harden bergia and macarons

japanese ranunculus and sweetpeas, hyacinths, sensation lilacs, fritillaria, blackjack tulips, harden bergia from california and variegated busy ivy 
i've been noticeably absent from flowering (Q called me out).  so here's a little something i put together for delivery tomorrow.  and the vine-y purple stuff, harden bergia, is completely amazing.  it gives the arrangement an unexpected looseness and flow, wabi sabi.

i have been instead flour-ing.  i accepted a silly dare from my sister that i cannot make a proper french macaron.  how dare she (and somehow two months have passed by)?

pete and i exhaustingly googled and read baker bloggers blogging about the triumphs and failures of the perfect macaron.  and i finally succeeded a few weekends ago, but only after throwing away seemingly 100's of batches (and dollars too) -- all hollow, over-mixed, under-cooked or footless.  at the moment, i just relapsed and forgot to double-up the cookie sheet and puffy, cracked, footless macarons emerged from the oven (oops).  i also need to find a secret to keep my parchment paper from wrinkling.

i'm quite grateful that there are others who have been very persistent at perfecting this cookie, not so humble pie being one of them.  i used this recipe with some modifications (and surf her other macaron posts -- a ton of helpful info).

- i divided her measurements by 1/3 so as to not waste ingredients
- for the egg whites, i set aside 5 grams of the 70 grams and beat the 5 grams until foamy
- for the remaining 65 grams of egg whites, i beat them in a copper bowl until they reached a firm peak (not stiff, and now a meringue)
- i dump the meringue into a clean bowl and then add the macaronage in two parts
- i fold the batter until all macaronage is incorporated
- and now here's the key, remember the 5 grams of egg whites?  add them to the batter and mix until the batter flows like lava -- mix slowly too because it's important to not overwork the batter.  i think this step is critical because the 5 grams of egg whites haven't been fully beaten and adding them helps deflate the meringue.  this is what the laduree recipe actually calls you to do
- my oven runs hot so i double up the cookie sheet and use parchment paper only; silpat doesn't give as nice feet for whatever reason
- i set oven at 335 degrees and bake for 23-25 minutes and rotate the tray at the 15 minute mark
- and because the cookies are in hot oven for a long time, i add an extra drop of food coloring to hide the browning (2 drops total, this could be cheating but whatever i'm not a professional baker)
- also, i just discovered today, that when i fill the cookies with buttercream (swiss meringue buttercream, naturally), i need to age the cookies for at least 48 hours, if not more.  if more than 48 hours, i'll amend this blog post

i don't know why this works but i have tried this at least 6 times and all yielding perfectly formed macaroons with no hollows and only 2% cracked (in my parents' oven and mine).  no pictures though.  they will follow.  trust.  i'm actually writing this post now as some of my friends who were brave enough to sample my earlier cookies would like my pointers.

a word on ovens though.  each one is different and i had to bake multiple batches at different temps.  i discovered that a hotter temp worked better when i observed a batch baking at 270 degrees going nowhere so i blasted the oven to 335 degrees because i remember reading somewhere that baking schools teach students to initially set at 335 degrees and then lower.  at 335, i saw beautiful feet pushing out from under the cookie.  go figure.  and my niece also helped me realized that undercooking the cookies likely caused the hollows, so i thought what the heck, there are two trays reducing the heat to the bottom of the cookie so leave the temp at 335.  

now with all that being said, i used the french method of macaron-ing, simply because the italian method seems pretty difficult to do without a stand mixer.  i don't have a stand mixer but have a copper bowl.  a mauviel copper bowl just looks so sexy and…french.  copper molecules + egg whites = easy, fast meringue.  i've also done this with a stand mixer and works just as well.  yeah and aged egg whites, some say do and some say don't.  i say do but if you don't have any on hand, then add egg whites in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk like mad until they foam.  just remember to set aside 5 grams for later.  

now, off to bed for me.