I don’t speak French. I wish I did, if only that I could properly pronounce the names of different french foods and desserts. But until I learn, I’ll have to stick with the simpler words, like croissant and macaron.
Macarons. These are quite the special treat. They are famously Parisian, a tad bit challenging to make, and oh so satisfying. Their flavor, from the almond flour, and in this case raspberry jam, is deliciously sweet. Their texture, a sandwich of meringue disks and filling, is delicate, chewy and unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.
That said, my first attempt at making these was not quite so wonderous. It took me three tries to properly whip the egg whites to the correct firmness and boil the sugar to its exact temperature all at the same time. It was exasperating. But I should also say that this was only my first try, and if you want to attempt these, just make sure you have a second set of hands. Despite all the trouble these little dudes gave me, they still turned out awesome.
(6/20/11 Update: It’s funny looking back on these posts and seeing how much I’ve learned in this past year. For one, the whipped egg whites and boiling sugar? I now know that is an Italian meringue, which I’ve made so many times in class it is no longer intimidating. One of the many instances in which I am so thankful to be in pastry school.)
I also made croissants for the first time. I attribute the lack of perfection to my inexperience, so I’m hoping next time they will be better. That said, we thoroughly enjoyed them, because even if you don’t make a perfect pastry out of butter, sugar, flour, and egg, you’ve still got something delicious.
Pastry dough is really just butter is folded into layers of dough, and when it bakes, the moisture from the butter evaporates, leaving all of those flaky layers of goodness. I may have left my dough proofing in a tad too high of a temperature, so some of my croissants were swimming in little butter puddles before I even baked them. Oops… Remember, I am still learning here.
I also need to learn how to cut more consistent triangles.
Darn those silly French and their perfect pastries. They make it look so easy. But they also have been working on their techniques for some time now, whereas I have only been baking seriously for about a year now. I tell myself I have time to get it right, and in the meantime, I get to eat all of the “mess-ups”.