Bring on the chocolate people...I survived the worst semester of my life! Surprisingly, I have the best grades I've EVER had in my college career. Maybe I do function well under pressure...I now have evidence to back up this claim.
Anyway, I think I've posted enough about my experience student teaching, but I just thought I'd give a few last thoughts. I honestly feel like a little chunk of my heart is missing. I grew so close to these kids, and it's strange knowing that I will be moving onto the high school next semester. I had the complete wrong impression about middle schoolers until I met these 76 sweet souls. I remember how terrifying middle school was for me, partly because the school was literally crumbling apart, but mostly the lack of structure and authority in the school. This school was the complete opposite. It makes me happy to know that one student is already emailing me. You don't realize how important you truly are to students everyday, but little acts of kindness are a reminder of how much influence you can have over someone's life. Many tears were shed when I had to say bye :(.
O.K. SOoooOOO it's been a long time since I posted a recipe. Sorry! Also, this recipe is rather challenging..I'm not going to lie to you. For all of the people who are obsessed with French Macarons, like myself, this process is worth it. I can't believe that these little cookies cost $2.00 or more for just one!!! Honestly, it's because these cookies are a true labor of love. I'm talking 2 hours to make these cookies. So if you're looking for a challenge, or looking for hardcore dessert aesthetic, here ya go.
Macarons aren't your typical cookie. They are delicate, light, crunchy, and chewy. The cookie is airy and crisp when you bite into it, but as you sink into the filling, it becomes chewier and sweeter. The filling is what makes the cookie. Below are a PERFECT batch that I made last year! The feet were perfection. (Feet are the bottoms of the cookies, what gives macaron that trademark-ish look)
Mocha French Macarons
2/3 cup ground almond meal
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 large egg whites (***room temperature***)
5 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Pastry bag or plastic bag for piping
Don't preheat your oven yet folks.
First, combine almond meal and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Be sure to break up all of the clumps with a wisk, if you'd like to sift the powdered sugar, it is highly recommended. Almond meal is a little gritty to pass through a sifter, but some brands, such as Trader Joe's might be able to sift through. The point is to have a superfine almond and powdered sugar mixture with no clumps.
Next, we begin making the meringue. Separate egg yolks from egg whites. For this recipe, you only need the egg whites so save or dispose the yolks! With a whisk, lightly beat the egg whites so they are combined. It is necessary to have a stand mixer or a hand mixer to beat the egg whites into their next form, it takes about 8 minutes. Add lightly beaten egg whites into bowl of mixer and begin to mix on low using the whisk attachment. Gradually begin to add the tablespoons of granulated sugar, one at a time. This took me about 2 minutes. It's a gentle process!
RepeaOnce the egg whites have reached stiff peaks like so, remove the whisk attachments and find a smooth spatula to mix with. Carefully add half of the almond meal and powdered sugar to the egg whites. Fold and incorporate the mixture carefully, bringing the spatula around the bowl and pressing into the middle. It should take less than 10 strokes to do so. Add the last half of the almond meal and repeat the folding until incorporated.
The next part is the trickiest part and always the most nerve-wracking. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Begin to fold and press into the middle for about 10-15 more strokes. The consistency of the batter should be glossy but still thick. The batter should be able to slowly roll and flow off of the spatula, sort of like molten lava. Once you've reached this consistency, congratulations!! You are almost there.
I highly suggest watching youtube videos for a visual on the textures and colors that are necessary for these cookies. I watched over a dozen videos, no shame.
Transfer mixture into a plastic bag and cut a small hole out of the bag. Begin piping onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You need parchment paper for this. No ifs, ands, or buts. Pipe by sticking tip down onto baking sheet and squeezing mixture up until it puffs up into a circle. You don't need to swirl the mixture into a circle when piping, simply press it down close to the baking sheet and squeeze so it forms an even circle. Repeat until you use up all the batter. These won't spread much when they are on the sheet, so don't go crazy leaving inches of space between them.
The raw mixture must sit out for one hour. I repeat, one hour. ONE HOUR! At the end of this hour, the cookies will not be tacky, but smooth and leave no residue on your finger when you poke them. This sitting out process is to ensure that when the cookies bake in the oven, they rise and create little macaron feet. If they don't harden after this hour, wait longer. This is the most important part in making authentic looking macarons. At the 30 minute mark, begin to preheat your oven to 285 degrees. The oven needs to heat up for a long time to ensure even cooking time.
After your little cookies have hardened, pop them in the oven for 12 minutes. After 6 minutes, rotate cookies onto the opposite baking racks. The cooking process can also be the most depressing part of the macaron process. Sometimes, the cookies will crumble, sometimes they won't form feet. It's truly sad when this happens....
Yes, laugh all you want. Those were my first 2 attempts at making macarons in 2014. I failed epically, I mean look how sad those look! I ate dozens of macarons before attempting to make my own and watched Blair Waldorf chomp and savor over them in Gossip Girl before I knew it was my time. They are just so delicious, but I didn't realize how crazy annoying they are to make.
So when you take your macarons out of the oven, regardless of how they look, it's time to make the filling. The BEST pART WOO. First slide the macarons off the baking sheet. Side note: when macarons are fully cooked, they lift off of the parchment paper. If your macarons stick to the paper, put them in for another minute or two!
Mocha Buttercream Filling:
3/4 stick salted butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 tsp (or more) of instant espresso
pinch of sea salt
Combine butter and other ingredients into a stand mixer or hand mixer. Combine until smooth! Transfer into a plastic bag to pipe onto cookies. Gently place a dollop of butter onto one cookie and press a cookie of a similar size onto it. There you have it, MACARONS FINALLY NOM NOM NOM. Seriously, that's how I look at it.
Look at that chewy, chocolatey ball of goodness. I hope you find the time and as much pleasure in making macarons as I do! It's definitely a great way to challenge your baking skills and seek accomplishment.
Merry Christmas everyone! :)