Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Aug 25, 2011

Strawberry & St. Germain Macarons

Libations used: 1 Tbs St. Germain
Libations left over: None
Le Macaron - why is it that you're the prettiest cookie ever and yet the most difficult to make?  It must be a French thing, so thank goodness I'm a quarter French, because I honestly think that's how I got through this.  It took 3 attempts, with the last 2 involving me tossing out about a quarter of each batch.  But the ones that made it through, turned out delicious–pretty feet, slight crisp on the outside, and chewy happiness on the inside.  After making these, I thought for sure I wouldn't attempt them again.  It was just so much work and the thought of hopping over to 'Lette or Bottega Louie and just buying a dozen seemed easier.  When I brought these in to work and also shared them with friends and neighbors, their ecstatic compliments and groans of pleasure changed my mind.  Fine...I'll make these again, but only because you all insist!

The recipe comes from the fabulous Hadley at the Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories in Santa Monica.  I credit Hadley's macaron demo for getting me through attempts 2 and 3 (you don't want to know what 1 looked like).  The cookie is a basic vanilla and you can do flavor variations with infused sugars (lavender, orange, lemon, etc) and color them using gels (do not use food coloring).  The buttercream is a basic French vanilla buttercream and you can get creative with flavors, like I did with the St. Germain and strawberries.  I don't have a scale, but if you do, then 1) you're more awesome than the Lush Chef and 2) I included grams for you.

Strawberry & St. Germain Macarons 
Macaron Indredients:
  • 4 egg whites (140 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp egg white powder (3 grams)
  • 2/3 cup vanilla sugar (80 grams) - you can make this by scraping 1 vanilla bean and adding it to 2 cups of sugar
  • Scant 2 cups almond flour (180 grams)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (240 grams)
  • A pinch of salt (2 grams)
French Buttercream Ingredients:
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 sticks of butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbs St. Germain
  • 1/2 bag Trader Joe's freeze-dried strawberries - do not use fresh strawberries because this will make your buttercream watery
To make the macarons:
- Pulse the almond flour, salt and powdered sugar in the food processor until it's completely mixed.
- In the bowl of a stand mier, beat the egg whites and egg white powder until soft peak stage (they'll still be a little foamy, slightly yellow and the peaks will fall).
- Slowly add the vanilla sugar and continue beating until just before stiff peak stage (no longer foamy, bright white and the peaks will be kind of stiff)
- Fold the dry ingredients 1/3 at a time into the egg whites.  Keep folding until the batter can form ribbons when you lift up your spatula.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Pipe onto parchment paper and let them set for half an hour.
- Place cookies in oven and lower the temperature to 300.  Bake for 15 minutes and don't remove cookies from parchment until they've cooled for at least 10 minutes.

To make the buttercream:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the eggs until they triple in volume.
- While the eggs are whipping, place the sugar, water and cream of tartar in a sauce pot and bring to a heavy boil (about 240 degrees).
- With the mixer on medium speed, pour the sugar syrup over the eggs in a slow and steady stream.
- Continue beating for 10-15 minutes, or until the bowl cools to room temperature.
- Add the butter, one pat a time, until the mixture thickens.
- Turn the mixer to high speed for 2 minutes and add the vanilla, St. Germain and strawberries.


Jen H said...

I LOVE Gourmandise Baking classes. I took one when Clemence was still working out of a shared kitchen in Venice. She's so talented and part fo the reason why I bake as much as I do now.

I may have to give macarons another go now, these sound delish!