Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Macarons

"Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

If at first you don't succeed, wait for your Irish luck to kick in and try again. After my first disastrous experience with baking Macarons, I tried to figure out where I went wrong, and decided that the answer must lie in the fact that there was no prolonged beating involved in the baking process I followed (spare the rod, spoil the egg whites).

In fact, I've come to the conclusion that the woman who wrote this book has a deeply sadistic side to her personality. Suffice to say, if you get this book, any time she suggests an easier, more convenient alternative to the regular method, DON'T DO IT.

Just put the book down, walk away and pray for patience.

Then pick it up again and skip over the deadly snare in question.

I realize we're all busy individuals, but if you want these to be a success, you need to make time and put in the extra effort. Trust me, the result is worth it.

So, this weekend being St. Patrick's Day, themed desserts were the main focus.

Irish Car Bombs and Blarney Stones

The Irish Car Bomb cupcakes came out beautifully, as did the Mint Chocolate Macarons (which I christened "Blarney Stones"). My mom arranged a few of each on a platter, very beautifully.

The macarons came out well because, as I said, I went with one of the traditional baking processes instead of the Quick-and-Easy-Faster method. There are three traditional methods listed - French, Italian and Swiss - and I went with the French.

First, I made the Mint-Chocolate Ganache filling.

Mint-infused cream base

 I made a Mint-Cream base, which was then added to the chocolate pieces and mixed into a smooth, glossy mixture.

flour mixture for the shells

Then I made the shells. I blended almond flour, confectioner's sugar and salt in a food processor.


Then I whisked sugar, cream of tartar, aged egg whites and powdered egg whites until it was glossy and firm. I mixed the flour mix into the meringue, and added mint oil and food coloring.

And the result...

the baked shells
...Ta Da!!

shells - close up

Ah, sweet victory. After the shells cooled, I assembled them with the ganache in between.

A finished Blarney Stone

What I love about these macarons is the hint of fresh mint you get from the ganache, combined with the smooth chocolate and the minty, chewy shells.

A few tips for baking these:
  • use a copper bowl and an electric hand mixer to beat the meringue - the copper produces a better reaction when whipping egg whites than with other types of bowls.
  • don't make these on a day when there's thunderstorms or high humidity (it affects the meringue badly)
Happy Baking!

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