Friday, September 9, 2011

The Mixer has been Christened

Remember that mixer about which I was SO excited when it finally arrived a few weeks ago? I went on and on my first few blogs, naming off things I would bake and the beauties which I would create. Yadah...that happened, right?

Fact is, at that point, I had no job, nor school to fill my time, I'd just gotten married and back from the trip of a lifetime and then all was suddenly still. I admit I may have come down with some apartment fever. Regardless, life happens, gets busy, and fun things get shifted to the back burner.

This week has been a bit stressful, so I thought I'd whisk away my troubles into a frothy, sweet matter with stiff peaks. Ironically, this morning, I woke up to an email alert from Ladurée informing me that the first Ladurée store has opened in the US, in New York, which is depressing, because I've never been to NYC, let alone go there often, so no Ladurée goodies for me.

Regardless, it rekindled my fervor to make my own sweet concoctions. French macarons have been on my to-do list since I returned to this half of the world and the gorgeous, less than 1000 degree weather prompted me to bake after class today.

Now, a few weeks ago, a friend and I attempted to make macarons. Problem? The recipe was British. Translation? The ingredients were in metric measurements. We attempted to make them anyway, but they were more of a solid meringue than an airy, chewy macaron, without the famously beautiful "feet" every baker tries to achieve.


Today, I found a recipe in standard measurements that seemed to make a decent amount of biscuits. (Concerning the word biscuits, I'd always thought of them as the traditional fluffy bread that accompanies gravy or jam in the morning-again, Southern country girl over here-until I lived with a French family. Cookie has wormed its way into the French language, but it's very specific, like a chocolate chip cookie. Other semi-sweet, dry yummies that are eaten with tea or coffee are called biscuits. It's the same in the UK and Australia, so even when my host mother and I would speak English, this word bled over the language barrier and I've picked it up.)

Now, I followed the directions as closely as possible. On my college student budget (or perhaps out of sheer laziness) I haven't purchased a sifter. My sifting method consisted of me stirring the confectioners' sugar and almond flour together with a traditional spoon and then taking a little bitty sifter/colander thing that came in a wedding gift, and smooshing the dry mixture through the bottom. Smooshing, that's technical baking terminology, right?

Continuing, I broke in the mixer with the egg whites and cream of tater, but then whisked until my arms gave out to achieve the perfect stiff peaks. May I just say that my left arm is completely and utterly uncoordinated? It didn't help the mixture much, and as Husband watched from the dining room table, giggling at my attempt, I was arching my body and contorting my back trying to figure out how to work my useless arm.

He offered to help, which I resisted at first. I'm am GOING to do this myself. Then the burning in my arm continued and began shaking weakly. Man! Fine. "Yes honey, thank you." Stupid T-Rex arms.

Muscles over there went to town and after a few minutes, they were nearly ready. After stealing the bowl back and whisking just a bit more, to make myself feel less insignificant, I continued the recipe. In addition to the original directions, I added a few sprays of rosewater and two drops of pink food coloring. After meticulously placing the first sheet in the oven, I set to work on making ganache.  

After mixing away, I peeked into the oven and squealed when I saw big, beautiful, fluffy, FEET! My other macarons had no feet, they actually didn't change shape at all despite my avail. I slammed the oven door in my excitement, ran to the living room and retrieved my camera.


This made up for the fact that I'd ruined a few of the setting batter rounds on the other baking sheet, due to grabbing it with my oven mit on accident. I have had NO formal training whatsoever in the cooking/baking arts. Everything you will read on this blog, I have figured out as I went along, read out of a book, or off of a website, so fun mishaps are always bound to happen. It's always an adventure!


I placed the ganache in the fridge at this point in order to stiffen it a bit, as it was too hot and runny to put on the brittle biscuits, but after everything was all cooled and hardened, I set to work, putting together the masterpieces.

This is a milestone in baking for me. I have been so afraid to try these, because everyone tells me they're SO difficult to make, or writes that if you don't do ONE step correctly, they'll turn into fire-spitting ants or taste like mud.


My tip to you is to resist the intimidation and approach every recipe the same, with a creative mood and childhood excitement.

1 comment:

  1. Awww, our first patch was so pathetic! The ones you made after look amazing!