For those of you who read this blog regularly, you will know that macarons are one of my obsessions. Some of you may remember a couple of my early attempts (here, here, and here), then the epiphany of the class at Lenôtre in Paris. Following that class, I had a number of successes and I found the recipe to be very similar to Helene’s (of Tartelette blog) and I used a combination of the Lenôtre techniques with Helene’s recipe most of last year, with varying success.
Being a Taurean (stubborn) and A-type (a planner) what bugged me about macarons was how unpredictable they were. On many occasions I have wanted to make them for dinner parties or gifts but given the fact that I never knew if it was going to be a “feet” kinda day, I always chose something else.
Until recently. In a serendipitous moment, I happened across The Brave Tart, a blog by Stella, the Resident Pastry Girl at Table 310, via her gorgeous picture and recipe for florentines. Searching about on her site, I discovered she also makes beautiful macarons. Every day. In bulk. She must have some kind of magic macaron secrets up her sleeve, I thought, right? So I was thrilled when she published her Macaron Mythbusters post. And her recipe. Which, by the way, I totally love. I love the way it’s written – it sounds like you’re in the kitchen there with her!
Encouraged by Stella, I tried my hand at these just before the end of my spring break. Was still feeling rather wobbly with vertigo at this point but was determined to have a go at them, having promised them to a colleague in return for him taking a lunch duty for me last term. Yes, that’s the way I roll: ” Will you do my lunch duty? I will bake macarons for you!”
I followed Stella’s instructions to a T – even down to the timing of the beating of the whites. Even though it went against my better judgement. I’ve always been so careful to only beat the whites until they form the “bec d’oiseau” on the end of the beaters (stiff egg whites will make a beak shape on the end of the whisk attachment of the Kitchen Aid). However, it appears that isn’t enough. You’re going to have to beat the whites for 9-10 minutes. Yep. You read that right. It feels so wrong. But it works.
The next part that is tricky is the macaronage – the folding in of the dry ingredients to the egg whites. I have the technique down pretty well but if your egg whites are not beaten enough (as it seems mine were not), you will deflate them too much by doing the 35-40 folds required for proper macaronage and the mixture will be too runny to pipe. If you have really firm whites, you will need those 35-40 strokes to deflate them enough to achieve the proper consistency – Stella says:
“Essentially, the macaron batter needs enough thickness that it will mound up on itself, but enough fluidity that after 20 seconds, it will melt back down. I’ve heard people describe this consistency as lava-like, or molten, and that’s pretty apt.”
And voilà: The “lunch duty” macarons. Chocolate with marshmallow filling.
The following weekend, I knew I had to make them again because I couldn’t quite believe that I might have a method that would work consistently. Again, no problems at all.
Orange shells with lemon curd filling.
I was on a roll! And then I went and did it – promised to bake macarons for Toronto Bakes for Japan. Was I insane? Then I announced it on my blog. No turning back. I was counting on Stella and her method to see me through an epic day of baking. And she came through again.
During this marathon of macarons, I discovered that my macarons do not like being baked on a jelly roll pan. Which is generally not a problem, since I am not generally baking over 100 at a time. Ahem. More like 20 at a a time max… Those ones cracked and never got their feet. But all the rest of them were lovely with dainty little feet.
Choc mint macs:
And then, because I am a total glutton for punishment, I decided to bake just one more batch last weekend. Using liquid egg whites. As an experiment. Totally expecting it to fail. I keep liquid egg whites in my fridge most of the time because it’s handy making omelettes fluffier or simply and it is certainly convenient – no more “oh my god, I simply must make custard with all those egg yolks from the macaron egg whites” moments. But I was not expecting it to work. Even at 6 minutes into the whipping of the whites, it didn’t look right. But after 10 minutes, I thought that one more minute at full blast might whip them into shape, so to speak. And it did. These ones also came out perfectly.
Plain pink shells with chocolate ganache.
Yes, you do have to sift your dry ingredients. Twice.
Don’t be prissy – dump your sugar into your egg whites right away. None of this adding slowly… The egg whites, by the way, do not have to be aged. I separated the eggs and just left them at room temperature for a couple of hours only. The liquid egg whites I used in the last attempt were not at room temperature at all.
After 3 more minutes at speed 8, it’s *nearly* ready… Check it out below after 9 minutes – looks wrong, huh?
As I learned at Lenôtre, I pipe them from the side, with the piping bag not leaving the tray, ending with a little “comma” shape on top. I do not let them “dry”as I see many people do and neither does Stella. Virtual high five, girl! I bake them on two trays at 320F for 12 minutes, turning the trays from back to front at the 6 minute mark.
Seems to work, see…
I think I *might* be safe in saying I have finally found “my” method. Thanks Stella!
For Stella’s complete recipe click here.
EDITED TO ADD: I’ve been battling hollow shells, even with this method and recipe, recently. Read this post to see what I did to combat the hollow macaron shells.
And since there are many chocolate appearances in this post, I am submitting this post to this month’s Mactweets “Decadently Chocolate”.
** Don’t forget to check out next month’s “Forever Nigella” event – I’m hosting a street party in honour of the Royal Wedding and would love for you to join me. All the details here.