Ben the Baker

Just a guy trying to get his kids to eat

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Lemon/Lavender Macarons

Posted by osakaben41 on September 14, 2009

A study in the many ways to ruin a perfectly good cookie

A study in the many ways to ruin a perfectly good cookie

In honor of Lance Armstrong and the LIVESTRONG foundation, WinosandFoodies is hosting another Taste of Yellow challenge.  In short, those of us that are either biking fans, or just care about cancer research, bake something yellow in honor of the man and his cause.  It isn’t in itself a fundraiser so much as a reason to mark the day, and something you’ll come across often in the food blogging world.  If you enjoy seeing just how creative a dedicated army of home bakers can be, go and click through some of the past entries.  Humbling and inspiring work, that I was itching to be a part of.

Besides the worthy cause, I took this as an excuse to take the leap and try making my first French Macaron, in this case a Lemon cookie with a lavender white chocolate ganache.  Whether or not they were first made in France, they’re certainly beautiful, delicate, and have decided to toy with my emotions.  Before we begin describing the ensuing catastrophe, it might help to get a sense of what a truly elegant macaron should look and taste like.  If you’re at all tempted to try these at home, the recipe is very straight-forward, but the technique is tough to get just right.  So let’s catalog the tragedy shall we?

Not what is commonly referred to as 'round'

Not what is commonly referred to as 'round'

Somehow, despite piping these straight up and down, it’s not the easiest thing to get them to settle perfectly circular.

Piped too close together

Piped too close together

If you do manage to do a passable job with the piping, be careful about the batter spreading as it rests.

hollowed out 'bellies'

hollowed out 'bellies'

The first batch was in a convection oven at 285 for only 7 minutes.  The shells came out nice and glossy, but the filling was a goopy mess.  They looked ready, but fell apart when I tried to pick them up.

Plenty of material to experiment with.

Rose Water, Lemon, & Orange Shells.

After dumping a few batches (it was a long night, with many sacrifices towards ‘a learning experience’), I settled on chilling them in the fridge before removing the shells from the pan.  Around 1:00 that morning we somehow still had a handful of acceptable shells to play with.

runny ganache filling

Runny filling

The filling was supposed to resemble something closer to an Oreo, creamy, not too stiff, but should still know it’s place.  My ganache recipe however was designed for topping a cake, ie, smooth and glossy, with very little body (perhaps too French?).  I came across the idea for flavored ganache while perusing some Chocolate Porn at the bookstore, but this really needs something closer to a buttercream or mousse.  It felt like fumbling the ball on the goal line at this point, but as my high school Latin teacher used to say, “The good lord hates a coward.”, so bravely on we marched.

After eating all these mistakes before company showed up, and chilling the ganache a bit longer, I was able to get a few good enough to photograph (see up above).  They tasted great if not a touch aggressive with the flavoring, but what we’re looking for is something with a bit more height, a more distinct demarcation between the smooth shell and the ruffled ‘foot’, and more importantly, and a color less reminiscent of pigeon feathers in the rain.  On a whim I melted some chocolate chips with a splash of cream and filled some orange shells with a straight chocolate filling that held up slightly better.  At least the kids seemed to enjoy them.  I’ll updated this post when I can find the time to rip out a few more different fillings for the Rose Water, Orange, and (un-pictured) coffee shells, but for now, the Lemon Lavender is for the greater cause.

(Update)

Rose water macaronsI was able to steal 5 minutes after dinner before the sun went down to pipe some left over Raspberry Mousse onto the Rose Water shells.  The mousse was perhaps too cold and stiff for my small nozzle tip, but wow, does Raspberry and Rose go well together.  Does everybody else already know about this?

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3 Responses to “Lemon/Lavender Macarons”

  1. barbara said

    Lemon and lavender Macarons – such a pretty name. Macarons are on my to try list someday. Thank you for your entry Ben.

    • osakaben41 said

      Thanks Barbara. I’ll admit to being intimidated by these, as everybody who tries them agrees how temperamental they can be. I’m going to have to keep coming back to this one to try to get them right, but even the mistakes still taste great. Love your blog, and thank you for hosting the challenge.

  2. […] which I try to ignore and pretend they never happened.  Except of course when they’re really spectacular and noteworthy.  Under those standards have I got a whopper for […]

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