Friday, April 29, 2011

Midweek Macarons: Coconut Rose Chocolate Macarons



As a linguist (*ahem*, my day job), I hear this question a lot: "How many languages do you speak?"  It's a common misperception that all we linguists do is learn to speak a lot of languages all day, and allow me to put this to rest right here and now: I am not a polyglot.  Our job as linguists is not to study languages but to study language, which is the first lesson we teach to anyone who takes Linguistics 101, and while many-a-times, this might involve having to learn languages, it most certainly does not require it.  In fact, even if I know something about a language, that doesn't mean that I can speak, write, read, or understand it at all, though I could probably tell you what the language's syllable structure is, or how the language might order words in its sentences--you know, pretty useless little things that wouldn't come much in handy if I actually had to hold down a conversation.


But, all this is not to say that we linguists don't do some really. cool. stuff.  Take, for example, one of the professors in my department, Dan Jurafsky.  Dan works primarily on computational linguistics, but one of his awesome side projects is writing about the language of food.  (which, frankly, is so genius, I'm jealous that I didn't think of it myself!)  Dan's written before on things like the origins of "ketchup" or what defines "dessert," and he has a paper coming out soon about the role of language in potato chip advertisements.  And he teaches what I've heard is an awesome undergraduate seminar on the subject.

So, of course, one day, I approached Dan with THE hot linguistics and food question of the current day: macaron vs. macaroon.  Which one is it!  (and how in the heck are you supposed to pronounce the difference?)  Raise your hand if you've ever pondered this question!  *typing while raising one hand in the air.*


Thankfully, Dan was totally enthused about investigating the origins of the macaron/macaroon, and he's just posted his essay on the subject, after a few months of in-depth research.  Apparently, the macaron/oon is related to a whole slew of desserts and foods of the almond or egg white family--from gnocchi to marzipan--and has traveled, in its various forms, through so much of Europe and the Middle East--from Persia to Italy and France--before making it to the US and becoming the coconut macaroon.  But, even with its long history, the debate is still open as to whether we want to call the Parisian macaron/oon that we're so crazed about these days a macaroon or a macaron, to distinguish it from the once-popular coconut macaroons.  Only time will tell!  Oh, and the best part of Dan's article is that he discovered that the macaron/oon/oni might actually be related to the macarena.  Heeeeeeyyyyyy, macarena, a ya!  (OMG, I can't believe I still remember that dance....!)

Anyways, I thought that all of Dan's research on the macaron/oon/oni/ena should be rewarded with actual macarons.  Since rosewater kept recurring in the history of the macaron, I whipped up some coconut rose chocolate macarons, with lightly flavored almond shells and coconut-rose-flavored dark chocolate ganache inside.  I also couldn't resist breaking out the luster dust, after seeing all of the beautiful watercolor-dyed eggs floating about the internets for Easter.


So, the next time you meet a linguist, I implore you not to ask them how many languages they speak.  Instead, talk to them about macarons.  Or macaroons.  Or macaroni.  Ack.  Never mind.  Just ask them to dance the macarena with you.  ...Or not.  :-)

>>Go read Dan's essay on macarons!<<


Read on for recipe....





Coconut Rose Chocolate Macarons
makes ~50 small macarons or 20-30 large macarons

for macaron shells*:
200 gr powdered sugar
120 gr blanched and slivered almonds
20 gr unsweetened dried coconut flakes (not the sugared kind!)
30 gr granulated sugar
100 gr egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tspn cream of tartar
1/8 tspn coconut extract
1/8 tspn rose extract

