Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Inspiration and successful Macarons

The beginning of the summer had me feeling the blues. Well, if I were a singer, I would be singing the blues, but no one wants to hear my singing voice! You know those ruts that everyone gets into from time to time. Everything seems a big grayer, nothing looks good to cook.

Yea, sure, like you, I go to foodgawker and tastespotting for inspiration, but this was deeper than that. Personally, I blame the weather. I really wanted to get out of my humdrum mood, but looking at other people making wonderful summer dishes while we were stuck in rain every day here didn't exactly help.

Well, I was fortunate enough to make a quick trip to Las Vegas, and found my inspiration there. While there, I saw a lot of sites, got to visit with Caleb, which is always awesome, and got to spend some time in the Bellagio. The first pic is the view from hotel room. Now, if those fountains don't inspire you, I don't know what will. Of course, walking by Jean Phillipe patiserrie certainly helped.

The pic above is a chocolate fountain made by Dale Chihuly. And, it is fantastic.

Now, who couldn't get inspired by that? A locomotive made from candy, floating in the air beneath another Chihuly glass sculpture. I love glass and crystal. I should have become a glass artist instead of an accountant, but I'm way too clumsy for that.
This is the first thing I got from the bakery. It's awesome - a *huge* macaron (rose scented), filled with pastry cream and topped with fresh raspberries. Yes, it did taste as good as it looked, and yes, I did totally cheat on my diet while in Las Vegas. Luckily (or not), it was 110 there, so when I came back not gaining any weight, I just figured I had sweated it off. I love this pic - it shows you the insides of the macaron and above the box, you can see the top. This was an awesome dessert!
The next treat, of course, I had to get the assorted macarons. These were awesome! 4 flavors - pistachio, chocolate, coffee, and strawberry. The chocolate ones were by far my favorite. The only reason the pistachio ones weren't my favorite is I felt a pastry cream would have been better than pistachio paste - the paste was really heavy. The chocolate ones were to die for - so were the coffee!



Of course, when I got home, this inspired me to try my hand at macarons. Yes, I'd read about them before, but this was the first time I tried them. I made Pandan Macarons, with coconut jam (kaya) filling. I loved them - they are so good!

I'm not going to post a recipe, rather I will link the recipe I used and provide some tips. The recipe I used was awesome, and I really want to make them again. Next time, chocolate!

I found my recipe on The Squirrel Bakes blog. That is a great recipe. I chose to use that recipe, because I know that meringue made with hot sugar is more stable, and I tend to be a bit of an overmixer. The recipe worked very well.



Now my tips:

- Listen to the recipe - these do need to rest.
- Don't overmix, but don't under mix either.
- If you use Almond Meal, no matter how fine it is, toss it and the powdered sugar in your food processor and blitz it for a while anyway.
- This recipe seems complex, but it's not - give it a try!


And, that's it! My first real try at macarons. And, I'm back from my vacation, and ready to make a ton more food!

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