Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Macaron Massacre!

No, silly geese...this aren't mine!
So, ladies and gents...I did it. I decided that after facing my fear of baking with yeast, I would conquer another fear...Macarons!

I first learned about these scrumptious treats while in Paris with 3 girlfriends of mine on our Europe Backpacking trip a few years back. I have never heard of them before, but DAYYUM they were good (and expensive, I might add). I brought some home for my family and we all enjoyed them.

And then I forgot about them. There was nowhere here (that I knew of) where I could buy them, and as you do as an angsty 21 year old fresh out of University, you move on to more important things (Boys....boys....and boys...and maybe the occasional job search).

They were recently brought back into my awareness last year when we received a gift at the office of a Macaron TOWER. It was INCREDIBLE. Then, as I started getting more into baking and food blogs and the like, I can't get these stupid things out of my mind!

So, I started off by doing a little (okay A LOT) of research. I watched video after video, read blog after blog, and found the below (not intimidating at all) image:

FINALLY I plucked up enough courage to give it a shot. Why all this pressure, you may ask? I have issues...clearly!

Anyway, the good news? They turned out SO SO yummy! The gnache was yummyscrumbos, and the cookie has the desired taste and consistency.

The bad news? They were a WEE bit flat (which I know is because I over-mixed them by exactly 1.6784 folds)

Anyway, I DID learn a lot, so throughout this post/recipe, I'm going to share some tidbits with you so that when you attempt this at home, you will hopefully have more success than I did!

Basic Macaron
Recipe From: Cake Journal
Everything Else: The Internet

First, Words of wisdom from the kind lady of Cake Journal - "You might know that macarons are highly unreliable cookies, even if you have made them several times. The results can vary from time to time, and sometimes you have no idea what went wrong. It takes some time to figure out what works for you, in your kitchen and oven. But don’t give up! They are definitely not impossible to make and once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to make them without even thinking."

Got that? Okay, here we go!

Tools you will need (best to lay these all out ahead of time):
- Strainer/Sifter
- Parchment Paper
- Bowls
- Round Tip (thick)
- Piping Bag
- Spatula
- Hand or Stand Mixer

1 & 1/8 cup of ground almonds (you can grind yourself OR buy them pre-ground. I reccomend the latter)
3 egg whites that are room temperature
1 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbsp regular sugar

If you have almonds grind them in a food processor. Sift to get rid of any lumps.

Now, this part should have come with the stipulation that your food processor should be an AMAZING, high quality one. Mine is good, but not for this kind of thing. I ground a whole bag of almonds and got MAYBE 1/2 cup worth of the ground almonds that are required. I tried grinding a little at a time, a lot at a time and just for a long time (that resulted in Almond Butter...there is a line, folks). It just wasn't up to snuff. SO I recommend you just buy them pre-ground. The rest was just lumpy. As you can tell, I was off to a really good start. Also, I was at this step for about 45 mins. Just save yourself the trouble and buy ground almond.

Mix the powdered sugar with your ground almonds in the food processor. I had to do this in multiple batches because my food processor is quite small. This also made QUITE a mess. This was part of the massacre.

In a separate, large bowl,  whip the egg whites (I used a hand mixer). As they start to foam, start adding the sugar, one tablespoon at a time and continue to mix until it is stiff and glossy. You can tell it is ready if you turn the bowl upside down and the merenge stays put. Go ahead, try it, it's fun!

I know, it looks like boobies.
Fold the almond and icing sugar mixture into the merange, a little bit at a time. IF YOU WISH, add food colouring at this point! RIGHT NOW, otherwise, it's too late. Also, only use either a powder or a gel food colouring otherwise it will get too watery. Fold until fully mixed. It is VERY, VERY important that you do not over mix (I did). If you're not sure, Cake Journal says it should flow like a ribbon when you hold the spatula. I thought my did, but apparently flow like a ribbon and gush like a river are 2 different things. Who knew?

If you're not sure, put a dollop on your parchment paper. If it SLOWLY flattens, you're golden. If it liquifies, you're past the point of no return and your cookies will be flat (like mine were). In my defense, I made a last minute choice to make my cookies green and because I added my food colouring so late, I overmixed my batter. Green was also an unfortunate choice as you will see below. Second part of the massacre.

Once your batter is ready: put batter into a piping bag that has the appropriate tip. I didn't have the right tip, so I used the disposable piping bags instead and just cut a wider tip. 

TIP: if you have a hard time holding the bag and filling it at the same time, Cake Journal had a great idea - put the bag in a tall glass, that way it stays up and is less mess when you have a runny, gooey dough like mine!

Next, pipe the batter onto your parchment lined baking sheets. The cookies will flatten (or again, in my case, liquify into a green, gooey mess) so you only need to make them 1 inch across. 

This is where the green colour was an unfortunate colour. As I was piping, I put too much batter into the bag, so it was all coming out the top like flubber. It truly looked like toxic waste. I was going to take a picture, but my hands were so covered in goo, it was impossible. 

As you can tell, me in the kitchen is also a comedy sketch. 

Leave them for 1 hour in which time a skin will form. 

As this point I looked around my kitchen and it actually looked like I had murdered the cookies. Batter was EVERYWHERE, icing sugar COVERED the counter, I had bits of ground almond under my feet, and green slime on the cupboards. 

What next, you ask? I swear on my life, this is what happened next. I went down to the basement to do laundry, and what do I see? My hot water tank was GUSHING, and I mean GUSHING boiling hot water. Hubby wasn't home. Molly wanted to drink the water. You know what my first thought was? "I wonder if I can just leave it?"

No, Lisa, you cannot. Go get the landlord...NOW. So I did, he came and he fixed it. TA-DAH!

Back to the recipe. When there is about 10 mins left, preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Let them bake for about 10-12 mins (mine only took 8). Be sure to watch them closely as they WILL burn quite quickly. If you don't think they are done, touch the top of the cookie and if it wobbles, it isn't ready!

Sort of?
Let the cookie cool completely by removing them from your baking sheets and put them on a cooling rack. If they don't come off, put them back in the oven for another minute or so!

I have to say, they turned out really well all things considered. My only beef was that they were flat and even still they have the texture that is described in the "perfect macaroon" specification above!

I whipped up a quick thing of ganache (recipe to come later but can be found here) and voila! 

Like I said, totally pleased with myself, and they were soooooo soooo good! Just need to keep the above in mind for the NEXT time I make them (in 10 years when I build up the courage to do it again!)


- Lisa
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  1. Hahahaha! Hysterical, I'm definitely hooked on your blog! I may even try this recipe myself. :)

    -closet foodie

    1. Dear Closet Foodie,

      I am SO glad to hear that! You should totally give it a shot. If I can do it, you totally can too!! <3

      Lisa (Food Junkie)