Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Matzo Ball Soup

We're having a little Matzo Ball Soup-Off here on A Kitchen In Brooklyn.  I love my mother's Matzo (also Spelled Matzoh) Ball Soup.  In my opinion, her soup is a panacea for healing everything from colds to grumpy moods.  I like my Matzo Ball Soup and chicken stock prepared a very specific way, but it seems like everyone like's their mom's version the best.   We have not one, but three Matzo Ball Soup recipes that we will share with you here on A Kitchen In Brooklyn.  Eric's Matzo Ball Soup Recipe can be found here on this site.  In addition, another contributor to this site in Seattle, Emily, will be sharing her Matzo Ball Soup Recipe in a future post.  So, with Passover (and Spring!) around the corner, it's time for a friendly "Soup Off."

My Matzo Ball Soup is prepared just the way my mother makes it, with plenty of Jewish momma's love and a homemade chicken stock prepared from a whole Kosher chicken.  I like a hearty Matzo Ball Soup all winter long, rather than appetizer style.  To prepare the soup as an appetizer, you would want to discard the chicken after preparing the chicken stock.  However, I never do that.  I always prepare the soup as a main course and shred quite a bit of the chicken and put it back into the soup.  I just can't let a good chicken go to waste, and in my opinion, the chicken pieces help complete the soup.

Sasha's Matzo Ball Chicken Soup (with thanks to my mom)
Water (enough to cover the chicken in the pot)
One 3-4 lb whole chicken
1 parsnip
small handful of parsley
1 onion, quartered
a couple of large handfuls of baby carrots
3 stalks of celery
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup matzo meal
4 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup water (for the Matzo Balls)

The first step is to prepare the chicken stock.  Break up the chicken into a couple of pieces.  I used a whole Empire Chicken,  In my opinion, to make the perfect chicken stock, it's best to use a Kosher chicken for this recipe.  My mom actually lives around the block from a Kosher butcher in Rochester, New York that sells perfect small chickens just for making soup.

Cover the chicken with water in a large pot with the water an inch or two higher than the chicken.  Bring it to a boil.  Then simmer for 30 minutes, while skimming off the top every couple of minutes.  After a half an hour, add the parsley, parsnip, onion (does't have to be diced because it will be discarded from the stock later), carrots, celery and bay leaves to the pot.  Add a couple of pinches of salt.  Simmer (on low) for about two hours with the lid of the pot half on.  After about two hours, the stock should be yellowish in color and have the flavor of the chicken stock, plus all those vegetables and bay leaves that you added.  The salt is important here too, so make sure to add a couple good size pinches.

Use a strainer to strain the broth into another large pot.  Then, add the celery and carrots back in, but discard the onion, parsnip, bay leaves and parsley.  At this point, you can also remove the chicken when you strain, and discard the skin, and shred some of the chicken off the bones.  Add this shredded chicken back into the soup.

To prepare the Matzo Balls, combine one cup Matzo Meal with four eggs, 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of Canola Oil.  Mix well and refrigerate covered for about half an hour.  Form into 11 or 12 Matzo Balls, just a bit larger than golf balls.  Don't make them too small, or they will be hard.  However, don't make them too large, because they will expand when added to the pot.  Bring the chicken soup to a boil and add the Matzo Balls.  Then reduce to a simmer for about 20 -30 minutes.  Serve, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

This soup makes enough to serve 4 to 5 people as main courses, which means plenty of leftovers!


Friday, March 5, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Food & Wine Pairing of Cheese Fondue With Heron Hill Riesling

For last night's meal, my husband and I paired a wine that we had received from Heron Hill Winery to review with one of our favorite dishes, homemade cheese fondue.  This meal featured a wine & cheese fondue, various fruits, vegetables and bread for dipping, as well as the New Release of the 2007 Ingle Vineyard Riesling from Heron Hill Winery in the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York State.  The combination was perfect, with the light fruit and citrus fragrance of the wine with is strong hints of lemon and melon character, alongside the gruyere and emmental hard swiss and/or french cheeses, as well as the accompanying fruits and vegetables, particularly the apples.

The flavors of the Riesling were pleasant and fruity, but also crisp with a taste of acidity and a mineral balance.  It was quite pleasing to the palette with the melted cheeses.   New York's Finger Lakes Region has become famous for its Rieslings, and this wine was a great example.  Heron Hill's Riesling was perfect with the balance of acidity and mineral characteristics.  I thought it combined nicely with the melted cheeses and vegetables.  I also loved how its citrus and melon undertones complemented the tartness of the green apple that we used for dipping in the fondue.

