This month was supposed to be my triumphant return to the Daring Bakers but it began with a baking disaster and is ending with me typing up this post at 10pm on posting day. I have seen macarons online for a while now and have always been more intrigued by their looks than what I thought they would taste like. While the sandwich cookies look so cute, meringue has never been my thing, so I'd never gotten around to trying them, until this month that is.
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.
For my first attempt, I carefully separated the eggs and let the whites come to room temperature. Then I proceeded to overbeat them. I knew it but decided to continue on with the cookies anyway, thinking that everything would be all right. Oh no, it was not. The cookies ended up flattened sticky messes and even though I'm usually a one picture per post type of person, I'm sticking in an extra picture of my overbeated egg whites- just in case you aren't sure what they look like (I wasn't). So here they are= if your egg whites look like this, toss them out and start again.
For my next attempt, I whipped the white much more carefully and things turned out pretty well. I couldn't find my piping tips when it came time to pipe out the cookies though, so I ended up make them much thinner than I should have. They turned out a little flat, but still have a hint of the 'foot' they are famous for.
For flavoring I decided to go fall, and mixed nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and allspice into the macaron batter and made an unsweetened pumpkin cream cheese frosting. I find pumpkin quite bitter on its own, but it worked out really well against the incredibly sweet macarons.
One last confession before I end my post. Since my first macaron attempt failed, I switched recipes for the second. The DB challenge recipe is below, but for my successful attempt, I used Helene's recipe. I'm sure both will work, as long as you're careful with the egg whites.
Actual baking time: 12 minutes total, plus a few minutes to get your oven from 200°F to 375°F.
• 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
• Cooling rack
• Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets
• Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nuts (ouch!)
2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.) Confectioners’ sugar
2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.) Almond flour
2T (25g, 88 oz.)Granulated sugar
5 Egg whites (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.