Happy New Year!  I’ve been intending to post something, but we had folks over for New Year’s Eve, so I got busy with a grand baking project (that failed) and so I  had a minute.  Even now, I have to hurry and get this out so I can get to church! 


About macarons:  there is an “expert” on macarons, French chef Pierre Herme. He has a fancy book out that details his methods, but it has only recently been made available in English (and all the measurements are in the metric system.  Not so bad if you have a digital scale that can measure in grams, but it’s a pain to have to transpose all the Centigrade temperatures into Farenheit.)  Anyway–I ordered this book from a third-party Amazon dealer, and it arrived all WET.  By the time I carefully pulled the wet pages apart, quite a few of the recipes were unreadable, so I knew I was going to send the book back.  But before I did, I wanted to try Herme’s method to see if the book was worth buying again.

What a beautiful lemon macaron. 

Well–his method is very different.  He wants us to begin with 220 grams of egg whites, which is about six eggs’ worth (when most recipes call for three or four).  He then instructs the baker to divide those egg whites, half of which will be whipped into a meringue as usual, but the other half will be tossed onto the pile of almond flour and powdered sugar. RAW.  What?  When I first read that, I was convinced I had misunderstood him.  I came *this close* to whipping all the whites like I usually do, then finally decided to trust the book.  But just barely.

My neighbors really like this one–“light and refreshing”

Herme uses the Italian method for making meringue, which means you have to melt sugar to the liquid state and then pour it into the mixing bowl as the meringue is whipping.  This resulted in a shiny yet sort of flat meringue . . . I was dubious.   But I followed the directions and continued, folding the italian meringue into the almond flour, powdered sugar, and RAW egg whites, then piping that mixture onto the baking sheets.  I let the sheets sit for 30 minutes as instructed, then popped the first sheet into the oven.

All I can say is WOW.  Those macarons puffed up with the most beautiful feet I have ever seen–huge!  In fact, I was afraid I’d done something wrong because the caps looked as though they were going to slide right off, but they didn’t.  They resulted in absolutely gorgeous macarons.

A couple of things I did change:  Herme doesn’t believe in flavoring the shells; he wants all the flavor to be in the filling.  But I like flavored shells, so I added yellow food coloring and lemon emulsion to my almond flour mixture.  End result:  deliciousness.   I also sprinkled half of the yellow shells with sanding sugar before baking, so the “tops” sparkled. 🙂

And if my calculations are correct, Herme wanted me to bake them in a 350 degree oven, which experience has taught me results in browned macarons.  I didn’t want my yellow shells to be brown, so I baked them at 315 for a little longer–about 14 minutes.  They were still a wee bit browned, but not too much.

So–yes, this method works very well, though it is more involved, makes a bigger batch, and feels very strange at first.  But I’ll definitely be trying it again.

But I’m still not sure I’ll buy that book again.  It’s pricey, hard to find, and I still have to convert all those centigrades to Fahrenheit . . . maybe I’ll just tweak the recipes I already have.

Oh–what was the baking project that royally flopped?  Tee hee.  That’s a story for another day!



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