To prepare the accompanying fondue, here's what you will need:

Sasha's Cheese Fondue

8 oz gruyere cheese (grated)
8 oz emmental cheese (grated)
2 T cornstarch
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 1/2 cup dry white cooking wine
1 T lemon juice
1 T brandy
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp ancho chile powder
pinch of pepper

For Dipping:
Green Apple
French Bread

Follow the instructions for your electric fondue pot, which generally involves bringing all of the ingredients besides the cheese to a boil.  Boil for a minute, then reduce to a simmer and slowly add the grated cheese mixture.  The cheese in the fondue should never boil, so don't turn the electric pot temperature up too high.  Add the cheese until the fondue reaches the desired consistency.  For me, this required most of the cheese, with a little bit leftover.  Then, enjoy by dipping your favorite fruits, vegetable and breads into the fondue, along with a glass of wine.   We used strawberries, green apples, broccoli, french bread and carrots for dipping but you can substitute other fruits or vegetables.  My husband's favorite was the broccoli, while I really liked the combination of the strawberries and applies with both the fondue and the wine.

You should be sure to use Gruyere and Emmental cheeses for your fondue and not substitute.  I selected these cheeses because they are the traditional cheeses used in  Switzerland for making fondue.  Emmental is similar to swiss cheese, while Gruyere is hard yellow cheese made from cow's milk with a creamy and nutty flavor.  The fondue recipe worked very nicely, with flavors of wine, mustard and ancho chile to complement the traditional cheeses.  It pairs nicely with Heron Hill's new Riesling, and was quite an enjoyable and easy weekday meal.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Lemony Limoncello Cupcakes

I have always loved to eat tangy and tart foods.  As a kid (and perhaps a bit more recently) my favorite candy was always sweet tarts.  I love anything with a bit of lemon flavor and a bit of tang.  Therefore, it was only a matter of time before I decided to experiment with some lemon flavored cupcake variations.  You may recall, that I made my own Italian Limoncello liqueur about a month ago.  I decided to use the limoncello today in my baking, to make lemon cupcakes with a twist, and jazz them up with a bit of limoncello.

I started by including lemon juice and limoncello (in lieu of vanilla extract) in a basic recipe for vanilla cupcakes, adjusting the proportions of the flour and eggs, to accommodate the addition of limoncello as a key ingredient in the cupcake batter.  Then, I made a lemoncello infused cream cheese frosting.  In between layers of the cupcake and the frosting, I prepared a basic lemon with limoncello to add a burst of that lemony-limoncello flavor.

These cupcakes are a cheerful, lemony treat.  They are different from your standard lemon cupcakes in that they have a bit more of a burst of flavor and impart the sweet tangyness of the limoncello.  Here is the recipe below that I settled on in the end:

Sasha's Lemony Limoncello Cupcakes (Batter) (Made 11 cupcakes)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 T homemade limoncello (or store bought)
3 egg whites
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup sugar

Lemony Limoncello Curd
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 T limoncello
3 egg yolks
zest of one lemon

Lemony Limoncello Frosting
1 stick of butter
1 8 oz package of cream cheese
2 cups of powdered confectioner's sugar
3 T limoncello
drop of yellow food coloring

To prepare the cupcakes, beat the butter and sugar in the mixer.  Continue beating on medium high, adding the egg whites (save the yolks for the curd) one by one.  Beat in the lemon zest.  Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl.  Alternate (while beating on medium) the addition of the dry ingredients and the milk.  Beat in the lemon juice at the end until combined.  Fill your silicon cupcake trays (lined with cupcake liners) about 3/4 of the way full and bake until it comes clean with a toothpick, which took me 35 minutes in my oven.  Allow the cupcakes to cook completely.

To make the curd, combine all of the ingredients over medium heat. Heat, stirring constantly, until a curd forms that is slightly translucent in color.  Top each of the cupcakes with a dollop of curd.  You can also put the curd inside, if you prefer to do it that way.

