Wednesday, July 15, 2009
My 1 Year Blogiversary + 250th post!! (and Vanilla Bean Macarons)
Today is the 1 year anniversary of The Dogs Eat the Crumbs! When I clicked "Publish Post" for the first time last July 15, I had a bunch of plans and a few expectations, but I could never have predicted the journey that the blog - and I - have taken . Some of the things I planned haven't happened and many things have happened that were totally unexpected. Through it all I've had a great time in my kitchen and on my computer, have discovered great food to share with family and friends, and have found clever, funny, thoughtful and kind fellow bloggers who have added so much to my food-blogging experience.
And if that's not enough reason to celebrate, this is my 250th post here!!! Either one of these milestones would be reason for a party, but together? Well, I can't keep to the constraints of a single blog post. You know how fun it is when your birthday gets stretched out over a couple of days, or even weeks, and you have several different celebrations? That's how I plan to observe my blogiversary/250th post.
Today we'll have a celebratory baked good, and over the next several posts, I'll share some of what I've taken away from a year of food blogging; lessons learned and recipes discovered. And I'll have a giveaway of one of my favorite things! So watch this space in the coming days.
Vanilla Bean Macarons
I had planned to celebrate my blog anniversary with a post about a cake. I even picked out the cake recipe I was going to bake: Nick Malgieri's Perfect Birthday Cake, a yellow cake with chocolate frosting (my very favorite flavor combination). But instead, here I am posting macarons, and in a way, it really is the most appropriate subject for my blog's 1 year anniversary.
Before I began food blogging I didn't have the foggiest idea what a macaron was. Coconut macaroons, now those I knew, because my dad was a huge fan. But almond macarons were entirely foreign. French to be exact. Parisian bakeries are filled with macarons, apparently, in every color and flavor imaginable (see, eg., Ladurée, Dalloyau, Pierre Herme) These technicolor pastries consist of two almond/sugar patties sandwiching a flavored ganache or filling.
Macarons are tricky and exacting to bake, though, and even after I was aware of them, I didn't have a great desire to bake them myself. For those over-achieving baker-types who did want to tackle macaron-making, I knew there was a wealth of information available, a daunting amount, actually. I'd gathered that you want your macarons to have "feet", which are the frilly edges at the bottom of each half of the sandwiched pair.
So it took me by surprise a week or two ago when two of my baking friends decided to bake macarons and compare notes via Twitter, and I found myself jumping in to join them. My excuse? I had lots of egg whites to use up (a by-product of ice cream making and some yolk-intense Tuesdays With Dorie recipes.)
While I was waiting for my friends to be ready, I scanned an online article or two about macaron-baking. There are apparently several tricky patches that must be navigated en route to making successful macarons. (Helpful macaron info can be found here and here)
The recipe we followed was from Aran of the blog canelle et vanille. Check out her blog - it's among the most beautifully styled and baked on the internet. She features lots of cool macaron flavor combinations. (eg. raspberry and pink peppercorn) For some other beautiful macarons and unusual flavors, look at the Bonbini blog, here.
The macaron-baking process was a little intense, and I made some mistakes along the way. I might have under-whipped the egg whites, and I'm pretty sure I over-folded the whites with the almonds. I have very little experience with piping, so even though I traced circles from a template onto my parchment paper, I couldn't manage to pipe inside the lines, or at times even near the circles. My macarons had air bubbles, they were of wildly varying sizes, they were a bit flat and a tad undercooked, but they had feet. And they were beautiful to me!
I ran out of steam when it was time for the filling. I made the white chocolate vanilla bean ganache from the same recipe because it was relatively easy, and I had some vanilla bean white chocolate to use up. I don't care for white chocolate (which I've confirmed here and here) but I hoped that the macarons would be different. But no. The filling indeed was far tooooo sweet for me.
I had a few macarons left, so I made up some milk chocolate mocha filling (the recipe is on this post) and it tasted divine. I had lots of trouble getting the right temperature/consistency for piping it, so the pictures are terrible, but they were definitely the tastier of the two.
I had a blast baking these with my blog friends, and I learned a lot. I can see what the fuss is about, because the light crispy outside and chewy almondy insides along with soft filling is a seriously delicious experience. I'm already planning for my next flavor combinations - thinking citrus. Or maybe coffee...
Thanks for reading. Tune in for my next post which will be a giveaway!