Saturday, February 19, 2011

Adventures in Cooking: Martha Stewart Cookie app for the iPad's Chocolate-Lavender Macarons

Milk Chocolate Bar with Lavender (TRANQUILITY)
Chocolate bar (with lavender)
I've shared with you my love for Martha Stewart and my disdain for the iPad (side note:  I'm not the only one.  I'm so relieved.)  So, imagine my excitement when she came out with an application for the iPad.  Perhaps this would change my opinion of the iPad!  So, I purchased it and I believe it was more like $7 at the time (it's $5 now).  And it is beautiful.  It opens (after an annoying intro from Martha) to a cookie gallery with a scrolling picture display of all the cookies you can choose from.  I bookmarked several favorites, and was most excited about the Macarons.  Husband and I ate at Laudree when we were in Paris years ago and I still remember that I ordered tomato macarons as an appetizer and rose macarons for dessert.  The app has four recipes for macarons, displayed together in a nice array of cookie colors, and I was very excited to try the Chocolate-Lavender macarons since I have enjoyed a milk chocolate and lavender chocolate bar.  This week I finally had the time to kick the app's tires and do a recipe.

First up, as with many Martha recipes, was the ingredient scramble.  Williams-Sonoma had recently starting selling lavender, so that was easy and husband bought it for me for Christmas (thank you Amazon wishlist technology.)  Then off to Central Market, one of the scariest stores in the world to me due to the number of people, crowded aisles to navigate with a shopping cart with kids, and the maze to get to the checkout (when a store has shortcuts, it's not a good sign.)   Despite my concern about the store, it does have hard to find ingredients and I bear it when necessary (I was also off from work this week so got to go on Monday during the day which made it easier.)  I went to the bulk section to get almond flour, which required me asking for help since CM has it labeled as "almond meal."  (The recipe does instruct you how to make your own if you feel like adding more steps, which is thoughtful.)  Also on the hard to find list was superfine sugar.  Which CM didn't have.  Thanks to The Google, while in the sugar aisle I found an article which said that unless you needed it to dissolve quickly, regular sugar is probably fine.

Making the cookie dough was relatively simple.   It asked that you use a food processor to mix in the lavender with other dry ingredients, and sift twice.  Normally I mock sifting in recipes and don't bother, but I took it seriously this time and then felt sad when I saw a ton of lavender not make it through the sifting process.  However, my cookies were very lavendery, so this wasn't an issue.  And my kitchen smelled great!

You next make a meringue and mix in the dry with the meringue.  The instructions were easy to follow for making the meringue and mixing it together.

And then things got a little confusing.  The instructions said to "pipe rounds about 1 inch in diameter" using a pastry bag and 1/4 inch tip.  I have spent a lot of time cake decorating, but first interpreted the instructions to mean make a spiral.  Which, considering these are chocolate cookies, looked like poo.  I eventually realized what was wrong (and here's what you should do.)  After being walked step by step  through how to make a meringue and then being told things like rotating baking sheets halfway through the cooking time (this ain't my first rodeo, Martha!) I thought this was a pretty big oversight in instruction.
So pretty!

But the cookies came out great and taste great, though do taste a lot like lavender.  I used a lot of filling to combat that and would probably use 3/4 the amount specified.  I also made them bigger than one inch, which is pretty small, and didn't end up with 3 dozen.

My thoughts about the app:

  • The app did update itself at the beginning of February to include some Valentine's cookies (including some heart sandwich cookies that I'm planning on trying next).  I wasn't expecting that, and it was a nice touch.
  • You can't share any of the recipes (other a special Valentine conversation heart cookie) so I can't share the recipe with you here.  
  • You are unable to set more than one timer at a time.  At one point I had three timers going, so the fact the app couldn't handle this was annoying.   
The app didn't do anything that wouldn't have been accomplished by a website or magazine.  So, iPad, still no love for you.  

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