August 9, 2010

One of my favorite places to dig for new recipe ideas is Tastespotting, which is an aggregate of various cooking sites.  Not only is it searchable, but it always has the loveliest photos taken by people with much experience than I. The best cookie to drool over?  The French Macaron.  Airy, chewy and sweet, they come in a rainbow of colors and flavors and are notoriously difficult to make.
A few months ago, I made a batch of vanilla macarons with a chocolate ganache filling and with some beginner’s luck, they turned out great.  This time I was a bit more adventurous, adding lemon zest to the cookie and making a fresh strawberry filling.  Not to mention bright pink food coloring!  What did I learn with these?:  It’s easy to either undercook or overcook a macaron; I need to learn how to make frosting, because it doesn’t come naturally; all it takes is two good cookies to take a decent photograph.

Lemon Macarons with Strawberry Filling  Lemon Cookie
3 egg whites, room temperature1 cup almond flour1 cup powdered sugar1 cup granulated sugar1 lemon, zest onlyneon pink food coloringPreheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a bowl, mix almond flour, powdered sugar and zest.  In a separate mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a hand mixer until foamy.  Slowly add in granulated sugar, with hand mixer at a high speed.  The mixture should become glossy and start to form soft peaks.  You may add the food coloring at this time.Using a spatula, slowly fold almond/sugar mixture into the meringue until fully encorporated.  Spoon mix into a piping bag with a round tip.On a cookie pan lined with parchment paper, pipe mixture in even circles.  Bake in oven for 15-20 mins (watch them!!)  Once done, let cool before carefully removing from parchment paper with spatula.For the strawberry filling, I combined fresh berries, powdered sugar and butter in a food processor. It was too runny, so don’t do what I did!  There’s many different ways to maracon, so I’m sure this won’t be my last attempt.  If you want to know what a proper one tastes like, go to France or Alliance Bakery in Chicago.  If you want to know what a horrible one tastes like, try the Whole Foods in Union Square.  Or, if you want to know what a pretty decent one tastes like, come over.  I got ya covered.