my french macaron experience
macarons are beautiful. they are elegant, fancy, and absolutely delicious. i don’t get to have them very often because they’re not really your every day kind of cookie, and when you can find them, they are usually quite expensive (though quite worth it).
when heather proposed having a macaroon monday, where we could all try something challenging that we’d never done before, i was inspired to attempt the macaron. it was definitely not easy. i had to get almond meal (because i don’t have a food processor to grind my own almonds in), age my egg whites for a few days, and measure out everything extremely precisely on the food scale. i carefully followed helene’s instructions from this article and from her numerous blog posts on macarons (she is the expert)
clearly a fail!
i didn’t do a good job of taking pictures while making them because i needed to be 100% focused on the task at hand. after the above fiasco (mostly cause by my own ineptness, a) at leaving them in the oven too long and b) mostly because instead of making meringue at the beginning, i sort of started off on the royal icing path when i accidentally mixed all the sugar – powdered and granulated – in with the whipping whites. royal icing =/= macarons. that is why i hardly got any lift), i gathered up my courage to go again.
that’s more like it! peaks!
after i mixed in the almonds and powdered sugar (and red food colouring), i had to let the macarons sit for an hour before heading into the oven. this is supposed to help them develop a skin on the outside.
then they had their trip into the oven (12 minutes, at a low 300°F). you can see little feet. not a whole bunch of lift, but a definite improvement on round #1. muuuuuuch better.
i had trouble filling them. they were fragile and i opted not to pipe my filling on, but rather use a spoon. this resulted in broken cookies. (sorry about the terrible lighting). i used some dulce de leche filling that i had in the fridge because the biscuits that i’d made earlier in the day to go with our supper’s soup used up all my cream for the originally planned ganache. i think i basically got the effect i was going for, though in future, i would coordinate colours with buttercreams and flavours (i just went with pink because that’s what i had).
i learned a lot from these two attempts. folding powdered almonds and sugar into whipped egg whites is serious stuff. you really really need to sift the almonds extra (and grind them super fine yourself, if possible). next time, i would add the colouring right to the egg whites instead of folding it in with the sugar/nut mix. you’re supposed to use powdered colouring, which may have worked better, but i couldn’t find any of that, so i used gel. this may have had negative impacts on the results, but i quite liked the pink effect. also, parchment paper seemed to work a lot better at having the cookie bottoms not stick than the silpats. you have to wait till they are 100% cool before you try and remove them. a thin metal flat tool is good for this job.
i am definitely glad i took the plunge. macarons are something that i’d always sort of thought about trying but never really had the guts or incentive to just do it. so thanks, heather, for the extra motivation! i will definitely be attempting these again in the future. i’m looking forward to seeing how everyone else’s brand new challenges turned out. maybe i’ll find another exciting thing to try. we certainly have enjoyed eating these. someday, i’ll be able to package up tissue lined boxes of these to give away as presents, like these. for now, they stay in my kitchen.
November 8, 2010 at 9:29 pm