Monday, September 17, 2012

Macarons

Try to imagine these on a pretty cake plate, all nice and pretty.  Because my nerves were shot, so this is the real picture you get.

 I love macarons, and by love them, I mean I could live off of them, and call my life full.  And by full, I mean fat.  But they are so light and airy you cannot feel too guilty about them right?

  Anyway I made my second attempt at macarons last week.  I made them about a year ago, at the time they were not bad, I think they looked great.  But I over baked them just a bit and they were not soft, they were crusty.  I was so sad.  And I put of making them for this long, because I needed Hubby out of the house, with them being made with nuts.  Also I was just not brave enough.  I love macarons, and I knew mine would never be as good.
Here I am filling my bowl with hot water and vinegar to make sure there is no grease to ruin my egg whites.


  I decided to make them again as I promised my friend I would try for her wedding.  So I did, and this time they worked!  I must point out that I watched them like a hawk in the oven.  A few got a little toasty but still perfectly fine.  I am not going to be 100% comfortable with them, but at least I am not totally terrified of them any more.

 Sort of.

See my pretty scale?  I bought it last year just to make macarons, and used it once.  But it's awesome, it will let you put something on it then balance it to zero, so any bowl or whatever will not matter, so cool.

  Anyway to make these there are like a million recipes.  But from everything I have ready they all agree that measuring by weight is the best way to do it. Also using almonds and grinding them up yourself with your icing sugar is better than flour.  I think they said because you never know how old the almond flour you are buying is.  I don't know, that is what I read. Also most recipes call for aged egg whites.  Or egg whites that are at room temperature.  I don't know all the reasons, but I went with sort of doing it my way.  Basically I did what I could.

I used sliced almonds since the slivers did not break up as nicely last time.


  So I ended up using the recipe I read on Bakerella,

Macarons
found on Bakerella and slightly edited by me ( because I cannot leave well enough alone.)

-90 grams of aged egg whites
-50 grams white sugar
-200 grams icing sugar
-110 grams slivered or sliced almonds, without skins
-1 TBSP vanilla bean paste*



This is all you need, plus egg whites, but those look ugly in pictures.


Filling

-9 ounces of bittersweet or unsweetened bakers chocolate
-1 cup heavy cream

*I wanted these to be simple so I added the paste to make them fancy, the wedding is black and white, so you know, white macarons



Okay I got this a few months back, because the little one we had was so crappy it hardly chopped anything and you need your almonds fine.  Also when I got it I washed it and dropped the blade and sliced my finger so bad I had to get Pork Chop to get Hubby who then took like 5 feet of gauze and tape and wrapped my finger up.  True story.

To start you want to get your stuff all ready.  By this I mean you want to make sure that all the things you are using are grease free.  The bowls and whisk you are going to use to beat and store your egg whites have to be grease free.  Any grease and the egg whites will not work properly.  To do this I just put all the things I am going to use in my mixing bowl and fill it with hot water and white vinegar.  Then I rinse it well with soapy water and let dry.  This ensures there is no grease and you are all ready to go.

See I just ground up the almonds a bit, then added the sugar and ground them until I could not grind them no more.

  So to start, separate your eggs, the night before is what I do.  I make sure to use three bowls.  One bowl to break into, this will catch your egg white.  Once you crack your egg, put the yolk into another bowl.  And as you crack each egg, move the white to another bowl and keep adding each egg white as you go.  This way if the yolk were to crack and run it will only ruin the egg you are working on, not the whole bowl of whites.  You cannot use egg whites with the yolk, it will not whip up properly.


And see this was my stupid idea, I ended up using my flour sifter, then ended up realizing how stupid that was, there were chunks of almond all stuck in the mesh, it took forever to get it all out.  So just sort of use this sifter and pick out the really big bits.

  So then I cover the bowl and put it in the fridge.  The next morning I take it out and leave it covered on the counter until I get home at night to work on it, this is about 10 hours.

  I have also read you can just use egg whites that you have just cracked then microwave them on low until they are room temp.  It is up to you, do what you feel confident with.

See? This is the perfect egg, or at least I think so, not too stiff, but just enough to hold the shape.
The next day, when you are ready to bake, you take the almonds and icing sugar and place them all in a food processor.  Grind them up until they are all fine and mixed well.  Then take the mixture and sift it to get out any big lumps, and process it again.  I found it took a few times to get all the lumps out.  Also you have to add the icing sugar or else you end up with almond butter, and that is no good for this.
So here they are all pipped out.  When you are pipping them they look really grainy and sort of chunky, but they settle out and look so nice and shiny.  


  So once you have this done you are ready to start.

To start, take a large glass of wine, or booze or beer, really doesn't matter.  Drink said booze and try to calm your nerves.  I so wish I was a drinker, may have helped me here.  Anyway, this step is optional, it just helps to calm your macaron making nerves.

