Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Macarons, Anybody?

      Saturday was the day.  I finally, after months of thinking about it decided to conquer macarons.  Now let me just state right here that making macarons for the first time is not something you can decide to do in one day.  Oh, no, it takes a few days of prep before you can even get started.  First of all the egg whites.  You have to use aged egg whites.  If you are having a what? moment right now, so did I.  Aged egg whites are ones that have been stored in the fridge in a bowl covered with a paper towel for at least 2-3 days.  From what I have read it helps to absorb excess moisture in the egg whites and moisture is your enemy when it comes to macarons.  Second you have to have a kitchen scale in order to make them properly.  If you are like me you don't have a kitchen scale.  I had to buy one at Target.  There are a few other things you might need to do some specialized shopping for in order to make these such as: Almond meal (or you can grind the almonds yourself), parchment paper or good quality silpat liners, a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip and powdered or gel food coloring.

     Okay now onto the actual making.  I want to stress that these aren't really that hard to make, they are tricky.  Tricky, tricky little French cookies.  If you have never baked before, back away from the computer.  They require a lot of previous baking experience to get them right, or at least in my opinion.  You need to understand meringues, how to use a piping bag and have a grasp on textures and consistencies.  I used the recipe from Tartlette, because well, she's French.  I did change my flavors though, so I'll share with you my filling recipe and my tips that worked for me.

I am lucky enough to have a convection oven.  I baked mine at 275 and it took about 17 minutes for them to be done.  If you were cooking in a regular oven you should be at 300.  Tartlette says to cook them for 8 to 10 minutes.  I found I had to go way over that.  the first batch that I did were way under cooked.  The tops fell off and left a gooey mess behind.  

My kitchen scale, bought at Target for about 7 dollars.  You need to be able to measure exactly in grams for this recipe.

 Follow the recipe and at the end your batter should look like this.  It had the consistency of pancake batter. I added orange color to mine since I was doing a fall flavor.

You'll want to fit a pastry bag with a large round tip.  I used a binder clip to hold mine closed while I filled it. If you don't batter will run everywhere.

I put my bag into a jar while I filled it.  This is really handy to do since the batter is so fluid.

This part is important so listen up.  You have to line your baking sheets or they will fail.  I used parchment and it worked just fine.  When you pipe your macarons they should only be about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  The batter should spread only a teeny tiny bit, just enough to flatten out and not have a peak.  Then let them sit, for at least 30 minutes so that they form a skin on top.  That's what gives them the right consistency after being baked.

When they are done it's hard to tell.  Tap on the tops and they should sound dry and be firm. They should look dry and matte on top.  They should have developed feet while cooking.  Which is that nice little layer on the bottom that looks full of air bubbles.  That's what you want.  Don't over bake them or they will be too crunchy like a meringue.  They should be have a crisp top and bottom and be chewy when you bite into them.

Make your filling.  You can fill them with pretty much anything you like.  I used a chocolate spiced buttercream.  Pipe a little dollop onto one cookie and sandwich with another cookie that matches in size.

Yummy.

If you have a cute bearded guy lurking around looking for food, give him one to taste.

The finished fancy pants product.  Put them on a tray and look at them proudly.  

Chocolate Spiced Buttercream
1 stick softened butter
1/2c. cocoa
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp vanilla
2c. powdered sugar
2 tbs vanilla creamer, plus some to get the right consistency.

Cream butter, add vanilla and and creamer and stir.  Add cocoa powder and spices, mix well.  Add powdered sugar and beat.  Add any additional creamer to get the right texture.

As much as these may seem a pain in the butt, I can't wait to make more and I'm already dreaming up fancy flavor combos to try. If you are looking for a good recipe book for macarons, check this one out.

-Kim

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate it, that you told us exactly how to make these m

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