The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S of Baking Without Fear. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
I’ve been meaning to make macarons since spring, when it wasn’t warm and I could still use the oven to my heart’s content without creating a heat wave. Then I had an army of excuses: I had no almond flour, no candy thermometer, no time, and just the thought of making them only to fail was exhausting.
Of course, that’s what the Daring Bakers Challenge is for: to push you to do things you do not like (haha), but we enjoy tough love anyway. I’ve been so busy with other things that the deadline for the challenge really crept up and then whacked me on the head last night. Yes, I only did my challenge last night. Oh, not just last night…LATE last night.
This is how I roll…
My fellow Daring Bakers have talked about their failures even after numerous tries with the recipe posted by the challenge’s host, so they eventually sought someone else’s recipe. I followed suit. I was doing this last-minute that I really cannot afford to try many times just to make it work. I need it to work the first time. Tall order.
I’ve had my eyes on Jef and Eliza’s (MyFoodGeek.com) macaron recipe for the longest time, so I picked that. Others I know used Helen’s (MyTartlette.com) or Aran’s (Cannelle et Vanille) recipes — and hundreds of readers can attest to the reliability of their recipes, so do check them out.
Ok, so I sort of used the recipe from My Food Geek. I made a boo-boo. What else is new? To make the long story short, I could not follow baking directions for the life of me. My macarons probably have way too much sugar in them. The truth is, now that they answered my question, my macarons shouldn’t have had sugar syrup. Haha. What do I know? As long as I saw magma-like batter last night, I thought I was doing the right thing. No wonder I’m bouncing up the ceiling all night and I’m having major drawbacks from the sugar rush this afternoon.
I won’t even tell you how many mushroom-like sugary caps I’ve eaten. I even had to bite into another one for the photos. Good reason, no?
I really am just glad that they closely resemble the real thing, except for the fact that:
- These babies have ‘skins’ that remind me of ostrich eggs; and
- They have prim and proper “feet”. They stay within the perimeter of the mothership, no feet sticking out to the sides. No, ma’am. You’d think my macarons went to the Miss Manners night school for misbehaved macarons!
Their skins are so smooth and almost pebble-y. I did not use blanched almonds, so you see the flecks of almonds on them. What’s more, I made penance for my tardiness with the Daring Bakers gods by not only grinding my own almond powder, but painfully sifting it. It think that paid off.
One pivotal factor that made these macarons look like this is the drying/wait time. The first 3 trays that I put in the oven didn’t have time to sit. I mean, c’mon, I’m not a patient person at all. After 3 erupting episodes, I quickly searched on the internet and found out from a Pierre Hermé (the god of macarons) recipe that you should let them sit to brood and ponder their soon-to-be esteemed footed life for at least 45 minutes. So I did that. In the meantime, here are the remains of the magmatic macarons that certainly weren’t shy about their eruptions. [Some went totally criminal: Macawrongs!]
The 4th tray in the oven, which sat on the counter for the longest 45 minutes of my past-midnight baking shenanigan, came out with beautiful, proper hats and walking feet. As for the filling, I made buttercream and used the rose water given to my friends. That thing is strong…like, I-want-to-put-it-on -me strong. But it was delicious.
I think I will try to make some again this week, if I don’t die from all the sugar. Hah.
I’ll post the recipe tonight! Watch out for my blank promises. LOL.
Macarons with Lemon-Rose Water Buttercream (recipe last updated 11/12/2009)
These are my first ever macarons and I completely made a mistake on the recipe I was following. This mistake, however, gave me such smooth, perfectly shaped macarons. A number of people still requested the actual recipe I ended up with for the macarons. So here it is!
This recipe makes about 30-35 sandwiched macarons.
- 100 grams egg whites (give or take, 3 large eggs), divided
- 100 grams confectioner’s sugar
- 100 grams sliced or whole almonds (can be blanched or not, up to you)
- 180 grams granulated sugar
- 90 grams water
- 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
- 4 teaspoons rose water [You can use less for just a tiny hint.]
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- a drop or two of red liquid food coloring (Optional. Amount will vary depending on your color preference.)
- Food processor or grinder/chopper
- Hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment
- 2 Large size bowls
- 1 Medium size bowl
- Small sauce pan
- Candy thermometer
- 2 to 3 baking sheets (we will bake double-panned, having an extra sheet will allow you to continuously bake one batch after another)
- Silicone baking mat or Parchment paper sheets to fit cookie sheet
- Piping/Pastry bag with plain tip (a storage bag like zip lock would work, too)
- Preheat oven to 300°F with the rack in the upper middle portion. You can pre-heat later on during Step #11). Place baking sheets one on top of the other (called double panning) and place the baking mat or parchment paper on the topmost sheet, and set aside.For the meringue cookies —
- Grind almonds and confectioner’s sugar together in a food processor for 2-3 minutes, until you get a a powdery texture. If you have a mini one, you can use half the sugar for it to fit.
- Sift mixture into a large bowl. If you still have big pieces left, put them back in the grinder.
- Stir 40 grams of egg whites (about 1 egg white) with the ground almond mixture using a spatula. Mix until you get a uniform paste. Set aside.
- Whisk 60 grams of egg whites (about 2 egg whites) on high speed in a large bowl until you achieve soft peaks. Set aside.
- Pour water and granulated sugar into a small pan and place on your stove on high heat with the candy thermometer dipped into the mixture. Allow to boil until it reaches 230°F.
- Resume whisking the egg whites on med-high speed in the large bowl and slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the bowl. Whisk for about 10 minutes. You will end up with a puffy and shiny meringue.
- Quickly fold meringue into the bowl with the almond paste for 30 seconds, then slowly to check the consistency. Do not overmix. The resulting mixture would be thick, fluffy and viscous. It will not be watery. It will almost feel and look like marshmallow fluff.
- Transfer meringue mixture into a pastry bag.
10. Pipe mixture onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Create small domes about 1-½ inch in diameter, 2 inches apart from each other to allow for spreading. If you have 3 baking sheets, you can pipe on 2 sheets.
11. Leave on your kitchen counter for at least 45 minutes, to allow a film to develop on each circle.
12. Place baking sheet into the oven and bake for 12 minutes.
13. The cookies should be easy to peel off the pan. If not, put return the baking sheet into the oven for 2 more minutes.
14. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring. Bake the next pan. Don’t forget the 45-minute sitting time for the piped meringue.
15. The baked cookies have a smooth, eggshell-like top, a soft-ish center, standing on frothy-looking “feet”.
For the buttercream –
16. Mix butter in a medium bowl until fluffy. Pour confectioner’s sugar and mix with a spatula until most of it is incorporated. Beat for a few seconds.
17. Pour rose water, lemon juice and a drop of food color and mix with a spatula first, before using your mixer.
Assembling the macarons –
18. Spread buttercream on the flat side of the meringue cookie and top with the flat side of another meringue cookie to form a sandwich. Press lightly.
Enjoy, but watch out for the sugar rush!