Recipes – Storytelling – Delicious Photos

French Macarons

| 0 comments

Let me begin by stating something clearly: I am not a trendy person. I don’t really go in for fads, I don’t need or want the hottest new things. I appreciate classic design, good craftsmanship and timeless aesthetics. Why then, did I overlook the macaron for so long? They seemed so … cool. So novel. So hip. Too hip, in fact. They seemed to be the new cupcake — just another frilly confection driving people mad with desire.

And so I resisted.

It seemed like a lot of talk, a lot of exaggeration, a lot of hype. I’m not into hype. Then I finally tried one.

I get it. I truly get it. I understand why the world has gone mental for the macaron. I can see why these pretty, understated, delicate morsels have remained en vogue in French patisseries for so long. They are lovely, special enough that just one seems like a real treat, and tricky enough that not everyone will try them at home. That means that if you do, and they work out, you will be a hero among your friends and family. At least that’s how I felt.

Now that I have made them successfully, I am eager to make them again because I am interested in more daring flavour combinations. Luckily they are easy to get rid of, no one minds if you pass them off on them. No one says no to the macaron.

I read many, many recipes before trying to make the little sandwiches you see here and I would recommend that you do some further research and reading too before you jump in. I am by no means an expert, just an enthusiast. I was pleased with our results – good height, firm “feet” , crisp, delicate shells, but there is always room for improvement and I can really see that practice will make perfect with macarons. Luckily, as I mentioned, they are not hard to  get rid of.

If you have ever considered making these special treats and you have the time to carefully, confidently follow the many steps, I recommend you try; they should definitely be on every home baker’s ‘to-do’ list. I hope you enjoy the pictures and my instructions below. Happy piping!

 

French Macarons 

I did extensive research before trying these but primarily this recipe is based on this recipe from foodnouveau blog

Recommendation: Read all the steps carefully before you begin. The success of macarons lies in careful preparation, patience and efficiency. One batch of macarons makes 70 cookies to be made into 35-1½” sandwiches.

Prepare your pans:

Use heavy-gauge half sheet pans and double them up to help insulate the delicate cookies. Slip a template under a single sheet of parchment paper. This will help you pipe uniform disks of batter so that the tops and bottoms of your macarons will match. Set aside.

Prepare your piping bag:

Ensure that it is meticulously clean and has no trace of grease from previous frostings or fillings. Or, to be sure, use disposable piping bags. Whatever you use, fit it with a ½ inch plain round tip. Set the prepared bag up right in a tall glass and fold the top down to make a cuff. This will make filling the bag a million times easier.

Pre-measure and set aside the following:

210 g icing sugar

125 g blanched, sliced almonds -or- ground almond meal

96 grams egg whites (about 3 large eggs) at room temperature – to reach room temperature let the seprated eggs rest for at least 2 hours out of the fridge. 

30 grams granulated sugar

food coloring (optional) – a few drops of liquid or a very small amount of paste color will do

flavoring (optional) – lemon zest, vanilla bean, etc.

a pinch of salt to temper the sweetness

Prepare the almonds:

Combine the almonds and icing sugar in the food processor. Process for at least 90 seconds. The mixture should be powdery and ever so slightly clumped but not damp. Feel it between your finger and thumb, it should be smooth with just the slightest grit to it. If the almonds still feel chunky process for another 30 seconds or so until a finer texture is achieved. if you are using almond meal (pre-ground) this may seem like overkill. Most recipes I researced recommended that you still process the almond meal with the sugar in order to combine them.

Over a mixing bowl, sift the almond mixture through a fine sieve. Discard any leftover bits that remain in the sieve.

Set the almond mix aside and move on to the meringue.

Make the meringue:

In a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, begin to whisk the room temperature egg whites on medium speed. Once the surface of the egg whites is completely covered with bubbles and they have begun to froth, begin to slowly add the 30 grams of granulated sugar with the beaters still running. Once all the sugar is in, turn up the mixer and mix until soft, firm peaks are formed. Do not over whip! Ideally the meringue will be soft and creamy, not dry and bubbly.

