Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Win


I win!! I feel the need to do a victory lap around the apartment. Maybe even around the block. I made a near perfect batch of macarons to serve at the most recent bridal shower I attended. I ate enough of them myself that I should probably extend that victory lap a few miles...



I had the feet, I had the cake-like interior with almost no air pocket, I had the shiny smooth shells, and for the VERY first time, they popped right off the baking sheet. I felt great, I was elated, I was feeling pretty good about myself, then the next pan exploded. Oh well, I will always have the memory of that first pan to cling to.

What did I do differently this time? Well a few things. First and foremost, I went back to the basics. I made plain ol' almond macarons. No other nut mixtures, no fruit powder, just egg whites, almond meal, sugar, and powdered sugar. That's it. No fancy stuff (well except for a bit of hot pink food coloring). This helped to rule out any inconsistencies that may have been caused by said additions. 


Secondly, I baked one pan at a time. I put an empty pan on in the lower third of the oven, put the macs in the top third oven the oven for the first 10 minutes. Then I took the empty pan out, and put the macs in the bottom third. This, I think, allowed the heat to the bottom of the pan be a little gentler for the first half of baking (thus not cracking/exploding shells) but still allowing the strong heat from the bottom for the second half of cooking to fully bake the guts of the cookie, achieving the cake-like interior. This is purely hypothesis, further testing and tasting may be needed. I think my neighbors and co-workers will be just fine with that. 


As soon as I figured this out, I went straight for the chocolate macarons. These are still pretty basic on the spectrum of never-ending macaron flavors. Just substituting a few tablespoons of powdered sugar for a few tablespoons of cocoa powder created lovely deep chocolate cookies. 


For the fillings this time, I used a dark chocolate ganache, a vanilla butter-cream, and blackberry preserves. The jam filled ones were actually my favorite. I only made them since the groom is lactose intolerant, but I sure am glad I did. 



Plain ol' Hot Pink Macarons
adapted from Tartelette

90 grams egg whites (aged, loosely covered at room temperature for 24 hours)
200 grams powdered sugar
25 grams granulated sugar
110 grams almond meal (I used Bob's Red Mill, but you can grind your own almonds as well)
a dab of gel food coloring (or a teaspoon of powdered food coloring)

In your food processor, combine the powdered sugar and almond meal, and pulse a few times to combine. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy, then gradually add the sugar and beat until a nice glossy meringue forms. This should take a minute or two on a medium high speed. Tartelette says it should look like shaving cream, I'd take her word for it, she is the master.

Transfer egg whites into a large bowl, add half of the powdered sugar/almond mixture, and your food coloring. With a large spatula, quickly fold the egg whites over themselves to let some of the air out, combining with the almond mixture. Add the rest of the almond mixture and fold gently until your batter has come together, no more than 50 strokes or so. You want a batter that if you let a clump fall off your spatula, it will spread and meld back into itself within ten seconds. If it stands up and does not spread at all, give the batter a few more folds until it does. My best advice here is to test it frequently when you think you are starting to get close to the end product, this will help you to not over mix your batter.

Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats, and spoon batter into a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip (one with a fairly large opening). Pipe 1 1/5 inch rounds, evenly spaced, onto your baking sheet. Once all the macarons have been piped, pick up your baking sheet and drop it from about 6 inches above the counter. This impact will bring any air bubbles to the top of the macarons, and help them spread evenly. Do this a few times, then let the macarons sit at room temperature for about an before baking. This will create those nice shiny shells.

After the shells have rested, preheat oven to 300 degrees, place on rack in the top third and one in the bottom third of your oven. Bake one pan at a time, starting on the top shelf with an empty pan on the bottom shelf, and after about 10 minutes remove the empty pan and move the shells to the bottom shelf. bake for another 8-10 minutes (depending on the size of your shells), or until fully cooked.

Honestly the best way to tell if they are done, is to sacrifice one of you shells, pop it off the parchment and break it open. If it is gooey inside, bake for another few minutes, if it is done, take them out. If they are overdone, not to worry, after filling them and letting them age in the refrigerator for a day or two, they will most likely still be delicious.

Dark Chocolate Macarons

Same as above, omitting the food coloring and substituting 2 tablespoons of dark cocoa powder for 2 tablespoons of the powdered sugar. You can mix the cocoa powder in with the nut mixture before processing. 



Dark Chocolate Ganache

1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 heavy whipping cream

Place chocolate into a small glass or metal bowl. In a small saucepan over medium low heat, bring the cream just to a simmer and then pour over the chocolate. Leave the cream/chocolate mixture alone for two minutes. Gently whisk cream and chocolate together until smooth. Let cool until spreading consistency, about 5-10 minutes.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Butter-cream
from Tartelette

1 cup of sugar
4 egg whites
3 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small metal or glass bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, whisk together the egg whites and the sugar, whisking constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture resembles marshmallow cream, about 3-4 minutes. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until the mixture has cooled a bit and has formed a thick, shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Change over to the paddle attachment and beating on a medium speed, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing until completely incorporated after each addition. After all the butter has been added, mix in the vanilla, then beat on medium-high speed for 8 minutes, until frosting is light and fluffy and smooth.


Fill macarons with about a tablespoon of butter-cream, ganache, or preserves, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. This will fully develop the cookie, making them moist and cake-y, and most importantly, delicious. 


11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! You deserve a bottle of champagne to go with that victory lap. Very nice pics too.
Love ya -
Mama

Heather said...

num!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!! I recently took a leap of faith and also "tried" my chance at making macaron. I failed Miserably at least three times then I think I finally started to learn my mistakes....But, I'm far from making a perfect batch of macaron!

These little beauties are indeed very tempermental! Yours look lovely though!

Bossy Chef said...

Beautiful! And I am so jealous. My oven is possessed. It can kill a normal cake, I would never dare to make macaroons in that thing. However as soon as we move or replace it I will give these a shot!

lynne said...

Yum! Those look amazing :) I've never made a successful batch...but I'm gonna try again!

Dina said...

the dark chocolate look delicious!

Bria said...

Mom, I think that's a fantastic idea!

Anonymous, it has taken me quite a few tries to get it just right, but it is such a great learning experience, don't give up, it is such a great sense of accomplishment when they turn out!

Bossy Chef, hahaha. That is quite unfortunate!!

Thanks everyone for stopping by and leaving such nice comments!!

byrne said...

these are so pretty! I've messed these up two out of the four times I've made them, but your recipe has been working for me. thank you!

Bria said...

byrne,

So glad to hear! Just gotta keep trying, that is the only thing that will get you the perfect macarons! Thanks for stopping by!

Laurane said...

Thanks for the recipe!! I tried it and it turned out well! :D See it here: http://www.lauranelim.com/?p=1360

I wish i had pictures as lovely as yours though.

If you don't mind, I linked this to my macaroons blog entry.

Thanks again and good luck with your future macaroon making attempts :)

Bria said...

Laurane, they look great!! I think you've got it. But keep making them over and over, ause if you go too long in between batches, the mastering might slip away from you ;-)

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