This month’s baking partners challenge was to make French macarons. The recipe was suggested by Swathi @ Zesty South Indian Kitchen & Vidhya @ A Portion to Share. This recipe was a perfect learning opportunity for recreational bakers like me. This required serious planning and reading through recipes and procedures before proceeding to make it.
For those who do not know what a Macaron is, I found this from Wikipedia. A macaron is a sweet meringue-based confectionery made with egg whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder or ground almond, and food coloring. The macaron is commonly filled with ganache, butter cream or jam filling sandwiched between two cookies. The name is derived from the Italian word maccarone or maccherone.
The confectionery is characterized by smooth, squared top, ruffled circumference (referred to as the “foot”), and flat base. It is mildly moist and easily melts in the mouth. Macarons can be found in a wide variety of flavors that range from the traditional (raspberry, chocolate) to the new (foie gras, matcha). The fillings can range from jams to ganache to butter.
What I learned from making this sweet treat was there is either the perfect Macaron or then there is a failure Macaron. There is no in between stage. Having said that, all the perfection refers only to the looks of the Macarons. There is no compromise in the flavor. However not perfect they might look, they would still taste great.
I required a lot of reading and help from others experiences to make this. There are few people I would like to list out, because there suggestions and help made me perfect this in my first attempt. Now having said that do you think I will get perfect macarons when I make them next time? Absolutely not!
- Swathi from Zesty South Indian cooking was always there giving us directions and hope throughout the process.
- Julie from Erivummpuliyumm shared lot of her experience as she was the one of the first to make the macarons.
- Reshmi from Easy cook shared many of her suggestions and experiences. She was also the first ones to finish.
- Savitha from Savitha’s kitchen was very helpful in guiding through the process.
The recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart and I had pretty much followed the recipe. So let us take a look at what I did and how I conquered one of the most difficult baking challenges yet.
Preparation time – 3 days (mostly inactive)
Cooking time – about 16 mins per batch
Difficulty level – hard
Ingredients (makes about 16 pair of cookies)
To make Macarons
- Confectionary Sugar – 1 cup/125 gms
- Almond flour – ¾ cup / 75 gms
- Egg whites – from 2 large eggs
- Cream of tartar – ¼ tsp
- Superfine sugar – 1 tbsp plus 1tsp / 20 gms
- Semi sweet chocolate – 4 oz
- Heavy cream – ½ cup
- Butter – 2 tbsp
Aging the egg white –
There are several theories out there as to how to age the egg whites. This step essentially is to dry out the maximum possible moisture from the egg whites. I separated the eggs and left them covered with a kitchen towel inside the refrigerator for 3 days. On the third night, I removed it and left it out on the counter top still covered with the towel overnight. To be exact I left it out in room temperature for about 14 hrs.
Preparing Almond flour –
Almond flour is available in the grocery stores. If you do not find it in stores, this is what I did. I had some blanched almonds, which I ground in the mixer. Then I sieved it. This time I did not get too much of fine almond flour. Then I ground it again and then sieved it. I repeated this step 3 times until I got the required amount of fine almond powder.
Making the macarons –
- Pulse the confectionary sugar and almond flour in a food processor or blender until well combined. Now sieve the mixture at least twice and keep it aside.
- Place the aged egg whites in the bowl of the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip it until foamy.
- Now add the cream of tartar and whisk it until soft peaks form. Now slowly add the super fine sugar and whisk it until stiff peaks forms. Stiff peak is something that does not break when removed from the bowl. I stopped when the peak would not drip down from the whisk and it held its shape.
- Now sift the flour/sugar mixture over the whipped egg whites and fold it until a smooth shiny batter forms. Do not mix it all together; you need to slowly fold the flour inside the egg whites, without disturbing the meringue too much. Once you see that the mixture is shiny and glossy, stop mixing. You do not want to over mix the batter because that would result in flat cracked macarons.
- Now transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with ½ inch plain round tip.
- Pipe the batter onto a parchment lined baking tray about 1 inch wide. I would provide some links at the end, do watch those videos to learn how to pipe the batter. You need to pipe it in such a way that the peaks do not stand up.
- Tap the piped tray for about 3 times to release all the trapped air. Now using a tooth pick burst the bubbles that form on the surface. Leave the tray for about 45 mins undisturbed for a thin dry layer to form on the top. You know that the macarons are ready to go into the oven, when the top does not stick to your fingers when touched gently.
- Preheat the oven to 325 F. Bake one sheet at a time. What also helped me was, I used another tray beneath my tray with the macarons (double tray).
- The feet started to form at about 7 mins into baking. It took me 7 more mins after that to get a nice golden color macarons. Rotate the tray at least once in between.
- Let the macarons cool in the tray for about 2 mins and the transfer them to a wire rack to cool entirely. If the macarons are cooked properly, the macarons would come out of the tray without any effort.
- Measure the semi sweet chocolate and keep it in a medium bowl.
- Heat the cream over medium heat until it starts to boil. Now pour this cream over the chocolate. Leave it undisturbed for about a minute. Now add the butter and then whisk it well until smooth and shiny.
- Now leave it in the refrigerator for about half an hour to cool down. The ganache should still be in a spreadable consistency.
- Once the macarons and the ganache have cooled down, carefully select pairs those are similar in shape and size. Now pipe or spoon the ganache over one of the macarons and then top it with the other one. Press gently and arrange all the macarons in a tray and refrigerate for at least 24 hrs for the flavors to combine.
- The macarons taste the best, when refrigerated 24 – 48 hrs. Bring it back to room temperature before serving.
Some Useful links