Monday, August 8, 2011

French Macarons

Back in March we discovered that a local bakery, Essence in Tempe near ASU, sold  French Macarons and after reading reviews online we decided to go check it out. Their breakfast was yummy and their macarons were delicious! They were like nothing I've ever had before; they were crunchy, chewy, and creamy all in one bite. I was immediately obsessed and knew that I had to try to make some of my own. 

Finding an easy to follow recipe was difficult, but eventually my search led me to Tartelette. Her recipes are amazing! I was a little daunted by the task of making something so delicate, but I was determined to learn how to make these, especially because they are a little pricey. Fortunately, I was successful (a lot of that had to do with Tartelette's recipe) and have managed to make them a few times. 

I never follow recipes all the way because I like to play around with my own flavors. So the following recipes are modified versions of Tartelette's. 

Chocolate Macarons with a Shoyu Caramel Buttercream 

For the shells (modified from Tartelette's Snicker's Macarons

3 egg whites (1-2 day old)
50 gram granulated sugar
200 gram powdered sugar (minus 2 Tbsp)
110 gram almonds (blanched)
3 Tbsp cocoa powder

  1. The day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge.In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry and your macarons won't work. 
  2. Combine the almonds, cocoa powder and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Pass through a sieve. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. 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 beak, give the batter a couple of turns. 
  3. 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. Preheat the oven to 315F. Let the macarons sit out for an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on their size. 
  4. 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. Remove them almost immediately, when they aren't too hot to pick up. Let cool on a rack.
  5. Pipe or spoon buttercream on one shell and sandwich with another one.
Shoyu Caramel Buttercream

1 Tbsp Butter
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp Shoyu (soy sauce) 
Your go to buttercream recipe

In a heavy saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and shoyu and allow to caramelize. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, add the caramel to your buttercream.

(This is a disclaimer about how I'm not very good writing up my own recipes. I'm a taste as you go kind of person, I only measure things when I bake. The shoyu caramel buttercream I made on a whim. I thought the salty umami flavor would go nice with the sweetness of the shells. So you can certainly fill the shells with whatever buttercream or ganache you like!) 

Strawberry Macarons with Chocolate and Fresh Stawberry Buttercream

For the Shells 

3 egg whites (1-2 day old)
25 gram granulated sugar
2 tsp strawberry extract flavor
2 drops red food coloring
200 gram powdered sugar (minus 2 Tbsp)
110 gram almonds (blanched)

It's the same process as the one for making the chocolate shells. Except for a few changes: you're going to add the strawberry extract and food coloring during the meringue step. You can add more flavoring and food coloring until you get it to where you want. 

For the Filling

I used a chocolate buttercream and added finely diced fresh strawberries.

What the inside of a macaron looks like. It should have a light crunchy outer shell and a fluffy/chewy inside.

I know that making these can seem intimidating so here are a few tips:
  • Take your time and follow the recipe closely the first time you do this. This is a very technique sensitive desert, so don't rush the steps.
  • Blanch your own almonds! It'll take more time, but save you money. Here's how to:

    1. Buy raw almonds. Make sure they are not roasted or salted, etc. 
    2. Fill a small saucepan half full of water and bring to a boil.
    3. Slide the almonds into the boiling water for 30 seconds. 
    4. Remove from heat and drain. I like to give them a quick rinse with cold water so they aren't too hot to handle. 
    5. Grasp the almond between your thumb and forefinger and slide the skin off.
    6. Pat blanched almonds dry with paper towel. 
  • Stick to using metrics because it is a more precise form of measurement. So go out and get an inexpensive food scale! 
  • Have fun with the flavors! Go crazy and try different things. Macarons are easy to experiment with once you get the basics down. 
So go out and make your own macarons. They are addictive and all the work is definitely worth it!  
Ai is back so we'll be getting back to our joint projects. ♥  


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