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Mactweets – Spring Fling


Happy Jour du Macaron! If you don’t believe me, you can check out the JDM’s official website here!  Appropriately, I am posting my monthly macarons today.

Let me start out by saying that I had HIGH hopes for Mactweets #5.  The theme was “Spring Fling” and I envisioned beautiful tropical macs with flavours like coconut and mango/ passionfruit.  Even though the theme was supposed to be flower-inspired macs. Uh huh.  I am not sure what I was thinking, though clearly the macaron quest has left me slightly deranged and bereft of some brain cells.  Apparently on a mac high after my last round, I thought I was clever enough to use a different recipe from the tried and trusty Chef François’.  I found a recipe at Gourmet for coconut macarons with a passionfruit ganache.  Perfect.

Or maybe not so much.

And if you think that was bad…

Next go around, I used the recipe from Lenôtre, substituting the pistachios for coconut.  And made it orange.

Ok, so far…

But noooooo…

(you can see the beginnings of feet there but they just collapsed)

Attempt #3 looked promising in the oven:

But unfortunately, t’was not meant to be:

Destined to join their friends in the Tupperware Shrine to the failed macaron.

I decided to step away from the oven and head to New Orleans. When I returned, I tried a new recipe – Hélène’s (of the Tartelette blog and macaron classes fame) via Rachael.  This time I didn’t do anything weird involving grinding coconut and just put a tiny drop of coconut essence in at the last minute when I was folding the dry ingredients in.

We had FEET people. Small feet but feet nonetheless!

Since these were kinda shorties, and because I am a perfectionist, I used up the rest of the aged egg whites on a fifth batch the following day.  This time, I was not going to add the flavour to the shells, rather add it to the filling.  This lot of egg whites looked the most promising of all batches…

Then in the oven they looked good too…

Thank GOD!!!!

So what recipe did I use after all that?  Well it’s based on Hélène’s but I tweaked it a little. My modifications in italics in red.

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Basic macaron shells (adapted from Tartelette’s recipe)

For the shells:

90 gr egg whites (roughly 3 egg whites) (90gr measured after aging)
25 gr to 50 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like)
1 tablespoon powdered food coloring (optional) (I used liquid since that’s what I had and added it in just before mixing the eggs and dry ingredients)

Prep the eggs:

48 hrs in advance, separate the whites from the yolks and place the whites in a super clean bowl.  Leave at room temperature, uncovered or loosely covered with a towel for at least 24 hours.  Refrigerate after that if desired.  You can use eggs that have been “aging” for up to 5 days.
(I actually only separated the eggs the night before I made the macs, then left them at room temp overnight)

Prepare the macarons:

Place the powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground.  Sift a couple of times to remove bits and pieces.  Regrind if necessary.  You can also use a coffee grinder for the nuts.  (I ground the nuts before I put them in the food processor using a coffee grinder) Once the nuts and powdered sugar are mixed together, add the color if desired and rub the mixture in between your fingertips to break up the bigger pieces.  Sift if desired. (I always resift the dry mix, sometimes twice).

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream).  Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry.

Add the nuts and powdered sugar to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that balls back on itself after counting to 10.  Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and then slow down.  The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes.  Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go.  If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Atec #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mat lined baking sheets.  Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. (I never let the macs sit because they always get a filmy skin on them that doesn’t go away.  The second and third trays sit out for about 10 minutes whilst the previous batch is baking only)
If using convection: preheat the oven to 280F.  If using regular electric or gas, preheat the oven to 300F.  (I baked them at 320F for 12 minutes, turning the tray halfway through) When ready, bake for 18 to 20 minutes, depending on their size.  Let cool.

Ok, so I had a couple of batches of fillable macs.  What to do for the filling?  Well, for the pink coconut macs, I decided to make the ganache/curd from the recipe I used in Batch #1 but to use mango instead.  That worked out quite well but it was a bit runny and necessitated mixing some mascapone (about 125g) and extra icing sugar (no idea at this point, just kept adding until it was pipe-able) in to make it thick enough to pipe.

