Rhubarb Macarons

May 24, 2010 at 10:40 am 7 comments

Eggs

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately {I have a lot of time to do that when weeding the garden} about what defines success in a person’s work.  I spent many years working in an intense corporate job where I earned a decent wage.  By most accounts, I was quite successful, being good at my job and making enough money to pay all the bills, occasionally treat myself to a few nice things, and beef up my savings account.   But I was so unhappy doing that work that I quit and started a whole new career tract, going back to school and becoming a poor student when I most certainly was at an age where being such was just barely do-able and certainly not desirable.   Can you really be that “successful” if you are at a place in your life where you need to take such risks to regain balance and even {if I dared to dream} some really happiness and satisfaction? 

Rhubarb

And now here I am on the other side of that leap of faith, a little out of breath from the effort, but really quite pleased with my progress towards establishing my own business and doing something that I find extremely gratifying.  My savings account is not nearly as beefy, and I find myself stuttering when I describe my “income” when I attempt to find some health insurance that would be even remotely affordable for the new entrepreneur.   I work 12 hours a day , six days a week, trying to make my well-laid plans a reality.  And I’ve been a bit saddened to have to let go of some hobbies I really loved {namely food blogging on a regular basis}.  But at the end of the day, I have a smile on my face.  A real, broad, toothy, genuine smile on my face.  I’ve never felt so healthy and creative.  I’m not able to give myself a paycheck yet, but I sure as hell feel rewarded and “successful”.  Is this enough though?   Frankly, I don’t think I can answer that question just yet. 

Batter

One thing that keeps me feeling a little less freaked out on the days when I stare at a skinny bank account and a fat credit card bill is the knowledge that I’m growing my own food at least.  This cuts down on grocery bills and gives us healthier options for dinner (not that we always take advantage of those options).   I’ve always loved cooking with homegrown food stuffs, as you well know, but this season it is less of a luxury and more of a necessity.   Creativity is key, as is cutting down on waste. 

Marscapone filling

When I made the pots de creme from the last post, I was using some lovely farm fresh eggs that my mom had gotten for me from a neighboring farm.  You might have noticed that the recipe only called for yolks so I had three egg whites leftover that I wanted to put to good use still.  I’ve always been intrigued by the fashionable macaron sandwich cookie that’s been made food-blog-famous by as personal heroine of mine, Helen, at Tartelette.   Her macaron’s in particular always seem so colorful and unique.  The thought of rhubarb’s pink hue coupled with a bite-size cookie treat was quite alluring even though I’ve never been a big fan of the type of macarons that are just big puffs with coconut sprinkled on top.  So, with four day old egg whites in hand, I set about making my first batch of sandwich macarons. 

The sole survivor

Remember that little philosophical discussion above on the definition of success?  Well, I’m not terribly proud of my virgin attempt at macarons.  All of my dollops ran together in the oven to create one giant sticky sheet of would-be macaron.  All but three that is…the three dollops that I couldn’t fit on the first sheet so I had to put them on a second sheet, gave them more space and let them sit on the counter while the other sheet was baking.  So, I think I’ve learned some valuable lessons for my next batch, of which there surely will be when the next egg white surplus occurs since the one (and a half) finished Rhubarb Macaron I got to eat was absolutely delicious!   Despite “repurposing” the ruined ones as a topping for ice cream, I still felt like I had accomplished something as I licked the last of the marscapone filling off my fingers. 

Rhubarb Macarons

Rhurbarb Macarons
Adapted from Tartelette
*I will aslo use this great tutorial with Tartelette, via bel’ alimento, next time.

For the shells:
3 egg whites
25 gr granulated sugar
4 T. rhubarb coulis
2 drops red food coloring
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr slivered or chopped almonds

With an electric mixer, whip the egg whites to a foam and then gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Don’t overbeat the meringue. Fold in the food coloring and rhubarb coulis. 

Place the powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground.

Add the almond mixture to the meringue, carefully folding until you obtain a batter that slowly deflates to the count of 10. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple more turns.

If you have one, ill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip  or, do as I do, and use a zip lock freezer bag with a bottom corner snipped off.  Fill with batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets, leaving plenty of space between each. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit.

Preheat the oven to 300F. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until firm. Let cool. Store in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.

For the filling:
4 oz mascarpone, room temperature
3 T. rhubarb coulis

In a small bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and coulis together until well incorporated. Fill a small piping bag with a large plain tip and pipe in the center of a shell before pressing another shell lightly on top form the sandwich. 

(makes 2-3 dozen)

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Chocolate Rhubarb Pots de Creme Rhubarb & Strawberry Ice Cream

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jason  |  May 27, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I would never have known about the sheet pan-sized monster macaron judging by the photos! Excellent job… I love the color of these, too! I’ve not yet gotten up the nerve to attempt maracons, but I really should soon. My partner LOVES them.

    Regarding success, I pretty much feel the same way. I’m slowly edging my way toward my own personal leap of faith… yet when I think of my life as a timeline, it does resemble more a game of leapfrog than a completely linear drawing. My hypothesis is that life is all about Plan B (and possibly all the other lettered plans that might follow).

    I was bragging on your business to some folks just the other day and their faces just lit up. It’s such a brave and great thing that you’re doing.

    Reply
  • 2. c.  |  May 27, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I made macarons a few years ago when I first got into baking. I picked Nigella Lawson’s recipe for exquisite looking pistachio macarons with pistachio buttercream filling. And to my complete astonishment they came out absolutely picture perfect. A delicate hue of green, just slightly puffy and perfectly cracked. Chewy and delicious. It was the most amazing boost of self-confidence.

    Then I tried to make them a second time, as a gift for a friend. And I had the exact same result you did — a flat tray-sized all-in-one macaron. I was discouraged I figured the first time was a fluke and have never tried again.

    I’m thinking about it now though, your combo failure/success gives me courage. (Also, those flat tray-sized ones are disappointing, but they are still awfully tasty).

    Reply
  • 3. Louise  |  May 29, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Hi Jennie!!!
    I too worked in an intense work environment (a newspaper) where the hours were long, and the pay, especially for a woman, was very very good. I worked double time, triple time and even gave up holidays and weekends. I saw my children rarely. Oh, I too had few debts, nice bank account etc.

    About 10 years ago, I too took a leap of faith when the company I worked for offered a buy-out. I took it and ran. Well, not too far because I bought my own business.

    That was 12 years ago and I have never looked back. Sure the health benefits were good as was the salary but my family suffered and I was not in the best health. (working nights for 20 years didn’t help either) Just this year, I sold that business and moved to Pennsylvania. Am I successful? Who knows, or cares. I am the best I have ever been with all things that really count, love, life, children.

    I commend you on your drive and spirit. I have learned through the years that it really does get down to the basics. Do we really need all those “goodies” we think we would perish without? Kudos to you!

    Now, if I could just overcome my fear of Macarons…

    Have a GREAT holiday weekend and thanks for sharing…

    Reply
  • 4. Kerry Ann McLean  |  May 29, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Jennie,

    I am so PROUD of you for dreaming, daring and doing– I bet that smile of yours is gorgeous, and while the paycheck is not as pretty as your “toothy” grin– if you can live and still boast of passion for your “job,” you are rich. You were successful the first moment I met you and have been so ever since.

    Keep weeding and if you need a weekend weeder- do not hesitate to call- I will only request something good to eat and drink, and lots of passionate conversation.

    Take care, Kerry Ann

    Reply
  • 5. Nourishing Words  |  May 29, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Having a big smile on your face at the end of the day is a really good indication of success, I think. Your story is an inspiration to those of us (many, I’m sure) who need a nudge to take a risk and step toward living our dreams.

    Reply
  • 6. alex  |  June 5, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    I loved reading this post. I too am just on that hump of changing my life and I can’t wait. I can now see the other side, even though I am nervous yet excited. In fact I don’t quite no how to describe it. Thank you for the lovely macarons recipe x

    Reply
  • 7. shayma  |  June 13, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    your story made me smile- my hats off to you for doing what you love- even if you are aware there is a risk- but as the reader above said- you have a smile on your face at the end of the day and are certainly an inspiration to us. shayma

    Reply

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