Daring Bakers: French Macarons

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The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I was so excited when this month’s Daring Bakers challenge was announced. Finally, I get to learn how to make these dainty-looking pastries! I had such high hopes I was already planning on the different flavors to experiment with. Unfortunately, it felt like that’s all I did. Experimented the last 4 weeks because this darn thing was soooooo difficult to make!!! I started early in the month and after a few tries, I was already very frustrated.  All my macarons were coming out as flops. The first one didn’t rise. The next batch did rise but no feet. And the rest, I can’t even begin to describe how they look like. These are some of the prettier ones.

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It’s a good thing they taste so good. We still ended up eating the failures. I finally spent a full day reading entries in the Daring Bakers forum to figure out what I was doing wrong.  Thank you fellow Daring Bakers for all the inputs! Three days ago, I decided to do my last batch. We were travelling from sunny San Diego to drier Lake Tahoe and I had my egg whites all ready to age so I can start baking as soon as I get to our destination.   I didn’t have any more time left to age more egg whites (if I use up all the ones I have) so I wised up and use the 2-egg white recipe discussed in the forum. (Check out Syrup and Tang’s excellent post and instructions on macarons!) I weighed all my ingredients, counted the number of times I carefully folded the batter, tested a dollop and when satisfied that I had the right consistency, I let 24 pieces of tiny macaron shells sit for one hour to dry before baking.  At this point, all I could do was cross my fingers and hope that my oven will cooperate.   Stacking two baking sheets and using the top most rack of my oven, I baked the shells at 300F for 8 minutes. And would you look at that…I got feet!!!!  Woohoo!! (If you are a little confused about what the heck “feet” am I talking about, David Lebowitz has a great post with more resources on macarons: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2008/09/making_french_macarons.html)

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I was actually too scared to attempt any flavored ones at this point lest I screw those up again so I immediately whipped a chocolate ganache for filling and slammed those fragile shells together.  They look so pretty!! Well..I did try another batch adding green tea powder and was so happy that they still came out with feet. Here is the recipe provided to us should you be brave enough to try it. To make the green tea macarons, I just added 1 tsp of matcha powder with the ground almonds and sugar before mixing it with the meringue.

Claudia Fleming’s French Macarons

Ingredients:

  • Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
  • Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
  • Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
  • Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

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Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Yield: 10 dozen.

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Thanks Ami  for this awesome challenge!  Inspite of all the frustration, I have already started experimenting with different flavors and will be posting them soon.

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» MandyM said: { Oct 27, 2009 - 09:10 }

Well done! It’s good that you kept at it because your macarons looks great :)

» Rose said: { Oct 27, 2009 - 09:10 }

Looks like you got those perfected! Beautiful job! Love the colors :)

» Miriam/The Winter Guest said: { Oct 27, 2009 - 09:10 }

Wow, you’re really daring… I haven’t dared to make macarons so far! In the end they looked terrific!

» wic said: { Oct 27, 2009 - 10:10 }

they look delicious and I think you did a lovely job with this challenge

» jenn said: { Oct 27, 2009 - 11:10 }

Nice!! I’d love to try making these one day. Yours looks perfect!! I could snack on them right now.

» Vera said: { Oct 27, 2009 - 12:10 }

They are adorable! Congratulations!

» Shelly @ Experimental Culinary Pursuits said: { Oct 27, 2009 - 12:10 }

These look absolutely gorgeous and yummy! I’m sure you now have a total sense of accomplishment! Congrats on the frustrating (yet fulfilling) feat!

» Wolf said: { Oct 27, 2009 - 01:10 }

I added roughly 2 Tbsps of Matcha to mine, as well as a bit of gel coloring.}:P

Well done! I like yours much more than mine, lol.

» Esther said: { Oct 27, 2009 - 01:10 }

Congratulations on hanging in there and trying again your last ones look really very good indeed and I really must get some matcha powder some time soon just to try it!

» jo said: { Oct 27, 2009 - 05:10 }

For a 1st timer at Macs, I say you did good .. more than good! And I love how your colours have shone through your Macarons.

» penny aka jeroxie said: { Oct 27, 2009 - 09:10 }

So pretty and look at those legs!

» Audax Artifex said: { Oct 27, 2009 - 09:10 }

Wonderful effort they are perfect. Delicious flavours. Excellent feet also. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

» anna said: { Oct 27, 2009 - 10:10 }

Yummy! You did a great job, they’re so perky!

» Jill said: { Oct 27, 2009 - 10:10 }

It looks like all your effort really paid off! They look so delicious and PERFECT!! Well done!! :)

» jeannie tay said: { Oct 27, 2009 - 10:10 }

You have a lot of patience! which I can’t claim I have LOL! Great looking macaroons. Definitely won’t be trying these babies for obvious reasons. LOL!

» DINING WITH BATALI said: { Oct 28, 2009 - 05:10 }

This one is sheer perfection! Now..you make me feel like I want to try this – -Oh no ! food and food all over again- -Can you adopt me for a week so I can try all these yummy dishes myself!!! Great job !

» The Chickenless Chick said: { Oct 28, 2009 - 08:10 }

LOL… my sandwich cookies come out like your “prettier ones” pics IF I’m lucky! Great job; all that experimenting really paid off. Love the colors.

» wasabi prime said: { Oct 28, 2009 - 09:10 }

Wow, I applaud your efforts and cheer your hard-won success on absolutely beautiful macaroons! The weather is getting colder and the air is more dry, so I think I may attempt these for the holidays.

» The Nomadic Gourmet said: { Oct 28, 2009 - 01:10 }

They look good. I love the choice of colors you used for the macaroons.

» Divina said: { Oct 29, 2009 - 12:10 }

Fabulous Macaroons. Congratulations your hard work paid of.

» High/Low Food/Drink said: { Oct 29, 2009 - 06:10 }

Congrats on successfully completing the challenge! They look beautiful and could easily pass for the ones I’ve seen at Bouchon bakery!

» A Canadian Foodie said: { Oct 29, 2009 - 07:10 }

I cannot believe you succeeded to quickly. Bravo! I understand the “defeat” and the “no-feet”! I have just started phase 2 of my quest to master the elusive macaron. Yours look sensational! Check out my blog soon as I have my first serious session and lesson tomorrow morning! I may be asking advice again, soon.
Cheers,
Valerie

» Susan said: { Oct 29, 2009 - 08:10 }

Wow! You were so determined. Thanks for sharing. I am still not accustomed to trying things like that here where the humidity is so high…

» Andrea said: { Nov 1, 2009 - 12:11 }

that is why i don’t bake! your end product looks amazingly yummy!

» My Man's Belly said: { Nov 2, 2009 - 11:11 }

Congrats! They’re beautiful.

» Catalina said: { Nov 6, 2009 - 02:11 }

O so beautiful!
I love the colors of your macarons!

» Margaret said: { Nov 6, 2009 - 07:11 }

Beautiful macaroons. Wish mine had come out as well.

» MASATERA said: { Nov 7, 2009 - 01:11 }

Fantastic !!

» Nadine said: { Dec 29, 2009 - 10:12 }

Too good looking not to try. Okay, I’ll try to emulate on one of those boring, “I really should start doing the taxes” day. Bravo for the macarons. They look wonderful.


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