1. Prepare two baking sheets lined with silpats or parchment paper and a pastry bag with a large round piping tip.
2. Combine the powdered sugar, almonds, and dried coconut flakes in a food processor and grind until a fine powder. Sift thoroughly through a fine mesh strainer and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, have ready the granulated sugar.
4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the egg whites and the cream of tartar. Using a balloon whisk, quickly stir the mixture until the entire surface is covered with foam. Then, start whisking the egg whites, gradually adding in the granulated sugar once the egg whites are very frothy. Whisk until you reach glossy, almost-stiff peaks.
5. Gently fold the sifted almond and powdered sugar mixture into the egg whites in two to three stages, adding the coconut and rose extracts as you go. Mix just until the ingredients are incorporated and the batter slowly re-absorbs peaks. Do not overmix!
6. Transfer the macaron mixture to the prepared piping bag and pipe rounds on the lined baking sheets. Tap the baking sheets on the table a few times to release air pockets.
7. Rest the macarons for at least 30 minutes (and up to 60), until the outside shells are no longer tacky and sticky to a light touch.
8. Preheat oven to 290 degrees F, with the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven.
9. Bake the macarons in the oven, one sheet at a time, for 24-28 minutes total, rotating the sheet half-way through the baking time to insure even baking.
10. Remove from oven and let cool.

*Note: the resting and oven temperature and times are adjusted to what works in my kitchen and oven (which, to my knowledge and according to two oven thermometers, is quite accurate). Please note that you may have to adjust according to what works in your kitchen and oven.

for coconut-rose chocolate ganache:
1/2 cup coconut cream (see note below)
1 Tbspn butter
1 tspn rose water
2 tspn corn syrup
4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

1. In a small saucepan, combine the coconut cream, butter, rose water, and corn syrup. Bring to a simmer.
2. Once the coconut cream mixture is simmering, remove from heat and add the chocolate. Whisk until smooth.
3. Let cool completely, and use to fill macarons.
4. Once the macarons are filled, let them "cure" in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Note: for coconut cream, skim the cream off the top of a can of coconut milk. A little bit of milk is okay.


Recipe for chocolate ganache filling adapted from David Lebovitz.


Enjoy!

39 comments:

  1. The pictures are amazing and the macarons yummiiii... i tried few times the recipe but didnt work out...

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  2. The painting on your macaron looks fantastic but most excitingly, I really liked Dan's article on the macaron vs macaroon debate! I'm been wondering about that myself, and although my doubts weren't totally assuaged, I was definitely piqued by the idea of researching on the "language of food". I'll definitely be keeping an eye on his blog for new articles :)

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  3. What a fascinating article, I knew that they were related to amaretti cookies and there are versions in France that aren't sandwiched like the Parisian style ones we most commonly think of. What an incredibly through research of the origins of macaron/macaroons

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  4. The painting work is beautiful - as is the entire finished product.

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  5. What an incredible pack of photos! I love everything in this post: so delicate, so beutiful...
    GREAT!

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  6. I love the painting, Steph! I really gotta try it sometime. Very fascinating about the history of macarons and I'll definitely read his article later. Your flavor combos are always awesome. I'm definitely itching to play with different macarons now that I feel more comfortable with them. Too bad I'm out of almonds!

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  7. so pretty! i always love your recipes and photos of them....beautiful :)

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  8. This post is yet another reason I'm happy to have voted for you and DFB. Really incredible, you are!

    Cheers,

    *Heather*

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  9. Ahhh...they look so innocent and sweet. Just looking at them you would never know exactly how much work they are to make!

    Lovely lovely recipe...

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  10. oh wow, what a great post!!
    These are stunning!! I still have not perfected these yet... perhaps one day.

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  11. Thank you guys so much!

    @squirrelbread: thanks for voting for me. ^^!

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  12. My employer is French and he pronounces macarons, "macaroons." When I asked him why, he said, "because we are speaking in English." Good enough for me! I've pronounced them macaroons ever since. :)

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  13. This post is absolutely fantastic! I love your back story, the paint, the pictures and of course, the macaron/oons. I must try them. Immediately.

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  14. Coconut macarons with chocolate coconut cream, heaven...These are wonderful and I like the painting too!!!

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  15. lovely designer macaroons.. Soon I get a feeling these temperamental cookies will become works of art.

    Lovely..

