Monday, March 10, 2014

Macarons - what is it about these little devils makes them so intimidating to home bakers? Is it the egg white whipping? The required sifting? The use of a piping bag? The fact that one of them purchased at the famous Maison Ladurée might cost $4? Or perhaps it's the fact that every recipe you come across seems to be a little different. I have made them in the past with varying levels of success, ranging from dear-god-what-have-I-created failure to something that was actually pretty darn good. It seems that the hard part is finding a recipe that isn't incredibly convoluted and and confusing. It also helps if you have all the right ingredients and don't end up replacing almond flour with slivered almonds that you and your friends have taken turns chopping as finely as possible, but I digress.
What better way to break in my new Kitchenaid mixer than to try my hand at macarons once more, and begin to perfect my technique? I think that to have the ability to whip out a batch of these guys is to have a go-to impressive gift for any occasion. Who wouldn't love to receive a box of fancy cookies with the added bonus of homemade love thrown in? So, without further ado, here are today's macarons:

I found that the hardest part is piping the cookies onto the baking sheet so they are all the same size and shape, and so that they don't end up with Hershey's kiss-like peaks on top. Mine ended up looking a little, shall we say, rustic? Nevertheless, they ended up being quite tasty, and I was very proud indeed.

French Macarons (recipe adapted from Martha Stewart)
250g almond flour
250g confectioner's/powdered sugar
190g egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
a pinch of cream of tartar
250g superfine sugar

Preheat your oven to 315F.
Combine the almond flour and the confectioner's sugar with a few pulses in the food processor. Then sift the mixture twice to ensure that it is nice and powdery soft. Set this aside for a now.
Whisk the egg whites in a stand-mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue whisking until soft peaks form.
Reduce speed to low and add superfine sugar, then crank it up to high speed and whisk until stiff peaks form.

Gradually fold in the almond flour mixture with a rubber spatula, until the whole thing is smooth and shiny.
Transfer this mixture into a pastry bag with a 1/2" plain round tip*
Pipe 3/4" rounds onto a silicone- or parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 1" between them.
Tap the baking sheet on the counter (or drop it from a few inches up, as I did) to release any air bubbles, then let them sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, so that a dry-ish skin forms.
Bake in the oven for 8 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake another 8-10 minutes.
Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before removing them, then allow them to cool completely before filling them.

As for the filling, I used three different kinds - home made lemon curd, raspberry jam, and Trader Joe's salted caramel sauce - all of which were delicious. Next time maybe I'll try a chocolate ganache or some kind of buttercream. And maybe if I'm feeling particularly fanciful I'll add some food coloring to the batter and make some pretty colors.

*In the absence of a pastry bag, I used a large ziplock bag with the corner cut off. This worked just fine for me, but I think using a pastry bag might have helped them look a little more uniform.
Like I said, rustic.

1 comment:

  1. Wow I am impressed! Those puppies are not easy rustic or not. My French nephew a pastry chef said, a secret is use egg whites that are at least four days old.