To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese in the basin of your mixer, on high speed.  Beat in the powdered sugar until combined into a frosting.  Add the limoncello for the flavor, and add a drop of yellow food coloring to add a subtle boost of color.  Beat until combined into a frosting and frost the cupcakes using a fluted tip fit onto a pastry bag.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Miso Glazed Braised Chicken With Mushrooms

This recipe was very loosely and freely inspired by Momofuku's recipe for Miso Glazed Chicken.  However, I made so many changes, modifications, additions and adjustments that the final recipe is really a creation all in of itself.  My initial intention was to just follow the recipe, but in this case, my choice not to follow the directions and go off on my own served me well.  I'm quite pleased with my contributions.

This is a great recipe because it a very flavorful braised chicken, and i makes enough for several nights dinner all at once.  I made the Miso Glazed Braised Chicken last night for my husband and father-in-law, who was visiting after a long day at work, and we all loved how this recipe turned out.  I'm actually not a big fan of chicken - generally I consider chicken breasts to been too dry and not flavorful enough and usually prefer veal, beef or lamb.  However, this recipe used braised chicken thighs and was both juicy and flavorful by the time it got to my plate.  This might be my current favorite chicken recipe that I have experimented with.  It is definitely a winner and will be demanded again soon in my house!

Miso Glazed Braised Chicken (very loosely adapted from Momofuku)
2 packages Empire chicken thighs (with skin and bones), about 5 lbs
2 T Canola Oil
2 medium sized onions
1 pint package sliced mushrooms
2 portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 T diced fresh ginger
2 T diced garlic
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup mirin
2 T rice wine vinegar
2/3 cup soy sauce
1 cup miso paste
2 tsp Sesame Oil
5 large leaves of collared greens or mustard greens (I used mustard greens)

To prepare the recipe, first preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the chicken thighs (I had eight in my packages) on foil lined baking sheets and bake for about 40 minutes until slightly golden but not cooked through.  While the chicken is cooking, dice the onions, mushrooms and garlic and saute in the Canola Oil for about 8 minutes.  Then add the miso, soy sauce, sesame oil, chicken stock, vinegar and mirin to your Dutch oven and bring to a boil, stirring until the miso paste is dissolved.  Add the chicken and mushroom mix to the Dutch oven.

Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees and braise the pot with the chicken and braising solution in the oven for about two to two and a half hours (mine went for close to two and a half hours) until the chicken is tender and falls off the bone.  Add the shredded up greens about ten minutes before completion of the braising to the pot.  Serve hot and enjoy!  The final flavor is slightly sweet because of the Miso but incredibly succulent and flavorful.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Restaurant Review of The Jakewalk

I wasn't planning on writing a restaurant review when my husband went out for dinner on Valentine's Day at the Jakewalk in Cobble Hill.  Mostly, we were just looking for a romantic and relaxing night out, some good fondue and a low key, chill atmosphere without leaving Brooklyn.  We found all of those things at the Jakewalk, a local restaurant and wine bar, plus a great Brooklyn vibe, fantastic food, cocktails and wine. No doubt, my husband and I will be back very soon.

We arrived on Valentine's Day Eve around 7 PM to discover a small and cozy, yet buzzing restaurant.  Although the Jakewalk does not take reservations for a party of two, we did not have to wait for a table, even thought most of the tables were taken.  We were greeted by our friendly and helpful waitress, who presented us with an out of this world wine and cocktail list.  The Jackwalk cocktail menu featured a number of different cocktails, all expertly mixed in that prohibition era speakeasy style that I have grown to be so fond of at a number of other Brooklyn and Manhattan bars.  My husband ordered the "Diamond As Big As The Ritz", a drink that was prepared as a "flip" meaning that it contains egg whites, in addition to whiskey, lemon juice, bitters and club soda.   He was quite impressed with the quality of the drink and enjoyed every last drop immensely.

I decided to order one of the Jakewalk's "Flight's of Wine," which include three good sized (half glass) portions of three different wines.  This is such a fabulous idea, and I am not sure why more restaurants don't offer wine in flights like the Jakewalk.  It's such a great opportunity to taste and enjoy three different wines, and I love having small portions of a variety of food and wines, rather than a large portion of only one thing.  I selected the "White Aromatics" flight which offered a Riesling, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc.  All three were fabulous, but I especially enjoyed the Riesling and Chardonnay.  I was impressed with the sizable portions for only $14 for all three.

For our dinner, my husband ordered the Macaroni & Cheese with the duck Rilette, while I selected a different duck dish, the duck breast special with scalloped potatoes that was on the menu for Valentine's day.  Both dishes were delicious but the duck rilette in the macaroni and cheese was an amazing combination, and my husband savored every last bite (side from giving me a small taste).  I can't  say enough about the macaroni and cheese and duck rilette.  It was probably one of the best, and certainly the most memorable, macaroni and cheese I have had out in a long time, and had was made with a wonderful spicy jack cheese.

