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bprescot
07-13-2011, 02:09 PM
So it's my wife's birthday today. I already woke up early and baked her fresh scones for breakfast and am doing a nice dinner tonight, but I didn't get a "gift" gift. See, since our wedding, she's been saying how she wants to learn how to do macarons. So I figured that as a fun birthday gift, we could learn how to do them together this weekend. I've already got all the stuff we'll likely need, but after reading countless blog posts about it, I'm thinking this may not be as fun a day as I am imagining, and might simply be frustrating as hell!

For those that have some experience, how finicky are these guys to make? I mean really. Are they so difficult that this would be just a horrible idea?

steeley
07-14-2011, 12:33 AM
Chocolate Macarons

Makes about fifteen cookies

Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris

Macaron Batter
1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces, 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
3 tablespoons (25 gr) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar

Chocolate Filling
cup (125 ml) heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
4 ounces (120 gr) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 gr) butter, cut into small pieces

Prune Filling
15 medium prunes (pitted), about 5 ounces (150 gr) prunes
2 ounces (70 gr) best-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Armagnac

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.

Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn’t quite fine enough.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).

Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.

Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

To make the prune filling:

Cut the prunes into quarters and pour boiling water over them. Cover and let stand until the prunes are soft. Drain.

Squeeze most of the excess water from prunes and pass through a food mill or food processor.

Melt the milk chocolate and the Armagnac in a double boiler or microwave, stirring until smooth. Stir into the prune puree. Cool completely to room temperature (it will thicken when cool.)

To make the chocolate filling:

Heat the cream in a small saucepan with the corn syrup. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth. Stir in the pieces of butter. Let cool completely before using.
spreadfillmacaronsparis.jpg

Assembly

Spread a bit of batter on the inside of the macarons then sandwich them together. (You can pipe the filling it, but I prefer to spread it by hand; it’s more fun, I think.)

I also tend to overfill them so you may or may not use all the filling.

Let them stand at least one day before serving, to meld the flavors.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze. If you freeze them, defrost them in the unopened container, to avoid condensation which will make the macarons soggy.

steeley
07-14-2011, 12:36 AM
http://www.limepic.com/img/2851925677a615eef245.jpg

I like a coffee cream myself.

El Pescador
07-14-2011, 03:00 AM
Trick w macaroons is to use a recipe that uses weight as measurements for the dry ingredients.

bprescot
07-14-2011, 09:27 AM
Thanks Steeley, I've seen variants of that one myself. I think we'll first try a different one, however, where you make an italian meringue instead of the french and fold it in to the meal/sugar mixture. We'll definitely try the fillings though. We figure it will take about three or four batches to get it really down, so that's a lot of opportunity to experiment with flavors!

salvatore
07-14-2011, 10:08 AM
Italian Meringue version:

150g Almond Flour
150g Powdered Sugar
55g Egg Whites

150g Granulted Sugar
40g H2O
55g Egg Whites

Sift flour and powdered sugar together (can also be pulsed in fp a few times) and set aside.

Combine granulated sugar and H2O in saucepan and heat to 245*F.

Start whipping 55g Egg Whites (when syrup temp reaches around 220) in mixer on med. speed to soft peaks. When syrup is ready, pour into mixer with speed set to low. Be careful to try and avoid splashing it off the whip. Increase speed and beat to stiff, glossy meringue. Temp should cool down to 122*F.

Mix remaining 55g Egg Whites and Flour mix and blend together. Fold meringue into mix in stages. DON'T OVERMIX!!

Pipe onto baking sheet (using Silpat or parchment) in 1.5" circles and allow to rest 30min. Bake. When done, remove from pans and allow to cool.


Ok. Sorry if some of that was confusing, so if it is fire away with questions. It really is tricky, mostly because they are so dependent on a variety of factors. Some of the keys are:

1. Allowing your egg whites to age for a few days. I do mine 1-2 days at room temp, although you can also do 5-7days in the fridge. (If you can't do this, don't worry too much)
2. Don't overmix the macronage!! When you fold the meringue into the mix, do it in 3 stages, just mixing until barely combined.
3. Figuring out what temp is best for your oven, along with what is your baking sheet setup, i.e., I use heavy-duty pans with Silpats and bake 18min @ 300*. I've come to that through extensive trial and error.

