Wednesday, June 8, 2011
I know I said it before that the French Macarons are too temperamental! After all, I did had some bad experiences with them in the past. But, everybody deserves a second chance, don’t you agree? Especially with something as irresistible as Macarons. Honestly, they are really not that hard to master... as long as you follow a few tips.
I have a few inquiries on tips and techniques in making these Macarons. Of course, I’m not going to leave you empty-handed. From my many successful and some not so successful macaron baking experiences, here are my few tips in summary.
Tip #1: Get a kitchen scale. It’s important to follow the exact recipe down to the gram (or ounces.) Take the time to measure and weight out each ingredient. You’ll be rewarded. This is the digital kitchen scale that I’ve been using. It’s not expensive at all and it’s one of my best friends in the kitchen.
Tip #2: Aged the egg whites. I usually separate the egg whites (save those yolks for crème brûlée!) and leave the egg whites covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for 3-5 days before using. The aging process dehydrates the egg whites, resulting in a tighter and more stabilize meringue.
Tip #3: Pay attention during Macaronage—mixing the dry ingredients into the meringues! If the batter is over mixed, the macarons will turned out flat and cracked. If the batter is not mixed enough, there will be a peak on top and the feet won’t form. Just make sure to use a spatula to fold the ingredients together between 40 to 50 strokes. Testing a small amount of batter on a plate before piping is a smart move. If the peak falls back on its own in 10 seconds, you’re good to go.
Tip #4: After piping the macaron shells, let them sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes to and hour to harden the shells before baking. That would prevent the tops from cracking.
Tip #5: Double stacking the baking sheets. That would help the macaron shells bake up more evenly. When using double baking sheets, the bottoms of the maracons do not heat up too quickly, resulting nicer and taller feet.
I hope these tips would help you in making some beautiful French Macarons.
In these Raspberries Macarons, I used some freeze dried raspberries for the shells. The freeze dried raspberries really gives the macaron shells a beautiful vibrant color and slightly tart raspberries flavor. I really couldn’t decide what flavor to fill these shells with, so I made a dual buttercream: Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Bean. Both buttercreams match perfectly with the raspberry shells, in a different way.
I hope you’re inspired and encouraged to make your own batch in the kitchen, soon. You’ll be happy that you did.
Raspberries Macarons with Dark Chocolate Buttercream and Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Makes: 30 to 35 filled macarons
For the macaron shells:
90 grams egg whites (about 3) preferably aged 3-5 days in the fridge
pinch of kosher salt
30 grams granulated sugar
185 grams powdered sugar
110 grams almonds
8 grams freeze dried raspberries
A pinch of powdered red food coloring (optional)
Prepare the macarons:
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt on high, gradually add the sugar until stiff peak forms. Place the almonds, powdered sugar, raspberries and food coloring (if using) in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue. Fold the mixtures carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate; if the tops flatten on its own, the batter is ready. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple more turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (1 inch to 1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 280F. Let the macarons sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 20 to 22 minutes, depending on their size. Rotate baking pans once half way through baking.
Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Bean Buttercream:
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split open and seeded
6 ounces of dark/bittersweet chocolate chips
A pinch of Kosher salt
A pinch of instant coffee granulate
In the bowl of a stand mixer or a heat proof bowl, add the sugar and egg whites together. Whisk constantly over a saucepan of simmering water. Keep whisking the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and place the bowl back to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium high until it cools. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream until thick and very smooth, about 6-10 minutes. Divided the buttercream in two portions.
For the dark chocolate buttercream:
In a small microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips, salt and coffee until melted. Stop and stir mixture in 30 second increments until smooth and shiny. Let cool slightly before folding it into the buttercream.
For the vanilla bean buttercream: add the seeds from the vanilla bean to the buttercream and fold with a spatula until fully incorporated.
Pipe or spoon about 1 tablespoon of butterceam in the center of one shell and top with another one.