For dessert we ordered the chocolate fondue, which was such a fun and delicious way to enjoy dessert in this wonderful, chill environment.  The fondue came with graham crackers, strawberries, bananas, marshmallows and plenty of chocolate and was a nice, romantic way to end the perfect (and budget) Valentine's Day meal.  This would have been a great meal any night of the week, and we plan on returning soon to try the cheese fondue.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Chicken Scarpariello

One of my husband's favorite dishes is Chicken Scarpariello.  He is especially fond of the Chicken Scarpariello at Acappella, an Italian Restaurant in Tribeca that we love to go to for special occasions.  While Acappella has some of the best Italian food in New York, I decided to try my hand at making a Chicken Scarpariello that my husband would enjoy for a lazy Sunday night dinner after the heartbreaking loss of the Gold Medal Hockey Game.  While team USA came up a bit short, this dish did not.  My husband loved it and it was both an enjoyable and easy to make meal.  I served it with spelt berries, an organic grain that I fell in love with for the first time when I had them with my duck confit brunch at the Flatbush Farm the day before.  They proved a great addition and gave a lovely and wholesome texture to this chicken entree.

Sasha's Chicken Scarpariello
1 package Empire skinless & boneless chicken breasts (about 1.5 lbs)
zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp lemon juice
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup white cooking wine
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup Italian parsley
1 small hot cherry pepper
1 cup spelt berries ( I used Bob's Red Mill Spelt Berries)
salt and pepper to season
Olive Oil (or Canola Oil)
2 tsp of flour

First, prepare the spelt berries the same way you would with rice - 1 cup of the wheat berries to 2 cups of water.  i also seasoned with pepper, salt and the zest of half a lemon.  Bring the water to boil and simmer until the water is gone, and remove the zest.

To prepare the chicken, I cut the chicken breasts into small pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I seared and browned the chicken on all sides for a couple of minutes with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.  Then, I put the chicken aside (it gets cooked through later).

I added some more olive oil to the pan and added the diced peppers and garlic.  The hot pepper only ads a bit of heat, so if you do not want any heat, leave it out.  Conversely, if you want a spicy dish, add another hot pepper.  I sauteed the peppers and garlic for about five minutes, before adding the white wine, lemon juice, chicken broth and flour.  I also added the zest from the other half of the lemon.  

I then returned the chicken to the pan and allowed the sauce to simmer for about 20 minutes or so until the chicken was cooked through and the sauce was thickened and significantly reduced.  A little bit of flower helps the sauce thicken a little bit (although it is really not a thick sauce at all - it is very light and lemony).   Just towards the end of the process, I added the parsley.  I served the chicken with the spelt berries.  Enjoy!


Eric's Kitchen in Jersey City: New England Clam Chowder

Growing up right on the Long Island Sound in CT most of my youth, I could get great fantastic New England clam chowder anytime I wanted it. In fact, working in seafood restaurants in high school we were pretty much given free access to the soups since they were always hot, we had giant pots of them and no one would really notice or care. So my friends and I would eat it all the time. The first restaurant I worked in even had 'Rhode Island' or 'Noank' chowder which was basically New England clam chowder without the heavy cream so you could eat it more often and not feel bad about it. I grew to be very fond of it but most people probably wouldn't like it as much the first time around. Regional foods are tough because these dishes are pretty great almost anywhere you go in that region and almost always wrong or not as good for some reason anywhere outside the region. I feel this way about cheesesteaks. If it is called a 'Philly Cheesesteak', it's probably not in Philly and therefore will not be as good. The same is true about New England clam chowder. I haven't found a New England clam chowder that I really enjoyed outside of New England.

I lived in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn for a year in 2007 and my girlfriend and I saw an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay where he took on 'The Chowder Surfer'. He was from Brooklyn and was supposedly working at 'The Surf Bar' in the nearby Williamsburg part of Brooklyn. I was blown away watching him make clam chowder and it gave me a hankerin' for some good New England clam chowder. So we went there and tried both the clam chowder and the lobster bisque. The lobster bisque was probably the best I had ever had but the clam chowder really didn't hit the spot. This is when I first decided I needed to learn to make New England clam chowder myself. I've made it now probably half a dozen times and it's evolved and changed almost every time I make it. This batch I was not personally proud of but I know it will be that much better the next time around.

