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Showing posts with label macaron. Show all posts
Showing posts with label macaron. Show all posts

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Blue Sky Walnut Macarons


Oh hey. I remember how to do these. 
I hadn't made macarons in a long time when I got the idea to whip these up. I had an afternoon and decided to see if I still remembered how. As it turns out, I do. I'm a huge fan of eating macarons, but not a huge fan of how annoyingly fussy they are to make. They're really a marker of a skilled pastry chef, to make a perfect macaron. It must be first shiny on top, have good "feet" (those little bubbly bits at the bottom) be not hollow on the inside, be crisp yet chewy when bitten into, and be evenly round. They're, in essence, a deflated meringue that's held together with sugar and ground nuts. The fat of the nuts gently break the inflated bubbles and yet somehow hold everything together in this 'cookie', and thicken it just so that it it bakes in one lump.

Since 1792 when some French nuns began selling them, these crunchewy delights have been a well-kept secret to we ignorant Americans. It seems as if they've just sprung up overnight! I don't see why they wouldn't - they're a mark of great skill, they're a vessel for plenty of fun fillings and flavors, and they are adorably aesthetically pleasing. Watching videos on youtube and instagram of chefs piping, baking, and filling macarons is just one of those things that helps me check out and forget the nonsense of my day. If you aren't watching ASMR baking videos, I think you're missing out on some serious self care.

The thing about macarons is that there are no 'quick' ways to do it and there's no real 'fool-proof' way to do it. They require skill, patience and practice, and no matter what they end up looking like you'll still have the cookies at the end. Please be kind with yourself and allow yourself a few failures here and there. Please understand as well that you are going to mess up your home kitchen like crazy with several bowls and lots of different dyes as well. It's okay, guys. Part of these are the mess! And hey, it's okay to make a mess when you're learning.

Traditionally, macarons are made with almonds. Almonds are great, classic, and hard nuts to crack (har har har) but still soft and fatty enough to make the right way of crunchewy cookie. I like walnuts for several reasons, those being which they are softer and easier to hand-grind and that because I was allergic to almonds for a fair portion of my young life I tend to have walnuts in my house instead, especially for when I feel like whipping up a nice muhamarra. In the case of walnuts, I also like how they have a nicer texture and that they're just a little bit luxuriously soft. They're quite fatty, though, so if you don't have an airtight jar to store them in, I suggest freezing them, lest they go rancid.

Walnut Macarons
They're not perfect, but they're mine!

  • 115 g walnuts, ground into flour using either a spice grinder, a food processor, or a mortar and pestle
  • 230 g powdered sugar, sifted
  • 72 g granulated sugar
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 fat pinch of kosher salt
  • Gel dye of desired color
Strawberry Ice Cream Filling
  • Your favorite vanilla buttercream
  • A good spoonful of strawberry jam
Start by prepping your baking trays. I like to use silpat mats. You can get them on amazon for pretty cheap, or you can find them at most specialty baking stores. You can also use parchment paper, but I like reuseable stuff, so that's what I use. This recipe makes two half-sheet pans worth of macaron halves so I prepare two silpat mats on two trays. Always give them a good wipe with a damp cloth or paper towel to make sure they're clean!

Sift together the walnuts, salt, and the powdered sugar to get rid of the bigger lumps. I like the mortar and pestle approach to breaking them down if you find a fair bit of them, and walnuts are soft enough to crush in your fingers so you shouldn't have too much of a problem. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and pop two of the egg whites in. Stir with a spatula, starting in the middle and adding a little in as you go, until you have a paste, that will be rather tight. It is also at this stage you may add some gel dye. I used a pretty cornflower blue gel dye that I found at the craft store. For this galaxy effect above, I used a chopstick and smeared some stripes of the dye all up the side of my piping bag, fitted with a round tip. A little goes a long way, so don't go crazy!

Combine the other two egg whites and the 72 g sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip these together until tripled in volume and have stiff peaks, but aren't dry and lumpy. Take a spoonful of your meringue and stir in gently to your paste, just to loosen it. Take another large spoonful of the meringue and now fold it in, pressing and scraping gently, breaking as little of the bubbles as you can while still having it be a homogeneous mix. The remaining egg whites can now be scraped in and folded in, gently, until everything's just barely combined. You want the consistency of pahoehoe lava (which means the kind that's flowy and liquid) for this batter. 

