Monday, January 18, 2010

cook's assistant, part 2

On Saturday, Max enlisted my help to make Parisian-style macarons.

I knew it was coming, I gave him a cookbook about making them for Christmas, but still. Marc made several attempts at macarons several years ago and eventually gave up in defeat. Dorie Greenspan says that the reputations of Parisian pâtisseries rise and fall based on their macarons.

What I'm saying is that these are not easy confections to whip out. And that it's a good thing I didn't have a lot on my docket that day.

Grinding almonds and powdered sugar into a fine powder.

Sifting, twice. Deciding the almonds were not ground fine enough, re-grinding and sifting.

I don't have photos of the trickiest part, called the macaronnage, which entails making a meringue and then carefully folding in the almond mixture.

Piping the batter out into pre-drawn circles. Eva was disappointed that we said this project was too difficult for her to help.

Then, allowing them to dry. Then, baking. And making a real buttercream filling. Have you ever made real buttercream? Well, suffice it to say that it is not for the faint of heart.

Piping the buttercream onto the cooled cookies and forming what Lucas calls the "mini-hamburgers."

VoilĂ ! Only four hours later, completed macarons! Seventeen of them. Yep, seventeen whole cookies. He's been pretty tight-fisted with these babies, but he did share with Charlotte, Emily, and Josh when they were over today.

The verdict: while they were a little crunchier than the Paris originals, I'd say this was a pretty huge success for his first attempt. And he has more patience than I do. I think I'll stick with my usual homemade cookies that only take about half an hour...


p.s. In the last few days, I have found three more notes from Max. I can't believe I am still finding them, he hid them well! In a pocket of my purse, inbetween baking supplies in the lazy susan, etc... And after our long macaron experiment, it sure does feel good to be appreciated.

19 comments:

crystal said...

I'd like to reiterate: I call Max for Isabelle's future spouse.

Also, I am respectfully asking that you post at least the buttercream recipe on your recipe blog. Please!

Off topic: I made your pasta sauce tonight and I am counting the hours until I can warm the leftovers for lunch. Divine.

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Crystal's comment is funny.

My goodness Michelle. What a feat. I don't know who I think more highly of at the moment, you or Max. Sufficeth me to say, incredible.

How would you make a meringue less crunchy? Make it thicker? Find a new recipe?

lelly said...

i cannot imagine having the patience for this project. i've just finally come to grips that baking projects are not one of my strengths and i need to be happy to share my talents elsewhere...

sounds like it was a success all around. (i can't imagine being able to ration out the cookies!! what incredible self-control!)

Jill said...

Good heavens, 4 hours for 17 cookies, that's outrageous!!! And if YOU are saying that making real buttercream is not for the faint of heart, then I can't even imagine how rough it must be.

Here's another recipe I will NEVER attempt to make!

Melinda said...

I have made real butter cream and it is a pain! I am so glad you hear you say that because I thought I was being a wimp.

Those cookies look so good! That is a huge amount of work but I am sure so worth it. I love that you get in and cook with Max. Blake has a real desire to learn to cook and I plan on exploring it with him.

Elisa said...

I don't think I would eat my typical 6 cookies right out of the oven, if they took 4 hours to make...this may just be the diet I have been searching for.

jenn said...

They are beautiful.

I am amazed by his interests and willingness to try, by your support and patience with his efforts, by your ability to cook amazing foods.

I'm trying a new soup this week but already feel defeated by last week's attempt and wish you were available to coach in my kitchen like you do for Max. Wish me luck.

Petey said...

And I used to think that making caramels took forever! Bravo for sticking it out for the whole 4 hours. And they look delicious and well worth the effort.

charlotte said...

They were quite delicious! Though I don't know if I'd have the dedication to make them. More power to you, Max!

Natasha said...

Impressive, seriously impressive!

Your note arrived in the mail today and it was fun to receive a note from you and one from Jill on the same day. Does that mean I was present in some way on Creative Friday? We love Jan Brett books around here (me as much as the kids!)so I'm glad you've made it a new favorite too. I was worried I sent you that book previously and forgot but it looks like I am in the clear.

Amanda L. said...

These look amazing.

Kind of disappointing to only get 17!

Love that you two are in the kitchen together. Everett likes to 'help' me as well. Today we made chocolate chip cookies and after making plain ones I addes raisins, coconut and pecans. He was squealing adding the raisins! He couldn't imagine them IN cookies. It was hilarious.

I'd still like Posey to at least have a shot at Max Crystal. Wink wink.

Kim Sue said...

how delightful....precious little notes!

Susan said...

Alright, Max-man!! And kudos to you too, Michelle! I knew Max had a keen interest in learning the art of macaroon making, but based on your discouraging comments, failed to get the fancy recipe book we saw in Paris on the subject!

So, I am pleased to see the report! It does seem like a very dedicated and determined cook to tackle this. I'm proud of him!

And, they look absolutely beautiful! Yum.Yum.Yum.

Someone will need to describe these beauties to Grandma!

emily said...

Mmm, I could definitely go for one of those right now. They were delicious. I loved learning about the process, too!

Amy said...

My one and only attempt at macarons was a dismal failure. I am determined to make them successfully this year. I'll probably wait until after I go to Paris, though. I'm trying to get my waist to shrink before I go!

Congratulations to Max (and you), though, on the successful attempt!

Amie said...

These comments are cracking me up. I love that you cook together.

How cool to still be finding notes. He is not a normal teenage boy. How nice.

Miranda said...

Jaw hanging open. I'm so impressed! Really, good job all the way around.

patsy said...

WOW...

this is over the top- but now he can always say he did it!
I made homemade bagels once in high school just to try it- (not as impressibe, but still a pain)

I am very sad to say I have never tried one of these... but really want to!

rebekah said...

Oh, no, no, no. Macarons are something that I don't think I will ever make an attempt at. Max is a dedicated man!

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