Fresno Chile & Chevre Macarons

Friday, September 21, 2007

I've been interested in making macarons that are a bit more savory. All the ones I've ever had are dessert cookies, fragile rosewater, pistachio, raspberry, chocolate, that kind of thing.

At first I wanted to make a savory hazelnut dacquoise and fill it with whipped gorgonzola cheese, but I've made enough of these little guys now to know that you can't really have dacquoise without the sugar. They are rather inseparable. And so I set off to try something else.

I had some chevre left from my chicken sandwiches over the past week, and thought, chevre goes well with chile peppers; chile peppers and sugar might team up well; why not try that?

My first attempt was a learning experience (I heard, recently, "Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted." That's kind of what I mean, here.) I minced a Fresno pepper (bright red, fruity with only a mild heat) and a little bit of jalapeƱo for heat, and tossed them in a dry skillet over medium heat, hopefully to dehydrate them enough to mix with the nut flour and sugar. I used cashews - why not? - and did everything as described in my prior post about macarons, modifying weights and whatnot to make sure everything still added up.

It didn't work at all. The resulting "flour" was actually a paste with the exact consistency of marzipan.

Chile & Chevre <i>Macarons<i>

I knew I was in trouble but figured, why not finish the exercise? Maybe I'll learn something. I folded the paste into the meringues:

Chile & Chevre Macarons

It didn't fold well. The best I got was a sagging, orange meringue with big chunks of paste in it. I gave in and whisked it until it combined, at which point the meringue had totally collapsed and it was just a bowl of thick liquid.

Again, I soldiered on, at least out of curiosity to see what Frankenstein's monster would emerge from my oven. I whipped another egg white into a stiff foam and folded it in. I piped the mutant batter onto the cookie sheet and baked them, and got just about what I expected:

Chile & Chevre Macarons

They bear a vague resemblance to macaron dacquoise, but only in a fleeting, ephemeral way. In reality, eating one was like chewing on a paper towel.

I tried again tonight. I debated between totally punting and sticking with dried chiles or simply keeping the fresh chiles but folding them in separately at the very end. I opted for the latter, since I wanted the fruitiness of the fresh peppers, and also because the cookies are dirt cheap and don't take long to make, so I didn't lose much by trying. Here are the dry ingredients and the minced, pan-fried chiles, happily separated. Oh, and I added about 5g of cocoa powder to this batch, just because it occurred to me that it would taste good.

Chile & Chevre Macarons

Then I piped them onto the sheet. I'm getting better at the piping! I still can't quite get rid of that little peak, though, the one that forms when I lift the pastry bag away. Still, these are much improved.

Chile & Chevre Macarons

Fifteen minutes later, I pulled them out of the oven to find, to my delight, perfect little shells.

Chile & Chevre Macarons

I kept the filling simple, just mixed chevre with 2% milk maybe 3 parts chevre to 1 part milk, just enough to soften it but keep it firm enough to stay in place when spread. Depending on your chevre this might differ. The Cowgirl fresh chevre would be the perfect texture as-is; it's softer, creamier, and lighter than anything I've found in Austin.

Chile & Chevre Macarons

I like the reddish-brown hue of the shells, and the sugar in the meringue goes very well with the chiles. They actually taste fairly savory, in spite of the large quantity of powdered & baker's sugar in the shells.

I think I'm happy with my macarons for now. Time to move on to something else. I'm happy I made these, though; they're tasty and were a fun experiment.



At September 29, 2007 8:54 AM , Blogger Brilynn said...

Wow! These sound amazing, I love the combo!


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