And the result?

And here’s a little buddy getting in on the mac action:

And because the orange above casts an odd light on the macs themselves, here’s how they look “in real life”:

Ok. Onto the plain (what were supposed to be orange but I was so scared to add too much colouring to the batter that I skimped and they ended up being) lemony-orange coloured macs.  I had a beautiful jar of lime curd from a food exchange parcel that I thought would look lovely against the colour of the shells.  Again, I added some mascapone and icing sugar and few drops of food colouring.  The result?

(see, I got my “tropical” theme in there after all!)

So here I sit, completely exhausted, kitchen in a mess and dozens of macs to be eaten (not to mention the ones that didn’t make it… they’re destined for a trifle-type dessert sometime soon).  I guess my dinner party guests tonight are in luck.  Maybe I could have a macaron stand outside the house tomorrow.  Or maybe I should just step away from the macs until next Mactweets….

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92 Responses to Mactweets – Spring Fling

  1. Kate at Serendipity March 20, 2010 at 04:29 #

    Here you are! Thanks for the tips on my reader…

    I made some macs with a neighbor last week–my first that were presentable–and one thing she emphasized was that you shouldn’t work the egg whites too much after they’ve been beaten–if you do, you won’t have feet. When we piped them, they all had little ‘hats’ that settled when they rested. Hmmm…

    The only thing I know for sure about these is that there are so many variables to consider that it’s hard to know what went wrong. Or what went right!

    I love the colors of these–especially the orange with the green filling. Very tropical!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 20, 2010 at 12:27 #

      Well I am pretty sure you cannot use sweetened coconut as a replacement for other nuts, THAT was the problem in the first three batches. The fourth I think wasn’t quite perfect because I added a wee bit too much coconut essence. Re: the pipin, I never pipe from above but see many people who do… T’is a strange thing this macaron making….

  2. sophia March 20, 2010 at 04:55 #

    Yay! You got it! And may I say, they’re quite adorable beauties!
    I do admire your dedication. I tend to get frustrated (VERY) when things don’t go my way. I wouldn’t even have kept those “ruined” macs…I would have vented my frustration at them by smacking and crushing and….well, you get the idea, lol.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 20, 2010 at 12:24 #

      Well the only reason I kept them was because I hate waste and there are SO MANY of them…. I will be cutting them all up for some form of dessert soon!

  3. penny aka jeroxie March 20, 2010 at 05:07 #

    So pretty! So spring :) You are becoming quite an ‘feet’ expert :)

  4. carol egbert March 20, 2010 at 06:30 #

    I was totally unsuccessful when I tried to make macaroons with almond paste from the market in Ortigia in Sicily. I ended up with flat, chewy, sweet non-macaroons.

    Yours are inspiring.

  5. Nicole @ Making Good Choices March 20, 2010 at 08:01 #

    You have ALOT of patience to stick it out and keep trying..I think I would have just given up! They look amazing, and I love your last picture! I wish I had a couple of these in a real tropical place :)

  6. merry jennifer March 20, 2010 at 08:34 #

    These look wonderful, Mardi. Practice makes perfect, as they say. :)

    I must confess that I have never eaten a macaron, much less attempted to make them from scratch. Your diligence is really admirable!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 20, 2010 at 12:22 #

      Well you need to get yourself to a bakery and try one. Then you will definitely want to try to make them.

  7. deeba March 20, 2010 at 08:36 #

    I’ll have to get my Tupeprware shrine to meet yours Mardi!! WOW… love your determination and the perfection you got the last time around. Very perfect, pretty and SPRING!! Happy macaron day to you my dear. Thanks for joining Jamie & me at MacTweets!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 20, 2010 at 12:22 #

      Oh we could start up a STORE of failed macs between us, LOL! Thanks for your help and support !

