The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
And now on to another episode of Bond...
M sighed as she looked at the fax. "Surely No. 10 has better things to do than bother themselves with this." She sighed again, deeply this time.
"Moneypenny! Get me Bond." She barked. If anyone could get to the bottom of this, Bond could.
James swaggered into the office of the head of MI6. He bowed ever so lightly, "At your service M"
"Ah yes, James. The French are coming in next week and No 10 has chosen to pander to Carla's whims" M stated.
"Ahh... what's Mr Brown trying to do this time?" Bond smiled.
M frowned as she explained, "Well, apparently Carla has taken quite a fancy to French Kissing - can't quite get enough of it apparently. She simply adores the French version although she claims that the French copied it from the Italians."
Bond's mind immediately started to roam. He thought back to Jacquilynne, the litte French pastry chef cum spy and then his mind switched to Francesca Sofia Giada Alessandra Valentina del Piero, the Italian spy from Milan. Both were amazingly good kissers and he would be hard pressed to pick between the two - as far as kissing went anyway. For without a doubt, the French Jacqui had such beautiful and supple...
"Your mind wondering again Bond!" M barked, and not in question either.
"err.. sorry M. Just thinking of kissing the Frenchies and Italians - um, I mean sleeping with their spies... um, I mean working, working with their agents, M. That's It."
"Oh shut up Bond! Your mind is always in the gutter. This isn't really about kissing!" M thundered.
"B-but you were the one that started with the French Kissing M!" Bond watched M's heaving bosom and for a moment, albeit brief, he imagined himself pressed against her and kissing her wantonly. He shook his head quickly, wiping the image from his mind.
M's bosom shuddered as she exhaled in frustration. "Listen up Bond and pay attention. This is about Macs, not kissing."
"Ahhh... Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, onions, pickles on a sesame seed bun." Bond replied, almost in song.
"Good heavens Bond. Thats a bloody Big Mac. I'm talking abouts Macs! Short for Macarons, also known as a French Kiss. Sarkozy wants to give Bruni the perfect French Kiss, as in a Macaron - and now Brown has gotten himself involved. He's offered to serve French Macarons when the Sarkozy's come for their official visit next week. Britain Always has to undermine the French you see and No prizes for guessing who has to make it."
"Blasted Macarons." Bond muttered under his breath. "I'd rather be frenching with Carla."
"What was that Bond?" M practically screamed out.
"Um nothing, M... quite nothing at all."
** Scene fades and reopens **
Bond is lying in bed with a Halle Berry lookalike - wherever does he find these gorgeous women? Her naked body (Obviously) is covered by white satn sheets while Bond has the sheets only up to his waist, displaying his very manly and hairy chest - have you EVER wondered why this is always the case in the movies??
Bond was busy with his laptop. In addition to poring over the recipe, he was surfing for macarons. Every now and then he looked over to glance at the heaving bosom of his bedmate and to pause to inhale her sweet fragrance.
He had never tasted a macaron before nor had he ever seen one. Sure, he had seen pictures of macarons but never the real thing. He learnt that macarons were one of the more popular items in food porn, much like the Halle Berry lookalike next to him could put a porn star to shame. With thoughts of porn floating around in his head, Bonds fingers left his laptop and slid under the covers, teasing the silken thigh of his bed-mate.
"James! I'm reading!" She giggled as she lightly slapped his hand.
Bond frowned. This would never have happened to him before he started baking. Ever! He was Commander Sir James Bond. Agent 007. Women fell at his feet and did his every bidding. This is what happens when you age, lost your hair and grow a pot belly. Grumbling to himself, he continued to read about macarons, before he decided he was going to get to sleep.
James woke up the next morning and leered longingly at the gorgeous woman next to him. Her sheets had slipped off her during the night and her naked form beckoned him - much like a moth to the flame. He briefly considered having his way with her before he remembered how she had spurned him the previous night. "Humph," he spluttered grumpily to himself. "She'll not be getting any of Commander Bond this morning. Serves her right too" Bond didnt realise that he was really only depriving himself. Cutting his nose to spite his own face so to speak...
He got out of bed, pausing to cover her naked body - He didnt want her to catch cold but it was more to sto phim from giving in to his lustfully wanton desires. He washed up and proceeded downstairs to make the macarons. He decided he was only going to make half the measure. That is when he encountered the first problem for the day - the recipe called for 5 egg whites. How on earth would he divide 5 into two? Two and a half egg whites?
He called Q who quite knowledgeably told him to separate the third egg into a separate bowl and then halve that amount of egg white. James couldn't be bothered with such accuracy and so he just used two large eggs and one smaller egg. First problem overcome.
