The latest Bakers challenge is french macarons- you know, those pretty pastel colored sandwich cookies that you see in a patisserie shop or fancy bakery. I always thought that they charged too much for a single cookie. Now I know why. While I made last months challenge (puff pastry) many times, to really get in down and to have fun with different variations, this time around was different. I have had 5 goes at this with mixed results. The challenge of this recipe is to get “feet” on your cookies.
If you look at the bottom of the cookies they have a crisp raised edge. Seemed simple enough…. 1st batch, no feet
2nd batch, some had feet, some didn’t
3rd batch, yeah!! feet!!!
4th batch, not a foot to be seen… aarrrrggghhhh!!!
sooooo……. I got up this morning to make yet another batch thinking I would nail it this time and have some great photos to prove. No such luck, once again- no feet.
Honestly, for the life of me I can’t seem to figure this out. I have tried both the DB challenge recipe as well as tartlette’s recipe since others seemed to have better luck with her version. I actually had better results with the 1st recipe. I tried aging my egg whites on the counter from 24 hours to 3 days to 5 days. Best results with the 5 day old egg whites. I tried 3 variations, original almond filled with a bittersweet chocolate/grand marnier ganache, walnut macarons filled with a maple buttercream (pictured at top) and my favorite, pumpkin pie spiced macarons filled with a honey buttercream. While this version had no “feet” the flavors were incredible together.
I am posting this with the commitment that I will master this by Christmas. The recipe is simple enough, but then I started reading the pages upon pages of nuances that are involved with making french macarons. Wow…. All of this being said, I completely recommend making these yourself. If they don’t come out of the oven with the traditional “feet”, don’t worry, they will still taste amazing and anyone you serve them to will think you are amazing as well. The slightly crisp outside, the slightly chewy inside, the creamy filling– divine.
The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)
(for my pumpkin variation, I added 2 1/2 tsp. of pumkin pie spice)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients. I counted out loud to 50 so I wouldn’t overmix.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.
Note: making is somewhat labor intensive, yet simultaneously less difficult than you think it will be. One thing you must do is have your egg whites at room temperature. I kept my egg whites out on the counter, covered, for at least 24 hours but I think longer is better.This ensures they beat up properly, as texture is an integral component to macaroons. You will be piping the batter onto parchment paper or nonstick liners, and some home bakers use stencils to make sure their macaroons are uniform in size. It’s your choice.
Be aware that you are beating your egg whites first to soft peaks. Soft peaks means that the peaks of the meringue curl over when you lift up the beaters. After you add the granulated sugar to the soft peak meringue, you will beat the mixture to stiff peaks, which, true to their name, stand straight up. Be careful not to overbeat your eggs.
You will also be folding the nut flour into the meringue. As with most recipes when you combine something with beaten egg whites, be gentle in your mixing to keep the egg whites light. If you want to try different nuts, don’t use 100% different. The reason almond flour is used is because of the low moisture content in them. For my walnut macarons I used 50/50 ratio of walnut flour and almond flour.
Some recipes call for drying the piped macaroons on the counter prior to baking for 30 minutes to an hour. This recipe stipulates that you bake the macaroons at a low temperature for 5 minutes, then take them out of the oven, raising the temperature, and baking them for an additional 7 to 8 minutes. Drying is necessary to get the trademark “feet” on your macaroons. Experiment to find the best technique for you.
If you plan on using parchment paper rather than nonstick pan liners, be careful when removing the macaroons from the paper, as they can stick and are very delicate. Some recipes suggest lifting up a corner of the paper and letting a drop of water fall onto the hot baking sheet, thus producing steam, which helps the macaroons release.
David Lebovitz breaks it down: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2008/09/making_french_macarons.htm…
More macaroon 411: http://www.seriouseats.com/2007/10/introduction-to-french-macarons.html
Get inspired by our own Tartlette!: http://www.mytartelette.com/search/label/macarons
Go behind the scenes of Paulette: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXIvX0-CEu0
Watch a pro pipe macaroons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_RfiFoWZKQ&feature=related
Beating egg whites: http://www.glutenfreecookingschool.com/archives/egg-series-no-1-how-to-b…