  8. RJ Flamingo March 20, 2010 at 08:46 #

    Now I feel guilty for not having played this month! I have the urge to macaron (and actually have egg whites aging on the counter, as we speak!) on this Macaron Day… Well, we’ll see… perhaps later. ;-))

    I love your colors and flavors, girl – brava for your perseverance!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 20, 2010 at 12:21 #

      Well thanks for your hints and tips! I came a long way from the snow white macs I originally planned, didn’t I?

  9. bunkycooks March 20, 2010 at 09:14 #

    Yeah! The last batch looks great! Baking those little guys and getting them right is one tough job. How come the French pastry chefs make it look soooo easy???

  10. Tangled Noodle March 20, 2010 at 10:01 #

    What an epic adventure – good for you on the perseverance scale! I would gladly empty out your Tupperware Shrine of Failed Macs but your success are beautiful and so spring-y. I’m still not sure I have the wherewithal for mac-making . . . maybe one of these days! 8-)

  11. Lauren March 20, 2010 at 10:12 #

    {happy dance} Yay Mardi! I’m so glad you came out with macs that you like! They look sensational =D. Not to mention the flavours. YUM!

  12. TasteStopping March 20, 2010 at 10:12 #

    Step away from the macs! :D You are one seriously dedicated mac maker! We are all in such a hurry to get the feet to form, it’s fascinating to note that while some of yours got feet, the domes didn’t make it. So, maybe the feet are nice, but the domes are just as important. Your final batch look perfect, divine! I wish I were eating one right now. At the very least you’ve inspired me to get back on board with the next go round of MacTweets. Loved reading about your adventure and wonder what will become of the Tupperware pile of failed macs. Hope you post about it!

    Best,
    Casey

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 20, 2010 at 12:17 #

      Don’t worry – am stepping away from the macs for the next little while! I think the coconut added fat to the batter which is why those first few batches failed and were flat and oily. Lesson learned. Will definitely post what happens to the Shrine!

  13. Delana March 20, 2010 at 10:13 #

    Ah, another mac post. I love it and I love that you showed your failures (?) as well. I really have to try these. I find the real challenge after filling up the freezer with “shrined” items, is how to use them in some creative way later. Make sure you keep us posted on that as well!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 20, 2010 at 12:16 #

      Yes, I will post the failures and where they end up! I figure that people need to see the failures as well as the end result, otherwise it’s not a realistic picture of what’s going on in my kitchen!

  14. Fuji Mama March 20, 2010 at 10:46 #

    Wahoo! Seriously Mardi…you rock! Love the colors!

  15. Jenn March 20, 2010 at 10:50 #

    I almost started to cry when I saw the first several pictures. But success followed, non? Joyeux Jour du Macaron Mardi :)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 20, 2010 at 12:14 #

      Haha! That’s why I posted the pretty picture first so as not to put people off!!!! Yesterday when I was done, I was nearly moved to tears too – it was a long road!

  16. A Canadian Foodie March 20, 2010 at 11:25 #

    OMG – Here is a BIG HUG for you. I have a HUGE place in my heart for you as I many attempts at “mastering the art of the elusive macaron” on my site now since the fall… I am on phase 4 after my tutorial. Yours looked so springy, and sweet… but the failure, or the failures. And, that is how we learn, isn’t it. More about us, than the macaron, too! And, guess what? The next time you go to make these with your little red edits, they won’t work either. At least that is consistently what has happened to me. AHHH! Until I switched to the Italian method – and, hey, I still have not mastered them yet… but I Eddy van Dame’s recipe is excellent, me thinks. BRAVO. Standing ovation. Three cheers for your incredible perseverance – and I am right behind you!
    I will now look at your links. Would you be interested in doing a series of mac attempts with me and posting them? I think we are at the same place in our mac making. We could choose a recipe, follow it, choose a flavour and colour – or two – and then post – let’s say, once a month? Until we each perfect our ability to learn how to make these? I need someone to work with to challenge me to do it regularly and to give and get feedback from – and to keep my spirits up. Are you in?
    :)
    Valerie

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 20, 2010 at 12:13 #

      Thanks so much for your comments and support! I have now in my possession Pierre Hermé’s Macaron so am hopeful I can learn a few tips from him! As far as the series of mac attempts, well that’s what MacTweets is – you should join us, the link is in the post above! We choose a new theme/ flavour each month and all post on the same day. So much fun and so much support!

