Sunday, December 4, 2011

Macaroons for French Class

I warned him, I really did.  I mean, anyone would want to make a life a little easier for your own flesh and blood.  I am talking about my son of course… and his desire to choose French as his school language.  I warned him of the fact that his love of French food and culture will not make the language any easier.  Nothing that French do is ever easy… and I say this with most love and admiration for the people, the country and the culture.  Take French food for example, if you decide to learn the true and only real French way to cook, you will find yourself in the maze of 100 steps and 50 pages for a simplest recipe.  Don’t mind the fact that there always is a way to simplify down to as few as 5 minutes yielding the same result… but it is not the real French way…. Blood, sweat, tears and ( in my case) curses are absolutely necessary for the food to be called “French”.  Same with the culture and the people, who says the French are rude?  On the contrary, they will only be happy to give you very detailed directions, numbering at least in a dozens of turns, with landmarks to mention and little anecdotes in stow…. Did I mention that the destination was 100 feet away around one measly corner!!!  Like I said, nothing is easy about the French!  Same with the language, as beautiful as it is, it has one of the hardest grammars on earth.  So when my son announced that he choose French as his school language, I was mortified.  I secretly envied him, as I always wanted to learn it, but I couldn't help but warn him that it will not be an easy “A’.  And what do you know, I now find myself baking a bunch of macaroons for the French class, in hopes that my son’s teacher overlooks him academic misgivings, and sees the sheer enthusiasm that drives this child to learn her subject.  Apparently, he advertised my culinary talents to the whole school and now holds me personally responsible for making sure that all of his classmates are exposed to the same food experiences, he and his sister experience every day. 
So, here I am, on a Sunday night, baking a whole bunch of macaroons in hopes that some of his New Jersey friends actually taste something other than an Oreo.

Measure, measure, measure, the only real key to a successful macaroon is precision.

The lava consistency.

Drying time

Now that's real "feet"

Cassis (Black Currant) Macaroons.
For the cassis filling.
2 cups of fresh or frozen black currants
1 cup of sugar
2 tbs of water
Juice of ½ lemon
Combine the sugar, berries and water and bring to a boil.   Once the berries are very soft, process in the food processor or blender and strain out the seeds if desired ( I like to leave them in).  Return the processed berry pure back to the pot and simmer until reduced by half.  Let it cool, once it cools it the mixture should be that of a consistency of a jam.  Once cool, you can fill the macaroons.

Pistachio Macaroons.
140 g of ground pistachios
200 g of powdered sugar
100 g of Aged egg whites ( Age the whites for either 2 weeks in the fridge, 24 hrs on the counter or 15 seconds in the microwave)
1 tbs of sugar
Green and yellow food coloring
For the filling.
1 ½ cups of heavy cream
1 cup of sugar
1 ½ tsp of Frangelico
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tsp of almond extract

Process the pistachios with the powdered sugar in the food processor fitted with a steal blade.  Sift the nut and sugar mixture through the fine sieve.  Whip the egg whites until firm and gradually add the granulated sugar and the food coloring.  Stir one third of the egg whites into the almond sugar mixture.  Add the remaining egg whites in the “fold from the bottom” motion.  The mixture must be the consistency of lava, moving slowly to regain its shape.  Pipe 1 inch mounds onto parchment paper and the macaroons dry, at least 20 min, or until they form “skin”.  Sometimes it takes quite a while, but the “skin” ( harder surface of an unbaked macaroon) is very important. I found that if my piped macaroons do not manage it, they will not rise properly.
While the macaroons are drying, preheat the oven to 320F.   Bake the macaroons at the lower 3rd of the oven for 15-18 min until they develop “feet” and the tops and nice and crusty.
Cool on the cooling rack.  Peel gently from the parchment paper when they are still slightly warm
Prepare the filling by whipping the heavy cream in the standing mixer until thick constancy.  Gradually add the sugar, hazelnut liquor and the extracts.
Fill the macaroons and refrigerate if desired.

Of Course in my house, there is really nothing to refrigerate… ever….

I hope he gets extra credit, but if not… always my pleasure to feed and educate!!!

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