I use hard clams for my chowder. These are clams referred to as littlenecks (smaller), cherrystones (medium), or quahogs (large). The bigger the better for chowder.

Ingredients (serves about 8-10):
5 lbs. or 2.5 dozen fresh cherrystone clams (get the biggest ones you can find and about 5 lbs)
5 large boiling or mashing potatoes, cubed
1 qt. heavy cream
3 tbsp. butter
1 package salt pork or thick cut bacon (mine was 12 oz.), chopped
2 leeks, cleaned thoroughly and chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
3 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
handful fresh parsley, minced
black pepper and tobasco to taste
3 8oz. bottles of clam juice
2 8oz. cans of clams
4-5 bay leaves
a little cornmeal & salt (to soak the clams in to clean them)

One more note! This is the first time I ever used canned clams and don't think I ever will again! I highly recommend adjusting this to use either more fresh clams or less potatoes and cream. I just had too much soup and not enough clams and wanted to fix it and I regretted it as I could clearly taste the difference between the two types.

First you need to scrub the clams under cold water to remove any debris from their shells. Then soak the clams in cold water with a little cornmeal and salt for about 30 minutes or more in the refrigerator. This makes them take in all the water and spit out all the sand and dirt. After they are sufficiently cleaned to can steam them in a large pot with a couple of inches of water. You can cover it at first to get the water hot and then check on them and as soon as they open take them out and set them aside as you don't want your clams to get overdone and rubbery.

They should start to smell delicious and as they open they release all the water they have taken in and that is your clam juice or stock and is the key to good clam chowder. You want to set aside the broth for later. Once the clams cool a little you can remove them from their shells, chop them into little bite size morsels and set them aside as well. Again, the secret to good clam chowder in my humble opinion is the fresh clams and broth. I could clearly taste the canned clams and don't think they will ever be included again.

Having worked as a prep chef for two restaurants over the course of almost two years in my youth, I take pride in chopping and preparing my ingredients properly. You'll never find anything that isn't bite sized or tough to eat in my recipes. When I cube my potatoes, I try my best to make them into small perfect cubes, but I HATE peeling potatoes and almost never peel them. The skin adds flavor and nutrients as far as I am concerned. When you are done with them set them aside.

You should prepare the leeks by thoroughly cleaning and chopping them. They can get lots of mud and dirt in between their leaves so you may have to chop a bit and then rinse as you see any dirt. Chop your leeks, garlic, shallots, parsley and onions and set them aside. Then comes the bacon or salt pork. If you try to open a package of salt pork and start cutting it you will be very frustrated. My dad taught me to put it in the freezer for a while until its hardened so as to make it easier to chop into very small pieces, roughly the size of the tip of your pinky.

Get a nice large pot and add the salt pork or bacon first, cooking until it's crispy and the fat is completely rendered. If you read my split pea soup recipe you will know how difficult it is to pick out all the fat later if you don't make it crispy. You will cook your veggies in the fat from the salt pork and if it's not enough add the butter. You can actually remove the fat later which I will do the next time I make this as there was too much this time around and it is clearly visible in the pictures, floating at the top.

Once all your veggies are nice and soft you add your potatoes and clam broth and let them boil and cook until soft, at least an hour or so, more if you can. As the potatoes get nice and soft you can mash them against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon and this will thicken the broth without adding flour. Flour makes the soup almost gelatinous and I don't personally like this approach.

Once your potatoes are nice and soft you can add in the cream and stir until it's nicely mixed. Add the clams last to avoid them getting overdone and remove any bay leaves when serving. Serve while hot with oyster crackers or a nice crusty bread. I will probably revise this recipe and re-post it in the future, but this should give a good idea of how to get started.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Pink Vanilla Macarons With Kiwi Buttercream Filling

When several friends and family members suggested that I experiment making colorful Macarons for this blog, I confused their suggestion with Macaroons, the heavy coconut cookies that I ate at Passover this year.  How silly of me.  Now, that I have just started making French Macarons (almond meringue cookies), I am amazed at how they can be made in nearly every color and flavor imaginable.  I plan on making batches and batches of Macarons, but today, I would like to introduce my readers to the Macaron, and how I made my very first (of many) batch of Macarons.  I am so excited to have entered the world of Macaron making.  Other than cupcakes, Macarons are probably considered the cutest little pastries in the world of baking.  They are sweet, crispy almond flavored cookies in a variety of colors with a domelike shape and a distinctive foot.  Two Macaron cookies form an almond meringue pastry with a buttercream, ganache, lemon curd or other colorful filling in the middle.