See how dark that chocolate is?  Well I told the people at work I used unsweetened chocolate because one guy always says my stuff is too sweet, when in fact I just screwed up.  It happens.
  I started by adding the egg whites to my clean mixing bowl and whipping them until the eggs became frothy, just a minute or two of full speed mixing.  Then I turned the mixer to low and poured my sugar in slowly.  Now I did not take many pictures as I was so paranoid that it would all mess up I was not going to chance it.   Anyway, once you add the sugar, crank the mixer back up and mix until your egg whites hold a nice peak, not a total stiff peak, but like a peak you get for a frosting that is soft enough to pipe, but not hard.  That makes no sense at all really, but I took a picture, if you can see it.  You will just have to go until it holds, but be so careful not to over whip it or the eggs will be dry.  I know, really specific. I hate that.
I didn't put too much as it was not that sweet.


  So once you get that, you want to add your vanilla bean paste.  Just add it in and whip it for like 10 seconds more, to make sure it is all mixed in.

  Then you take the bowl off the mixer and get ready to pee your pants!  Or  just you know, finish making the macarons.  I read a few recipes and they all seam to be different.  So I did what I felt comfortable with.  I added the almond sugar mixture in three additions.  I would add some, then fold it ever so delicately to get it all together.  I was so scared I was going to deflate my whites, and also so annoyed as it seemed the stupid almonds would not mix in.  But I was patient, for once, and it all worked.  So once the first addition was in, after about 15 or 20 folds, I did the next addition and repeated until it was all good. Then I got to work, fast.  Why?  Well I was so scared it was not going to work.

I was so excited they worked out I took this picture then forgot to take one of them all together; never said  I was smart people.

  I took a disposable pipping bag and put in a size 8 Wilton round tip.  I wanted to make these mini and felt that I needed the tip.  I think next time I can do it without the tip, save myself some trouble.  Anyway I needed to fill the bag twice, so next time I will just fill the bag then snip the tip off and pipe way easier I think,

 So I pipped out my little macarons, about 1 1/2 inch across.  I did this on parchment lined cookie sheets.  Then I banged the sheets together a little to settle any air pockets, then I left them.  I set the timer for 20 minutes and then once it went off I checked them.  You know they have set enough when you touch them lightly with your finger and there is a skin formed.  Then I heated my oven to 300 degrees and once heated put them in for 6 minutes.  I watched them, at 6 minutes they had risen and they had the foot, but trying to pull one off the pan broke it was not fully cooked, so I did another minute then another.  In all it was 8 minutes and they were perfect.

And again, imagine them looking all nice and stylish, they tasted good so that is all that matters.
  I let them cool on the racks.  I used a little spatula to get them off the sheets, but left them there.  Then I got my filling ready.  I was going for black and white, so wanted a dark filling.  So chocolate ganache to the rescue.

  So I used 9 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, which turns out is really bitter.  So whatever, it worked as the macaron shells were nice and sweet .

 I roughly chopped the chocolate, then scalded the cream and poured it over the chocolate.  I let it sit for a few minutes then using a whisk stirred it until it was all mixed and smooth.

  Then I assembled them all.  You can either use a pipping bag or a spoon or whatever.  I only had a few to do, so I let the ganache set up for about 10 minutes, then just put a small bit on one side of a shell then put another shell, gently pressing them together to stick.  Then I read that it is best to let them set over night, in a container in the fridge.  This allows the filling to soften the shell of the macaron even more.

  So that is what I did, and I was eating them like nothing, because I had succeeded in  the world of macarons.  Well not really, I posted it on face book, then I put them away to take to work.  Only because I needed to share them so people would believe I actually made them.

  So now I feel confident that I can do them again, I will probably need to drink each time I make them, but at least I know I can do it! Oh and maybe start drinking actually, I am a rather poor drunk.
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7 comments:

Jo and Sue said...

Those look beautiful. I haven't attempted macaroons yet because of the fear of ruining them. They just look so darned complicated. *sigh* Loved your step-by-step :)

Lisa Rukin Swift said...

So glad you got over your fear, Sue, because these look awesome!

Erin said...

Fantastic! They totally intimidate me but I wish I could get past it and make them. I love them!

Paula said...

Holy smokes...you made your own almond flour!!! Your macs look wonderful. Another lady who blogs about making macs (beautifully so) is Mardi at EatLiveTravelWrite. So too does Lora at DiaryofaMadHausfrau. She makes the most amazing original macarons. Then of course there is always Jill at MadAboutMacarons and she is actually having a giveaway right now. You've got to see her macaron rings :)

Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust said...

These are gorgeous!!! I so need to try them.

icakepops said...

I think you did a great job on the macarons! They are time consuming, I know. But I give you an A for effort!

Jamie @ Love Bakes Good Cakes said...

These look fantastic! I've never made them - or wanted to attempt them - because of all the horror stories I've heard! Just wanted to thank you for linking up last week and let you know the party is live now! I can't wait to see what you share this week at All my Bloggy Friends!