Saturday, June 12, 2010


You guys. I've done it. And on my first try. With lots and lots of help from different blogs of course.

So I know everyone is always yammering on about how they are so difficult and that's true, they're delicate and you have to have a good idea of what you're doing if you're gonna do it. Just feels like an important part to mention.

But let's talk shop. I decided I wanted to make macarons the other day, after all the pretty pictures on everyone's blogs finally got to be too much for me to stand. So I started doing research and trying to find a recipe. The food blog community seems to be a little torn here. A couple of them try to scare the crap out of you and tell you that if you're not a professional, you can't hack it. Which is completely untrue. Once I calmed myself down, I decided to go with the Meyer Lemon Macaron recipe from Delectable Deliciousness. With a lot of help from a huge variety of other blogs, and google searches, etc. A big one that I'd like to note is the Macaron 101 from Not So Humble Pie. I had just made a big batch of mascarpone so I decided to also take Not So Humble Pie's advice and mix some lemon curd and mascarpone together with zest for the filling.

There were a few issues with my end product that I think could be changed. I'm still figuring out the ideal situation in regards to my oven, and so I overcooked my first tray that went in. Also, even in all my research, no one told me how mealy the finished batter would be. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be and so I may have overfolded just a bit, leaving my end cookies a little flat. Next time I'd like to whip my whites a little longer as well, I think they could have been more cloud-like. So now I have a good and delicious batch and I know exactly what needs to be done next time. Not to mention that, even though my piping was less than perfect, there was definitely improvement, which is all I really need. I'm feelin pretty accomplished here.

Another really important thing is that maturing really does fix a lot. They were kind of chewy when they first came out and now that they've been maturing for 24 hours, they're awesome. Perfectly lemony and soft. I'm toally proud of myself.

In fact, I'm more than proud. I was terrified, truth be told. I was not having the most fantastic day and I knew if I screwed them up, it would bum me out more than usual, which would then inspire lots of moping, so this was a risky adventure. It's safe to say that I as soon as I saw my cookies forming in the oven I jumped up and yelled "I HAVE FEET!" (I may have been overly excited to see the little guys with proper feet, but still.) There will be many more macaron recipes to come.

Now for the recipe. And of course, photos!

From Delectable Deliciousness (Almost quoted)

110 grams almond flour/meal
200 grams powdered sugar
90 grams aged egg whites (about 3)
30 grams granulated sugar
zest from 1 large lemon
yellow food coloring (powdered or gel is preferred but I added some liquid food coloring into the almond mix and let it dry. It worked great)

About 24 hours before you plan to make your macarons, set your egg whites out in a clean bowl to age. Keep them loosely covered, at room temperature with a paper towel to keep any stray dust out. This helps remove some of the moisture and helps you achieve a meringue that is more stable. (Note: If you end up not using your whites after 24 hours, cover them tightly and refrigerate for up to 5 days.)

Combine the almond flour, powdered sugar and zest until combined. Sift. If you're using powdered food coloring, add it to the almond/sugar mixture. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, whisk your aged egg whites until they start to get foamy. Once you start to see enough foam to hide any remaining liquid egg white, sprinkle in your granulated sugar in a slow, steady sprinkle or "in the rain" as the french recipes state. Continue to beat until you have a stiff, glossy meringue. This should take from 3-5 minutes in a stand mixer. You really want your whites stiff and cloud like.

Add your almond/powdered sugar mixture all at once. Gently stir to break down your whites a bit, then begin a careful fold. The key is to not over-beat the batter. The goal is to achieve an oozy mass that looks similar to a very thick pancake batter. It should be oozy, but not flowy - flowy means you've gone too far.

Transfer your batter to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe your rounds onto silpat or parchment lined baking sheets. (I used parchment.) You can trace a circle on the underside of your parchment, or just pipe for a count of 4.

Once your shells are piped, smack your baking sheet a few times on the counter to pop any air bubbles you may have lurking. Don't be scared to really give the pan a good whack! Let them sit at room temperature to dry for 30 minutes to an hour - or when the tops are no longer tacky to the touch.

I baked mine at 275ºF for about 16 minutes, or until the shells were hard and cooked all the way through. It's important to know your oven and check on your shells near the end of baking time.

Once cooled, match up your macarons by size and pipe your filling. Sandwich the cookies and pack with parchment or wax paper in an air-tight container in the fridge to mature for 2-3 days. (This really does make a HUGE difference) They keep in the fridge for 3 weeks, or up to 3 months in the freezer. Make sure that the seal is firm. This will keep them moist.

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