Recipe #8: Almond Rochers
These almond rochers are here because you voted for them! They narrowly surpassed chocolate truffles, which was exciting because I was secretly rooting for the rochers. To be honest, the voting can be likened to a race between a tortoise and a turtle, since it was slow going with no more than 6 votes on either side. That’s great though because I love those shelled cuties. Now, most of you who voted in favor of this week’s recipe said you were doing so because you have no idea what in the world a rocher is. Now you can go try to work this into a conversation today: ‘Rocher’ is the French word for boulder. Now I could go ahead and say that’s part of my French vocabulary, but I’m all about taking the high road and I’ll admit I’m dropping some knowledge on you via the Tartine cookbook.
This was the first time I had all the ingredients for the recipe on hand. There’s not a whole lot that goes into these tiny boulders. No running around finding almond paste, although I’m become adept at such seemingly difficult missions.
Any recipe that calls for roasting almond slices is already a mark in the win column for me.
As per usual, I found something to raise my anxiety levels. I only had three eggs on hand, which you’d think would be perfect because the recipe calls for two. A kitchen skill I am terrible at, you ask? Separating the whites and yolks of eggs. I’ve seen it done smoothly, quickly and precisely. It really seems easy enough. I’m quite positive this is something you can do very well, so just stop rubbing it in my face already. My confidence may have been boosted had I a dozen eggs in the reserves, but such luxuries weren’t part of the plan. Pretty much this was one of those times where I worry and build something up to be The Potential Worst Thing in the World. I blinked and the eggs were separated nicely, no yolks were broken, and all was right in my kitchen world. Are you paying a therapist? Don’t. Just bake some stuff and all your issues shall be laid before you.
Three of five ingredients.
Breaking up the roasted almonds.
The set up: the bowl of the stand mixer resting on a saucepan with simmering water. Do you think I’m fancy now? If you look closely enough you can see a distorted image in the mixing bowl of my new and amazing apron…sort of.
When whisking for five minutes means you are sore the next day you know a trip to the gym is in order.
Some high speed whisking action.
Chriss Angel weirdly hovering over some trees? Not magic. Egg whites and confectioner’s sugar turning into this crazy thick, glossy whipped treat? Totally magic.
Filling the pastry bag with this stuff proved slightly difficult. It was just so thick and tacky and when directions tell me to “quickly” do anything suddenly muscles stop working properly to impede the task. I made them a little bigger than the suggested size, and instead of making them like kisses as was directed, mine sort of looked like albino piles of…I cannot think of a ladylike word for poop.
My favorite part of this whole process? Baking the rochers with a spoon propping the oven door slightly ajar so moisture can escape! The recipe says to do that! That’s just the most adorable recipe direction I’ve ever read. Right? It just doesn’t seem professional, I guess. It’s 85% advice from Great Great Great Grandmother in France, 10% MacGyver, and 5% professional pastry chef. I love it.
And the trick worked! The rochers dried up a bit, got covered in cracks, and looked almost like the picture. We know how important I consider the comparison of my results to the pictures when they’re available!
The taste? Perfection. They have such a unique texture, and I can only compare it to taking that white part out of a Snickers bar, turning it into a little dollop on a baking sheet, then baking it so the outside is sort of dry and crispy, and the inside remains sort of soft and sort of chewy. So delicious. I could eat them all.
In closing, if you’re in therapy you should probably keep going, but try to bake something this weekend.