Pop your mix into your piping bag and pipe in circles of equal sizes that are at least an inch apart. I usually count to three, out loud, while squeezing to ensure the sizes are equal. If they aren't,  you're going to have some funny-looking cookies to sandwich! This might take a minute and might take some practice, but don't worry if they're not perfect the first time. You're here to have fun and that's the joy of it. Finally - don't skip this - pick up the tray with both hands and lift it about three or four inches off the surface of the table and drop them once or twice. You can also slap them from the bottom, but you might not do this in a way that things hit evenly and will therefore screw the shape of your macaron up. This will also knock out any large air bubbles there might be lurking beneath the surface, waiting to destroy all that you have created. 

I did this on a day with about 60% humidity but it was also winter, and it took about 20 minutes for a skin to form. So.
You may now heat your oven to 300 degrees F, and while it's heating you should clean up the mess of your poor kitchen and your utensils that will have likely gone sticky with the sugary egg mixture. What you are now doing is waiting for the macarons to form a skin. This step is really fussy and very annoying for those of us - like yours truly - that are impatient and want our treats now. It is essential to do this step, however, because without this skin forming you might get a blowout in the tops and you might not get those pretty feet on the bottoms.

Sidebar: Please don't google pretty feet. Please google "macaron feet" instead. 

The skin forming takes anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes. This is highly dependent on the weather, the heat of your home, the humidity in the air, everything. I know it's rough but just wait until the macaron is ready. You'll know it's ready when the tops of the piped batter is dry to the touch. Bake all at once for 11 minutes and do not, for the life of you, open the oven during that time. A cold gust of air at precisely the wrong time will ruin everything and cause it all to collapse in the middle.

A few might have baked together in the oven. That's okay! You can still eat them.
If all was well, you should have perfect macarons! Now please don't try to move them until they're completely cooled. Use this time instead to make your favorite buttercream and stir in a generous spoonful of strawberry jam. I call this flavor "strawberry ice cream" but you can honestly use whichever flavoring or jam you like. I think I used about 3/4 c of buttercream to fill all of these, with some left over. Don't overfill. These must be consistently filled just like the macaron sandwich cookies must be consistently piped.

You can wrap and freeze these either in columns or in straight flat packs like this, so long as it's airtight.
The best part about macarons is that they freeze perfectly. Wrap them gently in stacked columns with lots of plastic wrap and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months. You can also ship them to friends with bubble wrap and some dry ice! The freezer is the pastry chef's best friend next to the oven, so don't be afraid to use it. But what would you want with a frozen macaron?

They only take a short time to thaw at room temperature, because of the high sugar content, so I wouldn't dare put it in the microwave to defrost. You could give them as a treat to guests or save them as a light dessert for after dinner, if you pull out as many as you want as you're eating your evening meal. You could also use them as a garnish for a cake or milkshake if you use a lot of whipped cream. You can even take the unfilled shells that have cracked or broken, freeze them until quite hard, and then break them up and mix them in with ice cream or a cake batter for an extra-special treat. The possibilities are limitless!

Thanks so much for reading. We're getting more into desserts for the next few weeks, since I've gotten several requests for a few sweet things from a few sweet things. If you want to request something special, please feel free to leave a comment below, message me on Facebook or Instagram! If nothing else, I'll try my best to respond. 

Happy cooking and happy eating!


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Pandan Pepita Macarons



I'm a big fan of recipes that can be modified to accommodate dietary restrictions. I'll be the first to admit that I used to make light of it, make fun of it - but I've come to learn that there's a big difference between a food intolerance/allergy that causes hives or for your butt to hate you and some prick that "doesn't eat gluten because Jenny McCarthy says it causes cancer but let me grab a few bites of my boyfriend's pizza." I've learned that my dislike is actually of that person that wreaks havoc on the kitchen staff of the restaurant that they force their dietary restrictions on while simultaneously being a condescending jackass to their poor server versus the person that orders the thing on the menu that's easily-made gluten-free/dairy-free/nut-free and quietly says thank you. Anyway.

