A good friend of mine says that the best way to get over temptation is to give in to it. That way you're no longer tempted. I don't endorse this approach if you're married and are tempted by the hot UPS driver, but if you're tempted in the baking realm, I know of no better way to overcome temptation. Brownies or chocolate cakes that haunt your dreams don't just disappear; they have to be baked and at least tasted in order to vanquish their specter.
There is a wanton temptress out there who's been singing a siren song to me. I've tried ignoring her, just shutting the window and walking away. But her song wafts to me in the night, calling me to come try making macarons. You probably know who this seductress is - none other than the beautiful and talented Tartelette. It seems like at least once a week I visit her enchanting site and there is another batch of macarons, in an even more enticing flavor combination than the last.
The last straw for me was seeing the tantalizing macarons in a cookbook,Desserts by the Yard. There's something about thumbing through a cookbook repeatedly that really locks the temptation in place and finalizes the urge to take the plunge. I also love having instructions written out for me so I don't have to print off yet another recipe from the computer. Plus, these were filled with ice cream. Mmmm. A macaron ice cream sandwich!
So I took the plunge.I gave in to temptation and made my first batch of macarons. I am no longer a macaron virgin. But when you look critically at my pictures, be gentle with me. It was my first time.
I was excited to see little feet developing on the cookies in the oven. They were rising with smooth, glossy tops, but when I shifted the cookie sheets as directed, the tops deflated and got crinkly-looking. Since I'm not experienced with this type of cookies, I have no idea whether they were OK by macaron standards or not, but they were OK by my family's cookie standards. The only criticism was that they were a bit large, especially when filled with a scoop of ice cream. If I made them again, I'd pipe them to 2 inch disks, rather than 3 inch, and use less ice cream.
Chocolate Macarons with Black Currant Tea Ice Cream
- adapted from Desserts by the Yard by Sherry Yard
(Make the ice cream 3 days before making the macarons, so the egg whites will be the right age.)
Black Current Tea Ice Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 black currant tea bags
8 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp creme de cassis
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1- In a medium, nonreactive saucepan, combine the cream, milk, and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Place the pan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the tea bags and turn off the heat. Cover and steep for 20 minutes.
2- Combine the egg yolks and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a medium bowl and whisk them together until lemony yellow.
3- Squeeze the tea bags to extract as much of the flavor as possible, then throw them away. Return the cream mixture to the heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and slowly ladle 1/2 cup into the egg yolks while whisking. Once the cream is incorporated into the eggs, whisk the eggs back into the cream, scraping all the eggs out of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
4-Place the pan over low heat and immediately begin to stir the custard. After about 2 minutes, it will begin to thicken. Keep stirring until the consistency is like thick cream. The custard is done when the temperature reaches 180 deg. F. Test for readiness with your spatula: dip it into the custard, pull it out, and run your finger across the back of the spatula. Your finger should leave a clear trail and the rest of the spatula should remain coated with custard. If the custard does not run into the finger trail, it is thick enough and can be taken off the heat. If it does run, cook the custard for another minute, or until the consistency is right.
5- Remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl set in an ice bath. Stir the custard occasionally for 5 to 10 minutes, until the temperature drops to 40 deg. F. Stir in the creme de cassis, lemon juice, and salt. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. Transfer to a freezer container and place in the freezer for 2 hours, or until firm.
1 cup almond flour
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large egg whites, covered and refrigerated for 3 days, then brought to room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 drop red food coloring (optional)
1- In a food processor fitted with steel blade, combine the almond flour and confectioners' sugar. Pulase a few times, then add the cocoa and pulse a few times more. Pass through a fine sifter and set aside.
2- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit a piping bag with a #6 plain tip. (I don't have this, so just used the closest one I had.)
3- In a large bowl with a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the egg whites on low speed until they begin to foam. Add the cream of tartar and turn the speed to medium. Slowly stream in the sugar and continue to beat to stiff peaks. If you turn the bowl upside down, the whisk should remain in place. Beat in the drop of red food coloring, if using.
4 - Using a rubber spatula, fold the almond mixture into the egg whites until well combined. This will take about 40 folds and turns of the bowl; after about 20 turns, the batter will come together and deflate, and after 20 more turns, it will be slightly runny, then more runny after a few minutes.
5 - Fill the piping bag two-thirds full with the macaron mixture. Pipe 3-inch disks onto the parchment-covered baking sheets, holding the piping bag straight up and piping until the batter runs out to 3 inches. Allow 2 inches of space between each macaron. You should have 16 macarons.
6 - Allow the piped macarons to sit for 2 to 4 hours. They will dry out on the top and develop a skin, which is what you want.
7 - Place racks in the middle and lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 deg. F, or 275 deg. F in a convection oven.
8 - Bake the cookies for 15 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and from front to back and continue baking for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the macarons are no longer tacky when touched lightly. If you are using a convection oven, leave the oven door cracked after you turn the pans around. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets. (After cooling, the macarons can be stored in the freezer for 2 weeks wrapped airtight.)
9 - To assemble, place 1 chocolate macaron on a plate and top with a scoop of ice cream. Press down on the scoop to flatten slightly (easier if the ice cream is slightly softened), and place another macaron on top.