Is it Really “playing hookey” if I Work from Home?
This week was my last official week in culinary school. I’m glad that my motivation for school really started to decrease when I was almost done instead of when I was just beginning. Don’t get me wrong–culinary school was a great experience, but I am looking forward to having my evenings back and having more of a regular schedule. I know I’ll be even more glad once I’m gainfully employed again too! (Of course, I’d prefer to be employed doing food writing or pastry work, but that’s a whole other story.)
Anyway, I decided to basically play hookey from class and take it easy earlier this week. At first I thought I’d just be relaxing at home but then I got a bit antsy and started web surfing and well, I thought it would be cool to make some things. One of the things I made was this Sweet Corn and Honey Ice Cream I found on Not Eating Out in New York. It was really easy to make and very delicious! The honey complements the corn very nicely. The corn also adds a great texture and crunch to ice cream. I loved this and I also love that it’s very seasonal so every part of it was delicious!
Earlier in the day, I went to the market to pick up some staples. While I was there, I noticed they still had nice looking strawberries. As a farewell to summer I made a strawberry shortcake. I was very simple with macerated strawberries, whipped cream and a biscuit dough as a cake. I also topped it with sprinkled powder sugar. It was a nice, quick, refreshing way to bit adieu to summer.
I also decided to make some vanilla bean macarons. These are the delicious French sandwich cookie that are chewy and crunchy. They are almost always made with almond flour and powdered sugar. It’s best to use old egg whites for this as well. I know it sounds gross but it actually works really well. I learned how to make these type of macarons when I worked with a pastry chef at my school helping her with a class that was focused on the macarons. She told us how many chefs do not agree on the way to achieve the best results. She also told us how some people say it better to let the piped batter sit for a while and develop a “skin” prior to baking. I did use older egg whites and I did have to let some sit only because I only had so much space in my oven.
Chef also told us a rather disgusting story. Apparently, in kitchens she had worked in both here and in France, people would save egg whites in large containers and not bother to refrigerate them. The idea is that the moisture in the egg white would evaporate over time and therefore would make them easier to whip and form a better meringue with their all-protein structure. She guessed that at the bottom of those containers, some of those egg whites were over 9 months old! Gross right? But she also said their theory was true! While she did discourage us from doing that with our egg whites, she did say you should let them sit out side for at least 2-3 hours before making your macarons. Or you can let them sit out, uncovered, overnight.
Anyway, I used a recipe I got from class to make these. This recipe for Parisian-Style Macarons is a recipe that I adapted from Christian Godineau Macarons (la Suchesse Anne, Saumur France).
375 g 10x sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
190 g almond flour
170 g egg whites
56 g granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped (I added this, to make my macarons vanilla)
drops of red food coloring (I also added this for pink macarons)
- Sift almond flour and powdered sugar together.
- Whip egg whites on low-medium speed until soft peak; gradually add granulated sugar until medium peak and glossy. Hand fold dry ingredients into meringue.
- Pipe into quarter sized macarons on Silpat with a 1/2″ round tube and bake immediately. Bake at 350F until cookie lifts up.
Note: I did not use a pastry tip. I just cut my pastry bag and piped them that way. I also baked my first batch immediately, but my other batches did dry out a bit before baking. I thought my later batches were better.)
For a filling, I used a simple butter cream that I had in my freezer already. These cookies were sweet, chewy, crispy and delicious!! I DEFINITELY wanna learn to make these in different flavors and colors!
I did so much work, I can’t count it as a day where I was “playing hookey”! Maybe I was just exercising my baking muscles at home! 🙂