Macarons are perfect gluten-free snacks. They're excellent to make ahead (and are actually better if left to cure, especially in the freezer, for a few days) and are practically fat-free.The only fat you'll see in them are in the buttercream filling, but you don't even have to use buttercream - you can use jam or apple butter, just like in my Green Apple Macarons! There's one problem with the traditional macaron, however: they're made with ground nuts. Oh yes. Ground almonds are traditional, but you can also use ground hazelnuts, pistachios...I've even heard of people using walnuts or pecans. My favorite recipe in the world, though, is one I snagged from a blog I love: BraveTart.

BraveTart is a most-wonderful food blogger that's written a spectacular book called Iconic American Desserts. I love them for their scientific approach, their poignant writing style, and great photos. I will gladly say, any day of the week, that it is their recipes I use for the difficult stuff, just like nut-free macarons. In fact, find the original recipe and post right here!

The macaron is a wonderful French cookie that's essentially a whipped-then-deflated meringue cookie bound together with ground nuts(or in this case, pepitas) and baked. They are an admittedly finicky cookie to make with lots of technique and that take a lot of practice to get consistently perfect. I don't get them perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I do them well-enough, though! And I have made enough to know at least a few things... If you want to go through in more detail of an original recipe, find my basic how-tos tutorial here.

I love using East Asian flavors in Western applications. Pandan is a very popular flavor in the Philippines; it's essentially the flavor of these leaves from a plant called - I swear - "screwpine", but tastes quite a bit like young coconut. I especially love the flavor on pandan in angel food cake, and you can't beat Pandan Macarons. Pandan is a mild coconut flavor, and gives a lovely green color. You can find the extract at most Asian grocers, or through Amazon Prime.



Pandan Macarons
Cookies

  • 115 g pepitas(hulled pumpkin seeds)
  • 230 g powdered sugar
  • 130 g (4 large) egg whites
  • 72 g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pandan gel extract
  • 1 fat pinch kosher salt
Pandan Buttercream
  • 2/3 vegetable shortening
  • 1 tsp pandan gel extract
  • Powdered sugar A/N
  • Kosher salt to taste
Grind the pepitas to a fine powder in batches using either a food processor or a spice grinder/coffee grinder. Make sure to add in a few spoonfuls of powdered sugar, of course, to your grinder to make sure that the fat in the pepitas don't make everything cake. You can run the stuff through a sieve, but you can also use a whisk. The important thing is to get as many lumps out as possible and to get as fine a powder as possible. Meanwhile, let your egg whites come up to room temperature. 

Whip the egg whites, salt, and granulated sugar together in medium-low speed for about 2 minutes, or until quite foamy. Turn off the machine, add in a heaping spoonful of the powdered sugar, and whip on medium-high speed for another 2 minutes, or until they become shiny. Add in your extract and whip up on high for about 30 seconds so it's shiny, pale green, and still stiff without being dry. 

Fold in a heaping spoonful of the meringue mixture into the dry ingredients. I know it seems sort of counterproductive, but do your best to get all the dry ingredients mashed in to this egg white mix to make it into a sort of paste. Add in another spoonful just to lighten it and "wet" it, folding in further and further, then finally dumping all of your meringue in to your mix. You're essentially folding it until everything is well mixed and the consistency of your macaron batter is like flowing molten lava. 

Here's a tip: you're far more-likely to under-mix a macaron batter than to over-mix. If it's a stiff batter that doesn't flow, then just fold a little more, pressing the sides to ensure that you're getting all of the lumps out. Please try not to overmix it, though. It'll be overmixed when it runs thin like icing and won't hold its shaped when piped. Seriously, try not to get this far. 

Fill your piping bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe them in consistent rounds on your baking sheet. Do this on a silpat mat if you have one, but parchment paper will do as well. Please do not use wax paper - this is for making chocolate dipped strawberries or something of the like, and not for baking. 

