Steampunk Cooking: Salted Caramel Macarons
It’s Steampunk week! No, you won’t find it on any official calendar. We’re calling it that because this week is the local Steampunk convention- Salt City Steamfest, and I’m telling Victorian ghost stories there on Friday night. My family has looked forward to it all year, and we really have a lot of fun with Steampunk. In honor of the convention, we thought we would feature some recipes that WE think would fit in with the Steampunk genre so you could make them for your next Steampunk themed party. When I talk about the event, I always get the same question:
Uh. What is Steampunk?
Steampunk plays with the idea that the future came early. Take the world of the late 1800’s, and turn it futuristic with 1800’s technology. You get clockwork robots, and impossible machines run by steam and brass. You get the romance of the Victorian era combined with the adventure of the British Empire and the Old West. This subgenre of Science Fiction includes literature, movies, fashion, home décor, music, and many other aspects of style. Go ahead, do a search, and enjoy! It’s fun!
So how would you combine Steampunk and cooking? There are differing ideas. My own personal philosophy would be to make food that reminds of us Victorian life- but give it a twist. It’s not about historical accuracy, it’s about making history FANTASTIC. Tea parties are a favorite way to enjoy Steampunk- there’s one being held at the convention, so of course you would need tea party food. I asked my girls what should be at a Steampunk party, and they both immediately said, in unison, “Macarons”.
I’m just going to say now that Macarons aren’t exactly an easy cookie to make, but they ARE appropriate for Victorian England- some form of them has been around since the 1500’s. I’ve never made Macarons before, and they were a little bit daunting. I was determined, however, and I gave them my best shot. To make them “Steampunk”, I figured they should be a brown color- there’s a joke out there that Steampunk happened with Goths discovered the color Brown. It’s not true, you can use any colors you want in Steampunk, but it DOES evoke an image of old Sepia photographs when you use brown colors. I’m not sure bright pink cookies really do that. I didn’t color the cookies at all, but sprinkled them with a bit of unsweetened cocoa. After they were baked, I spread them with dulce de leche sprinkled with a few grains of kosher salt and sandwiched the cookies together. YUM!
No, Dulce de Leche wasn’t around in Victorian England. It’s from Mexico and South America, and is a bit more modern of an invention. This is Steampunk, however. They have amazing flying airships made out of steam and brasswork, and with futuristic technology, I’m certain that travel can bring the cultural influences of South America over the Europe much more easily. In some stories, these impossible airships can also manage time travel, so the modern pairing of salt and caramel is certainly possible. It’s also brown. And it tasted good.
They didn’t exactly turn out as I hoped- the recipes I used insisted that I cook them for 20 minutes and don’t underbake. At a higher altitude, 20 minutes was too long, and they were a little over done. I am not defeated, however! This is a harder recipe, and I’m not going to expect that one batch is going to make me an expert. It still tasted good, even if it wasn’t EXACTLY macaron material. I’ll keep trying until I get good at it.
I’m not going to post a recipe because this post is already huge, and I clearly have a lot of practicing to do before I’m an expert. I’m going to give you a couple of links to where I went to learn how to make macarons, however. If you have any other questions about what I did, let me know, and I’ll be happy to answer them as best I can!
My favorite macaron sites were here: http://notsohumblepie.blogspot.com/2010/04/macarons-101-french-meringue.html. They not only now how they’re made, but they also know the science and the technique, and they’ve done their work on making the cookie great. I also used the advice from here: http://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/how-to-make-french-macaroons/. Leigh Ann has measurements, not weights in her recipe, so it was easier for lazy me to measure and mix.
In the meantime, keep an eye out for other posts this week about other possible Steampunk ideas!