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