Pipe the rounds and please - oh please - don't forget to give the bottom of the pan a very good whap on the counter. I know this sounds weird, but you'll regret it if you don't. A big troubleshoot with macarons is that they're often quite full of air, and it's this good rap from the bottom that knocks out the bigger, more uneven bubbles from your cookie. Let them sit for 20 - 30 minutes on the counter while your oven heats. This allows a skin to form, which will give you that signature shiny top that every successful macaron has. 

Heat your oven to 300 degrees F. I have an oven thermometer that tells me that my own oven runs about 25-30 degrees hot, so I only heat mine to 275. Oven temperature is crucial to successful baking, so I highly recommend that you invest in an oven thermometer of your own. You can find them at just about any grocery store for about $6.

Bake for 11 minutes and evacuate to cool completely. While that's happening, whip up your buttercream. I used vegetable shortening to make what is known as an American buttercream. It's simply your standard buttercream of fat and powdered sugar! This one is just until you feel it is stiff and sweet enough. I used the whisk attachment to first add in the salt and pandan extract and make sure that's entirely incorporated before adding in the sugar. Add it in, just a spoonful or two at a time, just until you reach the consistency you desire. The best part is that you won't even need any artificial coloring, as it'll become this lovely green! 

Fill a piping bag fitted with a tip of your choice (I chose a plain tip but a star tip is pretty, too) and gently peel away the cookies from the sheet. Take a moment to match up same-sized cookies with partners if your piping skills aren't perfect, like mine aren't. Pipe a small ring of buttercream inside and sandwich. You can now freeze these to store them, or just let them hang out on the counter, covered, for a few days to let mature. Or, you know, you could eat them outright. Up to you. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Green Apple Macarons


I am not a classically-trained Pastry Chef. I am a classically-trained Chef. I never wanted to be a Pastry Chef and work with nothing but butter and sugar and chocolate all day. I wanted to get my arms burned by the oven, work on the line, feel the dinner rush, make a billion salads and sear steaks to perfection, all while making that just-right beurre blanc to go with that fish for table 9. I wanted to be a Chef, and that's what I signed up for when I went to school. I am not a classically-trained Pastry Chef, so when I get something right that's difficult for me to get right because I didn't have that pastry fundamental block...I celebrate.

I can think of few things that are more finicky than a macaron, that elusive and heavenly "cookie" of epic skill level. There are so many things that can go wrong so it's hard to land on how you can get it right, but I think I've done it. I think I've gotten my method down, and if I can help you get yours down, I am more than pleased to do it.

Green Apple Macarons
(adapted from Thomas Keller's recipe)

  • 212 grams powdered sugar
  • 212 grams almond flour/meal
  • 92 grams plus 110 grams egg whites
  • 236 grams granulated sugar
  • 8 grams kosher salt
  • Green & yellow food coloring, preferably gel(I had Kelly green and Golden yellow from the Wilton gel dye set)
  • Apple butter, as needed
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F, and turn it to high fan. If you do not have a convection oven, I've found that if you preheat your oven to 350 and then immediately drop the temperature to 300 when the macarons go in the oven, it works quite well. Set yourself up a pot of simmering water, too, that will serve as a sort of double boiler for your eggs.

Whisk/sift together the powdered sugar, salt, and almond meal. With a spatula, stir in the 92 grams of egg whites with the dyes. I used about 3 parts yellow and one part green, just to get the color I wanted...but you can play around. Like I said, use a gel dye if you can at all help it, as the moisture content in this is important. You'll want this to be a nice smooth-ish paste before continuing to the next step.

Combine your granulated sugar and the 110 grams of egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer, and set your bowl over that simmering pot of water. Whisk to combine, and then start whipping by hand while the water simmers. You want the egg whites to warm up enough to sort of dissolve the sugar easily and be warm to the touch. You'll want the egg whites to be shiny, too, before you move them from the double boiler to the standing mixer...and this can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. Be patient.

