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Friday, January 15, 2010

foodie friday... french almond macarons with fig meringue buttercream

we write to taste life twice,
in the moment and in retrospection.
anaïs nin

while i intended to share more of the gorgeous flavors and textures of early winter with you, writing of a summer of figs and of rose macarons made me long to taste them again... and so, on the weekend i made my first macarons. in fact, they were french almond macarons with fig meringue buttercream... and i wanted to share with you... they are perfect for piling onto a crisp white platter, next to a little teacup, near the window... they are perfect for dreaming of paris.

adapted from the martha stewart baking handbook. makes 30.

french almond macarons

1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups ground almonds
3 large egg whites
pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a few drops pure vanilla extract

1. preheat oven to 300 degrees. sift confectioners' sugar into a bowl. whisk in almonds; set aside. line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. trace 30 1-1.5 inch circles, each, on two pieces of paper to place underneath the parchment. you can also simply mark the parchment by dipping a small cookie cutter into flour.

2. put egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. beat on medium speed until foamy, then beat in salt. beat in granulated sugar, one teaspoon at a time, until medium-soft peaks form.

3. using a rubber spatula, fold half the almond mixture into the egg white mixture until just incorporated. fold in vanilla and remaining almond mixture until just incorporated. firmly tap bottom of bowl on counter to eliminate air pockets.

4. transfer mixture to a pastry bag. pipe mixture into marked circles on prepared baking sheets, and remove paper with marked circles from underneath the parchment. bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until macarons are slightly firm and can be gently lifted off parchment (bottoms will be dry), 20 to 25 minutes. let cool on sheets for five minutes. transfer macarons on parchment to a wire rack; let cool completely.

5. spread buttercream on flat sides of half of the cooled macaroons, then sandwich with remaining halves, keeping flat sides together, making 30 macarons. refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes, before serving. store in an air-tight container, for up to 2 days, but they are best served on the day prepared.

fig meringue buttercream

2 large egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened, cut into tablespoons
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup fig preserves

1. put egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water. w constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm.

2. attach bowl to a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about six minutes.

3. switch to the paddle attachment. with mixer on medium-low, add butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition, and beat in vanilla. reduce speed to low; beat two minutes to eliminate air bubbles. stir in fig preserves with spatula.

robyn michelle-lee is an ashtanga yogini, a literature student, a photographer and a lifestyle writer.

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