For the month of October we got to take on one of many bakers’ deepest,darkest kitchen nightmares : macarons. Our talented bakers Korena from Korena in the Kitchen and Rachael from Pizzarossa made the intimidating task of mastering these French beauties a breeze.
“No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing”….Julia Child.
I made macarons!
Were they perfect ? No
Did I get them right in my first time ? No
Did i feel like pulling out my hair and banging my baking sheet against the kitchen wall ? Yes
Did i dream of feet and shells and skin at least once in the last month ? Yes
But… I made Macarons!
So, heres the thing. Unless you count a rare sunken cake or a super crumbly cookie , I generally have good luck where baking is concerned.
Until I met the Macaron. My arch nemesis in the baking world. My baking Everest. The cookie that made me doubt myself as a baker.
Melodramatic over exaggeration aside, baking macarons is a challenge. You ‘d think a cookie ..(a COOKIE!) wouldn’t be so intimidating . But this is no normal cookie. This is the cookie that has to be pronounced right . It even has body parts like the skin and feet. Making it involves an in-depth study of precise mathematical measurement and physics . Reading a macaron recipe and the various dos and donts can give you the chills. Ok, sorry ..more of the exaggeration.
To be honest ,making macarons for me is more to tame the beast than because I actually want to eat them. They are a little too sweet for my taste. The sweetness apparently can be well balanced by different flavor variations and fillings. Maybe I ll try that someday. When I do a better job at the basic macaron recipe.
I have tried making Macarons once before, for a baking group and didn’t get them right. Months later , I joined the Daring Bakers group and the first challenge was ..but of course, Macarons ! I wasn’t planning to give up this time.. and thanks to Korena and Rachel, I at least have macarons that I am proud of. Until I make a better batch !
PS.. this post is a little premature given my limited success with macarons , I did contemplate not writing this. But I was really happy with the results here and wanted to share it with you. This is just a beginner’s tryst with macarons !
- 112 gm ground almonds or almond flour
- 204 gm powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
- 102 gm egg whites (from approx. 3 eggs)
- 51 gm granulated (white) sugar
Makes : around 20 sandwiched macarons
Time : 20 mins prep + upto 1 hr resting + 15 mins baking
Lets get started:
Grind the almond flour and powdered sugar together in a food processor or blender for about a minute.
Sift the mixture through a sieve into a mixing bowl. Use a spatula to press it against the sieve.
Reprocess or grind the coarser mixture that doesn’t go through the sieve. Then resift it until you have only less than a tablespoon left. Discard this. Keep the sifted mixture aside.
Start beating the egg whites at medium speed of your hand or stand mixer.
When frothy, add the sugar and keep beating at medium high until you get firm white shiny peaks.
If you are using food color, add the gel food coloring and fold in until evenly distributed. I used Yellow gel color. Which totally paled out after baking!
Add the sifted almond flour and sugar mixture , in THREE PARTS, folding it in gently each time until all the flour is incorporated.
The batter should flow thickly “like lava” if you lift your spatula and disappear into the batter in the bowl in about 30 seconds.
Fit a piping bag with a round nozzle around 1/2 inch wide (or cut an opening) and fill with the batter .
Pipe rounds on a parchment lined baking sheet, around 3 cm diameter. You can place a template under your parchment for easier piping . Remember to slide the template out before baking! Press on any peaks with a wet finger (which i forgot to do !)
Bang the baking sheet on the counter/table 3-4 times. This releases air bubbles. Let this rest from 30-60 minutes until the surface (skin) dries out . When you touch it, it shouldn’t stick to your finger. While resting, you can preheat your oven to 140 C.
Bake at 140 C for 14-16 minutes. Pull them out at 10 minutes and turn the sheet around. Check each two minutes. When you touch, the macaron shouldn’t jiggle. So bummed out by the final color!
Cool completely before peeling off the parchment. Pipe filling on the flat surface of one macaron and sandwich it with another! I used swiss buttercream here.
- Unfilled macarons can be stored in between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature. Filled can be stored in an straight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days and frozen for longer.
- This recipe is best made with the exact tried and tested measurements using a kitchen scale.
- Remember to make sure egg whites are at room temperature as they whip to the highest volume then. Many recommend using aged egg whites or egg whites that have been separated for 2 -3 days and stored in the refrigerator for macarons.
- You know your egg whites are whipped when 1)they hold firm peaks and don’t droop 2) they are still shiny 3)if you turn the bowl over, they do not move.
- Don’t leave the prepared batter lying around and work quickly once the batter is ready for best results.
This was the most I enjoyed eating macarons , which could be partly because of the sweet taste of success I had ( pathetic pun totally intended!) . They are delicate and delicious , with a crisp shell, chewy centre and the soft filling. Cant wait to try different shells and fillings soon !! Work in progress..