Thursday, February 16, 2012

His and Hers Valentine's Desserts

...or how wrecked macarons turned into brandied-cherry filled truffles.  When we decided on this special edition of Valentine's Day treats for Feeding Friendship, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to tackle one of my baking challenges - macarons.  My friend Katy lent me a book full of recipes and I selected a dark chocolate and cherry version - a blend of my love of all things dark chocolate and Geoff's fondness for tempering chocolate with some other flavor.

I'll be honest, I got a little cocky.  I've had a lot of baking successes in the last year and so I ignored the fact that I have read many blog posts about how finicky macarons can be and plunged into the recipe around 10pm on Monday night after Zumba and the KU basketball game and knowing that there is an hour-long rest before they go in the oven.

It all started out nicely with perfectly piped pink hearts, cherry-brandy soaked tart cherries and 70% cacao ganache.  But then things went wrong.  I suspect that my first mistake was using my almond meal without grinding it down any further.  My second mistake was trying an unusual shape on my first time out.  And my third mistake, was forgetting to turn over the parchment paper after I drew the hearts on with marker.

So not only did the macarons fail to rise as they should, I had to throw out three-quarters of the "macarons" (let's just call them wafers from now on) because I wasn't sure how toxic that blue marker was.  I nearly gave up then and there, but I had brandy-soaked cherries and ganache made with $16/pound chocolate and there was no reason to toss those out.

When life hands you lemons, make curd.  But when life hands you a bowl of ganache, then my friend, you should make truffles.  The wonderful thing about truffles is that they are meant to be rough and rustic so I just took a spoonful of ganache, stuck a brandy-soaked cherry in the middle, and made it into a vaguely spherical shape before tossing it in cocoa powder.

I chopped the remaining cherries and folded them into a half-cup of cream which I whipped to stiff peaks.  Before we left to see Rent, the cream was sandwiched between the eight unmarred wafers and left in the fridge for the wafers to soften slightly.

They weren't anything like macarons, but who can argue with whipped cream, brandy, and wonderful company?

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