So here we are with macarons again. Except this time they aren’t an epic failure.
The only thing is, I can’t really take credit for how amazingly perfect these turned out. That all goes to Audra. We met at an event in NYC back in March and after seeing my miserable first attempt at macarons, she so kindly offered to haul her kitchen scale, pastry bags and candy thermometer up to the boonies and make a day of macaron baking so I could redeem myself.
And while clearly these allow me to save some face in the world of macarons on the blog, reality is that I’m pretty sure if left to my own devices to attempt these again, we’d be looking at feetless pancake chips once more.
If you think I’m exaggerating, ask me how many times I screwed up simply separating the egg whites from the yolks…
That’s when I let Audra takeover and made us grilled cheese for lunch instead. Panini makers I can handle, scales, precise egg white separation and pastry bags….uh, not so much.
After about 2 hours though (1 of which was solely spent sifting stubbornly course almond flour in the world’s dumbest sifter), the first batch went in and 15 excruciating minutes later, we finally looked through the grease streaked door of my oven to find FEET! Glorious pink, spongy looking feet with perfectly smooth tops.
Jumping, screaming and clapping may have occurred.
We actually made a strawberry rhubarb compote recipe of Audra’s that we were going to fill these with initially. It tasted absolutely delicious and the bright red color really would’ve popped sandwiched between the light pink cookies, but compote is a bit too runny when it comes to staying put between two cookie shells that you want to play around with for an hour taking pictures of. So we decided to make an impromptu buttercream with a bit of the compote mixed in. The strawberry rhubarb flavor still comes through but you get a much stiffer filling that works a lot better for macaron purposes. If I wasn’t taking pictures of these though, I totally would’ve gone the compote route. I’ve always found buttercream to be borderline too sweet, no matter what it’s on or in. Fruit > butter for me.
So 5 hours, one disastrous kitchen and many blog prop setups later, I can now claim redemption over these pesky little french cookies.
In the future however, I’m thinking they may just be worth their stupid price tag in the bakery.
I’m posting Audra’s recipe for the macarons below with her permission, but I highly recommend reading her post about them here because she has a bunch of FAQs and way more detailed info from the class she took in Paris this spring. Plus, her blog is called The Baker Chick, I think you should definitely be taking her advice when it comes to macarons, not mine.
- 300 grams almond meal (or ground blanched almonds) sifted.
- 300 grams powdered sugar- sifted
- 110 grams egg whites
- 300 grams white sugar
- 75 grams water
- 110 grams egg whites
- drop of red gel food coloring
- ½ stick butter
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons strawberry rhubarb compote
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sifted almond meal and powdered sugar- breaking up any lumps or large bits.
- Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour 110 grams of egg whites in. Fold them in gently until the mixture is well combined, thick and paste-like.
- Meanwhile, place the other 110 g of egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Leave it be while you make the sugar syrup.
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and stir together until dissolved. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
- When the syrup reaches 225 degrees F- turn the stand mixer on high and start whisking the eggs. You want them to be at soft peak stage, so as soon as they are, turn the speed to low. The egg whites can wait for the syrup- but once the syrup is ready- it cannot wait.
- When the syrup hits 239 degrees- carefully pour it into the side of the bowl while the mixer is running. You don’t want the syrup to run down the bowl- or it will cool- so aim to pour it right at the spot where the egg whites meet the side of the bowl.
- Whip on high for about a minute- and then reduce speed to low and continue beating until the bowl has cooled slightly, and glossy stiff peaks have formed.
- Add ½ of the meringue to the almond mixture, and gently fold it in until combined and smooth. Gradually add the rest of the meringue until batter is smooth and it almost ribbons off the spoon.
- Add gel coloring at this time and fold it in until the batter is smooth and shiny and totally ribbons of the spoon.
- Fill piping bags with a round tip and preheat oven to 300F.
- Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper. If your oven has a strong fan- you may want to pipe dots of batter onto the corners to stick the parchment down.
- Pipe small rounds with the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet.
- Let the piped macarons sit out until a trace of a shell is formed- 20-30 minutes will do- maybe less. This helps keep their shape while baking.
- Bake for about 15 minutes. To test if done- open the oven and wiggle the top of a shell back and forth. If it’s super “wiggly” they need more time. Perfect macs will be just a little wiggly- but overall firm.
- When done, remove parchment from the sheet and let cool for 5 minutes on the counter top. Gently peel parchment paper off and cool completely before filling.
- Macarons taste best when “ripened” in the fridge for 24-48 hours, but can last in the fridge air-tight for up to a week or two.
- Combine butter & sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- Mix on medium-high speed until combined.
- Add the strawberry rhubarb compote 1 tablespoon at a time with the mixer on low speed to make sure the filling doesn’t get too runny. You want to add as much compote for flavor as possible while still keeping a butter cream consistency.
- Scoop the filling into a pastry bag and pipe onto a cooled macaron shell. Place another macaron shell on top and gently press down to sandwich the cookies together.
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