So that last post….

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I couldn’t calm the urge. I needed macarons badly; those crack-like merengue shells were beckoning me in my dreams the night after I made jello to tide the urge. I dreamt that I was being chased by fluffed egg white ogres at a cooking contest in which I made macarons and failed badly, being that the egg whites wouldn’t get in my bowl. As a result, I found myself at Wal-Mart the next day buying my ingredients. Six strenuous hours later, I had made the macarons pictured above.

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This was a major project. Almond flour isn’t available up here, so I made my own. Caster sugar isn’t either, so I made batches of that. But the worst one was the pistachio paste. If I were back in California, I’d walk right down to Cortina’s Italian Market on the corner of my neighbourhood and pick up a can, no problem. But instead I spend hours making a below-par paste. I bought two over-priced bags of salted shelled pistachios and washed, and boiled, and scrubbed, and peeled, and roasted until all their little skins had fallen off. Non-skinned pistachios make for a very gritty paste which I am not okay with.

By the end of my project, it was 5 a.m. and I had around 75 macarons total.

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For the most part, the macarons themselves were easy. I broke my flour sifter halfway through and ended up having trouble with consistencies after the first batch. [Hence the lumpy-ish shells]. I prepared all the fillings between batches to keep the buttercream soft and the whipped fillings firm. For the recipe, I partially used Martha Stewart’s French Macaron recipe. It is very simple, you don’t need egg white powder or simple syrup. I made a few tweaks, as she had it down to process the flour and icing sugar together first before sifting, which I felt made it too lumpy. So I sifted the mixture twice. She also doesn’t mention macronage; Most people know how to fold a batter, but macarons require a certain deflation to keep them from looking like, say…baked alaska? It is what keeps the insides chewy and the shells smooth. Instructables has a great description of macronage:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Macarons-au-Chocolat/step5/Macaronage/

All in all, I want to be more prepared to make these next time, despite my first efforts being pretty damn good. I had no cracks or dry shells, which surprised me.

Ah, the flavors! I decided to pay homage to my roots and fashion my macarons after a dessert called malban that I used to eat as a child. It’s a pistachio-rose nougat wrapped in dried apricots, or sometimes flavored with saffron. So I made a pistachio macaron [with whipped pistachio paste filling], a rose macaron [white chocolate rosewater buttercream], and a saffron macaron [saffron infused buttercream]. P likes the saffron best, and I’m still a through-and-through pistachio fiend.

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I highly recommend using the recipe found here:

http://www.marthastewart.com/318387/french-macaroons

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