They can be a real pain, but truthfully they are a lot of fun to make! I also have some good recipes for fillings if you're interested. Hope this helps.

tgraypots
07-14-2011, 10:30 AM
Ben, whether or not your macaroons are successful is secondary to how much fun you two have together :-) But then, I'm sure you know that.

bprescot
07-14-2011, 10:41 AM
That's pretty much exactly the recipe we've got, though I think it called for caster sugar and they only took the sugar/water mix up to 240*. I've already got the whites of three-week-old eggs aging on the kitchen counter. The wife is a bit of a germophobe, so I probably won't tell her about this step until after she's in macaron nirvana. Assuming we get there of course :wink:

The oven is a great tip, and ours is particularly finicky. I could see the oven being our biggest cause of frustration. We figure we'll need to run quite a few test runs to get it figured out. But even if we "ruin" a few, we figure they should still be tasty, if slightly deformed.

We've been talking about fillings and flavors and we've identified the following as potentials to try:
- Chocolate Ganache
- Matcha
- Salted Caramel
- Blackberry Jam (It's blackberry season down here and I've been jamming every other weekend, so we are overflowing in the stuff)
- Chocolate and Peanut Butter
- Prune (Thanks Steeley!)

salvatore
07-14-2011, 11:00 AM
Very good. I would pulse the sugar/almond flour in the food processor a few times, then sift it. Caster sugar is a fine, granulated sugar.

Here's a great link to some pictures of what your macronage should look like, and how to be careful not to overmix:

http://notsohumblepie.blogspot.com/2010/02/macaron-101-italian-meringue-part-1.html

Another quick tip is when you bake, if you don't have heavy-duty pans you can just stack two. Have fun and remember it's about the journey... making mistakes is essential!

bprescot
07-14-2011, 11:13 AM
remember it's about the journey... making mistakes is essential!

And in the case of Macarons, often delicious :hungry:

The photos are great, thanks! This will be our first ever attempt, so we expect just to have a bunch of fun. Though since we are both pretty avid home cooks, I can see the experiment continuing beyond this weekend if we find we don't get it right.

jjparkinson
07-14-2011, 01:17 PM
My girlfriend spent a few weekends trying to perfect these last year and in the end they were very good. It seemed that you can under mix as well as over mix though as the macronage needs to be loose enough to form a smooth shape. If it's too stiff and under beaten the you'll get a peak from the piping nozzle. It needs to flow slightly when you shake the tray. Leaving them to dry before cooking also helps form a skin and prevents the surface cracking during cooking.

Eamon Burke
07-15-2011, 12:08 AM
We've been talking about fillings and flavors and we've identified the following as potentials to try:
- Chocolate Ganache
- Matcha
- Salted Caramel
- Blackberry Jam (It's blackberry season down here and I've been jamming every other weekend, so we are overflowing in the stuff)
- Chocolate and Peanut Butter
- Prune (Thanks Steeley!)

Every dessert should taste like salted caramels and bourbon. :hungry:

bprescot
07-18-2011, 09:16 PM
So I figured I should post our results. Over all not too bad! And it was a lot of fun. The Matcha-White Chocolate ganache was the only spectacular failure. Everything else was either okay or better. The favorites are below. https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-ydXPmG98q54/TiTOAnILLWI/AAAAAAAAAKI/xWgNUBzDV5s/s400/Macarons.jpg
On the left is a matcha macaron with a vanilla blackberry jam filling. And on the right is a chocolate macaron (yes, yes. i didn't mix the macaronage enough. Sue me!) with a chocolate ganache and salted caramel filling.

Thanks to everyone for the advice!

-Ben

crizq0
07-19-2011, 02:37 AM
Those look delicious! Good job.

Did you tell her about the aged egg whites?:lol2: