Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mac Secrets

Hello there. Its been quite sometime since I last posted. There are many reasons for this but I do have something to share with you so I kind of figured this would be the place to do it. If you've read my blog, in the past, or if you know me, in person, you know that French macaron's have become a thing in my life. Two and a half years ago I decided to attempt making them. I failed and I refuse to fail when it comes to the kitchen so... the story begins. I really nailed them. I figured out how to make them, how to make them creative and interesting (aka delicious), how to perfect them in my the climate/altitude here in Utah and I had fun. I met new friends, joined a little club/site where we were challenged to make new macaron's each month and truly... found a new culinary passion in my life. I  love their daintiness and pretty design. They are such fun to make and so wonderful to give to and share with others.

Because of my interest and success with the little pastries, I've been featured on KUTV news, been invited to serve them at local events, I'm selling them to order (shipping as well) and am now creating beautiful wedding "cakes" for wedding events in SLC. I've taught several classes and that brings me to the reason behind this post. I'm teaching my first "official" local macaron class this Saturday June 16th at 11am.  My dear friend Heather from @slclunches has generously helped me coordinate this event and I am really looking forward to sharing this passion of mine with others. If it's a successful class, I will continue with more (basic as well as more advanced, adding a little funk to the mix). We are keeping class size to 10-12 attendees and serving a light lunch with cocktails. Everyone will get the chance to have a hands-on experience, taste our delicacies and take home a few flavors. If you are interested in attending a macaron class, please comment below, contact me on Twitter (@foodfinery), email me at tspegar@gmail.com or contact Heather (@slclunches) on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you and get you more information.

Allow me to now share a few tips for baking these sweets. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

* always use parchment paper. I've seen people using silpat and while it might "work", it isn't the proper way to bake the cookie part of the macaron. You are looking for a very light crisp surface that, once bitten into, has a soft chewy texture and finishes with a crisp bottom.
* if you're using a convection oven (I do), bake them at 280 degrees for 10 minutes. If you're using a traditional oven, bake at 300 for about 8 minutes. With convection, you can bake 2-3 sheets at a time.
* traditional macaron's are made with almond meal (ground almond flour) and that is what I typically stick with but you can use pistachio or cashew as well.
* always pipe the batter out and allow the piped circles to rest, at room temperature for 10 minutes. The object here is to create a slightly tacky surface so the pastries stand on their own and form a sort of protective barrier before being baked.
* use stainless steel bowls for all of your mixing. Egg whites in one bowl and dry ingredients in another.
* use a rubber spatula to do all of the folding.
* this one, for me, is important but... like my silpat opinion, I'm sure a few will disagree with this too. Use a hand mixer. Don't rely on your Kitchenaid to do this for you. Take the 3 minutes, stand and use a plug in, electric beater, on medium-high speed and do this by hand. You will learn the proper consistency and really be able to control the meringue aspect of this pastry.
* age your egg whites at least 2 days. I prefer 3. Separate the eggs cold, put 2 whites in each bowl (never more, never less) and store them at room temperature. 

We can get into questions, address the more science part of the reason behind how the cookies work and why they are so tricky later.

Ok :) that should suffice, for now. I'll be back with a class update and more tips next week. Thanks to all of you who have and are supporting me. This is fun and a very exciting time. Thank you to those of you who have purchased macaron's from me, passed my information onto friends and family and to those of you attending this class. Thank you to my sweet husband and my precious daughters for advising me, supporting me and being my relentless taste testers.

Happy Baking Friends!