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  16. OMG! This is a wonderful post Stephanie! You're such an artist! I can tell you that none of Pierre Hermé's or Ladurée's macarons look this beautiful. Although they taste great I can admit! :) I'm pretty sure yours are so yum! When we meet one day (because I'm sure we will) I beg you to bake this wonderful macarons for me!!! :)

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  17. More food should be painted! I love it!

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  18. You chose such a beautiful combination of flavors and colors. These are breathtaking!

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  19. I just love transformational generative grammar, Chomsky...and macarons--subjects I'm sure we could talk for hours about! Linguistics was my favourite subject and I almost chose it instead of being an English teacher...I just had no idea what kind of job I could get being a linguist!

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  20. What a fun and through post!!! I'm not sure when the debate started publicly, I think it was on one of the foodie magazines where an (editor) misspelled macaron for macaroon. For me, macaron.. the French sandwich-like pastry is how we spelled it, and macaroon is an entirely different pastry/cookie. I think though we adopted the French spelling to decipher between the two, but I quite like both the French and Italian version, and I really like how your macaron's look like they are ready for a red carpet showdown.

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  21. hello, coconut and rose, some of my favorite flavors! Send me some! hehe

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  22. this may be my new favorite post of yours... or at least #2 behind those s'mores cakelettes. because i do love me a good macaron vs. macaroon debate. i say, passover (coconut) macaroons and ladurée macarons. voilà. and your macarons here are just gorgeous and so creatively decorated !

    AND i spent 4 years at university saying, "i'm a linguistics major, not a polyglot." HA !

    all i can say now is that professor jurafsky just got a new fan and i am definitely going to be reading his work on a regular basis. language of food ? me. what defines dessert ? ME. :) thank you so much for sharing his site.

    last but not least, once again BRAVO on the saveur award ! (already voted for you)

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  23. These are so artistic. They jumped right out at me from FoodGawker!

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  24. Love, love your blog. I have made some recipes more than once. I can't wait to make your macarons.

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  25. Too perfect to attempt even to get close to them! With "envidia sana", I send you kind regards after this my first visit to your blog.

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  26. Oh my, your macarons are a work of art. I especially love the photo of paintbrushes, paints and macarons (in the midst of work). Fantastic shot. The colours are fascinating!!

    Pei Li

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  27. LOVE this! Those macarons are gorgeous! And it's nice to see somebody refer to these little treats correctly: they're macarONS, not macarOONS!

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  28. These are some of the most beautiful macarons I've ever seen! Lovely

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  29. These are some of the most beautiful macarons I've ever seen! Lovely

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  30. LOVE this! Those macarons are gorgeous! And it's nice to see somebody refer to these little treats correctly: they're macarONS, not macarOONS!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Oh my, your macarons are a work of art. I especially love the photo of paintbrushes, paints and macarons (in the midst of work). Fantastic shot. The colours are fascinating!!

    Pei Li

    ReplyDelete
  32. This post is absolutely fantastic! I love your back story, the paint, the pictures and of course, the macaron/oons. I must try them. Immediately.

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  33. Love, love your blog. I have made some recipes more than once. I can't wait to make your macarons.

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  34. hello, coconut and rose, some of my favorite flavors! Send me some! hehe

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  35. so pretty! i always love your recipes and photos of them....beautiful :)

    ReplyDelete
  36. What an incredible pack of photos! I love everything in this post: so delicate, so beutiful...
    GREAT!

    ReplyDelete
  37. The painting work is beautiful - as is the entire finished product.

    ReplyDelete
  38. What a fascinating article, I knew that they were related to amaretti cookies and there are versions in France that aren't sandwiched like the Parisian style ones we most commonly think of. What an incredibly through research of the origins of macaron/macaroons

    ReplyDelete
  39. The painting on your macaron looks fantastic but most excitingly, I really liked Dan's article on the macaron vs macaroon debate! I'm been wondering about that myself, and although my doubts weren't totally assuaged, I was definitely piqued by the idea of researching on the "language of food". I'll definitely be keeping an eye on his blog for new articles :)

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from you and reading your comments! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. Happy feasting!

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