Whip your egg whites until stiff-ish peaks form. This recipe has a lot of sugar in it, so you're going to get a thick, white, almost nougat-like peak out of your whites, and that's a good thing. Fold in a third of your stiff-ish whites to your almond 'paste' and don't worry so much about volume on this one...you just want to lighten the batter. Fold in your next third, scooping and letting it fall on each stroke. On the third and final addition of whipped egg whites, make sure your batter is fully incorporated, a generally uniform color, and has the consistency of hot running lava. Now comes the fun part...

Pop your mixture into a piping bag. You can fit it with a medium-sized round tip, or you can simply have a plastic, disposable piping bag that you've cut the tip out of. I chose the latter, because it's easier to just pitch than fish for a meringue-y tip out of the garbage if you toss the bag on accident. 

If you're not quite the best with a piping bag or uniform cookies, yet, don't be ashamed to break out a pencil and trace uniform circles on your parchment paper for you to fill. And, yes, you'll want to use parchment paper...or a silicone mat, if you have it. Don't bake this straight onto the pan...it'll get sticky.

They're not 100% perfect, but they're generally the same size and shape!
The resting part is crucial, but will vary in time depending on how humid it is where you are. Humidity is such a factor with these stupid things that I won't even bother if it's even a possibly rainy day. The idea of the resting, though, is to allow the cookie to form a sort of "shell" that will stay still when it's baked. The shell should not be sticky when lightly touched with a finger; this takes me anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. Be patient. 

Pop the cookies in your oven and bake for precisely 8 minutes at either 300 high fan or started at 350 and then immediately turned down to 300 if working with a conventional oven. Once baked, you'll be able to assess how many made it and how many did not. 

This cookie is incredibly finicky, but here's a troubleshooting guide that encompasses the problems I've had:

  1. The cookies crack
    1. This could be caused by:
      1. Over/undermixing
      2. Oven too hot
      3. Opening/closing the oven door to check on it at the wrong time
  2. The cookies don't have "feet"
    1. This could be caused by:
      1. Not enough resting time
      2. Improper technique
  3. The cookies have collapsed
    1. This could be caused by:
      1. Not enough resting time
      2. Underbaked
      3. Oven too cold
      4. Oven unevenly heated
  4. The cookies are hollow
    1. This could be caused by
      1. Improper mixing
      2. Oven's too hot
      3. Fan's too high
      4. Too long of a baking time

I'm missing a lot of things, but these are the problems and solutions found this far in my journey. 

Make sure you let the cookies cool completely before filling with your favorite apple butter. You can buy this stuff at the grocery store, or make your own. There's nothing wrong with a convenience product here and there, however, so don't be ashamed to fill these painstakingly-made cookies with a shortcut or two.

As for storage, gently wrap in plastic wrap and "buffer" with crumpled up deli papers, newspaper, or even bubblewrap, if it's lasted long enough to be useful to you. Macarons freeze absolutely perfectly, and they even will develop a nicer flavor after about a week in the freezer versus just eaten immediately. This is called "maturation" of flavor, and is oddly important to this magical cookie, that's both crunchy and chewy. 

Don't be afraid to fiddle around, too, with ratios and whatnot. If this recipe isn't working for you, please seek another. If this technique isn't working for you, then please seek another. 

This technique and this recipe work really well for me, but it may not work for you, and I'll respect and accept that. I only ask that you are not too frustrated with your previous failures that you give up entirely on your dreams of making macarons. 

These macarons that I've made are not perfect, but they are successful enough to pass, and are technically correct. While they're not necessarily the prettiest things, they're still great and I'm still proud of them. I hope that you try this recipe and report back with any tips and tricks you may have discovered along the way....I'm still not convinced that mine is the perfect method, and will happily admit that.

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pumpkin Macarons


These are plain vanilla macarons with a pumpkin butter filling. The pumpkin butter is made from the ones found in my garden.

I would love to tell you what I did to make these a success, but I have no idea. I thought I had screwed up halfway through. Apparently, I didn't. A few of them had cracks, sure, but mostly they were about 90% all successful.

Whoo.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Plating a Composed Dessert


This is going to be a super-brief blog about fancy plating.

Many components go into a plated restaurant dessert, especially if the restaurant is a nice one. This is a dessert I did last night! Check out all of the components.


