Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Pecan Pie Macarons
Hello, friends, I am back from a ridiculously long blogging hiatus! I have thought about blogging many times in the last month, but a busy schedule sucked my inspiration dry; even though I have baked a few times, and certainly gone out to eat, the creative energy to blog has been absent.
Meanwhile, I have figured out a few things about Parisian macarons...including the fact that people do like chewy macarons, despite my railings against such macaron texture. I have a theory that the chewiness results from overbaking the cookies, giving them a toughness that softens into chewiness when combined with the filling in the middle. A theory not entirely tested, but I did make some brandied macadamia nut coconut caramel macarons (gotta work on streamlining that name...) which I baked in a new oven, consequently producing less-baked, softer cookies.
These pecan pie macarons, based on Tartelette's macarons of the same name, were chewy, and yet, very popular. I have not had luck with Tartelette's macaron recipes in the past, so I used my tried-and-true NPR recipe and replaced the cocoa powder with the same volume (1/4 C) of ground pecans. I then used Tartelette's caramel sauce recipe and pecan brittle recipes, et voilà! Pecan pie macarons.
Tartelette often encases little bits of treats in the middle of the filling to enhance the flavor - in this case, the pecan brittle. I wasn't sure how I felt about that idea, feeling strongly as I do about the smooth delicateness that I think should be the essence of the macaron middle. In the end, however, it had a nice effect. I would say these are macarons of a different genre, a riff on the Parisian classic, but still lovely.
To be honest, the most difficult part of this macaron construction for me was the caramel sauce - probably the most often thrown-away item in my cooking history. I really want to be able to make this kind of caramel, with just sugar, cream, and butter and without using a candy thermometer, but the results have been erratic. Perhaps it is time to give in and find a recipe that takes corn syrup to interfere with the formation of sugar crystals, and has more specific instructions than "cook until caramel-colored." I may stubbornly continue to make this sometimes-successful sauce, but eventually I have a feeling that I'll give in to the more predictable versions.
As an alternative, however, how about some caramelized white chocolate ganache-filled macarons? Stay tuned...