Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I made a lemon curd based berry trifle the other day. The egg whites left over from the lemon curd stayed on the kitchen countertop until next day. When I noticed them next morning, I thought of making macarons. This time, I started with a new recipe (Hazelnut Macarons from The Sweet Life by Kate Zuckerman) and tweaked it a little to make coffee macarons with a coffee-caramel filling. The result was not-overly-sweet, decidedly adult macarons. My youngest daughter posed with them, but did not want to taste them when I mentioned "coffee". Other family members and friends thought that they were very good. This was a succesful macaron experience. I could have enjoyed them and moved on with my life.

But once you start making macarons, it's difficult to stop; so before I knew it, I found myself on a macaron roll. This time, I wanted to make lavender macarons. I defrosted some of the cream cheese-white chocolate buttercream in my freezer, and flavored it with a lavender-infused sugar syrup. It turns out that lavender is a good flavoring for white chocolate. To incorporate lavender flavor into the macaron shells, I mixed some dried lavender in the confectioners' sugar and let it sit for a day. When it was time to process the nuts and sugar, I left the lavender in, too; and then sieved the mixture as best as I could. The result was very fine bits of lavender in the nut mixture. I proceeded with the Kate Zuckerman recipe, but in this case, the eggs were not day old. Since the recipe did not particularly say so, I did not think that this would be a problem. I don't know, maybe it wasn't; it may also have been the tiny amount of food coloring I added on a whim (which did not disperse in the batter as it should, and resulted in marbled macarons). Whatever the culprit was, two hours later, my macarons were not as dry as they should be. By then, it was 2:00am in the morning, so I baked them anyway and got feetless, and in some intances cracked shells. The taste, on the brighter side, was quite lavendery; so I do not consider this an altogether failed experience. No, the rose macaron experiment that came next was the real disaster, so much so that I will only mention it in the passing. But I would like to pose this question to the seasoned macaron bakers among you: What is your technique to flavor the macaron shells? Could it be that it is only the filling carries the flavor? I would really like to know the answer as I now want to get past the obvious coffee, matcha, chocolate etc. flavorings with macarons. I'll appreciate any feedback on this.

Coming back to what worked, here is my adaptation of the Kate Zuckerman recipe:

  • 5 oz almond flour
  • 8 oz confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 egg whites, aged at room temperature for a day
  • 1/6 c sugar
  • A pinch of cream of tartar
  • 2 tsp instant coffee granules (divided)
  • 6 oz dulce de leche
Process the almond flour, 1/2 c of the confectioners' sugar and 1 tsp of instant coffee granules to a fine powder, stopping the food processor a few times to scrape and toss the nut mixture. Mix it with the remainder of the confectioners' sugar and salt in a clean bowl.

In a large clean and dry bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to beat to stiff peaks. Gently fold in the dry ingredients into egg whites until completely incorporated.

Pipe the batter onto parchment paper or silpat-lined baking sheets. Tap the baking sheets a few times to remove air bubbles. Let dry at room temperature for 1 or 2 hours until the macaron shells feel dry to touch.

Bake at 350F, one sheet at a time, for about 15 minutes. Let the macaron shells cool a little before you remove them from baking sheets.

For the filling, dissolve 1 tsp instant coffee granules in 1 to 1 1/2 tsp boiling water. Use this to dilute dulce de leche to spreading consistency; you can use more hot water if necessary. Pair matching macaron shells and sandwich them with some coffee-flavored dulce de leche. Press the shells together so that the filling is visible.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

We wish you fun-filled holidays with your loved ones.