Let's not forget about the chocolate sauce and toasted almonds, of course...

I'd never made successful macarons before, but these ones were really great! They had a shell, feet, and though they weren't the shiniest, they were still tasty. I think I might have over-baked them, or perhaps the oven was too hot, as some of them cracked a little...but otherwise, I'm very happy with them!

The bonbons were my first ever hand-dipped chocolates, and I think they turned out alright for my first try. I didn't have a dipping stick, so I just ended up using an offset spatula. Basically, it's set ganache and whatever other filling you like, cut into little squares, then dipped entirely in tempered chocolate. Yummy stuff!


They were honestly a little clunkier than I wanted, but that's going to happen when you don't have a dipping fork. I was able to trim the edges a little more nicely, too, with a hot knife. The added raspberries were a final "why not" touch to give it some more height and color. They were a big hit!

Oh, and the galaxy-looking stuff next to it is a chocolate chili bark that I make using citrus sugar, sea salt, and cayenne pepper. I crushed up some of that stuff and folded into the blood orange gelato for the flakes. Chocolate and citrus are best friends, and you should remember that!

As far as decorating plates with sauces, do that first. You can pick up disposable plastic squeeze bottles for pretty cheap at your local restaurant supply store, or at some grocery stores. If you don't want to splurge on the extra trip to the store, just cut out the corner of a plastic ziploc bag and go to town. Remember that flavors come first, then color. I try not to add unnecessary decorations, unless they're relevant to the dish, so don't put a random sprig of mint on a plate unless mint is meant to be in the flavor profile. My flavor profile for this dish was:


  • Chocolate
  • Citrus
  • Almond
  • Raspberry
  • Mint

Here's what the plate looked like before the macarons and gelato, which were the heavier items that I wanted to really stand out.


The citrus berry salad came next, then the macarons, and the gelato last. It turned out pretty great! The people were quite happy with the dessert, and so was I. If you're plating a set dinner for a party, just remember: keep it tight, keep it high. Negative space is also your friend, so don't be compelled to fill absolutely everything on the plate. You can feel accomplished, if you just get out there and experiment! Happy eating, and happy plating!



Sunday, February 1, 2015

Macarons: A Basic How-to

Okay, so I'm really  sorry about not blogging, like, at all this year. I've had a crazy year so far! But, here we are, now into the first day of February, and I am ready to blog.
No feet in these ones...but they sure did taste great!

My utter lack of subject matter has caused me to have pause. I finally, however, discovered the perfect subject matter in the form of the elusive macaron cookie. These cookies aren't elusive in the form of "OMG where can I buy these???" You can buy them anywhere ever, now. They're ridiculously popular. The thing that makes these "elusive", though, is the amount of work and skill that's needed for this particularly magical cookie. They're hard. They're hard to perfect. They're notoriously finicky. This was something that I saw as a challenge when I decided to make them for the first time.

There's no shortage of pictures on Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. of these glorious little crunchewy little treat. You see them all around, in bright technicolor shades of flavor, with shiny round tops. I thought that they couldn't be so hard, so I would give it a go. I turned to the most-trusted Chef I could think of: Thomas Keller.
Thank you, Lela London.com for the image!
Thomas Keller is arguably the greatest American Chef ever, and he's got this great book out there called Bouchon Bakery, by Sebastien Rouxel, the very talented French Pastry Chef behind it. I love this book because it helps you go step-by-step in great detail of the recipe and what needs to be done. The times and temperatures are precise, and any time a recipe is in grams, you know it's going to be consistent. Look for the book on Amazon.com

This is the recipe for Thomas Keller's Vanilla Macarons, which I used as the base for my own. 

Vanilla Macarons
by Thomas Keller
  • 212 g (1 3/4 C + 2 1/2 Tbsp) Almond Flour/meal
  • 212 g Powdered sugar
  • 82 g and 90 g (roughly 4 medium egg whites) egg whites, in separate containers
  • 1 vanilla bean split and scraped OR 1 Tbsp vanilla paste
  • 236 g (1 c + 3 Tbsp) granulated sugar, plus a pinch or two more for the egg whites
  • 158 g (2/3 c) water
A note: don't even try this on humid days
Blitz the almond meal in a food processor to ensure that it's as finely-ground as possible. Combine the powdered sugar and the almond meal in a sifter and sift into a bowl with a pinch of salt, the vanilla, and the 82 g of egg whites. I used a spatula, and it combined into a nice thick paste. Set aside to let absorb. If you're adding/using a color, add it to this part of the recipe now.

