Daring Bakers 24th Challenge: 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. I found this to be a very fitting challenge, marking my second year anniversary with Daring Bakers. Macarons is something I’ve wanted to try for a while. They seem to be popping everywhere in local bakeries, but prices are so steep ($3.50 for a bite of a cookie! I don’t think so…), I had yet to try one. Then came the Gastown Farmers Market last summer. A vendor (can’t find her name now) was selling macarons, 3 for $5. Now, that was a price I could deal with. So I tried the caramel and the lemon flavoured ones. And fell in love. A couple of weekends later, I tried the recipe from Cooks’ Illustrated, but ended up with a pan-full of almond-flavored hockey pucks. Not bad dunked in coffee, but nowhere near what a macaron should be.

This recipe proved more successful. Reading through posts on the forum, I decided to follow Audax’ suggestion of aging the egg whites at least 5 days. Not being able to find “almond flour” but almond powder, I also decided to dry it out a bit by leaving it in the oven overnight with the light on. Don’t know if that made a difference in the end, but I was thrilled to see feet on my cookies. The domes weren’t quite as smooth as they should have been, but the consistency was bang on. I settled on a simple butterscotch ganache for the filling. Now that I’ve managed to complete a successful batch, I’m already thinking about the next one. Next challenge, getting that smooth dome. Thanks for this, Ami

Macarons

Preparation time: Not taking into account the amount of time it takes for you to bring your egg whites to room temperature, the whole baking process, including making the batter, piping and baking will probably take you about an hour to an hour and a half. How long it takes to make your filling is dependent on what you choose to make.

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!)

Ingredients
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)

Directions:

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.

Additional Information:

David Lebovitz breaks it down:http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2008/09/making_french_macarons.htm…
More macaroon 411: http://www.seriouseats.com/2007/10/introduction-to-french-macarons.html
Get inspired by our own Tartlette!: http://www.mytartelette.com/search/label/macarons
Go behind the scenes of Paulette: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXIvX0-CEu0
Watch a pro pipe macaroons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_RfiFoWZKQ&feature=related
Beating egg whites: http://www.glutenfreecookingschool.com/archives/egg-series-no-1-how-to-b…