I don’t think anyone would ever accuse me of being overly hip.
Until recently, I thought swag was a type of designer jeans, like, you know Gloria Vanderbilt.
So, I am pretty sure I am the last blogger on the planet to post anything on this topic. Even if you haven’t eaten a macaron you have probably seen one. Most likely you have memories of being fed macarons in your baby carriage while sucking a latte down from your Starbucks bottle.
Or maybe you are old, like me, and really got interested in Macarons after seeing a steady stream of picture perfect stylized multi-colored macarons floating by in your Pinterest stream.
I had not tasted one until last summer at the market in Venasque. Colorful, with all natural flavors, lined up and ready to be picked. We got the group sized mixed box for 20 euro. They tasted fresh, crispy, chewy and delicious. Although, as I now know after my research, they should be smoother to be perfect. I guess a Parisian would say “c’est typique”, of course the Provincials are rougher than Parisians even when we are talking of macarons.
The good thing about being the last one in the world to make them is that I can read up on others boo boos or rather faux pas. I did notice that I am missing the most important ingredient for the macaron, a Kitchen Aid mixer. They seem to be essential for making egg whites look sexy. So with more than a little resistance I drag out my boring kitchen mixer but not so fast. Did I let the egg yolks get a little dehydrated in the fridge so they would whip higher? Not yet. So, I separate 4 egg whites and put two in each glass, cover the glass with plastic and stab a little hole in the top and wait. According to my sources this could be anywhere from one to six days.
The first two egg whites (aged 2 days) are going into my Chocolate Macarons, which I learn later are the most difficult to make properly. I sifted my powdered sugar, almond flour and Dutch cocoa together and start my eggs a whipping and whoops, I know now, I was too quick adding sugar to my eggs. Wait until you have very foamy eggs before slowly adding your sugar. Beat until you have medium peaks and then fold in your dry ingredients.
The mix should be like molten lava according to one lovely lady but the reference is lost on me. This batch was too dry, I can tell you that now and I blame the term large eggs. What is a large egg from where David Lebovitz is to where I am? I don’t even know if all the large eggs in my basket have the same amount of egg whites in them and maybe I lost some grams during the dehydrating. So I would recommend finding a recipe that uses a gram measurement for egg amount.
I used a silicon mat to pipe out my cookies, which made it hard to “tap” them down like I see all the professionals doing. Grab holds of the side of your cookie sheet and rap it a few times on the counter to both flatten them out a bit and pop some bubbles. The silicon was acting like a shock absorber and makes a flapping sound on the counter which is not anywhere as near as satisfying. I did use a wet finger to smooth over the tops of the cookies but several got too wet and bubbles showed on the top after cooking.
Some of this batch was cracked, some with bubbled tops and some just right. I did seem to get the “foot” right but I have no idea why. My understanding is that a proper foot is established when the oven temp is just right. I did bake a couple of cookies on parchment just to test the oven temp. Higher than it should be, put cookies in and turn it down to the right temp.
After this batch is mixed and loaded, I am starting to get a better idea what molten lava might be like. The batter runs smoothly out this time and after a couple of flaps on the counter there are only a few that need to be smoothed on the top. The disaster is, too high oven temperature and the result is, pink cookies turning golden on the outside. Just then, I remember the tip about having a oven thermometer in the oven to assure that the temp is just right.
The more I read I can’t help thinking that people are making this harder than necessary. Is it because it is French? Would you ever put this much thought into a brownie?
Here are some of the sites I used but there are many videos and sites that I can’t find again. I thought I saved them somewhere but I have been researching this for several months and I think I overloaded.
A great summary from Serious Eats
This was the perfect Macaron Troubleshooting Guide
The Macaron Diaries give a great blow by blow
Demystifying Macarons is great at commenting on the consistency you should be looking for.
I especially like all his wine breaks from The Perfect Macarons
Cute help from Desperately seeking Macarons
Great music on this A – Z French video Aktuel Brasserie Ajaccio Le Macaron de A à Z
I wish I could find the other French video where after baking the macarons he sprays water on a cookie sheet and slides the parchment paper from the hot cookie sheet to the lightly spritzed one. My french is a little rusty but I think this is to improve cookie release from the parchment paper.
If you have perfected your macarons you can make some fun tags from Givers Log. I am still working on mine but just so you know all of them taste really good in the spring sunshine!