making macarons (#2).

30 Jun 2012 § 1 Comment

Being my usual pedantic self, I’ve decided to document my earlier two attempts before I finally succeeded in making French macarons.

Attempt #1 to make macarons actually took place 5 years ago using a Pierre Hermé recipe. At that time, I couldn’t find ground almonds, and I actually bought whole almonds and blended it myself.

Needless to say, ‘unmitigated disaster’ was an understatement.

The amount of work it took to grind and then sieve the almonds was just too much trouble (note: this was before I had my first taste of salted caramel macarons!) and my macarons came out all crispy, cracked and sticky at the bottom – the perfect example of macawrongs! It was enough to put one off making macarons forever.

Attempt #2 was as recent as 2 weeks ago. This time, I did my research on the internet, browsing recipes, reading tips and tricks from various blogs. Amongst the many blogs and posts that I had read, these are the ones that I found most useful:

1. Stella Park’s website, BraveTart:

  • A post which dispels many of the macaron making myths – it certainly made the task less daunting as she details how it isn’t necessary to age the eggwhites, dry the piped macarons prior to baking, baby the meringue – and I like how she uses the French Macaron technique vs. the Italian (which involves melting sugar – although I’ve read that one is less likely to go wrong with the Italian method).
  • A post on the 10 Commandments of making macarons – infinitely helpful tips such as rapping the trays to knock out the air bubbles prior to baking.

2. The Food Nouveau, which has very detailed instructions on:

  • How to make macarons – this includes a helpful video! The recipe calls for aged egg whites though, as well as resting the piped macarons.
  • Macaron troubleshooting – probably the most comprehensive troubleshooting guide that I’ve come across. I kid you not.

3. A video by Chef Nini – watch this to learn the proper macaronage technique (from 1:44 mins onwards).

I decided to try BraveTart’s method as I was too impatient to age the egg whites (her post on making macarons and corresponding recipe can be found here). I followed the instructions to a T, with exception of processing the almonds and icing sugar (I sifted the almond powder). I also added 15gm of cocoa powder as I wanted to make chocolate shells.

Everything went well, including the texture of the batter (perfectly magma-like) and I proceeded to pipe the batter into small circles. The first tray went into the oven without any resting time, and I excitedly watched it rise.

Rise it did. Without any feet!!

I decided to try resting the second tray, but the same thing happened.

In the end, I had two trays of macaron shells with the following characteristics:

  • No feet – the first sign of failure!
  • Top of the shells were smooth but it had many small little holes like air bubbles
  • The shells came off the baking parchment without any problems – probably because of the lack of feet
  • Texture was almost right although it felt slightly too crispy on the outside

The footless macarons went in the bin and a quick post-mortem (I’m starting to believe that macaron-making is quite an exact science) after checking Food Nouveau’s troubleshooting guide told me that I should have…yes. Aged the egg whites. Rested the piped batter.

Sigh.

On we go then to attempt #3

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