10 Steps to Macaron Perfection

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Step 1. Place the ground almonds and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor and process for about 15 seconds, until the mixture is fine and powdery. Sift the mixture into a bowl through a large strainer. Discard any fine parts of almonds left in the strainer.

Step 2. Use an electric mixer to whip the egg whites until holding soft peaks. Gradually beat in the superfine sugar, about 1 tablespoonful at a time. Beat well after each addition to make a firm and glossy meringue. The meringue should look like shaving cream and hold stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted from the bowl.

Step 3. Add one-third of the almond mixture to the meringue. Using a spatula, fold the dry mixture into the meringue. Use a circular folding action buy running he spatula around the bowl and under the meringue, then folding and cutting through the mixture.

Step 4. Once all dry mixture has been folded into the meringue, add the second third of the almond mixture, repeating the folding and cutting action. As more dry ingredients are folded into the meringue it will become firmer.

Step 5. Add the final third of the almond mixture and repeat the folding and cutting action. Once all the dry ingredients has been incorporated, the batter will be quite firm, so continue mixing until the consistency loosens. The final batter should be smooth and glossy and a thick ribbon of batter should fall slowly from the spatula, leaving a trail for about 30 seconds before disappearing.

Important. Undermixing ill result in a batter that is too firm and the macarons will have peaks. Overmixing wil result in a runny batter that will not hold it’s shape when piped. Check the batter every few turns of the spatula to avoid overmixing.

Step 6. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Pour the batter into a large pastry bag fitted with 1/2 inch or 1 cm tip. Pipe 1&1/4 inch circles onto the prepared baking sheets. Make sure the circles are well spaced. For large macarons, pipe 2&3/4 inch circles and for mini macarons pipe 3/4 inch circles.

Step 7. Tap the underside of the baking sheet firmly with the palm of your hands or tap onto a work surface to remove any air bubbles and settle any small peaks and bumps. This action also helps the frilly foot (or pied) to form during baking. Any peaks still remaining can be flattened by dabbing gently with a wetted fingertip.

Step 8. Let the macarons stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to let the surface of each macaron dry and form a slight crust. You should be able to gently touch the surface without any batter sticking to your finger.

Step 9. Bake the macarons, 1 baking sheet at a time. Check after 5-6 minutes if they are overbrowning, reduse the oven temperature slightly. The cooking time will be 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven and size of the macaron. The macarons are ready when they have a crisp shell and the frilly foot at the bottom does not wobble when the shells are gently lifted from the paper. If the bottoms are still soft or sticky, return the baking sheet into the oven for an additonal few minutes, leaving the door ajar.

Step 10. Let the macarons cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes. Carefully peel them away from the parchment paper. Let the macarons cool completely on a wire rack.

 

References : 

Drake, A. (2011). Macarons : 30 Recipes for Perfect Bite-Size Treats. UKParragon Books LTD, p 8-9.

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Health Matters : Whey Protein and it’s Benefits

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Whey is a truly amazing supplement, because not only has it been proven to help build muscle, improve physical performance, sharpen mind, enhance circulatory system function, but it also has potent anti-aging effects and improves motivation. Another incredible effect that Whey Protein has on the body is that it enhances the production of the body’s most powerful anti-oxidantGlutathione. It also has the highest levels of branch-chain amino acids, which boosts the immune system functioning.

Inadequate protein consumption is linked to many conditions such as osteoporosis, weak immune system, fragile soft nails, thinning hair, wrinkled skin, lack of muscle tone, sagging chin, breast cancer, edema, urinary incontinence, hormonal dysfunction, heart problems, poor wound healing, increased aging, hypoglycemia, poor digestion and even depression due to lack of serotonin.

Whey protein is an excellent choice for individuals of all ages who value the role of diet in helping maintain and improve their health.

Adding Protein To Your Diet

1. Can help create macronutrient balance for weight management

2. Helps curb the appetite by slowing the transport of nutrients through the gut.

3. Builds lean muscle mass, increasing metabolism, strength and well-being.

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Whey protein is a soluble, very easy to digest protein. Since it is in a powdered form, it is also very useful when you need a quick fix.

It is especially useful in the mornings. Your muscles will be craving for more food in the morning since most of the time you won’t have eaten since dinner. Having a protein shake prior to or alongside breakfast will satisfy your muscles quickly and allow them to continue to rebuild as well as dampening hunger drive later in the day.

Other Key Benefits 

1. Boosts memory

2. Relieves depression and insomnia

3. Rebuilds cartilage in bone

4. Helps lower blood pressure

5. Promotes healthy insulin secretion

6. Reduces overall sensation of pain

7. Directly boosts the immune system because it contains immunoglobulins

Protein powders can either be cooked or mixed into a smoothie made from organic fruit, vegetables or yogurt. The powder can also be stirred into milk, juice or filtered water. Adding your own frozen or fresh berries to blended meal replacement shakes adds variety and phytonutrients. Choose a protein powder that is low in sugar and doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners.

