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.
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)
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
- 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)
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.
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.