Notice how perfect, adorable, and girly they look? Who wouldn’t want to bake them?!
Well, since the moment I saw them scattered throughout the internet, all I’ve heard was horror stories of people failing at creating their own from scratch. If amateur bakers were having trouble with them, I feared the worse from my own limited baking skills—as in catching my kitchen on fire horrendous. Granted, at that point in my life, I feared taking things out of the oven.
I began reading up on these suckers almost the instant I was free of sophomore year. I researched cooking and baking methods until my head exploded with terminology, français, passion, and motivation to bake. And after consuming both the worst(Patisserie Valerie) and best(Harrods) macarons of my life in London, I was practically running off the plane in RDU to the nearest grocery store to buy almond flour(pstt! Trader Joes sells it $6 cheaper than your average grocery store).
Let’s just say I’ve caught the macaron fever as now I feel like one of my life goals is to perfect them.
Attempt #1: Lemon with store-bought lemon curd
I was so proud of these that I almost cried…even if half the shells cracked.
Attempt #2: Chocolate with Hersey frosting
Didn’t beat the meringue/almond flour/powdered enough and I screwed up the fool proof frosting…oops!
Attempt #3: Key Lime with a lemon/key lime butter cream
I added too much liquid to the meringue which screwed up the colloid structure and the extra sugars caused half of the batch to be burnt X_X
As you can see, they aren’t the prettiest nor easiest things in the world but they’re tasty either way and no where near as scary as the internet makes them seem. Granted, the feet and the shells aren’t exactly perfect, but the flavors are spot on and develop into something magical the next day.
On a side note, I’d just like to thank Guy Demarle for inventing the Silpat; an invention which continuously saves my life almost every time I bake and also the folks over at Brave Tart for having every single possible macaron question, problem, or answer solved and listed out. Without them, I’d be in tears and macaron-less. My recipe is a mish-mash of David Lebovitz, Brave Tart, and my own mind.
Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris (Broadway) by David Lebovitz
1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces, 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
3 tablespoons (25 gr) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar
Line two baking sheets with silpats and have a pastry bag/zip-lock bag ready.
Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn’t quite fine enough.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt and turn the mixer to medium (4 on a Kitchen Aid). Whip for 3 minutes. They will not seem especially foamy at that point.
Increase the speed to medium-high (7 on a Kitchen Aid) and whip another 3 minutes, then crank the speed to 8 for go another 3 minutes.
At that point, turn the mixer off and add in any extracts/flavor/color and whip for a final minute on the highest speed, just to show it who’s boss (and to evenly distribute the color/flavor).
***Hey Colleges note: don’t add more than two tablespoons of liquid; preferably not a juice or endure #3 results***
At the end of this minute, you should have a very stiff, dry meringue. (Check out this photo if you’d like to see a picture of how your meringue should look.) When you remove the whisk attachment, there will be a big clump of meringue in the center, just knock the whisk against the bowl to free it. If the meringue has not become stiff enough to clump inside the whisk, continue beating for another minute, or until it does so.
Now dump in the dry ingredients all at once and fold them in with a rubber spatula. Use both a folding motion (to incorporate the dry ingredients) and a pressing motion, to deflate the meringue against the side of the bowl.
First timers: the dry ingredients/meringue will look hopelessly incompatible. After about 25 turns (or folds or however you want to call “a single stroke of mixing”) the mixture will still have a quite lumpy and stiff texture. Another 15 strokes will see you to “just about right.” Keep in mind that macaronage is about deflating the whites, so don’t feel like you have to treat them oh-so-carefully. You want to knock the air out of them.
Undermixed macaron batter: quite stiff. If you spoon some out and drop it back into the mix, it will just sit there and never incorporate. Do this test before bagging your batter and save yourself the trouble of baking of undermixed macarons!
Overmixed macaron batter: has a runny, pancake batter-like texture. It will ooze continuously, making it impossible to pipe into pretty circles. Um, try not to reach that point.
You can evaluate your batter one stroke at a time, no rush.
Essentially, the macaron batter needs enough thickness that it will mound up on itself, but enough fluidity that after 20 seconds, it will melt back down. I’ve heard people describe this consistency as lava-like, or molten, and that’s pretty apt.
Transfer about half the batter to a piping bag. (When your bag is too full, the pressure causes the batter to rush out in a way that’s difficult to control, making for sloppy macarons.)
Pipe onto silpats.
After piping your macarons, take hold of the sheet pan and hit it hard against your counter. Rotate the pan ninety degrees and rap two more times. This will dislodge any large air bubbles that might cause your macarons to crack
Let sit for 45 minutes to an hour or until the batter has firmed up.
Preheat oven to 350F, and bake 15-18 minutes with a pan rotation at the half way point.
Once baked, let sit and while holding silpat off baking sheet, gently twist the macaron off.
Fill when cool and let sit at least overnight.
Add lemon zest to the meringue, fill with lemon curd.
Add 3/4 cup coca powder while adding dry ingredients. Frosting recipe is:
½ cup(1 stick) margarine/butter
2/3 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa(recommended; if not on hand, use regular cocoa powder)
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt butter. Stir in coca. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating until spreading consistency . Add small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups of frosting.
Attempt #3(modified to actually work):
Add two tablespoons of Key Lime juice and some green and yellow food coloring to meringue. Butter cream recipe:
1 stick butter(AKA 1/2 cup)
2 cups powdered sugar
splash of milk
1/4 cup(or to taste) lemon curd
Key Lime juice(to taste)
Beat until reaches desired consistency.
I wouldn’t judge you if you dance around your kitchen after baking these successfully.