French Macarons for New Year’s Day

Quite festive are these New Year’s Day French Macarons, adorned with their white, glittery, snow flake ribbon and silver paper liners.  The filling includes a few splashes of champagne, slivers of white chocolate, and a few ounces of heavy cream.
The macaron shells were made using the basic Italian meringue method as outlined on the King Arthur Flour blog.  You don’t have to look too closely to see the tiny peak in the center of the shell; just a sign that I didn’t mix the batter well enough.
I had high hopes for the filling; however, the white chocolate ganache recipe I followed did not thicken after being cooled in the refrigerator.  I added powdered sugar to the champagne/white chocolate ganache and filled the macarons.
After 24 hours rest in the refrigerator, the macaron texture is wonderful (crunchy on the outside and chewy in the center), although the flavor is very bland. But, they are pretty!
macaron #13

Christmas red French Macarons

macaron #9

Just when I think I can relax while mixing the macaron batter, I ruined these pretty Christmas red macarons.  While adding an excessive amount of food coloring gel, I achieved the color, but ruined the shells.  Some of the shells puffed up and then fell off to the side while baking.  Some of the feet squished out beyond the edge of the macaron shell.

In addition to the gel food coloring problem, I only had 84 grams of aged egg whites; they evaporated more than expected.  So, I added vanilla flavoring to compensate for the missing egg whites.  That Did Not work.  Such lessons we continue to learn….

One of my favorite Santa’s overseeing my Christmas baking.  I needed a little of his magic to help these poor examples of the delicate French Macaron.

You might think this doesn’t look bad – that this is acceptable.  Notice there is only one in the picture—that’s because most of the others slid off their feet like snow sliding off a roof.

What did I learn?
I’ll only use the coloring gel if I want a very light color, thereby using only a little of the gel on the tip of a toothpick.
I’ll keep trying until I get this right!
I’ve ordered the powdered food coloring; it’s in the cabinet waiting for its debut in a macaron.
If the recipe requires 90 grams of egg whites, be sure to have 90 grams of egg whites.

pink French Macarons

My grandmother’s Noritaki China Japan #5516 tea cup provides the backdrop to display this dainty pink macaron.  This is the first time I have added color to the batter.  The gel color was maroon.  I didn’t know how much to add; I should have added more to achieve the color on the bottle.

Nevertheless, the shells are pretty. The shells were transferred to the freezer and will be filled at a later date.

The batter is colored and ready to pipe

piped and drying

just out of the oven; I never tire of watching through the oven door for the feet!
Continuing to use this recipe, and adjust to my oven.
macaron #8

MarketSpice Tea flavored French Macarons

macaron #7, #11 – I adjusted this basic recipe slightly, and my macarons were not as pretty as I had hoped.  I should have given the batter one or two more turns. However, the oils from the tea gave these macarons a great flavor.  And, experience is the best teacher!

I added two bags of Seattle’s Pike Place Market – MarketSpice’s signature tea, Cinnamon-Orange to the macaron batter.

 piping bag ready

 batter in early stages of mixing

 ready to pipe

 close up of cinnamon orange tea macaron batter

close up view

 piped and drying

 butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar filling

displaying their feet

 MarketSpice Tea Cinnamon Orange French Macarons

French Macaron success story

Macaron baking batch #5 – finally!!! – something that looks like a French Macaron.

The taste of the shell is good, but the interior texture needs more research.  I think it’s too chewy, and that could be because I think I have under-baked the shells. Since I don’t have ‘the real thing’ to sample, I’ll continue reading and researching.  There are many, many opinions on the internet regarding macarons.

The shells are made from a basic macaron recipe of egg whites, granulated and powdered sugar, and almond meal.  I added the seeds of a vanilla bean to the batter to create speckles on the surface of the shells.

The recipe I followed can be found here.

double sift the powdered sugar and almond meal

 batter into piping bag

 batter looks a little over worked

 piped

 decorative tops

 vanilla bean seeds

 easy filling – melted kisses and powdered sugar

 an early taste of the season

 through the oven door

 macarons cooling on their feet

 bottoms up

 picture perfect

tasty . . . vanilla bean studded French Macaron shell filled with melted Hershey’s Mint Truffle Kisses mixed with powdered sugar

macaron

FINALLY!  A macaron that looks like a macaron.  Of course, I photographed (iPhone quick shot) the best one of the batch.  Several were not pretty, but some were.  
I followed the instructions found here.  Thanks to Daydreamer Desserts.
I’ll continue the quest.
#4

spooky French Macarons

I tried once again to master the French Macaron, and.. well….
It was Halloween Eve…

I drew all the circles, then remembered I was using the Silpat -

The unbaked macarons air-dried and formed a firm crust over the top.

