okay, fine, “macarons”
Well, en français they’re called macarons. Silly Frenchies. Macarons were October’s Daring Bakers Challenge. I filled them with lime-colored peppermint buttercream, and decided they looked like little hamburgers, and since it’s that time of the year, they’re now officially Halloween Boo-Burgers. Yay!
I must be a real hick, because I’ve participated in Daring Bakers challenges two months now, and I’d never heard of either month’s baked good. Vols-au-vent? Macarons? Double-you-tee-eff, mate?
Turns out macarons aren’t those coconut cookie things. They’re simple-looking cookies made of almond flour and powdered sugar folded into egg whites that have been beaten into a meringue and slightly sweetened with granulated sugar. As a result, they’re kind of nutty and kind of sweet, but not overly so. A perfect macaron will have a thin crunchy outside, chewy inside, and crunchy “feet” at the base.
It’s quite easy to become obsessed with achieving the perfect feet.
Word among the Daring Bakers was that this particular macaron recipe was a bit finicky. My first attempt, plain macarons, came out pretty well….
So I decided to try a cocoa-flavored version. Oops! That didn’t work out very well. They did get a thumbs-up from everyone who tried them. I told them they didn’t have to be nice. They said they actually really liked them. I was meh about the whole deal.
the traveling macarons
The macarons and I went with Linda this evening to see local bluegrass superstars The Doodads.
We met up with Debi and several of her family and friends.
See the macarons on the table? That’s my excuse for these two pics.
the nitty gritty
Back to basics. Each of these attempts I made using a scaled-down one egg white version of the recipe. I was just too scared to try more; I’d read too many disaster stories. Since I needed to beat only one egg white, my stand mixer was overkill, and its whisk attachment wouldn’t even be able to do the job properly as it doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. It was time to break out the trusty old hand mixer. I hadn’t used it in years. Good thing the pack rat in me made me keep it, eh?
Old egg whites are supposedly better. That egg white has been sitting on the counter for two days, covered in a paper towel secured with a rubber band. Then you have the powdered sugar and almond flour, sifted together. And the teensy bit of granulated sugar the one egg white recipe requires (a bit over a teaspoon).
That egg white sure got a lot bigger! Hey, is that meringue too wussy? I think I’m scared of overbeating.
Now this next pic is from the cocoa disaster, but I wanted to show you what folding in the dry ingredients looks like, and the gooey final product.
Shh, I know, I told you the cocoa ones came out badly. That’s still how the dough is supposed to look. Both my successful batches were just like that.
If you don’t have a squeezy pastry bag, just put a plastic bag in a glass and fold the edges over, and put your batter in that. Then snip off a corner of the baggie to squeeze through.
Just out of the oven.
prep: 20 minutes
bake: 5 minutes, then 7-8 minutes, approximately 13 minutes total
servings: varies by size of macaron; 1-inch (tiny!) macarons will yield 2 dozen per egg white in the recipe
oven: 200 degrees, then 375 degrees
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)
1 Egg White version:
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 7 tablespoons (1.6 oz.)
Almond flour: 1/4 cup + 2-1/2 tablespoons (1.3 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 1-1/4 teaspoons (0.2 oz.)
Egg whites: 1 (Have at room temperature)
2 Egg Whites version:
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 1 cup (3.2 oz.)
Almond flour: 3/4 cup + 2-1/2 tablespoons (2.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2-1/2 teaspoons (0.35 oz.)
Egg whites: 2 (Have at room temperature)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.
Nutrition information (2 1-inch plain macarons): 35 calories; 1.5g fat; 0mg cholesterol; 5mg sodium; 4.8g carbohydrate; 0g fiber; 4.2g sugars; 0.9g protein; 0% vitamin A; 0% vitamin C; 1% calcium; 1% iron