Wednesday, June 15, 2011

French Macarons

As i was surfing around foodgawker, i noticed alot of people were posting pictures of cute little french macarons. then a friend of mine asked if i had a good recipe for them. seeing as how i never made these cute little things before, i googled macaron recipes. apparently, they are really difficult to make. i wanted to try making them, but i was really nervous. many experienced foodbloggers had trouble getting those little feet on the cookies, which are the little protrusions at the end of the cookies, or they had trouble with getting the texture right. some even came out hollow, which mine did! anyway, i trekked to find out about other people's successes and failures and special techniques/tricks so that when it was my turn to make them, my macarons would not come out as a hot mess. mine didn't come out too bad..they were indeed hollow, but since there are not that many ingredients, i'll be making more of these soon and i'll update you guys as soon as possible :]

the recipe that i used was off of david lebovitz's website, since he used cups instead of grams. however, it is way better to weigh out your ingredients with a crazy fancy scale, but i don't have one of those. but the more accurate your measurements are, the better the cookies. 

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup almond meal ( i got mine from trader joe's)
2 large egg whites, in room temperature*
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
cream of tartar
red food coloring
*i left my egg whites out for 8 hours; many people left theirs out overnight, one day, or even for two days, just to ensure that the egg whites are completely in room important for this recipe!

 sift your powdered sugar and almond meal until it's very well combined. many people suggest putting it through a food processor because the ideal is a uniformed, equilibrated mixture of almond meal and powdered sugar. however, that is completely impossible, but the food processor helps it get really close to being a very consistent mixture. then sift that to make the almond meal and powdered sugar mixed together thoroughly (i sifted mine three times, since i didn't have a food processor and many people stressed that this process is so important to having almost perfect macarons!)

 mix egg whites slowly at first ( according to not so humble pie, beating the egg whites slowly unravels the proteins..i was never good at chemistry) then when it gets foamy like this, add the cream of tartar and add the granulated sugar a little at a time.

and beat until you get stiff, glossy peaks (some say soft peaks, other say stiff peaks, and i recently read a blog post that followed french chefs who produced dry stiff peaks instead of glossy ones...i think i'm going to try dry stiff peaks the next time i make these because their macarons looked so good!...but then i watched this video of this woman who overmixed her egg whites and her batter was super thick, which made her macarons look..not so appetizing. so don't overmix! and i'll further investigate on this egg white business..)

 add four drops of red food coloring to make that cute pink color! and just fold it in very don't want to fold too much because it'll ruin everything!! probably. 

 now add the almond/sugar mixture in three additions and fold, being careful to avoid over-folding..very important because overworking the batter may produce feet-less and cracked macarons. therefore, fold enough so that the dry ingredients are just fully mixed.

 ok, not going to lie, when i saw this i freaked out a little because the batter didn't look too great...

 now pour the contents into a large ziploc bag (because i'm too cheap to pay for actual piping bags..)

 then pipe onto parchment paper (not so humble pie also talks about the pros and cons of using parchment paper and silipat! she's so awesome!!)
good tip: if the top of the macarons become a uniform surface (doesn't have that protrusion of batter resulting from the piping) a little after you pipe them, that means you mixed them well!...did that make sense?

 i ended up piping them too large because the batter was runny and i couldn't control it!
make sure there is enough space so they do not bake into each other...and tap the baking sheet down a couple times to make sure there are no air bubbles trapped in the circles. when air bubbles come up to the surface, simply pop them!
then let it sit for about 30-60 minutes (david lebovitz and not so humble pie discuss on the length of resting time needed. i just left mine out for thirty minutes)
but just let them rest until the batter does not stick to your finger when you gently poke if a skin of some sort is forming on top.

then bake them at 280 degrees for 15-18 minutes. (i had my oven preheated to 350 degrees, then brought it down to 280 when i put them in..not so humble pie explains this technique. next time i think i'm going to just bake them at 280 degrees and see what happens.) 
i checked mine after 12 minutes and they looked like this!! look at those feets! 

 and the bottom is not concave! it is flat! :]]

 and fill them with a buttercream frosting, chocolate ganache, fruit preserves, or even nutella...the possibilities are endless :] 

i filled mine with a salted caramel buttercream frosting mmm.

so about this whole sad hollow business..i love not so humble pie because she states that, in order to prevent hollow cookies, one should try overcooking them. this will form the insides of the cookie, but will make the cookie itself crispier on the outside. however! she also states that many of the "pros" perform what is called "maturation", where the filling or syrup of some sort is sandwiched in between the macarons and placed in the refrigerator for a day or two, in order for the macarons to soften...amazing!! so the next time i'll make these, they better not come out hollow!!

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