Finishing the batter {includes flavors and colors}:

You are now ready to finish the batter! Working quickly and gently, sprinkle ¼ of the almond mixture over the meringue. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the almond, repeating until the remaining ¾ is incorporated. Do not beat or whisk it – this will deflate the eggwhites in the meringue and you may as well just stop there as the macarons will not get their iconic lift and ‘foot’. 

Add any color or flavors (if using) and continue to quickly and lightly fold the mixture together until fully combined. We did 2 batches (as you will see in the photos) – lemon and vanilla bean.

Fill your piping bag and start piping:

Scrape the delicate batter into the piping bag, unrolling the cuff you made at the top and forcing the batter down into the tip. Holding the bag at just slightly less than 90° over the prepared pan, fill in the circles indicated by your template. Squeeze and release, pulling the little point of batter back across the circle (not up and erect like a Hershey’s Kiss). Continue until all your dots are done.

Firmly bang the pans against the counter like you would with a cake before baking. This will force any air bubbles up to the surface of the macaron and will also help them spread slightly and flatten. Help any pointy bits of better to lay smooth by gently pressing down with a spatula or a dampened finger.

Be patient:

Leave the macarons to rest. Some recipes say to rest them for 20 minutes, others say 2 hours. I found that 40 minutes was sufficient. Use this time to clean up, prepare a filling, wash some dishes or just have a cup of tea.

Bake ’em:

Once the macrons are well rested you will notice that they are slightly less shiny than when you left them. if touched very gently the surface will slightly tacky, almost dry. This skin that forms during the resting period will further develop in the oven and make the smooth, matte top of the macaron that we all know and love.

Bake for 12-15 minutes (depending on your oven) at 300°. Keep an eye on them; ideally they should not brown. You are effectively drying them more than you are baking them.

When they come out of the oven they should look something like this, with smooth, matte tops, crinkly, bubbly “feet” and when cooled and pulled from the parchment, the underside should be firm, glossy and smooth.

Leave them to cool fully on the baking sheets. Once they are cool they will peel off easily from the parchment. If they are sticking and tearing they need to cool more.

Now it’s time to fill them!

The macarons pictured here were 2 flavours: vanilla bean with vanilla buttercream filling and lemon with lemon curd filling. You can fill them with whatever you like, but ideally the filing does not ooze out and can withstand the macaron being stood up on it’s edge.

Vanilla Buttercream

Combine 1/2 C room temperature butter with 2 C icing sugar and 1 Tbsp vanilla. Mix, beating quickly for several minutes until fully incorporated and fluffy. Transport frosting to a piping bag and pipe small dollops on to the underside of 1/2 your batch of macarons. Sandwich with the remaining cookies.

Lemon Curd

1 heaping Tbsp cornstarch

1/2 C sugar

6 egg yolks (the yolks from the eggs from 2 batches of macarons)

3 Tbsp lemon juice

3 Tbsp butter

Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a heatproof bowl. Add yolks and stir immediately. Beat by hand until they become slightly paler and light. Stir in the lemon juice. Cook the curd over a pot of rapidly simmering (not boiling) water for 10-15 minutes until the mixture is quite thick and will stay on a spoon when the spoon is inverted. Allow to cool slightly. Add in the butter and mix until melted. Cool completely in the refrigerator, another 10 minutes. Create sandwiches with the macarons by piping or spooning in the curd. Chill the macarons to fully set the lemon curd.

 

Now you are ready to enjoy the fruits of your labour! However, they will be at their best the next day, just below room temperature, still cool from the fridge. This resting time allows the center of each cookie to become tender and marshmallow-y with the moisture of the filling. Give them away as gifts or hoard them for yourself. Whatever you do, enjoy them! You deserve it!

Leave a Reply