  17. Jamie March 20, 2010 at 12:17 #

    Oh that Tupperware shrine is hysterical and has me laughing out loud! Humor in times of trouble! You are so courageous for trying time and time again and deserve a special award for mac perseverance – you and Deeba! I am actually confounded that they puff up in the oven then collapse? Not cooked enough? Too wet?

    Anyway your last batch is great and I love the tropical theme! Good for you! Let’s see what happens next month!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 20, 2010 at 12:29 #

      AUGH – the thought of next month makes me want to run screaming away from my eggwhites!! Nah – just kidding – you know I will be there will bells on! Watch this space to see what I do with the failures…

  18. Edd March 20, 2010 at 13:08 #

    Congratulations on getting a good batch your dedication definitely paid off. I love your flavours so fresh and tasty sounding. Im sure you will find many more in the Pierre Herme book hope you enjoy it.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 20, 2010 at 13:12 #

      I am actually sitting here open mouthed at the beauty of Hermé’s book right now. And then I look up and see my Tupperware shrine.. sigh!

  19. The Cooking Ninja March 20, 2010 at 13:32 #

    Congratulations on your successful macs! Did you to Mac Feet Dance? I’m sure you did – jumping and screaming in the kitchen like u won lottery. LOL!

    I have a box of failed macs in my kitchen. Can’t bear to throw them away and hub kept asking me for weeks ‘what are you going to do with them?’ LOL

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 20, 2010 at 19:16 #

      Yes there was a certain amount of high-fiving myself, I have to say. Rachael @fujimama held my hand virtually through the last two batches and I know I gave Barb @vinoluci and Jamie and Deeba a few laughs with my first batches!!!

  20. The Duo Dishes March 20, 2010 at 14:23 #

    You did it! A feat indeed. We have yet to try macarons…and perhaps you can see why. Scary, scary indeed. You are the prime example of practice makes perfect.

  21. Frabala March 20, 2010 at 15:17 #

    Love that you published the failures!

    To do something good you propably must have done some failures!

    Perfect result and adorable fotos!

  22. Andrea@High/Low March 20, 2010 at 15:21 #

    Beautiful job Mardi! I have such an appreciation for macarons because of your efforts. During my macaron tour of NYC, I spoke to a few of the chefs. One chef (from Macaron Cafe, which I HAVE to take you to – it’s so cute!!) spent the past 6 years making nothing but macarons.

  23. Barbara Bakes March 20, 2010 at 16:16 #

    You are due a perseverance award. I love that you posted pictures of all the tries. So glad you were rewarded with gorgeous tropical macs for you effort!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 20, 2010 at 19:14 #

      Well you know I wouldn’t want to put people off by just posting perfect-ish ones because that’s not me. I am nothing if not honest!!! LOL!

  24. Daniel@CocinaSavant March 20, 2010 at 16:49 #

    well your persistence paid off, your last ones look perfect!!! my first attempt at macarons looked like your first and second attempts, but I definitely never got to your final perfection :)

    I think I said it before, but congratulations again on your exciting Food Network news!!!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 20, 2010 at 19:14 #

      Thanks Daniel – you see, you just have to try and try again! (and again and again!). And thanks for the congrats and your continued support.

