April 5, 2012

Pin It Banana Caramel French Macaroons

Taken From Tartelette

Week 14
So here is something I'll probably never try making again, French Macaroons. I have a new appreciation for these delicious little treats, as I have found they are not easy to make. Maybe you need to be French, I'm not sure, but whatever it is, I don't have it.

I wanted to make a kosher for Passover dessert and thought I had a brilliant idea with these macaroons.  They are fairly simple ingredient-wise and the cookie itself only has 4 ingredients:

2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
2 cups almond flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 eggs white (room temperature)

Simple right? Mmmm, not for me. I actually made this recipe twice, as I was not happy with how the first batch turned out.  Kristen was over during my first batch and was very helpful in documenting some of the process. Here is how it goes:

In a bowl, combine the almond flour and powdered sugar.
Then, in a clean dry bowl with the whisk attachment on your stand mixer (or you could use a hand mixer, but I would not recommend it...your arm would be very tired) beat your egg whites until you get soft peaks. Then slowly add in granulated sugar and beat until you have firm peaks.
Separating out my egg whites.
Adding sugar to egg whites.
During my first attempt, I didn't beat the egg whites long enough before or after adding the granulated sugar, so the batter was not fluffy enough and they flatted out after baking.
Sad, flat macaroons.

Now these weren't bad enough that I had to throw all of them away (figured I can smear PB on them and eat them throughout the week), but they were not going to make the cut. So with attempt #2, I had more patience and waited until I had soft peaks, added my sugar, and mixed until I had firm peaks.
Those are firm peak, right?!
After you've attained the elusive firm peak, fold the dry mixture into your egg whites. The recipe on Tartelette (which is actually Claudia Flemming's from The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern) says to do this in 3 batches and to make sure not to over-fold it. I guess if you are making a macaroon that has color or flavoring, you would add that after the first addition of the dry mix.

Side note: Tartelette's "tried and true" recipe is here, but I didn't use it because she is French and her measurements are in grams : / However, after reading it over again, her baking process seems less complicated and may result in a better finished product? Who knows.
So after folding in all the dry ingredients, I spooned the batter into my pastry bag and tried to made 1 inch blobs on my parchment paper. I decided not to use my silpat for this batch since my macaroons were really hard to scrape off the silpat and I thought the paper may be easier (eh, only kind of).

The recipe I followed says to bake at 200F for 5 minutes, then take them out of the oven, raise the temp to 375F, then bake for ~7 minutes (mine took about 9). These were definitely fluffier than my first batch, but were still really hard to get off the sheet.  I ended up using a sharp knife to scrape them off to try and maintain their shape. I wasn't super pleased with how these looked, but they were better than the last batch, and there was no way I was making a third batch (almond flour is $11 for 4 cups, what?!).

I followed Tartelette's recipe for the banana caramel filling which she divided in half from her taffy crabapple recipe. If you are only making one flavor of macaroons, then I would use her original quantities (not divided in half as listed below) because what I made would not be enough for a whole batch of macaroons.  Luckily for me, I was trying to be efficient with my oven and used my two non-stick baking sheets lined with parchment paper to bake ~35 macaroons.  Those all ended up with burnt bottoms and all went in the compost I really should just throw those pans away, totally useless.

For the banana caramel filling, I used:
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
¾ tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
pinch of salt
1 banana, mashed

To make the caramel, I heated ½ cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons water (because Tartelette's directions to make dry caramel sounded scary) over medium heat. Once it started to turn a caramel color, I added the butter, cream and salt.  After it was smooth, I added in my mashed banana.
Bubbling caramel.
Caramel + mashed banana
I actually ended up using my immersion blender to smooth out my filling as I had not mashed my banana fine enough and I didn't want a lumpy filling.

After my macaroons had cooled a bit, I loaded my pastry bag with my filling and started assembling macaroon sandwiches.
They ended up looking ok, but not as pretty as I had hoped.  I will still bring them to dinner, but they are not one of my crowning culinary achievements.
Next time, I'm going to Miette J

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