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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Culinary School - Session 48: Macarons with Almond Paste, Gerbet Macarons, Chocolate Macarons, Sarah Bernhardts and Barquettes

Culinary School: Session 48 (12.08.14)

Macarons with Almond Paste, Gerbet Macarons, Chocolate Macarons, Sarah Bernhardts and Barquettes

Good things come in small packages... and if it isn't good, just grab another one.

Time for Petits Fours! Originally a way for bakers to make full use of the heat from their wood or coal fired ovens, these one bite confections range for simple snacks to intricately decorated pastry showpieces. They're the amuse bouche of the dessert world.

Assorted Petits Fours

- Ingredients Running Tally -

Mini bites... mini batches...

After literally lugging sacks of flour for several weeks during the Bread Unit, it's nice for a change of pace. No more mise en place en masse.

Since most Petits Fours are no larger than an inch in size (how sophisticated), it doesn't take much dough or batter to turn out hundreds of little cakes or cookies.

Ingredients used to date (12.08.14):

  • Flour: 22,350g
  • Eggs: 10,700g (214x)
  • Sugar: 11,325g
  • Butter: 12,640g
  • Milk/Cream: 11,625g

- The Recipes -


Macarons with Almond Paste (Macarons D'Amandes) / Sarah Bernhardts

Crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and tasting intensely of almond... these Macarons are a simple mix of almond paste, sugar and eggs whites. 

Macarons D'Amandes do not feature the silky smooth tops or pronounced "feet" of their more recognizable cousins, the Gerbet Macaron. Nevertheless, these confections make for a unique treat when topped with a dollop of chocolate ganache and coated in a chocolate glaze -- a creation known as a Sarah Bernhardt, named after the stage and silent screen actress.

Focus Techniques:
- Spraying the non-baking side of the parchment with non-stick spray. Given the small and light-weight nature of these cookies, attaching the parchment to the sheet tray is recommended (particularly in a convection oven with a powerful fan). Spraying the non-baking side of the parchment with non-stick spray helps to seal the paper to the sheet tray. Do not spray the baking side, however. The oil in the spray will cause the Macarons to spread.
- Mixing Almond Paste to a smooth consistency by beating it with sugar and then slowly adding liquid. By beating the Almond Paste with sugar, the sugar granules break the sticky chunks of Almond Paste into a sandy mixture. By slowly adding liquid (in this case, egg whites), the sandy mixture is converted into a smooth, fluid paste. Adding too much egg at once will leave chunks of Almond Paste floating in the liquid.

Macarons D'Amandes


Gerbet Macarons (Macarons Gerbet)

Also known as Parisien Macarons, these Macarons are the gold standard. 

A silky smooth and slightly domed top... a slightly elevated ridge at the base or "foot".... and often a vibrant color suggesting the flavor of the sandwiched filling. When most people think "Macaron", this is what comes to mind. 

Gerbet Macarons are named after the French pastry chef who conceived of the sandwiched design. And while the outer cookies are traditionally left unflavored, the sandwiched filling can be any of a multitude of flavors in a vast array of forms (e.g. jams, custards, curds, buttercreams, chocolates, etc.) 

Focus Techniques:
- Grinding almond flour with sugar in a food processor to make a smooth batter. By grinding the almond flour to a finer texture, the Macaron will have a smoother exterior when baked. By grinding the almond flour with sugar, it is less likely that the flour will be over-processed (i.e. turn into an almond butter).
- Coloring the Macaron batter with liquid dyes. While liquid dyes can be used to color the batter, too much dye will materially change the moisture content of the batter. An overly liquid batter can result in cracked Macarons that do not develop "feet". 
- Allowing the piped Macarons to develop a skin before baking. By allowing the piped batter to sit in the open air before baking, a skin will form on the exterior of the Macaron (a well-developed skin will not stick to a finger when touched). During baking, the expanding steam inside the Macaron is unable to break through the skin, and the steam pressure causes the Macaron to expand downward forming the "foot".
- Intentionally "under-filling" the sandwiched Macarons. While more filling may seem like a good idea, too much buttercream or chocolate can create a mess when eaten. Limit the amount of filling so that it is just visible at the edge of the sandwiched Macaron.


Unbaked Gerbet Macarons


Chocolate Macarons (Macarons au Chocolat)

Like the Macaron D'Amandes, the Chocolate Macaron may not be as iconic as the Gerbet Macaron, but it is still a Petit Four worth trying (particularly for those who love all-things-chocolate). The batter is flavored with cocoa powder and the Macaron is sandwiched with a chocolate ganache.

Focus Techniques:
- Folding the dry ingredients (e.g. flour and cocoa powder) into the meringue to minimize deflation. 

Chocolate Macaron Stacks

Filled Chocolate Macaron



Barquettes are boat-shaped shells made of Pate Sucree that are perfect for a variety of fillings. This version was filled with a Passion Fruit Curd and Blueberries. 

Focus Techniques:
- Spraying the molds with non-stick spray. Not only will non-stick spray help to release the Barquette after it is baked, the spray also makes it easier for the Pate Sucree to be formed into the mold.
- Baking the Barquettes sandwiched between molds. By chilling the Pate Sucree molded Barquette and then sandwiching it with another mold on top, the dough will not bubble when baked.

Unbaked Barquette Molds with Pate Sucree

Banquettes with Passion Fruit Curd

Also check out - Field Trip to Germany

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