Whoa. This post has been a long time in coming. First, I would see macarons occasionally, but they looked like dry meringue (which I don't like) and a lot of work, so I wasn't interested. Then I kept seeing pictures of macarons all over cooking blogs, mostly because Daring Bakers/Kitchen made them a few months ago. And I thought Niall was asking me to make them. Then I had to learn the difference between macaroons (two o's) and macarons (maybe the French version, with only one "o", apparently sounds like macaroni without the "ee" at the end?).
I've been aging egg whites and reading lots of recipes giving direction on how to make macarons. Amber says macarons are delicious, and she's always right. So I'm willing to give them a try.
I mean, I already have a scale, a basting brush, a candy thermometer and loads of free time, so why not?
The macarons I made turned out okay-ish. I didn't use any flavoring or colors because I have no idea what I'm doing. I used the directions from Syrup and Tang. Seriously? Such good information for a macaron scaredy cat like me.
100 grams aged egg whites (egg whites from four medium eggs)
132 grams ground almonds
132 grams powdered (icing) sugar
132 grams granulated sugar
32 grams water
I was being so careful about measuring that I couldn't even try to convert to the imperial system.
First, I aged the egg whites. I found the oldest carton of eggs I could (that weren't expired) and cracked the whites into a bowl. I left them out for 72 hours, on the counter. Is this dangerous?
I measured the egg whites and divided them into two 50 grams portions. One went into the stand mixer, the other stayed in the bowl.
In a saucepan, I added the granulated sugar and the water. I stirred it a little before it started to simmer, but I was obedient to the direction and did not stir it after the syrup started to simmer.
As the syrup started to cook, I used a pastry brush to push the sugar (that got on the sides of the pan) back into the syrup.
After about two minutes I put the candy thermometer into the syrup and waited for it to hit 118 degrees C. While I was waiting for the syrup to boil, I started the stand mixer so the 50 grams of egg whites I poured in there earlier could get beat into nice, stiff egg whites.
As soon as the syrup hit the 118 degree mark, I checked the egg whites had lovely, stiff peaks, turned the stand mixer down to medium and slowly poured in the syrup. Holy cow. I totally underestimated how HOT the syrup was. When I poured most of it in I used a rubber spatula to scrape the pan and it melted the spatula. So don't be tempted to touch the syrup. I let the mixer continue going until the egg white mixture went from boiling hot to warm. Maybe about four minutes.
In a large bowl, I sifted the ground almonds and powdered sugar. It seemed to take forever. The last time I remember sifting anything was with my grandma, I think in the early 80's. But it was worth it and the mixture was perfectly smooth.
After I sifted the almonds and sugar, I checked the egg white mixture (I guess it's called Italian meringue?) and I thought it looked like it was supposed to.
I poured the 50 grams of egg white I had set aside earlier (that hadn't been beaten) to the dry, sifted ingredients.
Then I added the beaten egg whites.
Following the directions, I stirred the mixture in a circular mixture. Then I started scraping the bottom to make sure everything was getting mixed.
I tried to follow the instructions exactly: You don't need to be gentle, but the goal is to incorporate the dry ingredients quickly to avoid overmixing. It's better to undermix than overmix.
But maybe I undermixed? The batter was a pale ivory color and I thought it was like magna. But it may have been a bit too stiff, because in the end I couldn't get some of the peaks in the macarons to settle.
I spooned the batter into a plastic bag and cut a hole for piping. I mean, let's face it. That's about as good as it gets in the world of decorating around here.
I covered a pan in baking paper (which I'm pretty sure is parchment paper.) I tried to make little circles about 1 1/2 inches wide.
I let the macarons harden for about an hour. I kept tapping the tray to get the peaks to settle into the batter, but they never did. I preheated the oven to 160 degrees C and then placed the macarons on the center rack. I set the timer for 5 minutes, but I didn't hear it go off. I'm not sure how long these baked. Maybe 6 or 7 minutes?
The tops were lightly browned, which is a little too brown as they were only supposed to be pale ivory. There were feet on the macarons, The shell moved only slight when pushed. I let the macarons cool for about a minute and then moved them from the baking tray.
Since I've never had macarons, I'm not sure how they're supposed to taste. I'd read that buttercream frosting isn't great as a filling, so I used raspberry preserves. And honestly, I didn't like them very much, even though I love raspberry preserves. (Did I mention I don't like meringue?) But Amber says I shouldn't give up on macarons because there are good ones out there. Just apparently not in my kitchen.