- Macaroons are really made with three ingredients. Egg whites, powdered sugar, and almond flour. However, these ingredients must be perfect. The eggs that make the egg whites have to be a minimum of two weeks old in the fridge. If you use younger eggs, the chef told us we would fail. Additionally, the egg whites need to be set out for 24-hours at room temperature before you use them. Any less and it's guaranteed failure. As for the other ingredients...you have to have 100% pure powdered sugar. There cannot be any contaminants, so you have to pay for the good stuff. No cornstarch. And the same goes for the almond flour (which costs about $15 for a small bag according to the chef). This helps to explain the price tag of charging $2.00 per cookie for these temperamental things.
- The egg whites must be whipped in a metal bowl with a metal beater. Somewhere between soft and hard peak, you have to add the food coloring. It cannot be liquid or dry because either of these will cause your recipe to fail. You need to use the gel food coloring and it has to have "no taste" on the label because the color you end up with will be less once cooked. If you whip the egg whites to hard peak...you will fail. That's how temperamental these cookies are. There's a narrow corridor of success. It was kind of mind-blowing. Just to give you an idea of what Meg and I went through over the course of three hours...we added a teaspoon of orange flavoring (the recipe called for it) and failed to whip the egg whites enough so our batter was too runny and we failed :(. There is no levener, so the egg whites are everything to this dish.
- I had to sift the powdered sugar through a chinois strainer three times with a wooden spoon. This is to get air into the powdered sugar. And yes, anything less than three times is failure. Once the almond flour and the powdered sugar were mixed (a delicate act since to do so too violently churns the almond flour and sugar into butter) it needs to be folded into the egg whites CAREFULLY. If you are ham-fisted with it, then you over fold the egg batter and the recipe is ruined. Basically start over (we should have done this).
- Once you get the egg batter done then you make the stuffing for the middle. Caramel, fudge, or some other buttery thing were our choices. These weren't so difficult...although the caramel had to be done with care.
Happy Wednesday. And don't forget, tomorrow is Patrick Dilloway's Bah Humbug Blahg Fest.