Orange Blossom-Saffron-Vanilla Macarons

I consider myself to be a fairly proficient baker, but I’ve always been intimidated by macarons. They are so dainty and beautiful, so difficult to get right, and so easy to get horribly wrong. I’ve had dreadful macarons at very posh restaurants.  I don’t care what anybody says, but it IS surprisingly hard to find a good macaron in the United States. On one memorable occasion I even had inferior macarons from Ladurée. And as for achieving perfection at home and hitting every note – the flawless shiny smooth patina on the shell, the well-risen feet, the ever-so-slightly crisp shell and perfectly yielding, tender interior . . . there is just so much to bollocks up. (I’d use a ruder word, but this is a family friendly site.) Literally for months I stalked macaron recipes online. There are hundreds, if not thousands. And SO much advice, much of it conflicting. To Italian meringue, or not to Italian meringue? Should I age my egg whites? What about the almond flour? Should I grind my own and/or air-dry it? Continue reading

Advertisements

Apricot-Almond Meringue Cookie Bars

When I was an awkward pre-adolescent with dreams of becoming a chef, my immediate goal was to differentiate myself from my mother. My mother is possibly the world’s best pastry chef. After a long day of work at the laboratory (both of my parents are scientists), she would effortlessly whip up beautiful airy genoises, cream puffs, Polish poppy seed cakes, elaborate Black Forest cakes (remember those?), delicate pralines, rich ganaches, and meringues shaped like the letter S for me and R for my sister. Her bible was Paula Peck’s The Art of Fine Baking, the book from which (much later) I too taught myself how to bake. But, at the age of 11, achieving parity with my mother seemed impossible. Anyway, I didn’t want to IMITATE, I wanted to DISTINGUISH myself. Continue reading