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I Love Macarons Paperback – November 11, 2009
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About the Author
Hisako Ogita is a Japanese pastry chef and author of 3 cookbooks on French pastry.
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I consider myself a pretty good home cook and have made many recipes both cooking AND baking. I make homemade breads, pastas, pizzas, cakes. There is a problem with the recipe, itself.
Of note, I own Thomas Keller's "Bouchon" cookbook and the ratios were very different. Have not tried that one yet. I'll be looking elsewhere for my next macaron adventure.
Unless you know what makes the "perfect" macaron and what it takes to get there, you won't understand the excitement of seeing the "pieds," or frilled bases, form on the macarons while they are in the oven. It's not that creating macarons is particularly time-consuming or difficult, only that it takes skill, instinct, and confidence. And once you know what your goal is, you cannot help but feel the triumph of success. I failed only once, on my second attempt, but now that I know the techniques, I'm confident that I won't run into problems in the future unless I'm careless or impatient. Fortunately, author Ogita offers a troubleshooting page to pinpoint where readers might have gone wrong.
Instead of supplying individual macaron recipes in different flavors, Ogita goes with a mix-and-match philosophy. You choose one of two macaron recipes -- French or Italian -- and then choose your flavors and colors from color pages, either to add to the almond flour or to the meringue.
Although the author offers a recipe for real French buttercream as one of the fillings (this requires cooked sugar syrup, eggs, and butter), you can cut down your kitchen time by making American buttercream (butter and confectioners sugar -- recipe not included) or ganache. Okita supplies recipes for other fillings: chestnut cream, lemon curd, caramel cream. She then provides a wide variety of flavors, as she does with the macarons themselves, to add the one of two buttercream recipes, making the possible variations enormous.
If you don't have a high-end grocery store in your area where you can find commercial almond flour, I recommend ordering Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour at the same time you buy this book. Store the almond flour in the freezer to keep it from going rancid; however, you'll need to bring the flour up to room temperature before you use it. Although you can make your own almond flour in the food processor, it is difficult to get it fine enough or to avoid making it into almond butter. Even if you eventually want to make your own almond flour, I recommend using commercially milled almond flour for your first few times, at least until you're familiar with the techniques and possible pitfalls, since starting with insufficiently fine flour will doom your recipe.
This cookbook offers a solid introduction to creating the perfect macaron. Anyone can learn, even beginning bakers; however, the more experience you have, the better your chances of success the first time out. Now that I know the technique, I can make two batches back-to-back without much time or trouble. And I still get excited when I see the pieds.
-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann