Friday, May 7, 2010

Nancy Drew Blue Roadster Macarons And the Case of the Mystery Filling


When I first saw this fun and creative macaron challenge on the mactweets website,  I was excited.

The challenge was to create a Macaron inspired by a favorite childhood book.  I loved books as a child and continue to be a voracious reader.  When I was a kid I would lock myself away or in summer months, find a great outdoor place to spend hours reading.

As for the challenge, I was in!

Then two immediate problems became clear.  The first was narrowing down my Ginormous list of childhood favs to inspire a macaron. How could I possibly choose a favorite? That's like asking a mother to choose between her children.

And the second...well umm... I have never made macarons before.

For those of you not familiar with the process, it has severely tested the patience and fortitude of many professional bakers and incredibly talented food bloggers.  I was taking up this challenge not only as a Macaron Virgin but more likely, a Macaron Moron. I suddenly imagined myself making batch after batch of failed cookies, becoming homicidal waiting for them to grow their stupid feet while watching the Mactweet posting deadline whiz by me.

I took a deep breath, calmed myself down, tried to think more positively and tackled one thing at a time.

For the first hurdle, I made a list of some of my favorite childhood books and macaron flavor ideas.  Some results of my brainstorming:

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler by E.L. Konigsberg
Hmmm...I think Claudia and her brother took Peanut butter sandwiches with them when they were running away to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.  Or they ate peanut butter crackers? Regardless, I was so ready to join them =  PB&J Macarons?

The Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatly Snyder (doncha just love her name?)  I was captivated by Robin's secret round reading room in an old mansion decorated with pink velvet drapes = Pink Rose Velvet Macaroons?

Misty of Chincoteague - By Marguerite Henry - This book about wild horse Phantom and her foal Misty broke my heart over and over again = Sea Salt Caramel Macarons?

And then I remembered and almost kicked myself.  How could I forget Nancy Drew?  I spent so many summers immersed in her mysteries.  I read them over and over. We bought most of our books secondhand (or got them from the library.)  I owned many of the old editions my mother bought at thrift stores and tag sales.  Nancy has had many incarnations since, but in those versions, Nancy was mostly blonde (occasionally a redhead) and drove a fabulous blue Roadster.


My series of summers spent solving mysteries with Nancy was clearly early training my working with Geraldo Rivera as an investigative producer later on.  I would always ask myself, "What would Nancy Drew do?"


Not really.

Well, maybe.

I found this comprehensive website for all things Nancy Drew and also a Nancy Drew Cookbook!  I immediately ordered the vintage version. Can't wait to get it.

Then I got lost looking at the fabulous old book covers.


She was one hellava fashion plate that Nancy Drew.  Always dressed to the nines and rockin' the high heels whether she was running from danger or tied up and locked in a closet. Nancy was so inspiring, her hottie boyfriend Ned so darn swell and her car was just so damn cool.  So Blue Roadster Macarons it was.

As for the mystery filling - it was a mystery to even me at this point because I had no idea yet. I was too busy quaking in meine haus schuhe over the prospect of making macarons.

I tried several recipes before I obtained anything resembling a macaron. Most likely, someone else could use the same recipe that didn't work for me and get great results. I didn't act at all logical and stick with trying to perfect one specific recipe. I kept frantically trying different ones because I am a lunatic.    I can't even disclose which one worked for me. That's another mystery I'll get into later. However, at the bottom of this post I listed great info from other bloggers who make stunning macarons.

The ingredients are the same.  Methods vary. Here is the basic Process:

Most experienced macaron makers recommend using a Silpat.  I don't have one. So first I traced circles onto parchment paper using a small round cookie cutter and flipped it over.


After sifting the powdered sugar and almond flour together twice as recommended,


I beat and colored the (left out on the counter for two days) egg whites adding fine sugar, pinches of salt and cream of tartar and vanilla flavoring. When I reached the desired consistency, I folded in the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture.

Look how pretty!  Nancy Drew Roadster Blue.
Using a disposable pastry bag with the end snipped off, I piped the mixture onto the outlined circles.


You are supposed to leave them to dry for up to two hours before you put them in the oven.  I was impatient and think I should have waited a bit longer because this was the result:


As predicted, my first batch was a disaster. Ugly, flat, inedible disks that stuck to the paper.

Drat!

I mixed up a new batch using another recipe.  While I was waiting another TWO HOURS to put the new batch in the oven, I amused myself by drawing feet on my failed first batch:


Isn't this what The Secret refers to as igniting the law of attraction?

It didn't work. I want my money back Rhonda Byrne.

The second batch results:

Looked sorta good here:


Then this happened:


The batter was way too goopy.  Way too many egg whites. I think.

Back to mixing up another recipe.  I skeptically put them in the oven and then, OMG, this happened:


Feet!  Feet!  OMG I got Feet!.  They may not be beautiful frilly feet (I know, they're hideous and deformed) but I created them. To me they were gorgeous. I wanted to treat them to a pedicure. I wanted to kiss their little toesies.

It was late, my kitchen and I were both covered in blue. Seriously.  I looked like a smurf and my kitchen looked like the cookie monster exploded on the counter.  AND Mercury was in retrograde. Time to pack it in.

Scoreboard  = Macarons: 3  Mad Hausfrau: 0

I cleaned up both the kitchen and myself,  put out extra egg whites for an overnight stay on the counter and called it an evening.

The next day I sprang out of bed full of hope and confidence.  I just knew this would be my Macaron Victory Day.

Back to the kitchen to mix up another batch that didn't work at all. I'll spare you the repetition and runny mess of a picture.

Scoreboard now reads:  Macarons: 4  Mad Hausfrau: 0

Would Nancy Drew have given up at this point?  No way.

The next batch of batter was way too dry. I could hardly fold it.  I was starting to feel like the Goldilocks of macaron makers at this point, "this one's too wet, this one's too dry...." Out of frustration, I threw in some of the batter from the previously overly goopy batch and folded it in. Come on. What did I have to lose at this point?

You'll never believe this but....

It worked!  The result was actually something shaped like a real macaron.


So now you understand why no recipe can be posted. I made accidental frankenbatch macarons, a mystery which will never be solved.

Where is Nancy Drew when you need her?

They did however, taste delish. Fairly crunchy on the outside and wonderfully gooey on the inside.  Unfortunately, they didn't look perfect. The shell was not nice and smooth. The feet were a little funky, but still so lovable to me.

I now officially have turned into a macaron masochist because, after two days in the kitchen with a questionable result, I'm looking forward to trying again and finding the perfect recipe that works for me. This was a wonderfully creative challenge. I would like to thank Mactweet for the macinspiration.

Nancy Drew Blue Roadster Macarons


For the macarons, take any basic macaron recipe and add a dash of vanilla extract and blue paste food coloring.

Now, for the filling.  Like Nancy Drew mysteries, all is revealed in the end...

A Clue:
What is an all American Nancy Drew beverage?

A Hint:
I am sure Nancy and her best friend Bess discussed many case clues over tall glasses of this cool refreshing drink made by Nancy's housekeeper, Hannah (at least that's how I remember it).

Yep - Lemonade flavor for Nancy Drew Blue Roadster Macarons with Lemonade Mystery Buttercream.

Most lemonade buttercream is made with with lemonade concentrate. This (to my knowledge) is not available in Germany.  So I improvised. My secret mystery ingredient is adding lemon sugar instead of plain granulated to amp up the flavor.  I had some leftover from a trip to Italy. I balanced out the sweetness somewhat by adding 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for the tart flavor. However,  adding the extra sugar makes it really sweet. Just a warning.











Fro the Lemonade Mystery Buttercream


Ingredients:
  • 3 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Stick of Butter
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Lemon Sugar*
  • 2 Teaspoons Freshly grated Lemon Zest
Directions:
  • Beat Powdered sugar and butter until smooth
  • Beat in salt and Lemon Juice.
  • Add Lemon Sugar and continue beating.
  • Throw in Lemon Zest and beat until mixed in.

Note:  I made half the amount for my Macarons.


*Here is where you can find several recipes if you want to make your own lemon sugar.

If you are intrepid or insane enough (or both) to attempt making the elusive macaron yourself, some great info, tips and advice on avoiding trials and tribulations can be found on the following blogs:

David Lebovitz  - He lists a comprehensive roundup of links to all things macaron.
Not So Humble Pie - Two months and 80 hours later of macaron making, she shares good info.
Giver's Log - Gives very detailed instructions.
From Ba to Paris - As of the post she has made over 500 macarons.
Sprinklebakes  - She made beautiful macarons on her first try.
What's For Lunch Honey?  Makes gorgeous macarons. The link contains her tips.
Tartelette - Hers are pure art with fantastic flavors.

MMC - Macaron Mass Casualty


Final Score: Macarons: 4  Mad Hausfrau: Almost 1

5 comments:

  1. WOOT WOOT... i know the joy of feet, and I'm an experience toesies kisser! I have had many an experience as yours Lors, and the arrival of feet is a joy untold! Love the roadster blue and wish I had a memory like yours. I read ND too when I was youg, Hardy Boys as well, but my recall memory is quite poor! I loved your story connect, and your patience to get the perfect batch.
    Thanks for joining Jamie & me at MacTweets! It's wonderful to have you on!

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  2. BRILLIANT! I love your post, your writing is too funny and your choice of challenge macs is inspirational and creative! Oooh my sister read all the Nancy Drew books and to me it was just too chic and intellectual! But now the way you describe her I must get my hands on a book or two and reread them. And join the Macobsessed crowd and welcome! Another Macnut on the Mactweets team and thrilled to have you baking along with us. Keep on going and you'll get perfect macs soon... I mean, Nancy always gets her criminal in the end!

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  3. I love your writing and your macarons. The blue is divine. I also loved Nancy Drew and grew up reading my Mom's books from the 40's and 50's. So...I made 5 perfect batches of macarons before I had my first failure. How do you do that? I think sometimes the recipe is the culprit. Next batch I made, different recipe...perfect. Don't give up. Your last batch was pretty.

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  4. Nancy Drew was a favorite at my house as well. I'm so impressed with your fortitude, and your great sense of humor. Welcome to MacTweets. I look forward to more terrific posts and macs.

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  5. I have a collection of Nancy Drew books. I have a sister that wants to snatch it away, but I keep moving it around into strange places to keep her from finding it. . . actually they belong to both of us. I shoud share. Loved your post and your macs. Don't give up, I tried so many times before I made the feet work!

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Thank you for your comments and feedback. I love hearing from you!