My introduction to the art of Macaron making involved carefully following the book I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita.  Another great resource on Macaron making, as I get more advanced in my experiments, is the blog Not So Humble Pie.  Without further ado, here is how I made my first batch of pretty pink macarons with fresh kiwi buttercream:

Pink Vanilla Macarons (derived from I Love Macaroons book recipes)
85 grams ground almonds (use Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour)
150 grams confectioners sugar / powdered sugar
3 large egg whites (at room temperature)
65 grams (5 T) granulated sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 drop gel pink food coloring

Sasha's Kiwi Buttercream Filling
1/2 stick of butter
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 egg
3 kiwi
1/2 package of cream cheese
1 drop gel green food coloring

You will notice that all the measurements above are in grams.  Macaron making is very precise business and you need to invest in a digital kitchen scale to make sure you get your measurements precisely.  Don't blame me for this one, if you don't, you are likely to wind up with a mixture that is a little off and a sticky mess (just like I did the first time I tried to make Macarons).

Here are the steps I followed:

1. Cover a paper with parchment paper and use an icing tip bottom end to trace 1 inch papers on the parchment paper, spacing them an inch or two apart.

2.  Measure the almond meal and the confectioner's sugar with the digital scale and blend in a food processor.

3.  Beat the egg whites (I used a stand mixer, not a hand mixer, but you could use either) until foamy and continue beating at high speed while gradually adding the granulated sugar.  Keep beating at high speed until you have a meringue.  Add the vanilla to the meringue and stir lightly.  Add a drop of gel based food coloring (I used pink).  Keep beating until you have a glossy meringue that is stiff and firm in texture.  Once you are there, stop beating!

4.  Mix in the almond flour/sugar mixture to the meringue with a spatula.

5.  The next step is called "Macaronage" and is very important to getting the Macarons to have the right texture.  In other words, don't skip this step!   To perform this step, spread the Macaron mixture along the sides of the bowl, turning it on its sides, by scooping the batter from the bottom.  Then scoop it back into the center of the bowl.  Repeat this Macaronage step 15 to 20 times, and don't be tempted to cut this step short.  This is required to properly mix the flour and the meringue to get the proper glossy texture to the Macarons.

6.  The next step is called "Macaronner" and requires dripping the batter with your spatula until it drips slowly when scooped out.

7.  Next, use a 0.4 inch pastry tip and pastry bag to drop the Macaron batter into the circles on the prepared parchment paper sheets.  Another tip from my book was to double stack your baking sheets, which helps make the heat even when you bake the Macarons.  Make small circles not much bugger than the parchment paper circles since the batter tends to spread out when it is squeezed.  I really wanted to get them even the first time, but it is a bit tricky, and I would be remiss if I didn't thank my husband for helping me out with this step!

8.  Rap the baking sheets firmly against the counter to help the Macarons form a rounded shape.  This will also help the foot form when they are baked.  Allow them to dry for about 15 minutes, while the oven preheats to 375.  This drying time may vary (15 minutes worked for me), but when the batter circles do not stick to your fingers when you touch them, then they are done drying.  However, don't let them dry out too long or the Macarons won't be able to form a foot. If you don't dry them, they will crack during baking.

9.  Bake 15 to 18 minutes until slightly crispy and a cracked foot forms.  Rotate the trays halfway through to make sure they all bake evenly.  Allow to cool and then remove carefully from the parchment paper.

10.  Beat the filling in the mixer until it has the consistency of cupcake icing.  I flavored this one with Kiwi.  I plan to do some further experimentation with different consistencies (and flavors) of buttercreams but this one was pretty and tasty for a first try.  The buttercreams in the book are a bit of a  different in consistency from mine (which looked and tasted great, too) and I may try some of those in future Macaron experiments.

Next up in Macaroon Making from me over the next few weeks: 1) Raspberry Macarons with chocolate ganache filling; 2) Matcha green tea Macarons with mango buttercream and 3) Key Lime Macarons with Key Lime Curd.  I can't wait to make more Macarons, I'm almost giddy about it.  I love making them for much the same reason I love making cupcakes - because they are little and cute, colorful and fun!

Macarons on FoodistaMacarons

Related Posts with Thumbnails Share