Combine the water and sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepot and bring to a boil, keeping an eye on the temperature using a candy thermometer. You can also do the "water" test in which you drop droplets into a dish of cold water to see what it does. You're looking for a final temperature of 248 F, or the soft ball stage. When the temperature of the sugar syrup reaches about 210, combine the 90 g egg whites and a fat pinch of sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer and begin to whip on medium speed. You want soft peaks, ultimately, but if you get there before the mixture hits your desired 248 degrees, just turn the mixer down to "stir". 
The end meringue should look like this, kinda
Carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into the bowl in a very thin stream while the mixer is running on medium-high speed until everything is incorporated. You are basically making an Italian meringue, which is ingenious, considering it's the strongest meringue there is, and you need solid bubbles. Turn the speed down to medium and whip for 4 minutes, or until the bowl is still warm-ish but the mixture is basically cooled. Fold the whites in with your almond meal mixture in 3 stages. The final mixture should be quite shiny and gloopy without falling in pieces. It should form a ribbon when dropped from the spoon. 

Scoop into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2" plain tip...or just do what I did and use a disposable plastic piping bag and cut off a round end. Even if you're proficient with a piping bag, it is absolutely IMPERATIVE that these little buggers are the same size, as you're sandwiching them. Use parchment paper and a round ring mould to trace the size you need, for goodness' sake. Once you've piped your macarons, give the sheet tray a few raps from the bottom to let air bubbles escape from the top. This will also help create the signature "feet" that macarons need in order to be considered successful. 

If you want to add color, I recommend using a gel versus a liquid.

The recipe doesn't call for you to let them rest, but you really should let the cookies rest on the sheet for 20-40 minutes, depending on the humidity level of your kitchen. The idea is to create a shell. You'll know the shell is formed when the shine on the top is gone and it's fairly dry to the touch. Bake at 330 for 9 minutes. If you have a convection oven, do 300. These bake much better in a convection oven, but I didn't have one at home. The one at work is a high-powered convection oven that baked some great macarons, but the temperature controls were a little iffy, so my second batch ended up a touch cracked.

The first batch I made had the successful texture, but had no feet. I also was a bit iffy since my oven at home is just a standard oven versus a convection oven, so I know what to do for next time. When I made the macarons at work, I didn't have almond meal, so I ground up sliced almonds in the food processor to as fine as they would go. The result was delicious, although technically flawed. These ones had feet, though, so that's a good thing!

I dyed these ones pink since I was using a raspberry jam to fill the hole!
Let's now talk about filling!

Macarons are filled, traditionally, with a buttercream. Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery uses a French buttercream, so I used that, too. Look up a good French buttercream recipe you'd want to try, or just use your favorite. Ring the buttercream around the edges to leave a hole on the inside for a filling. You can also use ganache to fill these beautiful cookies, if you so desire. Really, the sky's the limit on these ones. On the first attempt, I left my macarons snow white with a pink buttercream filling for Valentine's day, all with a Bull's eye of crunchy chocolate ganache, which is basically just your favorite ganache with crushed up cornflakes and rice krispies in it. On the second attempt I dyed the macarons pink to match the pink buttercream, and filled the bull's eye with raspberry. Again, the sky's the limit. But I do encourage you to think about compatible colors and flavors.

It kinda looks weird when it's open, but sandwiched, it will be amazing!

There are about a million different things that can go wrong with this magical, meringue-like cookie. I went through about four of them, myself, over the last week. I'm sure that I'll continue to struggle, since this is no easy feat. Food Nouveau has the best trouble-shooting guide I've seen thus far, so please bookmark that site, as I have, for your further macaron adventures.


If you try this, please feel free to post your results below! Good luck and happy eating!