Bruadarach

Scottish Gaelic: Dreamer, Visionary

Tag: France

Cookbook Challenge 9 – Macarons

In Paris, I got a lot of very specialised cookbooks. I got the Crème Brûlée one, which I already had as a challenge and also one for Macarons. I have eaten macarons in France a few times but never cooked them before. For this challenge, I even got a special macaron baking mat for 10 Euro. The extra challenge was that whatever I made had to go well with coffee, that was going to be easy I figured.

 

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Caramel Macarons & Vanilla Macarons

190 g almond powder
310 g icing sugar
150 g egg white
95 g caster sugar

Caramel Sauce or
Vanilla crème patissier (see next recipe for eclairs)

 

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Preheat the oven to 150C. Sieve the almond powder and icing sugar into a bowl and mix them together thoroughly. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff whilst slowly adding the caster sugar. When the egg whites are stiff, add the sugar-nut mix and stir it through properly until it’s a shiny mass. No need to worry about breaking the egg whites. Unlike many classical macarons, I stayed away from food colouring which would’ve been added into the egg whites.

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To make  sure the macarons fitted together, I got a dedicated mat to bake macarons for 10 EUR. If you have good aim and can make dots that are the same size, you probably won’t need it. For the first batch I used the wrong nozzle for the icing bag. They evened out nicely enough but would’ve been smoother with a plain round one.

Put them in the middle of the oven for about 10 minutes. When you take them out, let them cool off before taking them off of the tray so that the inside will be smoother. I didn’t wait long enough, but since you fill it in the middle, the look of the inside isn’t terribly important. It does make doing a second batch easier if the tray is cleaner.

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In the end, they were crispy on the outside, and still slightly soft in the middle – just fantastic! I’m not sure if that’s how macarons are supposed to be, but that’s surely the way I like them! If you want them crispy in the middle, it might need a few minutes more.

The first batch of macarons I made with store-bought caramel sauce. Even though it tasted fantastic, it didn’t have the same consistency that one is used to with macarons. In the next challenge, where I made eclairs, I had some vanilla crème patissier left over, so I ended up making another batch of macarons and filling them with the vanilla creme. Also fantastic taste and much more photogenic! Plus that already proves the point that I would make them again, given I did only a few weeks later.

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The Cookbook Challenge

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I love cookbooks. I would go so far as to say I collect them to a certain extent. The problem is, there are some I haven’t opened since I got them. Much like my husband Mick who collects musical instruments and sometimes doesn’t try them out. I called him out on it and last December, I gave him a challenge that would make him use all the instruments he hadn’t played before. 10 Weeks – 10 Sounds was very successful and led to really interesting music and a brand new instrumental album.

Now here I was, challenging him to play unused instruments when I still had cookbooks that sat unused on the shelf. There are three that I always use, you can find the reviews below. I can only warmly recommend to get them all. But this time, it’s about other books.

This time, the tables are turned. Now he is giving me a challenge to use the cookbooks that have – so far – only sat on my shelf. Here is the challenge:

You should create one dish from each of the following cookbooks, photograph the process and blog about each one. Let us know a bit about the book, why you chose the recipe, what (if anything) and why you had to change any ingredients or processes. What was difficult? What did you learn? How did the final result taste?

1. Haggis, Whisky & Co.    (leave out a single ingredient)
2. Paul Bocuse Standardkochbuch [The Paul Bocuse Standard Cookbook]    (use an ingredient you have never used) 
3. Austro Tapas    (use breadcrumbs)
4. Crèmes Brûlées    (change an ingredient)
5. Gordon Ramway’s Great British Pub Food    (pick a recipe that contains alcohol (it’s pub food, after all!))
6. Natürlich Jamie [Jamie at Home]    (add something red) 
7. Macarons    (something that goes well with coffee)
8. Vive la France    (add vanilla)
9. La Cuisine Grecque [The Greek Kitchen]    (served with a feta side dish) 
10. Plachutta – Meine Wiener Küche [My Viennese Kitchen]    (traditional, but different) 

 

Now my Favourite Cookbooks:

La Bonne Grand-Mère (The Good Grandmother) – for  French recipes.

No matter if it’s Coq au Vin, Crème caramel or Bouillabaisse, for everything French this is the go-to book. As much as I love full-colour cookbooks with photos, in my experience, the ones without are the ones I end up using most. Like this – there aren’t any photos, merely small sketches that really don’t do anything to help with the cooking. That might make you surprised at how some things actually look in the end, but that’s ok. The cookbook is just that good!

Die Gute Küche (The Good Kitchen) – for  Austrian and other basics.

One of the authors, Ewald Plachutta, is the beef king and Christoph Wagner knows his food too…! Whenever I need a recipe for a dough, a dumpling, any of the basic things that I grew up with and love – this is my go-to book. It’s not just Austrian recipes, also all-time favourites.

Süßes aus dem Sacher (Sweets from the Sacher) – for dessert and cake recipes.

Get it for the Sacher cake – and  then try out all the other recipes as well. If it’s poppyseed noodles or the fantastic lemon meringue pie, Austrian or international desserts… The dishes are really fantastic and one can spend many weeks cooking and eating their way through it all!

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