Tuesday, October 27, 2009

French Macarons - Très Magnifiques!!!

Vanilla Chai Macarons:

Mocha Macarons:

***The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Wow...this has been a busy month! Between my birthday on October 7th, learning to speak French, and making several batches of macarons...it's been a fun few weeks!

Being the francophile that I am, I was absolutely thrilled to learn that the Daring Bakers were going to tackle the ever-elusive French Macaron this month...You might remember my earlier attempts to master macarons. The first time that I tried was very un-impressive...definitely nothing to write home about, haha. The SECOND ATTEMPT turned out much better! I was actually proud of those.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Macaron:

I've learned several little tricks that always come in handy and seem to result in better macarons:
1. Age your egg whites either at room temperature overnight, or in the fridge for 2-4 days. Simply put your egg whites in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap...then pop into the fridge or on the counter.
2. A pinch of Cream of Tartar to the egg whites will help stabilize them.
3. For some reason, my macarons always rise higher and have better "feet" if I use a silicon baking mat. It must have something to do with the heat distribution. A silicon mat also prevents sticking.
4. If you're going to process your own almond flour, remember to add a few tablespoons of confectioner's sugar to the food processor before grinding the nuts. If you don't, you'll end up with almond butter!
5. I found that the method of heating the macarons in a 200 degree oven for a few minutes and then raising the heat to 375 degrees to actually bake them was great...I've never read or seen this method before. Some recipes say to leave the macarons on the countertop for 30 minutes - 1 hour....this creates a film on the cookies and helps create better feet. Letting the cookies sit in a 200 degree oven simulates this process.

As I mentioned above, I'm actually learning to speak French right now. I am so excited to continue to learn more and more about the language. I learned a good bit of French before we traveled to Paris back in February of this year, but I was even more in love with it after visiting the amazing city of Paris...J'adore Paris!

Brad gave me the entire Rosetta Stone French course - Levels 1, 2 and 3 for my birthday. Of course, I was thrilled! I'm finding Rosetta Stone to be a fantastic program...I've already learned so much, just in a few weeks.

All this macaron-makin' has me wanting to go back to Paris even more (if that's even possible...lol). There's nothing quite like the macarons from the masters themselves at Laduree and Pierre Herme in Paris. I really enjoyed trying all of the flavors (and there are TONS!) in the different bakeries.

Speaking of flavors, I've made 3 flavor combinations so far (I have one more up my sleeve that I'll be making soon!). My flavors include:
1. Mocha Macarons - Macaron shells flavored with the new VIA instant coffee from Starbucks, with a chocolate ganache filling. The VIA coffee was so perfect, because the coffee is ground to a find powder. I simply added the contents of one VIA package to the almond flour while processing the nuts. This ensures that the coffee is completely mixed with the almond flour and confectioner's sugar.

2. Pumpkin Spice Latte Macarons - Again, VIA coffee flavored macaron shells, with a pumpkin-cream cheese filling. For the filling, I used Tartelette's "Cream Cheese Pumpkin Filling" recipe, which can be found HERE.

3. Vanilla Chai Macarons - Macaron shells flavored with Vanilla Chai tea mix/powder, with a vanilla buttercream filling. For these macarons, I used THIS recipe from Cooks Illustrated for the macaron shells. I added about 1 tablespoon of Oregon Chai Vanilla Tea Latte Mix to the almond flour while processing. As you can see, the chai made the macaron shells a beautiful color!

My favorites were the Mocha and Vanilla Chai Macarons...they were all so scrumptiously delicious!

Bon Appetit!!!***

French Macarons
Actual baking time: 12 minutes total, plus a few minutes to get your oven from 200°F to 375°F.

Equipment required:
• Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment
• Rubber spatula• Baking sheets
• Parchment paper or nonstick liners
• Pastry bag (can be disposable)
• Plain half-inch pastry bag tip
• Sifter or sieve
• If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off
• Oven
• Cooling rack
• Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets
• Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nuts (ouch!)
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.

2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.

4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.

5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).

6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.
Yield: 10 dozen. Ami's note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons.


Memória said...

Your photos and macarons look très magnifiques! Good job on this challenge and good luck with learning French.

kristenly said...

absolutely gorgeous macarons! the pumpkin latte sounds to die for. well done on this challenge!

MandyM said...

I always enjoy looking at your DB challenges, you do them all so well, beautiful baking with beautiful photos :)
Your macarons look perfect!

Jo said...

Well done and your Macs look great! The mocha flavour sounds delicious.

Vera said...

These look fabulous!

Simon said...

Really nice looking macarons. The pumpkin spice and vanilla chai seem like quite interesting flavours.

Jill said...

These are just BEAUTIFUL!! Great post and pictures! :)

jidgede said...

pics and macarons look beautiful!! how in the world do you know how to cook so professionally?? have you been to culinary school?? i am always so impressed... and.....happy belated birthday!!! i am so enjoying my taste of home "soups" cookbook....thank you so much....jennie in tn <><

Audax said...

I'm so impressed your macarons look perfect and the three flavours all sound delicious, I think I'll try the mocha one first. Love your photos. Well done. Hope the tripto Paris go well for you. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

Christen Price said...


These look beautiful! Happy late birthday! You are the hostess with the mostest!

Stephanie said...

Those look fabulous! I was just telling my husband yesterday that I wanted to get the French Rosetta Stone. Glad to know it's good. I love all your tips on the macarons! I have been wanting to try and make these for a while now.

Tia said...

awesome job! they look fantastic, and the flavors sound soooo good.

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said...

Beautiful macarons, and such great flavor choices!!

Lauren said...

Love love love your flavours! The macs look flawless & your photos are gorgeous =D.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Your macarons look perfect - I love that they are not real puffy like some other macarons. I will have to try these somebody, incorporating your great tips.

Anonymous said...

I'm drooling just looking at them! They sound and look so yummy!

Buttaz said...

Wow - utterly amazing. I'm so impressed.
Mine didn't go quite so well, mind you they did taste good and that's what counts in my book (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!).

My attempt

April said...

Great job! My mocha macs were tasty, but the appearance was revolting. I'm afraid if they had "feet", they would have up and ran away! Thanks for the inspiration though.