Bond then used his trusty Qenwood mixer (a gift from Q, modeled after the Kenwood Major but with a lot of hidden firepower) to beat up the eggs to soft peaks before adding sugar and whipping the whites to stiff peaks. The thought of stiff peaks sent his mind reeling back to his holiday in the German Alps with Helga, from the German Foreign Affairs Office. Helga had a very advanced bosom that she fondly referred to as the die Deutshces Turm - meaning the German Towers. He used to refer to them as the Twin Peaks. Bond smiled fondly at the memory.
He then gently folded in the sugar and almond meal into the mixture and then proceeded to pipe out small circles. He regretted not investing in one of these Hi-Tech non stick silicon pads but figured his silicon paper would do just as well. Egads and Heavens to Murgatroyd! He had run out of silicon paper and so he used non-stick baking paper instead.
Bond followed the recipe, baking the macarons at a low temperature, removing them from the oven and then letting the oven temperature rise before baking it again. Bond was pleasantly surprised to see that his macarons had little feet on them. Perhaps not as good as it should have been but there they were - feet! It was a good thing he didn't have a foot fetish, he laughed to himself.
Next came the question of what to sandwhich the macarons with as well as what to do with the egg yolks. Bond quickly heated a cup of milk and whisked the egg yolks into it to form a custard. He then whisked in some chocolate to make a chocolate pudding. With the egg yolk problem solved, James melted a little peanut butter with some chocolate to form a nice thick ganache. He mixed in a little of the custard to thin it a little and then sandwhiched the macarons with this mixture.
Job completed and Bond thought that he had done a pretty decent job of it. Now all he had to do was to serve it up at No.10.
He waited patiently for the the Browns and the Sarkozys to finish their main meal, passing the time by flirting with the kitchen maid and sipping a martini. As the head waiter signalled to him, he set the macarons up on a nice serving dish and carried it proudly to the dining table where the Sarkozy's were feasting with the Browns.
Bond purposefully walked passed Carla Bruni, glancing down at her cleavage, so obviously obvious in that little black dress. He placed the serving dish down and walked away, this time giving Carla a not so subtle look - she smiled at him, obviously quite thrilled that the great Commander Sir James Bond, Britains finest, thought she was worth his time.
Bruni reached over and placed a macaron between her red lips. Her eyes rolled upward, obviously rather enamoured with Bond's macarons. Gordon Brown smiled with pride as Carla clapped her hands gleefully stating that the Macaron was delightful - crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
"Ooo-la-la Ces't Magnifique! Eeet eez, how you say in Englizh, almost remindz me of Nikolas. He pretend he is tough on ze outside but really, he is a softy on the inside." she giggled and beamed as she stuffed her face with macaron after macaron.
Gordon Brown called M immediately, gloating over the success of the macarons and congratulating M on Bond's efforts.
"He's the best we have…although I'd never tell him." M said quietly to herself as she put the phone down.
Meanwhile, Bond was back in the kitchen, his hand deftly unclasped the bra of Chantalle, the vivacious and buxom Kitchen Maid. As his hands roamed, he gave her a free lesson in the art of French Kissing. This lesson however had nothing to do with Macarons...
Later, with her hair all in a mess, her clothes all over the kitchen and Bond long gone, the kitchen maid relived her time with Bond. Bond most Certainly was the Best she had ever had...and that made perfect sense as he was The Best that Britain had to offer...
This was a really fun challenge and one that I didn't think I would pull off - seriously! I've read about macarons and how difficult they are that I was practically trying to ignore this challenge - but I'm glad I didnt!
Taste wise, these were SPECTACULAR! The Kids just Loved the macarons and couldn't get enough. The macarons were perfect - crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The chocolate and peanut butter mix gave it a lovely taste and they were simply delicious. The macarons practically finished off in one sitting and as my son reached for the last one, he asked if there were anymore - hoping that I had some still left in the kitchen. It was then that I wished I had made the full measure.
My son loved them so much that he stuffed a whole macaron in his mouth. I cant blame him as I have a tendency for doing stuff like that too. Greedy daddy, greedy son - the apple doesnt fall far from the tree!!
They both proclaimed that this was one of their favourite DB challenges so that is certainly a winner in my books and I am sure I will HAVE to make this again sometime. - probably soon!!
Notice the chocolate covered mouth and fingers of my little princess - who just couldnt get enough of these macarons!
Thanks for a great challenge AmiS. The whole blogosphere will be full of Macarons today so please go visit the rest of the Daring Bakers!
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.
Yield: 10 dozen. Ami's note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons.