Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Macaron Post

So I decided to write about macarons because I have never been so frustrated in my life with baking something correctly/perfectly! I'm sure like many others I toiled in the kitchen trying out numerous recipes. So far, I think I've made them about 7 or 8 times. Sometimes they came out beautifully and other times just WRONG. Maybe it's the perfectionist in me, but I just couldn't give up, I had to get it right.

Before I even dreamed about making them, I studied more pictures of macarons than I can count. I noticed that macarons came in different shapes, sizes, colors, with shiny domes or opaque domes, and with large feet or tiny feet - and sometimes no feet at all. I didn't realize how obsessed I became with the macaron..I was drawing them in my notes during my art history lectures and I had a good 10 or so bookmarks of different recipes. I was so scared to even begin making them, somehow I knew they were going to come out wrong the first time.

So my first attempt was in April of this year, when I went home to SoCal for spring break. I told myself that I didn't have all the necessary equipment to make them at the house I was living in while going to school in NorCal. So when I got home I made sure I had enough egg whites (that I had to age), confectioner's sugar, and parchment paper. I had to go buy almond flour/meal.So the first recipe I tried out was David Lebovitz's French Chocolate Macaron recipe. I don't know why I chose it...maybe it had to do with all the pictures on his flickr that made me fall in love with his website. So the recipe can be found on his site here.

Do make sure to read his post, I found it really entertaining and helpful. There's also a link at the very bottom, "Making French Macarons" - if you're a first timer, read it!!! I also decided that I would fill my first batch of macarons with Salty Peanut Butter Filling from Cannelle et Vanille.
For some reason, even though I can never get enough of chocolate, I thought chocolate macarons with chocolate ganache would be too sweet. So are you dying to see the picture now? Of my horrible mess of a macaron that I'm kind of embarrased to show?

Attempt #1

So what went wrong? I knew they weren't going to come out perfect on the first try! But there are SOOOO many factors that could have messed it up:
  • my almond meal wasn't fine enough
  • I didn't age my egg whites long enough (even though this may or may not work)
  • I used the wrong piping tip
  • I piped it wrong
  • I used Hershey's cocoa powder rather than Dutch-processed
  • I over-whipped my egg whites
Nonetheless, they tasted great. Chocolate and salty peanut butter are a great match of sweet, salty, and nutty. But I did try DL's chocolate ganache recipe for the rest of my macarons.

However, since I made these all in one day and quite a while ago, I really don't remember the order of all of them quite right...I'll do my best.

Attempt #2

These were made from pistachios instead of the usual almond. I bought whole, shelled, unsalted pistachios. I ground them myself. I learned that the food processor at home was not capable of making a fine powder. So I sat in my kitchen with a mortar and pestle trying to grind them as much as I could. Haha, I was so took forever!! I thought they came out better than the last batch, but they had really big feet! And I also topped them with pictachios because I thought they'd look much cuter :) For these I think I used Tartelette's recipe, I didn't have any powdered food coloring though, so they didn't come out that cute shade of green. In this attempt I learned to not over-whip my whites!! They need to be glossy instead of stiff!! But I did over-whip these a bit, they aren't that smooth.

Attempt #3

I was hoping that these would come out like #2, but they really didn't...I wen't back to DL's recipe, but probably over-whipped again! And I definitely didn't pipe them out correctly either. I was kinda sad, but happy at the same time because some of them had feet, even though they were teeny tiny ones.

Attempt #4

Finally, I didn't over-whip my whites the 4th time around. I had a good feeling about this batch when the batter came together beautifully. I was already smiling when I added the almonds in, gave it a few stirs, and told myself, "This is it!! It's flowing like magma!!" I was extremely excited!! As you can tell, the batter is really glossy, and at the time really liquidy, but stable enough to not turn into a flat blob. I put them in the oven and got these:

I was pretty satisfied, I did it! Or somewhat close, the last picture shows some tiny ones that were part of the same batch. But I baked them on the second level of the oven instead of the first (because there was a tray on the first level). With the oven at home I realized that I could only bake one tray at a time for some weird reason.

Attempt #'s 5, 6, and 7

After I came back to school after Spring Break, I still had macarons on the brain. I gave myself an excuse to make them again and again. I wanted to make these for Easter, since I was going to Easter Dinner with my boyfriend's family. I thought, "what better way to impress them?!" So I made three batches, two of them chocolate with chocolate and nutella filling (one had more cocoa than the other in the cookie batter) and a yellow cookie with lemon buttercream. These didn't come out perfect, but pretty close. But they did taste wonderful!

Attempt #8 (blue ones)

After the success of the yellow macarons, that I colored with liquid food coloring, I decided why not try a darker color? I wanted blue, a deep blue, maybe even a little close to ones that I saw so long ago. I knew it was going to take A LOT of food coloring to get that shade, and that adding THAT much liquid would probably be bad for the batter, so I used a tip from Use Real Butter's Strawberry Macaron. She dyed her sugar with food coloring! Brilliant! But I can be quite the impatient person at times. I don't think I let the sugar dry long enough, and since I wanted a brighter hue, I also added more food coloring to the batter after the dyed sugar. Bad bad me!!

I didn't think the batter's consistency changed much when I piped it out. I baked them and most of them came out quite nice. But I noticed that a lot of them had there bottoms stuck to the paper :( I was hopeful, I made some chocolate ganache, and sampled one. They were sooooo soooo sooooo wrong! The texture of the cookie was horrible, they were too fragile, had hollow insides, and they were a little wet inside too! I was disappointed, but they still made for beautiful pictures at least! Oh, I also decided to put poppy seeds on a few of them because I had them lying around, leftover from lemon poppyseed muffins.

This is it for my macaron post! It's quite lengthy but I don't feel like I hit all the points with the different recipes I tried...Hmmm, maybe I'll post more tips when I decide to make macarons again...



  1. I think the worst thing about Macarons is they are so unpredictable - I can relate to everything you have said!

    The best thing, is no matter what they look like they ALWAYS redeem themselves and taste amazing!!!

  2. Wow, your final results look amazing! Ive always been too intimidated to try these! Yours look fantastic!

  3. I have had so many failures at making these! You have inspired me to give it another go...your final results are gorgeous!

  4. The attempt #8 looks great!!

  5. well, i'm impressed. i've never even tried making these before.

  6. They look good! I found that it was all about consistency in the batter (very stiff more dry ingredients then wet) and attempting to pipe them evenly. It took and still takes me a while to get these right. Congrats #4,5,6,7 look great!