Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Macarons, Take 2: I have feet! Sort of.

I am on a quest to create a version of Pierre Hermé’s Ispahan macaron. Though I have never personally sampled this treat, how could one refuse a rose-lychee-raspberry concoction? Deliciousness all around!

NB1. There is no “Take 1.” That’s because my first attempt was such a disaster, I’m too embarrassed to post. Instead of that light, chewy goodness, I was faced with something resembling a crisp baked meringue. No characteristic “feet” to be found.

My second attempt at a proper French MACARON (macarons are not macaroons) fared much better. I tried to stick to the recipes as much as I could, choosing to omit the egg-aging step found in a number of recipes. This was mainly due to the fact I had no patience and wanted macarons ASAP.

I ad-libbed a raspberry pâte de fruit using raspberry puree and agar powder. May have gone a little heavy on the agar powder (I wanted to be sure the gel would set). NB2. Agar powder has stronger “gelling” properties than gelatin.

The cookie itself was your basic macaron no additional flavorings added, only food coloring (I use gels) for that rosy hue. I did make sure to rap the baking pans on the counter so as to get rid of any air pockets. And I also let the macarons set for an hour or so, as suggested in several recipes. NB3. I think this may have been an integral contribution to the formation of “feet,” minimal as they were. Nevertheless, more testing needs to be done to be certain.

And that luscious filling. A white-chocolate ganache infused with rose and lychee. Or not so much. I can never get chocolate to work properly. (This, I must change!) My ganache didn’t set as I’d hoped. It was more a medium-soft ganache, rather than the stiffer texture I was aiming for. And it was lacking in rose-lychee flavor. There was some flavor, but very, very faint, almost an aftertaste. I have got to figure out how to extract the most of these flavors without compromising the ganache texture. I think I may try a rose-lychee infused syrup next time.

Despite my critical evaluation, the Taste Testers were very happy with the result. Hurrah!

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