Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ugly Little Macarons

This is my first attempt at making macarons.  I waited a long time before making these little babies. Why?  Well, I was a little intimidated by them.  I'm not that good at folding things, and my piping skills leave something to be desired, as can be seen here:

I'm not so good at piping a bunch of perfect little rounds, all the same size.  So, some are bigger than others, some have weird little bumps or wings.  It's my first try.  I'll get better.  I will just have to keep making more which is just fine by me.

Aside from the obvious flaws in the shape of the shells, I had issues with the fillings. I tried two different fillings:  espresso ganache and banana caramel.  I have no idea what I did, but neither filling really got set up without significant time in the freezer.  It was weird, and troubling.  It was tasty, but messy.  Witness the carnage:

The upside? I gave one of the messier ones to the hubster, and he LOVED it.  I had to threaten bodily harm to keep him away from them long enough to take a few photos.  I have to say, messy as they were, they were also really good.  The shells were crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and super light and airy.  The fillings would have been great had they set up properly. 

So, here are the recipes:

Basic French Meringue Macarons

Source: Helen of Tartelette (she has a handy tutorial PDF about macarons.  Read it before trying to make them)

3 egg whites or 100g weighed
50 g granulated sugar
200 g powdered sugar
110 g blanched almonds, whole or ground

12-24 hours before beginning this, put your egg whites in a covered container and leave them out at room temperature to age.  I know this sounds icky, but it's important.

1.  In a stand mixer fitter with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue.

2.  Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a quick pulse if you use already ground almonds (that you have ground yourself separately). It will break the powdered sugar lumps and combine your almonds with it evenly.  If you use whole almonds, pulse thoroughly for a minute or so.

3.  Add them to the meringue, and start to give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down.  The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes.  Test a small amount on a plate:  if the tops flatten on its own, you are good to go.  If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple more folds.

4.  Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper baking sheets.

5.  Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Let the macarons sit out for an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on their size.  Let them cool completely before filling.

6.  Pipe or spoon some of your filling on one shell and sandwich with another one.


Espresso Ganache
Source: Annie's Eats
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
4 tbsp. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. espresso powder

Combine the cream, butter and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Place the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.  Bring the cream mixture to a simmer, remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand 2 minutes, then whisk gently in small circular motions until the ganache forms. Blend in espresso powder.  Let the mixture cool until it is thick enough to pipe. (To speed chilling, transfer the bowl to the freezer or refrigerator and let cool, stirring every 10 minutes, until thickened.)

Banana Caramel
Source:  Tartelette

1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt

Place the sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan set over medium high heat.  Slowly let the sugar melt and turn into caramel.  This is called a dry caramel and it can be a bit tricky.  If you are not comfortable with it, you can add up to 1/4 cup water to your saucepan and slowly bring the sugar to a caramel color.

Standing back a bit, carefully add the butter, cream and salt.  Do not worry, it will bubble like mad.  When the bubbling slows down, stir until smooth.  Pour into a heat-proof dish and let cool. 

Mix one smashed banana with one half of the caramel sauce.  What to do with the rest?  Put it in the fridge and save it to serve over ice cream!


  1. props to you for just giving it a good try! I'm sure they were very very tasty!

  2. I'm excited about having a macaron dealer outside of that one dude at the farmers market!!

  3. And that ladies and gentleman is why I convinced Meg to make them instead of making them myself. We will have a few months time this spring to perfect the art of making a non-frightening variety. They still look delicious though, in their own sweet way.