  25. Mr. Neil March 20, 2010 at 17:19 #

    I had a wry smile reading the two sides of the stubborn/perseverance coin… :-)

    Can I just say what Mr. Neil did to help on Thursday? He left the house at 5.50 for the office, returned home 20.45. I reckoned that was enough time for all to be sorted out. Alas, no, so when I returned, shattered, on Friday (after another early start – project due) about 15.30, the kitchen was quite the spectacle. I truly think there should have been a photo of THAT. ;-)

    My wine club guests were all impressed with the final results – so ten points on the final batch. NOw when they read what went INTO them…they’ll apppreciate them even more, I’m sure.

  26. Gourmantic March 20, 2010 at 18:43 #

    I admire your determination! I wish I had the patience to make them. Or lived closer to you… :)

  27. Sarah, Maison Cupcake March 20, 2010 at 19:41 #

    Well done, they look amazing, I love orange and with lime curd filling even better!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 22, 2010 at 07:11 #

      Isn’t it good to see all the failures up there too – I had to chuckle when I went over your last few months of mac attempts too – between us, we could open a shop of the ones that didn’t make it! Thanks for stopping by!

  28. Barbara @VinoLuciStyle March 20, 2010 at 19:42 #

    Mardi…you are tenacious and that’s what these little buggars require and your results are worthy of that effort. Beautiful…although I would love to have your shrine here for some snacks…yes I would!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 22, 2010 at 07:10 #

      Well thank YOU Barb for all your encouragement and I know I provided you with a few laughs along the way too!

  29. Conor @ HoldtheBeef March 21, 2010 at 03:21 #

    I think that the world’s hunger problems could be solved if we could somehow channel all our failed cooking efforts to feed the hungry, though I guess homeless people deserve footed macs as well.

    No wonder you are doing a PhD. I was only just discussing this with a friend yesterday and saying that people tend to say “Whoa, you’re doing a PhD? You must be SO SMART!!” and my reaction to that is “well, I guess I’m not exactly dumb, but doing a PhD is entirely an exercise in not knowing when to give up on something”.

    Loving these photos, and am particularly smitten with the ribbon in the first one :)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 22, 2010 at 07:09 #

      Yes, that’s me, the eternal student and yes, probably not knowing when to give up! And you know, this IS my second attempt at a PhD – last one was about adultery in the novels of Maupassant (SO useful and practical, right? At least this one is useful for my job now!!)

  30. marla {family fresh cooking} March 21, 2010 at 08:28 #

    Great job! You triumphed. I cannot believe how tricky macarons are to make. The colors are gorgeous….love the few that are shaded by the beach umbrella.
    I could only imagine your joy when the perfect batch came out of the oven with their perfect little feet!

  31. Sheryl March 21, 2010 at 12:45 #

    Hey Im so glad your hardwork paid off! and WOW those macs look super amazing. I love the pastel colours. I’ve never tried making mac before maybe because I heard abt how hard they were to make. Lol but you just motivated me to try them one day :))

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 22, 2010 at 07:07 #

      Well I am glad I have motivated you but don’t say my first couple of batches didn’t warn you!

  32. marv woodhouse March 21, 2010 at 19:29 #

    Gosh, I’m not sure I could have coped with such trials! Well done for sticking to it…the resuls look to be worth the efforts and you will have learned so much.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 22, 2010 at 07:07 #

      Well it helps that I have actually had a couple of successes in the recent past – I KNEW I could do it. And yes, I have learned a lot!

  33. Cat March 21, 2010 at 23:04 #

    mardi, they looked beautiful! clearly, 5th time’s the charm. :) the pastel colors are so pretty for spring.

  34. Frabala March 22, 2010 at 03:36 #

    Addorable fotos!

  35. diva March 22, 2010 at 03:54 #

    I like that you photographed your mistakes. Will help for people like to me to learn from! :) THe final results are gorgeous. And that peachy pastel colour is so spring.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 22, 2010 at 07:05 #

      Thanks – the colours are quite by fluke actually but I was pleased with how they turned out!

