So here I finally am, in my new home and almost completely settled in. The first room set up was, of course, the kitchen. Not just because I will eventually have to cook something to eat but I truly believe that the kitchen is the heart of the home. When you have a dinner party, where does everyone seem to gather? The kitchen. Or it’s the kitchen island if you have one, or everyone lingers at the dinner table long after the food has been consumed.
I can’t begin to explain how thrilled I am with the new kitchen I get to play in. My last place was a much older building and had appliances that were 20+ years old. Don’t get me wrong, GE makes great appliances and they last a long time but they were long overdue to be replaced. Now, I have a Samsung oven and it is absolutely amazing!! The only problem is that I have to get used to it.
You know how you become familiar with the quirks of your appliances and you know how to adjust and work around them? Well, this oven is all digital and super-efficient, which means that I’m at square one trying to familiarize myself with it. Not too much of a hardship though, so I really can’t complain. It is going to be a fun challenge.
I’ve already made one batch of macarons and they came out perfect despite the fact that the oven is not level. Had to make that adjustment after I noticed that the cookie sheet with my macaron caps on it slid a bit forward when I placed it on the rack inside the oven. Oh no…. I held my breath as I watched the caps of that first batch bake and rise perfectly all the while expecting them to slide forward. Fortunately they stayed in place and the oven is now level. Remember, your oven needs to be level when you’re baking finicky items like macarons. As a matter of fact, the table or counter you’re working on should be level as well so the batter doesn’t ooze across your mat or parchment paper as it dries.
There are so many little details to be aware of. Here are just a few:
- Use the freshest ingredients possible – especially the almonds (or other nut that you’re using). There’s nothing worse than rancid almonds and you’ll have a bit of a grease stain across the top of the caps if the nuts are too old or have been stored at room temperature for too long.
- Don’t get any egg yolk in the whites before you make the meringue or your egg whites will not whip up properly.
- Make sure you do your “macaronnage” for the right amount of passes before you pour it into your dispenser/piping bag. This is when you are scooping and pressing the batter against the side of your mixing bowl with a spatula. This should be done at least 15 times after you have mixed all of the “nut flour” into your batter. Less than 10 times and your macarons will lack lustre, more than 20 times and you will get oil stains across the tops.
- Do NOT grease or butter your macaron mats or parchment paper ~ the tops will not rise properly when they bake and you won’t get the “pied” or ruffle.
- Your macaron tops must dry for the proper amount of time. This really depends on how humid it is in your home. Usually 15 minutes on a cool, dry day but up to 30 minutes on a rainy day or if it’s really humid outside.
- Whatever you do ~ DO NOT let a fan, or a draft, blow across the tops of your macarons during the drying portion. Your caps will not bake properly in the oven. They’ll either slide off and/or crack as they bake. I found this out the hard way when I went to check the oven one hot and muggy day and had what looked like one big messy meringue cookie baking across my macaron mat.
- As always, be aware of how your oven works. Where are the hot spots? Does it run hot? My old oven ran hot, so I had to lower the temperature and cook the caps for a shorter time or I would keep scorching them.
- Rotate your pan half way through the baking process.
So now I’m all set to continue my cooking adventures in my new kitchen. I have an even more breathtaking view to gaze out at and be inspired with as I work on my posts. I’m facing south/west now and will miss seeing the morning sunrise but I have a view of the lake in the distance and there is so much green space that I cannot wait until the Fall when the leaves begin to change.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not wishing the Summer away, I’m just looking forward to seeing what the first year will be like in my new digs. The morning brings a soft pink glow in the distance and maybe I will get a bit of direct morning light during the Winter months when the sun is further south in the sky.
Cheers to everyone and thank you all for tuning in and joining me on my culinary adventures!