18 January 2015

Macarons and petit fours

Since I started with this baking course there are lots of things that I've been doing for the first time and it's been so much fun. 
Today we were making macarons and petit fours. We started with a macaron master class. After that we were on our own. 

First we had to make a batch of butter cream. Although I've made it several times at home I couldn't get it right in class. At home I use room temperature butter and in class the butter was still cold. So the timing should be spot on to get a smooth butter cream. I added the butter in a bit too late so my cream wasn't as smooth as it should be but the taste was good. Just to give it more flavor we added a dash or two orange liqueur. Also I used less sugar then the recipe called for since I don't like it that sweet. 

After making butter cream we each got a piece of cake for our petit fours. The petit fours were quite easy since the cake was pre-made and all we had to do was fill it with jam or butter cream, put a layer of almond paste on top and dip it in some fondant. It was a piece of cake. To bad we could't bake our own cake, but I guess there wasn't enough time for it. 
First we cut it in half so we could spread some jam in the middle. Instead of jam we used a mixture of butter cream and jam. Then the orange liqueur butter cream went on top and we topped it off with a thin layer of almond past. We needed to freeze the cake so we can cut them in squares later. After they were frozen we cut them in bite size pieces. Then it went back in the freezer since they have to be frozen for the fondant dip. Basically we heated up some fondant with some water so it was a bit runny and we dipped the top of the cakes in and place them in cupcake baking cups so we could decorate them later.

Then we made the batter for the macarons using:
- 100 gr powdered sugar                                               300 gr powdered sugar          
- 100 gr almond flour                                                     300 gr almond flour
- 40 gr egg white + 40 gr egg white                               120 gr egg white + 120 gr egg white
- 100 gr sugar                                                                300 gr sugar
- 40 gr water                                                                  120 gr water
- color paste (optional)
oven temperature 140C

We started with sifting the almond flour and threw out all the bigger pieces. Then we added more almond flour to the batch making it 100 grams. Then we mixed it together with the powdered sugar. This mixture is called "broyage" and it's just a mixture of 50% almond flour and 50% powdered sugar.

Then it was time to make the meringue. We cooked the sugar in some water till 121C. When the sugar syrup reaches about 115C it was time to mix 40 grams of egg white to soft peeks. Then we added the sugar syrup and mixed it till the bowl is no longer hot.

The other 40 grams of egg white was mixed with the broyage mixture and some food color. To this we added a bit of the meringue to loosen it up a bit and then we fold in the rest of the meringue. Now here comes the tricky part, when do you know if you fold everything in just right? If you mix it to much the macarons will be flat or crack. I guess this is something that needs a bit of practice to see when the mixtures is just right. 
We poured the macaron mixture in a piping bag and started to pipe little circles. As we piped the macarons too close we ended up with some twin, tripled and even quadruplet macarons. Next time we will make sure we give them enough space.
As the macarons have to dry out a bit we had time to work on our petit fours. The macarons were ready for the oven when the top has dried a bit so it doesn't stick on your fingers when touching them. We baked them for about 17-19 minutes. When they cooled we stuffed them with some butter cream and they were ready to be gobbled down. 

Next time I will try to make the macarons less sweet or make a slightly sour stuffing so it can balance each other out a bit. As for the petit fours, they were very tasty, but if I would make them again I would make them half the height and more square.

For about 120 macarons you need to triple the recipe. Every oven is different so you need to test it first. Better to have it on a lower then higher temperature and it's not a problem if you bake it too long.

Next class: Rodolph van Veen's Oscar cake: this is a chocolate mouse cake with hazelnuts which he made for the Oscars in 2005.

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