Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Macarons with the Daring Bakers

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 love macarons! My first macaron was two years ago in Paris at Pierre Herme. I wasn't reading food blogs daily at the time, and they were new to me. When I got home, I started looking for various recipes. I tried David Lebovitz's chocolate mac recipe, and they tasted great, but no feet. Then I tried another plain recipe, and no feet. Then one day I was at a bakery in DC buying macarons, and a baker came out of the kitchen, so I asked him about feet. He told me to add a little powdered egg white to the whites to help stabilize. He also told me to age the egg whites at least a week, and maybe even two. Finally - feet! Leaving the piped macarons out to dry before baking has helped a lot too. I think these may be my best two batches of macarons yet, I'm so excited. My new trick: use a second baking sheet underneath your sheet of shells, this helps the shells cook thoroughly without burning. The Nutella and Dulce de Leche fillings were amazing. I'll be making these again, exactly as is, again and again!!

Thanks so much Ami for such a great pick this month; check out lots of other great macarons here!

Tartelette's Macaron Recipe (with some very slight modifications)

For the shells:
90 gr egg whites (about 3) 30 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds (or almond powder) 1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon powdered egg whites (not in Tartelette's recipe)

Place the powdered sugar, almonds, and espresso powder in a food processor and pulse a few times until the nuts are finely ground. Even if you use almond powder or ground almonds, I strongly recommend running everything through the food processor. Otherwise, there might be chunks of almonds big enough to clog the tip when you pipe the macaron batter later on.

Beat the egg whites to a foam. You can use a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, but I prefer to beat egg whites with a hand mixer so as not to overbeat.

Gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Don't go all the way to stiff peaks.

Fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites.
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 flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small peak, give the batter a couple of more folds. If you fold too much, the macarons may develop wrinkly shells.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets.

Preheat the oven to 280F.

Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour; they may be ready by the time you're done piping all the batter. If you touch them, they should have dried out and firmed up a bit. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on their size. In my oven, 23 minutes is perfect for tiny macarons (1/2 inch diameter), 25 for 1" - 1 1/4 " diameter.

Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don't let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.

To fill: pipe or spoon some Nutella or Dulce de Leche on the flat part of one cookie, and top with a second cookie.

Nutella Macs

Dulce de Leche Macs

Here's the recipe for the Pierre Herme macaron (with some slight modifications that worked better in my oven). More pictures, and the recipe for the peanut butter filling, are in my previous post.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Macarons - A Pierre Herme Recipe

1 1/3 cups finely ground almond powder
2 cups + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 large, aged and room temperature)
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered egg whites

Run the almond powder, powdered sugar, and cocoa through the food processor to remove all clumps.

Beat egg whites and dried egg whites on low to medium speed until white and foamy. Turn up to high and whip to firm but not stiff peaks. You want them glossy and supple; when you lift the beater, the whites should form a peak that droops a little.

Gently fold in the dry ingredients in three or four additions. It will seem like you have too much dry ingredients, but keep folding. I think I overfolded though, because I got wrinkly tops (never had that happen before). The white will deflate.

Spoon the batter into a pastry bag, and pipe 1" circles, about 1" apart on parchment paper or a baking mat. Rap the baking sheets on the counter (do it hard, to get the air out of the batter). Let the macarons sit and dry out a bit while the oven preheats.

Preheat the oven to 310 F.

Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven. Peel the parchment from the baking sheet, and drop a few drops of very hot water between the baking sheet and the parchment paper. Move the pan around to let the water spread out over the whole sheet. The steam will help loosen the cookies. Remove the cookies from the parchment. Let cool.

Pipe a circle of peanut butter cream on one cookie, and top with a second cookie. Enjoy!

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  1. These look wonderful. I believe the chocolate peanut butter ones are calling my name. :)

  2. WOWOWOWOWOW marvellous results you have officially a macaron maker. Love the flavour combination yummy. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

  3. Thanks!!! I had so much fun with these, and they really taste great.

  4. wow your macarons turned out perfectly! well done.

  5. Nice post! It was awefully nice of the baker to offer you those tips.

    Those fillings sound amazing, though I would imagine that the dulce de leche one would be super sweet.

  6. I'm learning that aged egg whites are one of many secrets to making macarons. Nutella macarons sound delicious!

  7. I'm glad you've figured out the formula that works for you! Your macs are stunning & the flavours sound great =D.

  8. My goodness. Those are perfect macarons. I'll have to take your tips into account whenever I get around to trying them.

  9. wow those look just perfect! great job!