. I was cool with waiting, but not as ok with the sitting around part. I decided to run out and do a couple of quick errands. That should only take half an hour or so and I'd be back and ready to finish this baby up. So here's how the next few steps of my night went:
  1. Put on coat
  2. Open door
  3. Lock door
  4. Exit door
  5. Close door
  6. Realize you forgot step 2.5
Step 2.5 is the step for getting your keys so you can get back inside. This was not a good situation. Thankfully our landlord only lived a block away, so I figured she would be able to let me right back in. Incorrect. She would not return home for another three hours. Not really having any choice, I walked up to the neighborhood bar and got some dinner, each step of the way watching the clock keep advancing. Past 60 minutes. Then 90. Then 120. Then 150. I had a bad feeling about my macaroons.

I finally got back inside and just about ran over to turn on the oven and to check out the macaroons. The were pretty dry at this point, so I my hopes weren't too high. Thank God for low hopes, because here's what came out of the oven:

Needless to say, the write up is going to end here for now. Hopefully I can get I got another shot at this later in the week. It's really pretty easy, so you can pull it off on a weeknight without much problem. Just don't lock yourself out. If you do, there's always chocolate ice cream...

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