  36. Jenn March 22, 2010 at 08:00 #

    Your macs look great! I’ve had that issue with the falling macs before, and fixed it by raising the temp a bit (25F) – love your bright colors, they are so cheerful!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 24, 2010 at 07:00 #

      Oh there was ALL sorts of experimentation, believe you me, with the temperature etc… Sigh.

  37. Chez Us March 22, 2010 at 12:49 #

    Mardi,

    I love your stories – this is fantastic. I was LOL and am sure the woman in the office next door thought I was crazy. I have had many pans of macarons that have decided to run into each other. I am glad you are sticking with it. Your last batch looks amazing and I love the flavors. I love passionfruit and believe they were our all time favorites! Cannot wait to see what our next challenge is!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 24, 2010 at 07:00 #

      Yes, next time I need to source out some passionfruit – the mango was ok, but I had my heart set on passionfruit.

  38. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction March 22, 2010 at 16:04 #

    Sooooo pretty! I really need to give macs another try. These look amazing!

  39. Bonnie March 24, 2010 at 00:32 #

    I laughed my way through your post. Probably a lot funnier reaading it than cooking through it. I’m so glad yu persevered. The last macs are simply beautiful to look at.

  40. Kitchen Butterfly March 25, 2010 at 17:56 #

    Success…………..I know the feeling. I got sick and tired of making macs recently and then one saturday, without planning I made some. They turned out great!!!!!!! Good on you for keeping the faith!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 26, 2010 at 17:14 #

      I think you can’t have too high expectations and you certainly cannot absolutely NEED them to turn out – that is a surefire recipe for disaster!

  41. Alison March 25, 2010 at 18:07 #

    You are a very funny girl! The macarons are, ultimately so beautiful- I’m glad you persevered!

  42. Mr. P March 29, 2010 at 19:58 #

    Wonderful! Wonderful!

    I still have to post mine. Made them weeks ago, and can’t wait to do it again.

    Lovely pictures, as always.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 29, 2010 at 22:49 #

      Thanks Peter! You can post your macs for this month’s Mactweets – deadline is April 10th!! Can’t wait to see them!

  43. Jen Laceda April 14, 2010 at 14:26 #

    Mardi, I salute you for all your efforts! The 1st time I tried making macaron shells was a flop for me!! I’ve been scared to try since then. However, you’ve encouraged me to take it up again (once baby is a little older). I will save / stumble the recipe above. Thanks for sharing!

  44. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite April 18, 2010 at 14:07 #

    Jen – thanks for stopping by! I know you must be so busy with little Tessa! And yes, you will need 100% concentration when trying these babies out… No distractions allowed!

  45. Tracy T March 3, 2011 at 12:23 #

    Just came across this post via your hot chocolate and marshmallow post, which look amazing, by the way :) I’ve actually never tried mac’s due to my nut allergy…if you’ve come across any nut-free versions of this recipe, please share!!

  46. Coco in the Kitchen August 23, 2013 at 13:45 #

    Good for you for not giving up!
    They turned out great in the end. Macs are definitely not easy to make.

  47. Sulis September 13, 2013 at 13:09 #

    I finally made it FOR THE FIRST TIME and SUCCESS!
    THANK YOU SOOO….. MUCH for your foolproof recipe!!!!

    I haven’t gone crazy with the filling yet, I just went easy on myself with Nutella and raspberry jam :)

  48. Bre December 26, 2013 at 21:07 #

    I have never eaten, or attempted to make macs before. But as I was reading your recipe, I wondered… Could I just use almond flour instead of grinding up almonds? Or would that not work?

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  1. guest post: the journey to macaron perfection | the merry gourmet - June 21, 2010

    [...] priceless. As they say, if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again (and maybe again!). Here is the recipe that finally worked for me – it’s from Hélène of Tartelette but is [...]

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