1/27/11

the macaron- an intro.


my love affair with macarons all began when i came across a pastel pink box laying on a desk in the stock room of a boutique i was once working in. the owner had just returned from a buying trip in paris and surprised us all with chocolates and boxes of laduree macarons.  six or seven macarons later, i was hooked, in love, mesmerized, and craving more. i knew right away that i was going to go home to try and replicate what i had just experienced. 

 perfecting the macaron ultimately takes time. and patience. and some key tools. be prepared to run into problems.  in fact,
the first recipe out of a cookbook i had attempted to use as a guideline completely flopped- it left out key points.  it never explained that you needed to let the piped shells rest before putting into the preheated oven  . nor did it even recommend sifting the almond/sugar mixture.  i ditched the recipe and decided to look around on the internet. online i ran into even more problems and debates galore. some recipes insisting on several day aged egg whites, some not, some insisting on only weighing ingredients on a scale (the one kitchen gadget i don't have), some recipes only in french, and so on. i decided to research absolutely everything i possibly could on macarons- books, online, magazines, etc. and consider it all. so, i tested each and every recipe and fine tuned them all until i finally achieved perfect results. 
there are some crucial steps you must take, for instance; you must use two baking sheets stacked w/ parchment paper OR a silpat. either, or.  if you haven't yet bought a silpat and you like to bake, go invest in one. it's cheap and makes a huge difference in everything from clean up, to the way your macarons rise. you must also let the piped batter sit for at least 15 minutes before putting into the oven which promotes a shell to form on top. i also sift my almond flour/sugar mixture 3 times. i start by throwing it all (flour/sugar) into a food processor until it's as fine as it can get, then sift. this will prevent the macarons from looking grainy when done baking. 
there are steps that you must make sure are executed properly, but there aren't many steps. make sure to nail each step along the way, and it will soon become easy.


{ pink - rose buttercream }
{gray- white chocolate ganache}
{ green-  pistachio buttercream }
{ brown- chocolate ganache }
{purple - lavender chocolate ganache}
{ yellow- lemon buttercream }





{ the almond flour/ sugar mixture- ground to a powder and sifted 3x }


{ gel food coloring }


{ egg whites beat until stiff }





{ a perfect macaron must have a flat top and an egg shell-like crust }









{ ingredients }
makes about 60 single shells or 30 macaron "sandwiches"

2 + 3/4 cups of almond flour 
2 + 3/4 cups of powdered sugar 
1 cup of egg whites ( aged 24 hours on counter, covered @ room temperature)
pinch of salt
3/4 cup of baker's sugar (most supermarkets carry this)
4-8 drops of gel food coloring < if needed >



first things first-

break out the parchment paper. OR silpat. trim the parchment paper with scissors to fit onto baking sheet.
trace 2 inch circles at least 1.5 inches apart onto parchment paper as a guide, then flip upside down so the ink or pencil marking is not on the surface that will be used. less is better when it comes to the circles. they will touch if they are TOO close!

preheat oven @ 300 degrees F

blend the almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor until as fine as powder.
sift this mixture into a large stainless steel bowl, 3 times over. discard any lumps. 

with an electric mixer or stand mixer, whip the egg whites and pinch of salt, starting on low and increasing speed as the whites start to rise. add the baker's sugar one tablespoon at a time and increase little by little.  add food coloring at this point , if desired. **if no food coloring is added the shells will be a light brown color.** beat the egg whites until firm and shiny, with stiff peaks. the peaks must stand up on their own and not curl back when the whisk is held upside down***

pour the egg whites over the almond/ powdered sugar mixture and fold, taking your spatula from the bottom of the bowl and upwards, carefully but thoroughly mixing until mixture is thick and shiny and falls like a ribbon from the spatula when held high. this usually takes about 50 strokes. make sure the mixture is mixed and no almond crumbs are left. 

place a pastry bag with a number #8 tip into a tall heavy glass or pitcher and fold back . carefully spoon mixture into bag. pull filled bag out when done, press batter forward with a bench knife. start by piping into the circles on the parchment paper, holding the tip as straight as possible, with one single dollop and quickly lifting the bag away. this will become easier over time if you aren't as familiar with piping. the batter should smooth out on its own as it sits. if there is still a small peak smooth it carefully with a finger. this is also a sign that you under-mixed !
when finished, let piped batter sit for anywhere from 15- 45 minutes. 

place the macarons- very carefully!!- into the oven 
bake for 13 minutes, no longer.
 open the oven half way through to rid of any moisture built up.
if the macaron is browning on the edge, it means they were over baked or your oven may be too hot and you need to decrease the amount of time baked.
always make sure that your oven is well calibrated. you can always check this with an oven thermometer. 
remove from oven, place on a cooling rack and do not touch! 
let cool completely, which may take hours. if the macarons seem soft, it is ok, they will harden.  
when ready to remove, place a finger underneath the parchment paper and pop the macarons up. never try and peel them from the parchment. 

fill with your choice when cooled. after filling place into the fridge for several hours. 















7 comments:

  1. These pics are soooo beautiful. I want one. *drool

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow you did a great job!! And I have to agree your pictures are amazing, and I have decided that tomorrow I will be rushing over to my little cafe/bakery around the corner and buying macarons!


    http://laurenlovestoshare.blogspot.com/

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  3. Amazing! Looks so good!!
    http://kimchicsisters.blogspot.com/2011/01/snow-homemade-waffles.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. woahhhhhh these look INCREDIBLE!!! i must try and make these when i have some time they seriously look amazing. thanks for sharing!

    xx
    www.dragonnfruit.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. wow..they do like just like those in France! great photos as well..love the colors!!


    http://www.nycstylelittlecannoli.com/

    ReplyDelete
  6. These look perfect! I have been trying to do them for ages and they always end up in the garbage and without me having a smile on my face! What do you think is the secret?

    www.kitchenll.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Your macarons look a bit flat... they need to be more dome shaped, in order to be perfect, don't they?

    ReplyDelete