Making Macarons (a walk-through + DIY Almond Flour)
I think the 9th of February will now be named “Macaron Day” on my planner because that was when I first attempted to make them (it was dedicated for a friend’s birthday - I’m 2 days late this year), and after today, I don’t think I’ll be making it again. Not this year, at least.
A huge thank you goes out to Cristina of Iexhalevanillalace for her recipe and help with this. I was ready to throw in the towel when she kindly offered her valuable assistance, so I took her up on the offer and asked her questions to cover all the bases.
I honestly didn’t think I’d pull it off, because last year’s attempt was just so bad I don’t even have the right words for it. Let me give you a little flashback:
Personally I don’t care much for macarons. They’re petty, I’ll give them that, but sometimes I think they’re overrated. Of course eating and making are two very different things. I think it’s safe to say that macaron is a cooking milestone - whether you’re doing it for your own enjoyment or sharing it on a blog. I also think it’s a cardinal rule that there’s a 9/10 chance you’re going to mess up your very first batch, but there’s always a lesson of patience, perseverance and the importance of precision to be learnt at the end of the day, so it’s not entirely bad.
Before we proceed with the recipe, I’ll first throw in a little DIY on how to make almond flour. Almond flour can be pretty expensive if bought as it is, but if you have time or are looking to save a few bucks, then this is how you can make your own.
You’ll need some almonds, of course.
The amount you use will depend on the amount of flour you want to make.
Boil some water and put the almonds in a heat-prove container. Then pour the boiling water over them until submerged, and wait for 1 minute.
Then drain them quickly and run cold water through them until they are cool enough to handle.
Lay them on a paper or a tea towel and pat dry. You’ll see that the blanching process has caused the almond skin to shrivel.
Peel or squeeze the almonds out of their skins.
Now this should be an easy process if your rinsing water was pretty cold and/or you have long nails. I never thought I’d wish I’d grown my nails until today. I kept getting almond pieces under my nails and they hurt like you wouldn’t believe.
Anyways, once that’s done, preheat your oven to 350F and lay the almonds out on a baking sheet.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until dry. Watch the almonds - you don’t want them to turn too brown.
After that’s done, it’s just a case of getting out your food processor or mill or coffee grinder. Fill it until 1/3 up at a time and pulse until you get a fine powder.
Warning: over grinding can cause the almonds to clump together and turn into almond butter, because the almonds will release its natural oil if over-ground.
For this particular recipe, you’ll need to sieve the almond powder to get a finer, lighter texture.
Trust me, there’s a difference between these 2 almond flours - a 30 minute’s worth of arm-work difference.
And so after you’ve got your almond flour, be it home-made or store bought, it’s time to make some macarons.
As with my previous TL-DR walkthroughs, there’s going to be some commentary alongside the recipe (written verbatim, in bold).
The recipe was written in metric measurements, but I’m going to include both the original values given and the approximated US cup & spoon conversion that I used. With macarons it is recommended that you go with the metric, since it’s all about accuracy, but if push comes to shove, the converted measurements are pretty close.
MACARONS (basic recipe by Cristina)
[ 100g almond flour + 175g powdered sugar + 100g aged (1-3 days) egg whites + 30g granulated sugar ]
[ 1 cup almond flour + 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar + 7 tablespoon aged (1-3 days) egg whites + 2 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar ]
Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar as well as any dry flavoring together - it is advisable to not put more than a tablespoon of dry (like cocoa powder or matcha).
If there are any lumpy things (no more than a teaspoon), dump that lumpy stuff out. You want smoothness.
I just wanted to make some macarons, as it is. No funny business with coloring or flavor just in case it messes up the chemistry or whatever. If you’re still on shaky grounds I suggest starting out with the basic recipe until you’re confident to venture out to different flavor or coloring agents.
With a handmixer or standmixer, begin whipping the eggs. As soon as they begin to foam, add the granulated sugar and whip those babies until they form stiff peaks.
I didn’t even think about taking pictures during this step as it might be a distraction and cause something to go wrong. This step went pretty smoothly.
Add a bit (about 1/3) of the dry ingredients into the egg white mix now and fold until combined.
Don’t be bashful with the folding - make sure the dry ingredients is mixed in thoroughly.
Then all of the rest and fold in until mixed thoroughly.
I once read, I think it was on Canelle et Vanille’s blog, that it’s recommended to give the batter 50 turns, or 50 folds. This, of course, is a highly researched and calculated number, because under or over-folding could be quite scandalous, or so I’ve read.
I decided to just take her word for it.
Put inside a piping bag fitted with a round tip.
Pretty self explanatory. You’d want a round plain tip that’s a little bit wide.
To easily manouver the piping bag, put it inside a tall glass while you fill the mixture in.
Pipe them out onto parchment paper as 1-2 inch rounds.
Hold the piping bag perpendicular to the tray and squeeze until you reach the required diameter. Make sure to space the shell out evenly.
A note from C:
The only thing I forgot to mention, which is why yours did not turn out as perfectly as you’d like them, is that when you pipe, hold the tip as close to the sheet as possible and don’t pull UP. Just kind of spread down and when you’re done piping, smack the baking sheet down a couple of times before you let them sit.
Let them SIT for 60-90 minutes.
Seriously, let them sit pretty for the allotted time. If you want to know what’ll happen if you don’t - heck, I’ll show you what’ll happen if you don’t.
The sitting process allows the macarons to create a film around the shell that will prevent it from collapsing. This step is also crucial if you want to get the little macaron “feets”.
Then pop them into the oven at 280 degrees F for 17 minutes.
I was so nervous at this step.
In my last attempt everything went smoothly until this stage. The macaron shells went in looking like this:
And came out looking like this:
Terrible, to say the least. And it happened to all three batches.
This time I spent the entire cooking time pacing back and forth in front of the oven door. I set the oven timer and also timed it by playing 2 songs to help me relax.
Then, lo’ and behold, macaron FEETS!
I think my batter was too thick, that’s why the little pointy thing where the piping bag left the surface is still there instead of smoothing out into nice dome.
Nothing is ever perfect on the first try, and so there were a few hits and misses.
Here’s a look at some of the nicer ones.
And some of the casualties.
I salvaged what I could and basked in the glory of my first somewhat-successful batch of macarons.
If you reach this level, make sure to give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve earned it.
Level 9 (bonus level) :
Sandwich the shells.
Match your shells into pairs.
All the hard work is done, and now it’s up to you on what to put between the shells. I put a layer of Creme Chantilly (a fancy shmancy name for whipped cream that’s flavored with sugar and vanilla) with a dollop of jam on some.
Put a layer of filling on the bottom shell.
And top with another shell.
Congratulations, you’ve just made macarons.
That should do it. :)
Thank you, really :)
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- redblackapron said: Your DIY almond flour are really helpful! :) And a happy Macaron Day to you! :)
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