Thursday, August 11, 2011

Photo(s) of the Day: Mac(cas)rons

Go, Big Green! These were mint cocoa shells with bittersweet chocolate and Kahlua filling.

On Sunday, I tried out a recipe for macarons (or as my boyfriend calls them, 'maccas-rons', after their resemblance to small burgers) that was listed in the local newspaper a while ago. I also did a repeat on Wednesday when a photo shoot got canceled.

They came out pretty well for a first (and second) attempt! Albeit the first batch was very green.

I learned a lot during this little jaunt into pastry-making. The first thing I learned is that grocery stores are really, really badly organized. I used to work at one, but things have apparently changed. The canning section is no longer with baking supplies in these chains, but instead hidden away between the dog food and toys and the waste disposal products (ie: trash bags).

It was shocking, I can tell you.

For the recipe I had planned to do originally, I needed pectin for the cherry spread. After hunting for a half hour, I finally stopped a woman who used to be one of my co-workers. She gloated over how much I've grown up (she always does, on a bi-weekly basis) and told me she'd find someone who knew where to look. This brought me to lesson two: always ask the oldest, most frail looking stocker where things are.

They will remember, simply because it was such a pain in the ass for them to put out.

The old man in question led me straight to the pectin, in spite of its odd location and lack of aisle labeling.

After my trip down memory lane at the grocery store, I headed home to bake!

Plain flavored shells with a homemade cherry preserve filling!

My first round (for use with the cherry filling) came out horrifically. The shells either exploded sideways, were hollow inside or hard as bricks. I realized that I hadn't tapped the bottom of the tray as described in the recipe to release the necessary air bubbles, so for the second batch, I vowed to do so and get it right!

(care of my cell phone camera)

For the second attempt, I decided to added a tablespoon of cocoa powder and half a teaspoon of mint extract to the shell batter, to get a "thin mint" flavored macaron. As I was mixing, I decided that green would be far more appetizing to eat than pale, cocoa brown and reached for the food coloring vials!

Unfortunately, I used a busted vial of green. The tip fell clean off into the batter and half of the bottle's contents went with it.

Thankfully food coloring doesn't alter flavor!

This time, I tapped the tray as needed and the shells came out just right. I filled them with a Kahlua/chocolate ganache which resulted in thin mint Hulk-a-rons.

Yum. Seriously. Yum.

As soon as I've got a better handle on these (practicepracticepractice), I'm going to learn to make pies. 

Has anybody else had any culinary adventures lately?


prancing bee

They look great and yummy!
I have been wanting to make my own too, but I seriously fail at baking and I have always heard that this is a challenge to make.

focusing the lens

@prancing bee

They were definitely a challenge, but they came out pretty well in the end!

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