Blog-checking lines: For the month of October we got to take on one of many bakers’ deepest, darkest kitchen nightmares: macarons. Our talented bakers Korena from Korena in the Kitchen and Rachael from pizzarossa made the intimidating task of mastering these French beauties a breeze.
It was indeed a breeze making these Macarons – maybe having made them a few times already has helped? Confidence is definitely a key factor!
Macarons are a traditional French pastry made from deceptively simple ingredients – whipped egg whites, sugar and ground almonds. They are the perfect canvas for creativity as the shells and fillings can be flavored to your liking as long as you don’t add too much moisture to the recipe. Freeze dried fruits and other dried flavorings are often used to add flavor to the shells and powdered coloring may also be used. The real challenge comes in getting the meringue made correctly and then folding in the almond mixture just enough – not too much or not too little. A fold or two of the batter can make a difference! Perfect little circles of the meringue mixture are piped onto baking sheets and allowed to dry until the tops are no longer tacky. Some time in the oven makes them rise up and create the (often elusive) “foot” at the base of the Macaron shell. The cooled and baked shells are then sandwiched with buttercream, ganache, curd or some other delectable filling and allowed to mature (not in my house) for 24 hours.
There are two types of meringue that may used to make Macarons – the traditional French meringue which is made by slowly adding granulated sugar to whipped egg whites, and the Italian meringue which is made by adding a cooked sugar syrup to the whipped egg whites. Since I have used the French meringue method in the past and I’m very comfortable with cooking sugar syrup, I decided to try the Italian meringue method for this challenge. I was very pleased with the results and I think I’ll use this method from now on! The meringue seemed more stable to me and dried beautifully in a short period of time (though that could be a weather variable). I decided to stick with a plain shell as I’ve never done that before and I flavored it with some dried vanilla bean seeds. For the filling, I used some homemade lemon curd and some chocolate caramel ganache that I happened to have on hand.
Since the directions are quite involved and Korena and Rachael have done such a nice job of writing up the recipes, I refer you to the Daring Bakers site for the recipes instead of trying to reproduce their work here.