I mentioned this a few weeks back but for those who missed the original post, know this: Macarons are mean. Allow me to explain. They are beautiful, delicate, desirable but a good macaron is so hard to achieve it can feel cruel to those who face defeat. And yes, that includes me.
My first try at macaron was rough. I was not as careful with my measurements or technique as I should have been and I dove headfirst into macaron making with an ambitious flavor. Needless to say that first batch was rubbish, and the next one after that wasn’t much better.
I don’t handle failure well so I become obsessed with mastering the macaron. I went back to basics, pulled out my scale and focused on technique. Ever the diligent student, I also invested in some macaron-specific cookbooks to read up on the why behind these dainty little treats.
Did you know there are three types of meringue style that can be used in macarons? Or that almond-based foods were popular during the Middle Ages? How about aging eggs, are you read-up on that? I definitely wasn’t a few weeks ago but I am now, thanks to using cookbooks as my bedtime stories. (Warning: reading cookbooks before bed will cause food dreams and late night food cravings)
A few things to remember before you start on your own macaron journey:
- Specific weights are listed for a reason. While in ice cream recipes quantities can be eye balled, that is definitely not the case with Macarons. If you don’t own a scale, invest in one today. There are tons of super affordable options, as well as some swankier choices if you are ready to commit long-term to food measurement.
- Age your eggs. Eggs are a critical structural element in macarons so you don’t want to cut corners here. I make so much ice cream I usually have egg whites separated out to work with but if you don’t, go ahead and separate 4 eggs the day before you plan on using them. Cover with plastic wrap, poke holes in the plastic to allow some of the water to evaporate and refrigerate. On the day you want to make your macaron, give your egg whites a few hours on the counter to reach room temperature. This will help them take shape when you are beating them.
- Watch how you pipe. How you pipe the dough is just as important as measuring the ingredients going into the dough in the first place. If you pipe it at an angle, the macarons feet will come in at an angle as well. Similarly, if you give your shells a tail by not twisting your piping bag quickly enough to stop the flow of dough, your shells won’t be able to lie flat.
- Don’t get discouraged. If you master these on your first try I applaud you but know that you are the exception, not the norm. For everyone else, stick with it. That first successful batch will make all the failed batches worth it.
- Read the recipe. This one probably doesn’t need to be said as everyone should be doing this anyways but always read recipes from start to finish before starting to avoid surprises midway through. There is nothing worse than being halfway through a recipe before discovering that your eggs needed to be at room temperature or the butter should be softened, not cold.
The lemon macaron recipe featured below is the first one I succeeded it so I thought it was a fitting recipe to accompany this story. Give macarons a try and let me know how it goes!
Macaron Ingredients – Recipe adapted from the Base Macaron Recipe in Les Petits Macarons
- 1¼ Cups (165g) almond flour
- ¾ Cup (165g) confectioners’ sugar
- Pinch sea salt
- ¾ Cup (150g) granulated sugar
- ½ Cup (115g) aged egg whites (from about 4 eggs)
- ½ Teaspoon (3g) cream of tartar
- 1 Teaspoon lemon flavoring
- 5 Drops of yellow food coloring
Chocolate Ganache Ingredients
- 1 Cup heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
- 10 Ounces semisweet chocolate
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- Combine almond flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine
- Using a fine-mesh strainer, sift the mixture onto a piece of parchment paper and set aside
- In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer), hand whisk together to just combine the granulated sugar, egg whites and cream of tartar
- Using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix egg whites mixture until stiff peaks form, about 11 minutes
- Using a spatula, gently mix in the dry ingredients previously set aside on the parchment paper using a macaronner technique
- When the mixture is 90% combined, add in the lemon flavoring and yellow food coloring
- Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag with a ½ inch round tip or a ½ inch hole
- Pipe meringue dough into quarter-sized macarons on a baking sheet covered with silicone mat
- When done piping, slam (yes slam) baking sheet onto counter from about a 6 inch height – this step is important as it will remove air bubbles trapped in macarons that would otherwise rise during baking and crack the shell
- Leave baking sheet uncovered for 30-40 minutes to allow the macaron shells to settle and the shell to become a little hard
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 200 degrees
- Bake macaron shells for 15 minutes and then increase the oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 9 minutes
- Remove from oven and place entire silicon mat on cooling rack for an hour
- Repeat piping and baking with the rest of the shell batter
- While the shells are cooling, bring cream and corn syrup to a boil in a small saucepan and remove from heat
- Add chocolate to food processor and pour hot cream and corn syrup on top
- Pulse until chocolate has completely melted
- Add in butter and pulse again until mixture is smooth and shiny
- Let sit for 15 minutes before piping between shells
Store macarons in airtight container in fridge for up to a week