OK, I broke my promise to myself. I'm so tired of seeing Cake Pops, Macarons, and anything in jars everywhere I turn that I swore I'd never make them. It's like TV commercials for an upcoming season. The networks run some of them what seems like every three minutes, so it gets to the point where I hate the show before it even comes out, and never bother to even give it a shot.
However, after going a year without a stand mixer, now that I have a new one, I have been wanting to give it a good workout, so marshmallows and meringues were at the top of the list. I made Amaretto Marshmallows recently and decided to give the Macarons a shot just so I could say I had made them. I figured if a 13 year old could make them in an hour on Master Chef Junior (weren't those kids amazing?!?), surely I could do it over the course of an afternoon! HA Ha ha hahahahahha!
I looked up a bunch of recipes and found one chef that included a video. She used Martha Stewart's recipe, which seems to be pretty much the standard, but didn't specifically use her technique. I sort of combined the two in my first attempt, which didn't come out half bad, especially for someone piping-impaired like myself! What turned out worse were my pictures, so I decided to try them again. Even though I closely followed the directions, I realized that the first batch was actually slightly underdone on the bottom, so I nixed the advice to double up the trays.
I over-beat the second batch, so they spread out too thin. Also, as soon as I took them out of the oven, they deflated and lost their "feet," that sort of bubbly bottom edge Macarons are known for. Then I got mad/determined and had to do it again! I was also annoyed that I thought the almond meal/flour wasn't ground enough, so I thought about the old carpenter adage of measure twice, cut once, and decided to grind twice and sift once – even though they insist that you sift twice. I first ground the almond flour in a spice mill, then ground it a second time with the powdered sugar. That produced a much better result!
You would think that third batch would have been the charm, but alas, that too was a bust. [Can you hear the violins playing for me?] I opened the door to the oven at the right time, and they were absolutely beautiful. I was so proud! Remembering how the second batch had deflated when I took them out of the oven, I decided to just open the door for a minute first without taking them out, so they would cool more slowly. I had even made sure the heat was on in the kitchen. I turned around to take a sip of my coffee, and when I turned back, they were flat as pancakes. Grrrrrrrrr!
I finally figured out what works for me! Per Martha's instruction, I pre-heated the oven to 375, and turned it down to 325 when I put them in. The other chef had just preheated and baked them at 325, which was what first produced under-done Macarons for me. I baked them for about 8", then shut the oven off and left them in for 10" more. That way, they were no longer exposed to the direct heat, but the residual heat finished off the bottoms, and the slower cool-down prevented them from deflating. In addition to my grinding technique, which meant less folding of the flour into the whites was required, I also cut down on how much folding I had to do by beating the root beer extract into the whites (so they were still getting air), rather than folding it in before the flour mixture. As I mentioned, I skipped the doubling up of trays, and because of the whole deflating issue, I didn't even consider rotating the trays! Sorry Martha.
INGREDIENTS: (Per Martha Stewart)
1 c confections' sugar
¾ c almond flour
2 lg egg whites (at room temp)
pinch cream of tartar (I used 1/8 t)
¼ c superfine sugar
½ t root beer concentrate (my addition)
- Separate out your two egg whites and set aside to come to room temp
- Grind your almond flour/meal in a spice/coffee grinder or food processor
- Process the almond flour/meal a second time, along with the confectioner's sugar (if using a spice grinder, about 1T each at a time)
- Sift the sugar/almond mixture
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the whites at medium speed until frothy, then add the cream of tartar
- Increase the speed to high, and slowly pour in the superfine sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form
- Beat in the root beer concentrate (helps to spray measuring spoon with PAM so it runs right off) until incorporated
- Turn off mixer and remove bowl
- Gently fold sugar/almond mixture into the whites in two additions, until smooth
- Scoop mixture into piping bag* and snip off tip (or use a 1/2" piping tip, but not necessary)
- Pipe circles onto parchment-lined tray (may want to print a guide page of circles to slide under the parchment as a template - I did that then decided it was kind of silly since they'll spread a little, some more than others, so it was really just a "suggestion" of a specific circle size), dragging tip off to the side while releasing pressure to not form a peak on the top
- Bang tray on counter to knock out excess air bubbles
- Let rest for 15-30"
- Preheat oven to 375, then reduce to 325 and insert tray
- Bake 8-10", then turn off oven and leave alone for 10"
- Remove from oven and let rest for 2" or so before transferring to cooling rack
- Fill/garnish as desired
* I was at either a Michael's or a Hobby Lobby one day and saw a triangular bag of plastic zip-lock style "pizza bags" for packaging a single slice of pizza. I grabbed them to use for piping bags and love it, because I fill the bag, then zip the bottom closed, so I don't have to worry about the filling oozing out like when I use a regular piping bag.
3 oz cream cheese (at room temp)
1 T confectioners' sugar
1 t vanilla
¼ c whipping cream
When it came to the filling, because Buttercream is traditional, that's what I made for the first batch, but I found it to be way too sweet with the root beer. When making them again, I opted for this clotted-cream filling, which is what I usually serve with scones and jam. If going this route, just be sure to only fill what will be eaten at the time. You wouldn't want to leave it sitting out for any great length of time. I much preferred this filling, and now that I [sort of] know what I'm doing, if I ever decide to make them again, I'll be sure to use a vanilla bean rather than extract. I didn't want to waste one if this didn't go well.
Just whip it all together until smooth and creamy. I start with the cream cheese and sugar, then add the vanilla and cream, but if your cream cheese is soft enough, doing them all at the same time should be fine – I tend to be impatient if you hadn't noticed that yet, so my cream cheese needs a little extra attention at the beginning.
The recipe yielded 42 single discs, so that would be 21 macarons once filled.
See how the ones on the right are smooth on top - those
were piped first and have been resting longer.
|Batch 1 - good feet but not smooth and under-done on bottom.|
|Batch 1 - Not too bad, but lousy pics and too sweet!|