Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m really glad I joined the Baking Partner’s group. It has challenged me to make things I’ve never tried before – the first challenge I undertook was the first time I dealt with beating egg whites, the second one was the first time I made pie pastry and the third one (i.e. this one) is my first attempt at macarons.
To be honest, I have never seen or tasted a macaron in real life, though I’ve seen many pictures on the internet. The first time I heard of them was after I started visiting food blogs J. Anyway, I’ve always been in awe of the bakers who made them – round, colorful, shiny little things with yummy fillings and the legendary light texture.
When I got this month’s challenge, I was excited and scared. I did a lot of research – food blogs, tutorials, videos, troubleshooting tips etc. At a single glance, it appears deceptively simple – all you need is almond flour, sugar and egg whites!! Just beat the egg whites and mix in the almond flour-sugar mix, pipe into circles and bake!! And then fill them up with whatever catches so fancy. Real simple, right?
WRONG!!! Every step in macaron making is like walking a tightrope. Now I realize the amount of talent successful macaron makers must have! I tried everything to the best of my google-gained macaron knowledge, but they failed me nevertheless. I must admit, this is the most effort and research I’ve ever put into a dessert and because of that, it turned into the most demoralizing baking experience I’ve ever had as well L.
Well, people do say that you might have to try it 20 times to get it right, macarons are that temperamental. And this is only my first attempt, so I guess I should cheer up a bit. My second and third batches were certainly edible, although they were far too sweet for my taste. That is another reason I’m hesitating from trying this again. But for now, I’ll tell you exactly what I did, so novice macaron makers know what they’re getting into and seasoned macaron-makers can tell me where I went wrong J.
What I used:
125 g icing sugar
75 g whole almonds
60 g egg whites (used about 2 and a half medium eggs)
Pinch of Cream of Tartar
20 g superfine sugar
What I did:
1. I separated cold eggs, and then let the egg whites come to room temperature.
2. I poured boiling water over the almonds just to cover them. Let them lie for just 1 minute and then drained, rinsed and drained again.
3. I peeled off the almonds easily and then let them dry a bit.
4. Powdered the dry, blanched almonds with the icing sugar, so the almonds didn’t turn to butter. I whizzed in the small mixie jar twice, for about 15 seconds each time.
5. Sifted the almond sugar mix twice.
6. Pulsed the large almond pieces again, and sifted again.
7. Added cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat till nice and foamy.
8. Added the superfine sugar, 1 tsp at a time and beat till stiff peaks formed. At this stage, I turned my bowl upside down and the egg whites didn’t fall J.
9. Sifted and added the almond sugar mix in three batches, each time mixing with a spatula using a CUT-FOLD-ROUND motion.
10. Stopped when everything seemed mixed together. Tried my best to minimize mixing.
11. Drew 2 inch circles on parchment paper to make a stencil of sorts.
12. Placed another parchment paper on the circle paper on top of a baking tin and began to pipe.
13. Piped inside the stenciled circles and removed stencil sheet from under when done.
14. Tapped the baking tray a few times to remove air bubbles. Removed remaining bubbles with a toothpick and let it rest for an hour.
15. It didn’t form a crust or anything, but they weren’t sticky anymore.
16. Preheated oven to 160° C and put them to bake.
I put in the macarons in three batches. The first batch was baked at 160° C for 12 minutes. I let them cool and then tried taking them off the parchment. The paper stuck like glue and then the cookies started to break. I tried spraying the underside with water, but nothing helped.
|First Batch Baked|
They didn’t have flat undersides which according to the internet, means they’re undercooked. But they did appear to have some semblance of ‘feet’ so I was partly mollified.
I mixed the batter a little more before piping the second batch, so it was a little runnier and spread on the baking sheet. It went in the oven at 160° C for 15 minutes. This time, the parchment peeled off with little effort, but the undersides were still undercooked.
So the final batch was put in at 170° C for 20 minutes. The parchment came off easily, the cookies were a little browned with some cracked tops but the underside was still not flat.
Disaster. So much pain for nothing. I had some ganache leftover from my valentine cupcakes, so I tried to sandwich the cookies together. The texture of the cookie itself wasn’t that bad, but it was altogether horribly sweet. Like I said, I’ve never tasted a macaron before, so I don’t know if it is supposed to be that sweet.
After screaming internally for a while, I sat and thought about what I did and where I might have gone wrong.
Where I think I went wrong:
1. My almond flour was probably not fine enough. I should have pulsed a few more times in the mixie.
2. I should have mixed more – many blogs show a slightly runny batter – mine was quite thick and a little grainy.
3. 2 inch circles were too big. Should have stuck to 1 inch.
4. Something was wrong with my temperature setting and how long I baked my cookies.
Experienced bakers, please, please tell me what I did wrong. I’m not sure I’m going to try this any time soon, but I’d like to know for future reference J.
|Check out other bloggers' macarons here!|