Per the recipe, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees (I think that was too hot.)

Into the oven I placed the ghostly, white blobs of meringue mixture that was to become a baked macaron.

At 5 to 6 minutes, there were feet.  Good sign!

I rotated the pan at 6 minutes, per the recipe (is this really necessary?).

At 6 to 7 minutes the nicely formed macaron tops began to  s – l – i – d – e  to one side, as if the sheet pan was tilted up and to the side.

At 9-10 minutes the unbaked batter beneath the nicely formed top began to  o – o – o – o – z – e  out the side of the cookie opposite the tilt of the top.

I just watched through the oven door and thought ‘happy halloween.’  It was as if a casket lid opened (as the cookie top slid off the cookie,) and the puffy insides of some ghastly creature oozed out.

Despite their appearance, they did taste good.  The tops formed nicely, though they were not smooth enough.  The bottoms formed nicely.  The insides celebrated halloween.

Mistakes:
I measured 60 grams of egg whites, per the recipe, and aged them on the counter for 1 1/2 days.  The egg whites evaporated considerably, and weighed 42 grams when I began mixing the batter.  The next time I bake these, I will measure the egg whites after they are aged.

Since there were almost no whites to beat, the mixer worked hard and long to beat 42 grams of egg whites to stiff peaks.  I’m sure they were over-beaten.

The batter was too thick when piped; banging the pan a dozen times on the tile floor did not smooth the tops.

…back to the drawing board, again, next weekend…
these little ghostly globs will not defeat me!!!

#3

French Macaron smooth tops

Inspired by this Viking class, I will continue to try until I get it right!

My goal was to achieve smooth tops on the macarons, and that I did achieve.  However, I made a mistake at some point in the process.

I stirred together the powdered sugar and almond meal, and then processed into a fine powder in the food processor.
fluffy mountain of powdered sugar/almond meal

 smooth and white, double sifted

 egg yolks were aged about 52 hours on the counter in a shallow bowl covered with a paper towel; whipping at medium speed until bubbles begin to form (mistake #1: recipe required 1t lemon juice added at this point – I added the entire small container of juice which was about 2t [this is why mise en place is so important!]

 adding granulated sugar after a whirl through the food processor; I wanted to be sure the sugar would properly dissolve in the egg whites

 soft peak – not ready yet

 stiff peak – ready

 holding mixer bowl over my head; Rachel Allen says this can be done with properly whipped egg whites; it worked!

dry ingredients added to egg whites/sugar; 50 strokes (probably over-mixed at this point)

 batter is too thin

 rounds of batter are too large and too thin, but the TOPS ARE SMOOTH; they dried smooth, and baked to a beautiful smooth top

And, here the pictures cease.  The macarons did form feet in the oven at about 6 minutes.  (mistake #2:  after rereading the recipe, the oven should have been at 320 degrees – mine was at 350 degrees) However, they did not properly bake, as they stuck to the Silpat when removed from the oven, and the shiny smooth top separated from the undercooked bottom.
They had a wonderful flavor as I scraped bits and pieces from the pan to sample.
Though this was not a success, I am encouraged.  Hopefully, post #3 will show beautiful, home baked French Macarons!
I somewhat followed this recipe.
#2

feet! feet! feet on French Macarons at Viking Class

We used a small cookie cutter dipped in flour to create circle guidelines on the Silpat mat. How creative! Sure was better than drawing all those circles on parchment paper!

It’s almost Halloween – purple macarons!  Notice the stiff peak in the lower third of the picture – very important.

Color in the lines, students – or pipe within the flour circles.

Oops – a few tails tapped flat with a little water on the pinkie

air drying (with the help of a large fan just out of photo range)

Just baked.  Now, ignore the rough tops and LOOK AT THE FEET!  We will try for smooth tops in lesson two, but for now we celebrate the feet.

Another angle

The Viking class was French Macarons (yes, only one ‘o’) and Whoopie pies.

Our instructor is seriously stuffing this pumpkin whoopie pie

Healthy hand size whoopie pie

A final look at my first ever attempt to make French Macarons.

Our instructor suggested we refrigerate the macarons for 24 hours.  I followed the suggestion and enjoyed the slight change in texture.
The most important lesson of the night taught us to lose our fear of mixing and baking macarons. Books have been written and blogs have been posted detailing all the scary aspects of making macarons.  
I have egg whites aging on the counter as I type…
(all photos are from my iPhone – use the camera you have at hand)
#1
updated 10.24.10
Trying to achieve a smooth top on the macaron.  See blog post here.