Tuesday, October 27, 2009

DB October 09- Parisian Macarons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe. Unfortunately, it seems nearly everyone found this recipe to be quite problematic, and as a result the recipe I'll be posting will not be the challenge recipe.
I didn't really succeed the way I would have liked to, but at least a few came out looking kinda okay. They're pretty flat, but they have feet, not tutus, and are mostly round. My batter ended up runnier than I had thought and the first tray ran all together to make one big blob (still with feet, YAY! feet!!). The second tray had far fewer macarons piped onto it, but due to uneven heat in the oven (and despite a stack of half-sheet-pans) they rose a bit unevenly and some are much taller on one side than the other.
The recipe I used comes from Helen of Tartelette ( http://www.mytartelette.com )

Basic French Meringue Macarons
100g weighed egg whites- I used the whites in a carton from Trader Joe's- room temperature
2 tsp of powdered egg whites- I used Wilton Meringue Powder
50 g sugar
200 g powdered sugar
110 g Almond meal- this also came from Trader Joe's and wasn't blanched, but I like the speckle-y look
Paste food color- I used orange gel color by Wilton

1. In a clean bowl with clean beaters whip the egg whites and meringue powder to a foam, then gradually add the sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form
2. In a food processor, grind together the almond meal and paste color. I added the powdered sugar after the color and almond meal were evenly combined to aerate and eliminate lumps.
3. Pour the almond meal and sugar onto the meringue and quickly mix, using as few strokes as needed. It should look glossy and be pipeable.
4. Fill a pastry bag or zipper bag fitted with a half inch round tip with the batter and pipe small rounds onto parchment paper on upside-down baking sheets. Bang the pan of shells down onto the countertop to release bubbles.
5. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150C). Let the macarons sit out for an hour and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let them cool before removing from the parchment. Let cool completely before filling.
6. Pipe filling onto half the shells and top with remaining shells.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Home-made Candy Corn

I came across this recipe on Serious Eats ( http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2009/10/how-to-make-homemade-candy-corn-halloween-recipe.html?ref=se-bb2 ) and just had to try it. I made a bunch of candy corn and then with the rest of the candy decided to make pumpkins. I think I undercooked the sugar mixture even though I used a thermometer, so next time I'll cook it longer. The candy was so soft the pumpkins, which I originally made as tall and narrow flattened themselves out to what you see here within 15 minutes. They were so soft I couldn't even take them off the baking liner without freezing them first.

1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup salted butter
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
red and yellow food coloring

Sift powdered sugar, milk powder and salt and reserve in a medium mixing bowl.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan (wide and shallow is preferable, as is nonstick or enamel coated), bring granulated sugar, corn syrup, fat and vanilla up to a boil over high heat. When you begin to see bubbles, reduce heat to medium-high and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently with a heat-proof silicon or rubber spatula. A candy thermometer will read 225-230 degrees, just before thread stage. You want to set a timer or use the thermometer - this is very important.

Remove pan from heat, and gradually add powdered sugar mixture to pan, incorporating with spatula. Make sure that mixture is completely integrated. Let mixture cool until slighty warm to the touch, about 20 minutes (again, a timer is helpful here).

With a knife or pastry cutter, cut dough into three equal pieces, placing each in a small bowl. Now here's where it gets interesting (and messy): Put on an apron or shirt that you don't mind getting stained.

Add three drops of yellow food coloring to one piece of dough and begin kneading until smooth and color is evenly distributed. You can this a few different ways: Wearing rubber gloves (however, latex was a disaster), covering your hands with plastic wrap or placing dough and coloring in a Ziploc-style bag and knead the bag. Set on parchment or wax paper or on a silicone baking mat.

For the second piece, use a combination of red and yellow coloring to make orange, using the same procedure. Knead the third piece until smooth but keep uncolored.

Clear a large work space to roll out each piece of dough, which, when rolled into a thin rope, can get quite long. If rope gets too long, trim with a paring knife or pastry cutter.

Push three ropes together to form a long rectangle. Use sharp knife to trim ends and sides to make a straight angle. Starting at one end of the rope rectangle, cut small triangle shapes. Place each candy on parchment or wax paper to keep from sticking to your work surface.

Store at room temperature in airtight container, separating layers with parchment or waxed paper.