Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chocolate Macarons

I don’t know where the macaron craze came from but it seems like every blog that I stumble across has either recently or previously posted about these delightful little treats. I’ve always found macarons to be a stunning creation but, as with most fussy and complicated recipes, I was intimidated.

My strategy whenever I am faced with the unknown is to attack it with knowledge. I “hit the books”… or at least, the net. I read numerous blogs for tips, tricks and anecdotes (including one, MacTweets, dedicated to all things Mac). I read articles in food magazines. I watched youtube tutorials.

While I was certainly better equipped to deal with the macaron attempt, I was still quite nervous. However, there was little else that I could do but try… so try, I did.

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Here are a few of the tips that I found useful for my maiden macaron voyage:
- Apparently, “old” egg whites are better suited to macaron making than fresh ones, so separate your egg whites (3 for one batch) and let them sit, covered, on the counter for 24 hours in advance of preparation. (If your kitchen is quite warm, you can keep them in the fridge for a couple of days then warm to room temperature before use.)
- One website (I would cite it but I read so many that they blur…) said that you could microwave the egg white for 10-20 seconds to mimic the “old.”
- If you can’t find almond meal (or “flour”), then you can grind whole blanched almonds then run them through a sieve to ensure that they are well ground and without chunks.
- You should try to incorporate all of the almond meal into the meringue in roughly 50 strokes (I actually found myself counting as I mixed… though I, with trepidation, exceeded the 50 by a few motions!).
- One site recommended folding vigorously at first, then slowing your fold with each incorporation of almond into meringue.
- If you’re going to colour your macarons, you should look for powdered food colouring to avoid a too-wet batter.
- Many liken the final macaron batter to magma. This always makes me laugh because I can’t say that I have a great deal of experience with the output of a volcano… but that’s just me.
- Here’s a link to Veronica’s Test Kitchen with a number of great bits of advice… and recipes.

110g almonds (I measured the almonds whole, then ground them.)
200g powdered sugar
30g granulated sugar
3 egg whites
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
*You will need a piping bag to pipe the meringues onto your parchment lined baking sheet.

Read through the full macaron recipe before starting! I’m sure that being comfortable with the steps will yield a better result. There are many youtube videos too…

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If you were not fortunate to find fresh almond meal or flour, you  will need to grind your almonds. I bought whole, blanched almond. After measuring out 110g worth of almonds, I put both the almonds and powdered sugar in my mini food processor for grinding. I ran everything through a sieve to remove any large pieces of almond, ground the remainder and sieved again… repeating until I was comfortable with the consistency and texture. Set aside.

Begin to whip your egg whites. As they begin to come together, slowly add in your granulated sugar and mix until hard peaks form. In my fear of over-mixing once I began adding the almond meal, I opted to add the cocoa to the meringue and whipped it smooth.

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Now, time for the almond meal… I added the almonds in about four parts. I folded, as the one site had recommended, vigorously at first, then slowed to incorporate the almond fully. Then added more meal, fast folding, then slow folding. Repeat two more times. (Sorry that there are not more photos of the process… I was so afraid of the meringue deflating that I was moving quite quickly through my plan.)

Fill your piping bag with the almond-meringue. Now pipe 1.5” rounds onto your parchment-lined baking sheet. I didn’t trace out circles… I hoped that I could size up these meringues by sight and didn’t do badly at this task. Now let your meringues sit and rest for 30 – 60 minutes to help form a slight “crust” on their surfaces. Start to heat your oven to 300F.

Put your macarons in the oven. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, depending on how well you eye-balled the 1”-1.5” rounds. I practically had my face pressed to the oven door for the duration of the baking… fearful of overcooking and burning. If the batter above the “feet” is still damp, bake for a few additional minutes, then check again. Move the trays to wire racks to cool. The macarons should pop off of the parchment quite easily after they have cooled.

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1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon maldon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup cream

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Combine the water, sugar, syrup, salt and butter in a pot over
medium-high heat. Stir as sugar dissolves and caramel begins to simmer. Either gauge by colour or use a candy thermometer to bring caramel to roughly 200 F. Then slowly and while whisking or stirring, mix in the cream. This should give you a smooth and still slightly fluid caramel for your macarons. (If you’re not up for the caramel, you could do a chocolate ganache (white or dark), any kind of jam… really, as you will see if you check out a few of these Mac sites, the options are endless.)

Now, spread the caramel on your macaron, sandwich with a second, admire, then enjoy…

I’m already dreaming of my next attempt.

2 thought(s):

Cristina @TeenieCakes said...

You did it and they turned out beautiful...you have feet (pied)!! =) I bet the texture and flavor was wonderful. Congrats on your macs.

Tala Kamea said...

Christine! Well done. I might try this myself.
P.S. Miss you much.

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