Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Daring Bakers: French Macarons
It's time for the Daring Bakers to show off the October challenge - French Macarons!
These scrumptious little French bakery cookies are easy to make but difficult to master. They should be airy and smooth, and should have the ever -elusive "feet", that puffy layer around the bottom.
Sadly, mine were foot-less. And not smooth. (But they tasted fantastic.)
The ingredient list for making the cookie portion is short; egg whites, granulated and powdered sugar, ground almonds, flavoring and that's it.
I ground blanched almonds in my food processor and strained them through a mesh strainer. That worked pretty well and I think I'm now going to make my own almond flour from now on... it's much cheaper than pre-ground (cha-ching!).
I mixed a touch of pink and red food coloring in with my ground almonds and powdered sugar.
And ended up with a lovely Pepto-Bismal color? (Oops.)
I made two batches, the first was lumpy and bumpy.
For the second batch, I ground the almond flour with the powdered sugar in the food processor. They ended up somewhat smoother, but still not that glossy smooth that the *real* French macarons are famous for. Here they are before baking.
And after. They stuck to the parchment somewhat, but were still usable.
I filled mine with some cream cheese icing I had on hand.
Well, I won't be quitting my day job any time soon to start up a French macaron-making business. But overall, this was a fun challenge and I can see how people get addicted to trying to perfect them. I'd love to try, but my thighs can't take it, LOL.
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.
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)
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.