Monday, December 2, 2013

I'm baaaack! With Macarons!

I really wanted macaroons. I mean *really* wanted. Laduree is expensive, and Pierre Hermes is even more expensive seeing as how I'd have to book a flight to Paris. So I asked myself, how hard can it be?

Well if you want to use the Pierre Hermes (the *best* imo) recipe… it's not easy. Also you need a standing mixer or a 3rd arm, of which I have neither.

This is batch #3. It turned out to have soft insides with light airy shells that start cracking at the very suggestion of teeth, and tasted pretty close to perfect. So I figured that I'd better record the recipe before I lose it.

I don't normally do things recipe style, but this time, it's necessary:


100g almond flour (sifted)
100g powdered sugar (sifted)

75g egg whites (preferably aged in the fridge for up to a week)
100g granulated or castor sugar
food coloring

140g white chocolate
80g jam
20g heavy cream
whatever else you want.

You'll also need an electric mixer, pastry piper, and a kitchen scale. I didn't own the latter 2, so I had to go out and buy them.

I got the scale for $30, and a pretty comprehensive decorating set for $20.

Make sure that your scale can measure in both metric and standard, and has a tare button, unless you like to challenge yourself with addition and subtraction while making a technically difficult dessert.

First, you sift 100g each of almond flour and powdered sugar. I haven't figured out how to deal with the bigger pieces of almond flour, but so far it's just sitting in a bowl. Do not food process this. somehow I made cement when I did that.

No need to mix it afterwards either. just leave it in a pile in a mixing bowl.

DO NOT put food coloring or egg white in this. This is a picture from batch 1 that ended in tears.

Next, in another bowl, you mix your 75g egg whites with a little food coloring, and you mix it while slowly adding the 100g of granulated or castor sugar, until you get stiff peaks.

Then you incorporate the fluffy meringue into the almond and powdered sugar mixture, and keep mixing and turning and smearing the paste against the walls…

This mixture probably needed another 20 turns. It has to barely hold its shape, and as a few websites described it, the batter has to come off the spatula in ribbons. I don't know what that means. My best ones came off as soft goop.

You then want to pipe them straight down. I got lazy and piped some of them sideways, and so the macarons rose sideways. They ended up looking like spaceships.

Once they are on the pastry sheet, which is hopefully on a metal baking sheet or pan, you want to smack the whole thing downward to get rid of the nipples (yes that's what it's called. don't be so immature). This is when you find out if your mixed it enough, because if you didn't, the nipples won't go away.. and you get something like the macarons below. They will still be delicious, but they will look inappropriate.

You can see at the upper left some of the ones that were a little sideways.

Leave the wet batter out for 30 minutes until a film forms. You can touch it at this point without batter sticking to your finger. Then you bake the dots in the oven for 12 minutes (sometimes I need 15) at 300 degrees. Open the door twice in the middle. I don't know why, but I think it helps the shells form the foot, or maybe the first guy who made it had to always check on the macarons and was too embarrassed to admit it, and incorporated the step into the recipe.

If you do everything right, the shells will be beautiful.

And then you can fill them with filling!

I made some lime jelly. it was much too green.

I also made some cranberry and white chocolate ganache. you have to melt the chocolate in a double boiler  like so.

Don't mess with the weights here either. I tried to adjust the ratios, and it seems that there isn't too much leeway. I can add a little more cream, but it pipes out too fast, and it's difficult to control. The portion posted should almost perfectly match the number of shells made.

Way too much green food coloring in the lime jelly.. I didn't put any food coloring in the 2nd set of lime jelly.

At this point, I taste tested and thought that I failed because everything was a little too chewy. But it turns out that you just need to refrigerate these in an airtight container for 1-2 days, and they will come out quite perfectly delicious!

Batch #2

Batch #3

It can be done!! And unless I want different flavors of macarons all at once, I might as well just make them at home. The upfront time and utensil cost is relatively high… but then you make $100 of macarons with $10 of raw materials, and it's all worth it. Also this yields the most deliciously lick-able batter ever… even if you fail.