...Or how I got my macarons mojo back thanks to Gerard Mulot. For those who don't know Gerard Mulot, let's just say that he is one of the other Masters of French pastries and I fell in love with his pastries and macarons when I was knee high. Once a month we would take the train into Paris to visit my dad's godmother. A tough and quirky maid living in a very old building with a giant (or so it seemed to me at the time) marbled staircase. The woman had never married, never had children and an afternoon in her appartment full of plastic covered furniture and untouchable curtains seemed more like torture than a fun times in the City. Except for the patisseries she served us around four o'clock....they were Mulot's patisseries: canneliers, macarons, pains au chocolat, lemon tarts, coconut chocolate cakes, etc...I would quickly forget the covered the plastic covered chair I was sitting on and dive into the pink colored box full of goodies.
So why would I need to get my macaron mojo back? Well, I feared that I had lost it after talking every weekend with Veronica about macaron making method, nuts, flavors, buttercream, etc... Twice in the span of two weeks I ended up with sub par macarons. I tried the recipe in The Sweet Life by Kate Zuckerman and right from the start I had my doubts. The recipe used a lot of egg whites compared to the rest of the ingredients and as soon as I began folding I knew the mixture would be to dry and too dense to produce that lovely round shell that we all know. I ended up with lovely blood orange meringue shells, but not macarons. The second time I played around with my usual recipe and some chocolate and the same thing happened! In the meantime Veronica was keeping me informed of her macarons successes (check out her new business venture) and I finally emailed her "I think I gave you my macarons mojo!!" To which she replied "Have you tried Gerard Mulot's recipe...I like it...not too sweet, nice soft shells" Ahah!! That was the only and perfect excuse I had to ask my mother to bring me his book.
His recipes are not very different from the ones I have used before and as it is often the case with macarons, the baker and the weather have often more to do with messing up the end product than the recipe itself (except in the case of Zuckerman, Veronica and I still have our doubt!). Remember how I keep saying that I like making them but don't really enjoy eating them? You could then ask me why I spend my time making them?! Well, beside the orders I get for family and friends or private parties, their elusive and rebelious nature has me jumping up and down when I see their little feet forming in the oven. I like the way they look when filled, like they are sticking their tongue at you. Mastering a macaron batch and creating flavors and filling is a fun game to play for me...but remember that I am weird like that!! And now that Veronica has sent me a stash of matcha green tea, I am already thinking about adding some to the next macaron baking session I have!!
The recipe from Gerard Mulot is quite simple as it does not require an Italian meringue, so no messing around with hot sugar syrup. Last month I made a batch of Dulce de Leche or Confiture De Lait, using David Lebovitz's foolproof method and I had a small jar tucked away in the fridge just for the next macarons I would bake. I topped the shells with crushed praline before they went into the oven and after they were all cooled, I filled them with the Dulce De Leche. Surprise, surprise....it is now the second time that I am devouring them!!
If you decide to make this recipe, it might take you some time if you make all the components the same day. What I usually do on quieter days is to make a batch of praline that I crush in the food processor so that I can sprinkle it on ice cream, mousses and cake layers on a moment's notice. The Dulce De Leche keeps a long time in the fridge and I try to keep a jar to drizzle it on yogurts, ice cream or use as a dip for tart apples.
Dulce de Leche Macarons:
For the cushed praline:
1 cup unblanched almonds
Combine the sugar and almonds in a heavy saucepan. Place over medium heat to begin melting the sugar. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon so the sugar melts and caramelizes evenly. Cook to a light amber color.
Scrape the praline from the saucepan and spread it about 1/4-inch thick on an oiled baking sheet or a marble surface. Let cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Break the hard praline into 1-1/2 inch pieces and place them in a bowl of a food processor and quickly pulse until finely ground.
For the Dulce de Leche:
Please see David Lebovitz's recipe. I did not change a thing and it worked perfectly.
For the Macarons:
3 egg whites
50 gr. granulated sugar
200 gr. powdered sugar
110 gr. ground almonds
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glosy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry and your macarons won't work.
Combine the ground almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a quick pulse. It will break the powdered sugar lumps and cobine your almond with it evenly. Add them to the meringue and fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small round onto parchment paper baking sheets. Sprinkle the praline powder over the shells.
Preheat the oven to 315F. Let the macarons sit out for an hour to harden their shell a bit and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool completely. Once cooled, sandwich them with the Dulce de Leche and enjoy!
Once again, no chocolate post....But....if you want your fill and a good dose of Nutella to go with it, help me go to Napa and check out the Copia Center Chocolate Festival by voting for my Nutella Creams here: