Making Macarons are easy (after the one hundredth time you make them.)
Last year I took a wonderful Macaron workshop which gave me the technique and confidence to constantly experiment with these previously precarious palate-teasers. Now, I just have pure fun with the flavor combinations and themes, like these Cinnamon Thyme Macarons with Orange Buttercream filling.It started with a Cuban theme for a catering event over the weekend. I wanted to make something that was a light pastry with cinnamon, and maybe some citrus to pick up the orange, lime and lemon I was using in a Pork Marinade for Cuban Sliders. I wanted it to have a little elegance to it, without needing a plate, no sauce and not chocolate. I read several articles about the use of thyme and oregano in Cuban cooking and it clicked for me. Sometimes, I literally push my tongue around my mouth as I try to taste combinations in my head using my imagination, first - like putting colors together in your mind's eye. Does that sound strange? You can tell me.
Everyone has their own way of creating, and the right way is the process that works for you. After years of writing, teaching theatre, acting, etc... I've experienced watching all kinds of artist go about their crafts in many different ways. Some writers, for instance, will never put a single word onto the paper or screen until the entire story has been created in their heads first. They watch the scenes, the movie, the story unfold like a tiny film playing out in their minds. Then, the writing it down is the easy part. Others toil with page after page of brainstorming, false starts, whole drafts of a completely different story only to rewrite it into the one they meant to tell in the first place. Both, and all, are correct - for the artist. The same goes for actors and painters and song writers and designers and builders and... cooks. The important part, I think, is that we give ourselves the freedom to play, experiment, fail, re-do, burn, under-cook, over-whip and every now and then spray the walls because of a forgotten blender lid. We are "culinary artists" and our kitchens are our canvas and sometimes we create a great tasting macaron.
RECIPE: Cinnamon Thyme Macaron
(adapted recipe from the expert: Tartelette)
100 g. Egg Whites (from about 3 eggs)
25 g. granulated sugar
190 g. powdered sugar
100 g. almond meal (or ground almonds to flour)
1 tsp. powdered cinnamon
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Sift the Powdered Sugar, Almond Meal/Flour, salt, cinnamon and dried thyme together.
In your mixing bowl, whip the room temperature egg whites til foamy, then add the granulated sugar and continue whipping til the whites are full, doubled and hold their peaks.
Fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites all at once. Turning it over and over and through for about 50 strokes (according to Tartelette).
When the mass is like thick lava, pour it into a large tipped pastry bag. Holding the bag at about 45 degree angle, pipe out small round coin shaped circles (about 1.5 inches) onto a parchment lined baking sheet, or silpat covered baking pan.
Allow the pans to sit still for about an hour so the macarons can dry out on top a little.
Put into a 300F oven for about 12-15 minutes, til set.
Cool for a few moments, then carefully remove the macarons to a rack for cooling.
Using a pastry bag, pipe the buttercream into every other macaron and sandwich.
RECIPE: Orange Buttercream
57 g. (2 oz.) egg white (about 1 egg)
113 g. (4 oz.) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. orange extract
1 Tbls. orange blossom water (if not available, use 2 tsp. orange extract)
170 g. (6 oz.) butter
** Orange Coloring - optional**
In a metal bowl, over a pot of simmering water, whip the egg whites and sugar until glossy and thickened (about 8 minutes)
In your mixing bowl, pour in the egg mixture and whip, adding the orange extract and blossom water, until light and fluffy.
Change to a paddle attachment and continue to beat, adding the butter in gradually until all the butter has been added, and the coloring if using.
I'd love to hear about your latest "culinary creation".