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French Macarons: Chocolate, Chili, Green Tea

Black Chocolate Cinnamon Red Hots and White Chocolate Green Tea

French Macaron CookiesEver since my friend Michele asked us to go by Ladurée in Paris, I’ve been trying to make macarons that look as good as the trees full of cookies that fill their windows. Our first macaron attempts back in Colorado tasted great but never had all I desired: the perfect shine, shape, texture and trademark ‘foot.’

Red and green for Christmas

The joy of making macarons starts with deciding on the flavors and you choose a cookie flavor and a filling for each. The red was made with New Mexico red chili powder, and was filled with a chocolate butter cream. The green was made with green tea in the cookie, a white chocolate filling and a chopped pistachio topping.

After the egg whites and superfine sugar were whipped to stiff peaks and the almond flour and powdered sugar where folded in and mixed thoroughly, I added some new cinnamon from Savory, our local spice shop, and ground red Chimayo chili. About a teaspoon of each. The frosting is a butter cream made with Savory’s Black Onyx cocoa powder.

Black Onyx Buttercream:
1/2 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar.
3 tablespoons Black Onyx Cocoa
3 tablespoons Dutch Cocoa
Cream the butter with 1/2 cup of sugar, add the cocoas, add more sugar until the frosting is a good spreading consistency.

Every time I try to make these cookies there is some part failure, but some redeeming quality that makes me think I might be able to do better next time. So if I keep a record of every attempt maybe we’ll all learn something about making macarons in Denver (5280 miles aboue sea level; average humidity: 35%).

What I did, and what I may have learned:
First I compared recipes, see macarons.xls.  Mine is from a French Macaron cookbook. The others are from Serious Eats and another from Today, although it was a very humid day for Denver, maybe 60% with a little snow falling, the cookies were hollow. And the surface cracked. For just about all of them, I finally got the illusive foot. Michele bought Bob’s Rehill Farms almond flour and I tried it, for the first time not grinding my own almonds. I am guessing the consistently ground almond flour is responsible for the successful foot.

I think the cookies might need more dry ingredients at this altitude. They are rising too quickly. And then falling. I reason that dryer is better because the cocoa ones were my most successful – it’s actually a baseness rather than acidity. The RedHots next, and both of these had tablespoons of dry flavoring. But in comparing these three recipes, there is no real difference in ratio of ingredients, but MyTartelette bakes them lower and longer. That will be the next attempt before I start rewriting recipes.


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