Monday, January 14, 2013

Mac-A-Wha?


"Not to be confused with Macaroon, Macron, McCarron, or Macaroni 
Macaron: a sweet meringue-based confectionery made with egg whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder or ground almond, and food colouring.[2] The macaron is commonly filled with ganache, buttercream or jam filling sandwiched between two cookies. Its name is derived from the Italian word maccarone or maccherone." Thank you Wikipedia 
Macaron with one “o”
There is a difference!
Most people know of the macaroon with two “o’s.” That extra “o” makes a world of a difference. The French macaron (one “o”) is hard to explain. I describe it as part brownie, part cookie; see definition above. If you will recall how a brownie has that flaky top layer? Well a macron has that layer and much more. French macarons are delicate, fragile, and divine. French macarons also come with a heavy price tag- perhaps because they are extremely difficult to make, temperamental, and one “fold” too many can ruin your batch. A minute too long on the counter while waiting for the “skin” to form can ruin the chances of your macaron developing perfect Laudree “feet.” Macron’s require you to even age your egg white? What?

macarons from the fabulously perfect Laduree
When I first went to Paris in 2004 I did not know about the “one o” macaron. It was not until about 2009 I first heard about it. I made a deal with myself that I would wait until I made it back to Paris to have my first real “one o” macaron. The opportunity came in 2012 (thanks mom and dad). I was finally going to the one and only Laduree to experience my first “one-o” macaron in the city of lights. 

Laduree at Avenue des Champs-Elysees
You may be asking what the heck are “feet” or “skin?” I had to double check I was on a baking blog! I decided to take on the macaron challenge over winter break while off of school and my nanny job. People have entire blogs dedicated to making macarons. I spent hours scouring the internet blog world on tips and tricks to making macarons.
 On December 30th I was ready, challenge accepted! Below I have the recipe I followed (combined from a couple different ones I read) and pictures along the way.
macaron station ready!

French Macarons at Home: You can do it! 



French Macarons 
Ingredients
               2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
               1 1/4 cup almond flour
               1/2 cup aged egg whites (see below)
               Pinch of salt
               1/3 cup granulated sugar
               food coloring

Directions:
*Macarons are temperamental oven temps and time may need to be adjusted to your oven, home, and humidity level! This is what worked for my home.
Preheat the oven to 315 degrees
Sift or use a food processor to blend the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour. (My arm got sore from my hand sifter and I do not have a food processor so I used the blender). Blend just until evenly incorporated- of you blend too long the oils come out and will turn it to a butter consistency. 
Use a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment whip the egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Keep whisking until the eggs are very foamy. This will take longer than you would imagine, maybe 8 minutes?

foamy egg whites


Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. (I added about 6 drops of food coloring here) Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form. This should take about 10 minutes. You want it to be stiff enough that you could safely hold the bowl upside down over your head without it spilling out. 




With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners’ sugar mixture until it is completely incorporated. Fold and scrap the rubber spatula along the side. Do not over fold! This is how you form the macaronnage stage. This is critical for preventing cracked macarons. You should stop just when it looks evenly incorporated. A good rule is to scrap up a big dollop and hold it about one inch above the bowl- the dollop should all fall off together in one piece. 
Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. I tried both and they came our about the same- however they were easier to peel off the Silpat.
Fit a pastry bag with the batter. Pipe 1-1.5 -inch disks onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little. Try to be as consistent as possible with the sizes

all piped out! Waiting patiently for the "skin" to form
Tap the sheet against the counter to get the air bubbles out. I forcefully tapped (slammed?) mine down 6 times at 6 inches above the counter.
Important! Let stand at room temperature until the glossy surface has turned dull, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macarons. Depending on the temperature of your home it could be anywhere from 20-60 minutes. It took mine 45 minutes. This step is critical for the feet to form. 
Bake for about 10-12 minutes (mine were perfect at 11). Some say to leave the door of the oven slightly ajar with a wooden spoon between the door and the oven. I did not need to do this, again it depends on YOUR oven. 

fresh out of the oven... HOLY SMOKES! I can hardly believe my eyes! Yes some are bigger than others and lopsided but I am pleased with the outcome! Patience pays, my friend.


Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the sheet grabbing the sides of the macaron. The tops are very delicate and easily crushed, your finger will go right through them. I learned the hard way. But hey, at least I got to eat the ruined ones! 

look at the perfect little feet!

Once completely cooled pipe your filling onto one side. Very carefully press the two macaron discs together to form. (remember to grab from the sides) 

A little (ok, a lot) over stuffed, but I am still please with the outcome!
Use immediately or store in an airtight container. When left at room temp. eat within in 12 hours. Refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month. I have some now in the freezer that I will eat at the one month mark to see how they turned out frozen.

I started out “easy” on the filling. I made a simple chocolate ganache filling:

Chocolate Ganache Macaron Filling:













  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • Bring milk and butter to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer to small bowl. Cool. Cover and refrigerate until thick and cold, at least 1 day and up to 3 days.

    source: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chocolate-Macaroons-with-Chocolate-or-Caramel-Filling-105084


    **Aging egg whites: Aging helps concentrate the egg whites. You put them in a bowl and set them out for 24-36 hours. Be sure to use pasteurized eggs! OR you can microwave the egg whites in a bowl for 10 seconds. That is what I did- age the egg whites in the microwave.


    And that’s that… the macaron!

    Good luck, you can do it! Just give yourself some time in the day, don’t rush the process!
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