Saturday, March 7, 2009

My First Real Macarons....

Today is the day! I am so excited! I feel like a proud mama with a hoarde of little babies...except that I want to eat the entire batch, which I guess makes me like those spiders who carry around their young on their backs but if a young one falls off mama eats it! Anyways, totally random thought. I actually got up the nerve to try, and made macarons successfully today. Diana, culinary genius of Thyme to Lime and I decided to make these at the beginning of the week, but it wasn't until Friday afternoon that our dreams came to fruition. Please check out her first macaron experience here! I can't believe they actually turned out alright! There were so many possible hindrances: my baking experience, humidity, not grinding the almonds up fine enough, first time ever making real macarons, the list goes on. I did attempt Nigellas Pistachio Macaroons. They didn't turn out great either, but the recipe is fraught with short cuts. Definitely not the "official" macaron technique.
This time, however, the stars were aligned. Like they say in the commercial, on my side I had a high degree of culinary expertise combined with years of practice... haha right! I did read up on the recipes first off, believe me! I read every post I could find on Veronica's Macaron Chronicles, as well as Tartelette's blog, and I read Tartelettes Tutorial in the Desserts Magazine probably 3 times at least. I used her basic almond macaron recipe listed in the magazine, as well as the Bittersweet Ganache (Same as Toffee Bittersweet Ganache, minus the toffee). My little hamburger looking confections turned out fantastically!
Here's my step by step approach, adapted from those two macaron masters:
Almond Macarons:
3/4 c whole almonds
2 C sifted powdered sugar spooned into measuring cups
3 egg whites
1/4 c granulated sugar
Pinch cream of tartar.

Prepare parchment paper by measuring and cutting to size of sheet, and then using small end of shot glass to trace circles. Flip over so pencil is on back side of paper.

Grind almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor until almonds ground into smithereens and sift twice. I even put the little chunks that got sifted out back in with a little bit of the sifted through sugar and pulsed again to try to further blitz them to bits.

Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat at medium speed until frothy. Slowly add the granulated sugar and continue beating until the whites medium-peaks and are glossy. I used Tartelettes upside down trick-If you can hold them upside down in the bowl and they don't fall out they're ready!

Add your dry ingredients slowly to the meringue taking about 4 additions all in all, but fold like you mean it. According to Tartelette it sounds like she really goes for it. Test the batter on a plate, put a little bit down, if it flattens by itself then its ready. If it stays tall it probably needs a few more folds.

Pipe the batter to little mountains. Put tip perpendicular to paper about 1/2 inch above. Pipe and batter will spread automatically with the force, and then as you let them settle on their own they'll spread out into little discs of even height instead of mountains. Let rest for 30 minutes to an hour before baking.

Bake for about 10 minutes, turning if necessary midway through.

My parchment circles (ugly picture! If you look closely, close one eye, and tilt your head to the left you can make out the circles):

My blob of batter, folded in, and a little chunky from the almond bits.

Batter piped into circles:
Fresh out of the oven! And I think they have feet! Still not exactly sure what feet mean, do, or how they get there, but I'm pretty sure that's them!Bittersweet Ganache 1 c heavy cream 1 c bittersweet chocolate Heat cream to boil, take off heat, add chocolate, let sit 2 min, stir to combine, let cool to pipable consistency.
Not everything was perfect though. I had two racks of macarons going, the top rack and the bottom rack. The gorgeous ones I photographed are the top rack. The bottom rack didn't get as much heat and so were underdone. So I put them back in, but it didn't really solve the problem. Not bad, but not as breathtakingly beautiful as the top rack batch. The texture was a little different too, but overall taste was GREAT in either. In the picture below you can see the ones on the bottom right look a different color, almost mottled, not the smooth shiny topped ones to the left. Those were the bottom rack dwellers.
All in all, this was a fantastic experIence! I'm leaving for vacation in a few short hours. Ridiculous, I know, who makes macarons right before packing to go to Turks and Caicos for a week!? They are so tasty and so sophisticated! I'm so pleased, I can't wait to come back and try more flavor combinations!
Special thanks to Veronica of Veronica's Test Kitchen and Helen of Tartelette, both of whose glorious baking talents I admire, for making it so easy for me to get this right!


Siri said...

Good work!

These look gorgeous- I still haven't gotten around to try my hand at macaroons guite yet, but this flavor combo might be a good one to start with.

Thanks for the recipe!

jayme said...

These look great! I just made macarons last night using Helen's basic recipe too. I've had the most success with that one. Mine turned out pretty well, but the 'feet' didn't turn out as beautifully as yours.

Congrats on the first try victory :)

La Table De Nana said...

Yours are picture perfect! I just made my first this morning..will try and try again..My feet are smaller than yours:) I like bigger..just like yours..How appropriate your post is today for me..Bon Voyage!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I have always wanted to try my hand at macarons. Yours look beautiful and delicious and give me incentive to try it finally.

informalblathering said...

Yay! You did it! Aren't they fun? So cute!

Tartelette said...

Well done! They are cute as a button!

diva said...

these are lovely!! thanks for sharing..i really need to gather my courage and make real macarons too! :) x

Elra said...

OMG Jess! You Did IT GIRL!

Veron said...

They look fantastic, jess!Great job with it!