Today I piped some poops. Oh, sorry, I meant macarons.
(But really, don’t they sort of resemble…?)
Anyway, in case you haven’t figured it out, today was our macaron class at Le Cordon Bleu, which was magnifique! Le Cordon Bleu provided a fun, extensive class experience for me and Kat. I mean, I was pretty much sold when they handed me my Le Cordon Bleu apron and tea towel. Just kidding (wait, no, I’m actually not)!
After everyone in the class donned their fancy gear, we headed upstairs into a huge kitchen.
There, we met our instructor, Chef Daniel Walter, who I’m pretty sure just made my Top 10 Favorite People of All Time (what, don’t you have one?). It may have to do with the fact that he provided us with delicious macarons, or maybe that I couldn’t understand what he was saying (we had an English translator), so I was happily oblivious to any potential insults directed at my macarons. But, mostly, it’s due to the fact that he was ridiculously jolly and funny, clearly passionate about his work, and eager to answer any questions we posed.
He first walked us through the key ingredients in a macaron, explaining the purpose behind each one. For example, egg whites function better in a macaron when they’ve been in the refrigerator for a few days, thereby reducing their elasticity (Rice peeps, who knew?).
After the very informative lecture portion, Chef Walter gave us a step-by-step demonstration of exactly what we were about to do. He whisked the egg whites and cream of tartar, added the dry ingredients, food coloring, and then piped perfectly aligned macarons onto the baking sheet.
He then set us free to our work stations, with the extremely comforting words, “You have the exact same recipe as I do, so your macarons should turn out exactly the same!” Right.
This is what happened next.
1) Whisking the egg whites: I thought I was actually doing a pretty good job…until halfway through, when the shoulder fatigue began setting in. Although Chef Walter had assured us that his assistants could help us in case we couldn’t finish the whisking on our own, I had decided from the very beginning that I would be making the entire recipe myself. So, when his assistant offered help the first time, I turned her down. Whisk, whisk, whisk. She came around again. And I may or may not have accepted a bit of whisking help (I was too embarrassed to take pictures of that).
2) Combining the dry ingredients: A+, if I do say so myself. I used the spatula to just barely combine the ingredients (so as to keep the batter fluffy), then scooped the batter into the pastry bag.
3) Piping the macarons: In this step, things got a little bit hairy. With the help of Chef Walter’s guiding hand, my first 4 macarons came out quite lovely. They were perfectly circular, and I thought that I was speedily on my way to becoming a macaron pro. Oh, how wrong I was. I piped out the 5th macaron by myself, and…plop. A misshapen oblong settled onto the baking sheet. And then…another. And another. I tried swirling the pastry bag around, then piping far away from the sheet, closer to the sheet, closing my eyes, doing the macaron happy dance…and still, they looked rather deformed. After much help from both Chef Walter and his assistant, I managed to pipe about 5 decent looking macarons before I ran out of batter. Luckily for me, the batter spread out a bit, so even the initial 40 odd-looking ones came out decently circular.
4) Filling: As the macarons were baking, we made a ganache from cream, vanilla bean, sugar, chocolate, and an accidentally generous (my hand…slipped?) dash of Grand Marnier.
Fresh out of the oven!
Piped the ganache, and…
The finished product – Chocolate macarons with fleur de sel!
After devouring about 15 macarons, I’m pretty sure I still have about 30 left…anybody interested?
Tomorrow, royal pastries at Versailles!