The value of a virtue

October 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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My husband often tells me that I am too intense, which can result in my being impatient.  I have always admitted that I am a Type-A personality.  When I need something done it needs to be accomplished right away.  This philosophy translates into most faucets of my life–exercising, work and even baking.

(Side note: rushing and impatiences are also how I cut off half my finger last week but that is a story no one wants to hear).

The opportunities I have to bake are fleeting.  I usually need to get things done fast or I will be left with half-baked goodies and two weeping children tugging at my limbs. The only problem with my quick forging baking technique is that I get muddle headed and I won’t mix something enough or even worse–I’ll forget an ingredient (sugarless treats are not a pleasant surprise).

Today, however, was a day of change. The girls were content with playing in my pantry and “baking.” So I thought that I would make some macarons. I carefully weighed out all the ingredients ahead of time. I took time to whip the eggs at a slow speed and for them to become glossy and stiff.

Somedays taking time and really relishing in an activity is the most calming and satisfying moment (well, aside from taking that first bite of a delicious macaron).

I made a cinnamon macaron with cream cheese filling for my husband who has been requesting them for the past month.

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Cinnamon Macarons with Cream Cheese filling
adapted from Not So Humble Pie and Baked

yields 50 macarons

Ingredients

  • 60g almond meal
  • 100g powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 50g egg whites
  • 15g granulated sugar
  • food coloring gel
  • Cream Cheese filling (recipe below)

Method

Line 1 heavy gauge aluminum baking sheets with parchment. Prep a piping bag with a round tip.

Sift almond meal, powdered sugar and cinnamon to remove any clumps. (If you own a food processor, I highly recommend blending the almonds and powdered sugar and then sifting.)

Weigh out the egg whites into a large mixing bowl (stainless steel or copper), if you’re using stainless feel free to add a pinch of salt, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or couple drops of lemon juice to help strengthen the whites. If you’re using copper you need not and should not add any additional acid.

Weigh out the granulated sugar.

Begin beating the eggs on low speed. What you’re doing here is unraveling the egg white’s proteins (these are what will capture the air bubbles you whisk in), they’re bundled up and you need to gently unwind them. A light touch does this far better than scrambling them on high speed. Once the egg whites are very foamy, begin sprinkling in the sugar as you beat. Increase the speed to medium, if necessary, and beat the meringue to stiff glossy peaks. (If they start looking grainy, clumpy or dry you’ve gone too far.)

Add the food coloring (for the full recipe it usually takes 2-4 drops of gel, for a half batch 1-2 drops does the trick) and mix.

Add about 1/4 of the almond/sugar mixture and fold in until no streaks remain. Continue to add the almond mixture in quarters, folding until you reach the proper batter (the consistency of molten lava).

Pour the batter into your prepared piping bag and pipe rows of batter (dollops a little bigger than a quarter) onto the baking sheets, giving them space to spread.

Tap the pan on the counter to bring up any air bubbles and quickly pop them with a toothpick.

Allow the cookies to rest on a level surface for 30-60 minutes. Until they are no longer tacky to a light touch.

While they rest, place an oven rack in the lower 3rd of your oven and preheat to 280°F.

Bake the cookies for 16-20 minutes.

Remove the cookies from the sheet soon after removing from the oven. If they’re very sticky you may need to allow them to cool a little but ideally they’ll have good bottoms and you can lift them right off the paper immediately.

Once cool fill with prepared filling.

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Cream Cheese Filling
Ingredients
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Sift sugar into medium bowl and saet aside.

In a bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter until completely smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until combined.

Add sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Be careful not to overbeat the filling, or it will lose structure. (Filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cover the bowl tightly and put it in the refrigerator. Let the filling soften at the room temperature before using.)

Assembling the macarons

Match the shells according to size. Place macarons on their back (feet up) and pipe a dollop of filling in the centre and put other shell on top pressing down slightly. Repeat until all shells are used.

Store in an air tight container and let mature for 24-hours to achieve best macarons.
 

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