The importance of protein for optimal health cannot be overstated. Practically everyone an benefit in some way from whey protein supplementation.

Reference

Peltier, P. (2013), Quirk : Connecting Lethbridge. The Whey to Fight Fatigue. p 20.

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Pistachio Macarons Recipe

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Ingredients

1/2 cup ground almonds

1/4 cup finely ground pistachios, plus 2 tbsp finely chopped to decorate

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 extra large egg whites

1/4 cup superfine sugar

green food coloring paste or liquid

Filling

6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

green food coloring paste or liquid

1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

2 tbsp finely chopped pistachios

Directions

Place the ground almonds, ground pistachios and confectioner’s sugar in a food processor and process for 15 seconds. Sift the mixture into a bowl. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the egg whites in a large bowl and whip until holding soft peaks. Gradually beat in the superfine sugar to make a firm, glossy meringue. Beat in enough food coloring to give a pale green color.

Using spatula, fold the almond mixture into the meringue one-third at a time. When all the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, continue to cut and fold the mixture until it forms a shiny batter with a thick, ribbonlike consistency.

Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch/ 1-cm plain tip. Pipe 30 small circles onto the prepared baking sheets. Tap the baking sheets firmly onto a work surface to remove air bubbles. Sprinkle over the chopped pistachios. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 °F/160 °C.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Carefully peel the macarons off the parchment paper and let cool completely.

To make the filling, beat the butter and a little food coloring in a bowl. Gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar until smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped pistachios. Use to sandwich pairs of macarons together.

References

Drake, A. (2011). Macarons : 30 Recipes for Perfect Bite-Size Treats. UK, Parragon Books LTD, p 20.

Image source : http://cdn.taste.com.au

The Great French Macaron Tragedy

I have been so desperate to learn how to make french macarons. I was mesmerized just looking at the photos of those lovely varicolored little sweet delights. I did not know how it taste like as I haven’t tried one before. All I know is that they’re completely vibrant, beautiful delectable delights and I want them. An interest of making macarons blossomed and one day I found myself procuring the ingredients day by day. I can’t help but get enraptured with the thought of making these exquisite goodies.

I bought a book from Winners (Macaroons : 30 Recipes for perfect bite-size treats) for 5 bucks and commenced into gathering all my tools and ingredients. It was my first time to bake and make these lovely sweets and I was so confident I’d make them perfectly because the directions seemed pretty unchallenging until I began to follow the formula. I tried to make the basic Vanilla French Macarons. Wheew! It’s not as simple as I thought it was. I struggled making meringue and had troubles piping the mixture into the trays lined with parchment paper. I have an excuse — it’s my first time! Then I finally settled them in the pre-heated oven. I was very excited but the excitement dropped as I watch the disaster happening in the oven. The inside of it leaked out and flooded the entire tray. My hopes were doomed. I was so disappointed with myself. I messed up. I started blaming my tools. I thought the one’s I have would suffice for the procedure. I was wrong. I told Neil about what happened and he just laughed at me. “It could be good with ice cream,” he uttered. Then I thought maybe — but then it wasn’t the macarons I fancy.

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Behold, The Macaron Disaster. Not very appetizing, isn’t it?

Glaring at the tragedy, still struck with astonishment and surprise. What did I do? I thought I followed every single detail on how to make it. I watched youtube videos on how to make french macarons. Finally, I understood something. The ignorant part of me used liquid egg whites for making meringue. First timer and did not do a research properly. I just realized I poured a liquid meringue to the sifted powder ingredients (confectioner’s sugar and ground almonds).

It was a nice and lovely Saturday when I decided a second attempt. Jade, a friend of mine came over to lend a helping hand. This time, I made sure to use fresh egg whites, whisk with electric mixer properly until it form stiff peaks. I would say I did it 85%. It’s not perfect but it looked better than the first time. I was delighted. We carefully followed the procedure step by step. And as a result…

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Tadaaa! 

Just kidding. Not mine. I wish.

ImageImageNow these are my macarons. Ok, I know they are not as pretty as it should be, I’m proud I did it better this time. Close enough to perfection. Need more practice though.

So Jade and I tried a bite and it wasn’t too bad at all. Sweet, crusty on the outside and gooey on the inside. Though some of it are kinda hollow with a huge air bubble inside the cookie, I know what to do to make it even better next time. The most important thing in making macarons is the meringue. Second to that is proper sifting and making sure there are no granulated almonds in order to have a smooth surface and makes it more appealing after baking.

As simple as they look, macarons can be a little tricky to make. Indeed, pastry chefs can spend years perfecting the art of macarons. But once the basic techniques have been mastered, it would feel a lot easier. It’s just about practice and patience.