RSS Feed

Macarons

Posted on

I think I have mostly recovered from my sugar induced coma to write this post. I don’t think I’m going to need to eat macarons for a long, long time. I now more fully appreciate my mom’s dislike of strawberries, way too much of a good thing in one sitting can ruin it for life.

But on to the real reason you are reading this, the macarons. Ours didn’t turn out perfectly, they didn’t have a foot and they had some air bubbles (in the case of the chocolate). Who cares as long as they taste good?

I decided to try them after I found BraveTart’s post about them. Every other site made macaron making sound like some mystical art that you are doomed to get wrong no matter what voodoo you employ. I like her ten myths about macaron making to explain why no sacred ritual is necessary. I think it is just a matter of practice. I bet if we made them again they would turn out better.

Here is her basic recipe. The photos in the steps are mine.

4 ounces (115g) blanched almonds or almond flour, or whatever nut you like
8 ounces (230g) powdered sugar*
5 ounces egg whites (144g), temperature and age not important!
2 1/2 ounce (72g) sugar
the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp (1g) salt

approximately 10 ounces (290g) Swiss buttercream, specific quantities and suggestions below

Preheat the oven to 300° and have ready a large (18”) pastry bag, fitted with a plain tip, along with two sheet pans lined with parchment paper.

I am hopelessly impatient and given to rushing, even when I know better. So to prevent my macarons from growing ever larger as I pipe, I use a 1 1/2” cookie cutter to trace out guide-circles (about an inch apart) and then I flip the parchment paper over, ink side down.

If you use almond flour, you lucky dog, simply sift it with the powdered sugar and set aside.

Otherwise, bust out your food processor. Process the almonds and powdered sugar for about a minute. Take out the mixture and sift it, reserving whatever bits don’t pass through the sieve. Add these bits back to the food processor and run the machine for another minute. Sift again. You should have about 2 Tbsp of slightly chunkier almond bits, but hakuna matata. Just add those into the dry mix.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, vanilla bean (not the extract), and salt and turn the mixer to medium (4 on a Kitchen Aid). Whip for 3 minutes. They will not seem especially foamy at that point.

Increase the speed to medium-high (7 on a Kitchen Aid) and whip another 3 minutes, then crank the speed to 8 for go another 3 minutes.

At that point, turn the mixer off and add in any extracts/flavor/color and whip for a final minute on the highest speed, just to show it who’s boss (and to evenly distribute the color/flavor).

At the end of this minute, you should have a very stiff, dry meringue. (Check out this photo if you’d like to see a picture of how your meringue should look.) When you remove the whisk attachment, there will be a big clump of meringue in the center, just knock the whisk against the bowl to free it.

What ours looked like. I think we might not have beat it enough, and we put the color in at this point.

Don’t over-think this next step. Dump in the dry ingredients all at once and fold them in. Use both a folding motion (to incorporate the dry ingredients) and a pressing motion, to deflate the meringue against the side of the bowl.

First timers: at first, the dry ingredients/meringue will look hopelessly incompatible. After about 25 turns (or folds or however you want to call “a single stroke of mixing”) the mixture will still have a quite lumpy and stiff texture. Another 15 strokes will see you to “just about right.” Keep in mind that macaronage is about deflating the whites, so don’t feel like you have to treat them oh-so-carefully. This ain’t angel food cake.

At the lumpy mess stage (this is the chocolate one, natch)

Undermixed macaron batter: quite stiff. If you spoon some out and drop it back into the mix, it will just sit there and never incorporate. Keep going.

Overmixed macaron batter: has a runny, pancake batter-like texture. It will ooze continuously, making it impossible to pipe into pretty circles. Um, try not to reach that point.

You can evaluate your batter one stroke at a time, no rush.

Essentially, the macaron batter needs enough thickness that it will mound up on itself, but enough fluidity that after 20 seconds, it will melt back down. I’ve heard people describe this consistency as lava-like, or molten, and that’s pretty apt.

I think this needed a bit more mixing.

Transfer about half the batter to a piping bag. (When your bag is too full, the pressure causes the batter to rush out in a way that’s difficult to control, making for sloppy macarons.) When piping, hold the bag as vertically as possible to ensure a round shape, rather than the slightly oval shape that will result if you hold the bag at an angle.

Pipe the batter into the pre-traced circles on the baking sheet. Stop piping just shy of the borders of the circle, as the batter will continue to spread just a bit.

The pistachio one was mixed better I think.

Bake for about 18 minutes, cool thoroughly, then peel the cooled macarons from the parchment, using a metal spatula if needed.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with the buttercream of your choice and pipe a quarter sized mound of buttercream into half of the shells, then sandwich them with their naked halves.

Macarons, against all pastry traditions, actually get better with age. The shells soften and become more chewy, mingling with the flavor of the buttercream too. So, while of course you can eat them right away, don’t hesitate to store them refrigerated for up to a week. If at all possible, set them out at room temperature for a few hours before consuming, because cold buttercream is kinda gross.

*Cornstarch-laced powdered sugar isn’t a problem for macaron making, but it is a problem for Passover. You can buy cornstarch free powdered sugar here.

We made pistachio and chocolate ones so here are the recipes for those.

Pistachio variation:

Ingredients:

For the macarons:

  • 115 g ground pistachios
  • 230 g powdered sugar
  • 144g egg whites (about 5 large eggs)
  • 72 g sugar

For the buttercream:

  • 55 g ground pistachios
  • 250 g powdered sugar
  • 125 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 28 g cream cheese
  • splash of heavy cream
  • To make dulce de leche variation, substitute about 2 tbs dulce de leche for the pistachios, and substitute butter with cream cheese.

Top is chocolate ganache and pistachio buttercream, bottom right is chocolate ganache and dulce de leche cream cheese frosting, bottom left is just chocolate ganache.

Chocolate variation:

Ingredients:

For the macarons:

  • 115 g ground almonds
  • 230 g powdered sugar -2 tbs
  • 144g egg whites (about 5 large eggs)
  • 72 g sugar
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder

Chocolate ganache:

  • 1 cup milk chocolate
  • ½ cup heavy cream

In a heavy saucepan, over medium high heat, bring the cream to a boil. Remove from heat, drop in milk chocolate and let stand for a couple of minutes. Gently stir in the chocolate into the cream until smooth. Set aside until it cools down and thickens a bit (a trip to the fridge is okay).

Advertisements

About WheatieBee

My name is Amy, and I love all things designish and crafty. I also love unraveling sweaters, Cadbury's chocolate, and squirrels.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: