Adventures in Macaron Making
Every food blogger will eventually have a post about making macarons. This is mine.
I have always wanted to make these but it just sounded too complicated so I didn't bother. Plus, Trader Joe's sells affordable frozen ones that taste great. When Costco started selling almond flour last year, I quickly grabbed a bag. It was my chance to skip a step or two in a complicated recipe. Then the bag of flour was forgotten. Lazy me!
A few weeks ago, when we had leftover egg whites, I decided to just open the bag of almond flour and go for it. If I don't learn to make macarons now during this COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, I know I will never make them. And the adventures began.
|I didn't wait for the "skin" to form on top. Fail.
It took me three tries to get them to look right. Like most of my recipes, I hack my way through the first time just to see how hard or easy it can be. The first time, I didn't let the "skin" grow and most of them cracked. Plus, I piped giant macarons and they just weren't cute that way. I tried a jackfruit icing that I threw together quickly and it was disastrously sweet.
The second time I made them, they tasted great! They were pistachio and I must have made like 50 cookies and they were gone in two days! They tasted perfect but they looked like sandwich cookies, not macarons. Each time I made the cookies, I tried a different recipe and paid more attention to the instructions. It's definitely a recipe you want to carefully follow and read all the notes to. I still don't follow the recipe to a T but I had to do it a few times to nail it. Obviously. Lol. At this point, I feel comfortable making them so I can move on to cute designs and flavours in the future. And arriving here is the exciting part!
|Don't look right but tasted great!
|Third time is the charm.
Makes 24 cookies
(Adapted from Tasty)
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup pistachio, blended to flour
1 tsp salt
1.5 grams matcha powder (1 pack)
3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Filling: (Adapted from Pies & Tacos)
115g cream cheese
4 tbsp butter (1/2 stick), at room temp
~1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup pistachio, grinded (small chunks are okay)
In a food processor, add the powder sugar, almond flour, pistachio nuts, salt and process to a fine powder. Sift this, along with the matcha powder into a large bowl and repeat this process with any large chunks that don't sift through until there is only about 1 tbsp of large pistachio chunks left. Save those for the filling or topping the macarons later. Set aside. Note, the matcha powder doesn't really come through but it helps add a bit of green to the batter and it sort of cuts into the sweetness a bit.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Add the sugar bit by bit while mixing. Add the cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Add vanilla, beat. Now fold in the dry ingredients by thirds until it is mixed to the point where you can drizzle an "8" without breaking the batter as it glides off your spatula. Maybe up to 30 folds. Try not to over mix.
Fill a piping bag with the batter and pipe your shapes onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Tap the cookie sheet hard against the counter to get rid of the air bubbles. Let this sit until a "skin" forms over the macarons. This might take around 30 mins. Preheat oven to 300F. If you touch the top of the piped macaron, your finger needs to be dry. This part is essential if you want the macarons to form "feet" under them. Since there is skin on the top, the steam escapes from underneath and forms the feet as it bakes. Cool, right? Bake at 300F for 20 minutes, lower third rack, one tray at a time. Do not open the oven until they are done. Cool the shells completely. Remove them from the parchment paper and match them up for sandwich cookies.
Whip the cream cheese and soft butter together. Add the rest and beat until well mixed. Fill a pastry bag with the filling and pipe a generous amount onto the flat side of half the macaron shells. Top with the other half of the shells to form macaron cookies. Refrigerate.
Here are some of the things and tips I have learned along the way.
- Using 24+ hour aged egg whites in the fridge might help with your batter. I used fresh once and couldn't tell the difference that much. Doesn't hurt to try though.
- Color doesn't really come through in the batter once it's baked. If you want color, you'll need to add a bit extra food gel.
- Turn the range fan on while you wait for the skin to form on the macarons. This helps dry them out faster, especially if your place is humid. I open the windows sometimes too.
- Use the food processor to grind everything. It works well. Because it's bigger than a Nutribullet, I find it keeps the nuts dry and doesn't really turn the nuts into a paste. If there are large chunks in the batter, the tops won't be smooth and there may be more air bubbles so definitely keep bits you cannot sift out of the batter.
- Tap the trays hard a few times to get rid of air bubbles, then pop any extra bubbles with a toothpick.
- If you cannot remove the macarons off the parchment because they are sticking, put it back in the oven at 300F for another 1 or 2 mins.
- Use parchment paper instead of silicon mats. They dry out the macarons better when baking.
- Cool completely before removing the macarons from the parchment paper.
- Macarons taste better after 24 hours.
No sweat. You got this! Now, go have some fun learning a new dessert!