Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide – Yes YOU Can Bake French Macarons!!!

By Lisa Maliga, Copyright 2016-2018

Baking French Macarons A Beginner’s GuideWhat started my love of macarons was a quirky romance novella I wrote called Sweet Dreams. The main character is a romance author/baker. Although the macarons aren’t mentioned at the beginning of the story, those tempting petite cookies have a costarring role. During the writing of the ebook, I got obsessed with macarons. I read several cookbooks on how to make them, visited numerous websites, and sampled quite a few tasty macarons. I bought some online and tried some from various bakeries. They ranged from mediocre to heavenly.

It was a tough job, but I gutted [pun intended!] my way through it.

When macarons appeared in another story, they played a starring role in Macarons of Love [The Yolanda’s Yummery Series, book 4]. I watched more how to make macaron baking videos. And I finally began baking on a quest to bake the perfect batch of macarons.

My first batch looked like this: mymacs3

One of my more recent attempts is on the cover.

My theory is this – if someone who’s never held a pastry bag in their hands or made buttercream frosting/filling can bake macarons, don’t you think you can, too?

frenchmacaronsad1

FREE with your Kindle Unlimited subscription!
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M8QIIWI
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M8QIIWI

NOW IN PAPERBACK!
Amazon US: Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide

Amazon UK: Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide

Barnes & Noble: Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide

Subscribe to:
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
Win free books and more!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9

 

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 14: Decadent Blackberry Macarons

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

On Tuesday, I baked my twentieth batch of macarons! Again, I used a natural powdered colorant and the pictures will show you how they turned out.

blackberrymacs3
Decadent Blackberry macarons with buttercream and jam filling

I’m calling them decadent because they contain both blackberry buttercream filling and blackberry jam. Yes, I used fresh blackberries. Summer is berry season and I believe in celebrating that fun fact!

Using my new silicone mats saves time, as I don’t have to cut parchment paper to fit the baking sheets.

blackberrymacs3velesco

Macarons only contain a few ingredients yet they require some advance preparation from preparing the fillings to separating and aging the eggs to sifting and mixing the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar together. It sounds very precise but by doing this I end up saving time when baking the macaron shells.

I’m adjusting to my new used oven and I’ve found that 300 degrees is the best temperature and the oven rack being one level below center prevents browning. This is why an oven thermometer is a great [and inexpensive] investment.

blackberrymacsshells

I added the powdered colorant to the meringue just before adding the flour/sugar mixture. It worked out so well. This is the first time that the powdered color was the same color before and after baking!

blackberrymacsbakeunbake
Baked macaron shell in the back is the same color as the unbaked macaron shells!

Here they are: real fruit flavored macarons. 

blackberrymacs&tea
Tea and macarons!

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9

Want to bake these and several other varieties of macarons? Check out my new eBook and paperback cookbook BAKING FRENCH MACARONS: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE.

Baking French Macarons A Beginner’s Guide

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 13: Really Raspberry Macarons

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

raspberryjamingredients
Empty canning jars, fresh raspberries, sugar, & liquid pectin

There was a sale on fresh organic raspberries so I got ambitious and decided to bake raspberry chocolate cupcakes AND raspberry macarons.

This is the first time I’ve used fresh fruit instead of jam. And you know what—it won’t be the last! Wow, I could really taste the difference, hence the name Really Raspberry!

First, I made raspberry jam, which took about five minutes. All I did was smash up those fresh raspberries with a potato masher—why mess up a food processor–add a lot of granulated sugar and some liquid pectin. The result: 2 jars filled with fresh raspberry jam. I also left in the seeds as I wanted it to be all natural. I was also too lazy to strain them! Once cooled, I added the contents of one jar into a pastry bag, put that into a Ziploc bag and stored it in the fridge where it’d be ready for the macarons that would be made on Monday.

raspberrymacaronjam
Fresh raspberry jam

I’ve made the chocolate cupcakes a few times and prefer them to any other because I pour the batter into the liners rather than scoop it, so it’s a lot easier. Plus, I love chocolate!

Making the fresh raspberry buttercream frosting for the cupcakes was as easy as it was when I made it with jam. I even added the raspberries last. Oh, and the amount of vanilla bean paste was very small.

On Monday, I made the macarons. I had not one but two fillings – raspberry jam and some leftover raspberry buttercream frosting. I left it in the pastry bag with the large star tip, as I was too lazy to change it. Now I’d have super fancy looking macarons.

The natural red powdered food coloring was added to the almond/sugar mixture the night before. That’s one thing I’ve learned about making macarons – do as much preparation as possible the night before they’re made. I separate the eggs and leave them on the counter in a bowl covered with a paper towel. I weigh the dry ingredients. And since I was using new silicone baking mats, I even made a template for them.

raspberrycupcake
Chocolate cupcake with raspberry frosting–made enough for 12 cupcakes & 24 macarons

Making macarons on a Monday is a fine way to start the week! I began the meringue at noon and by 2:18; the third and last batch was done. I didn’t make a record number as only 48 shells were deemed acceptable. I made more, but some were thrown out as they stuck to the mat. I was trying out another oven that was fairly true to the oven thermometer. I used the middle rack, which I won’t do next time, and will lower the temperature. While many of the shells were hollow, at least they had feet.

raspberrymacaronsdrying
The shells look red before going into the oven

I had fun deciding to add the buttercream filling and jam—sometimes both! I’d seen macarons with the fancy filling before but hadn’t gotten around to trying it. It’s very simple to do.

raspberrymacaronfilling
Real raspberry buttercream filling is easy to add to the shells.

Soon I’m going to be baking another batch of macarons with a new powdered color that I haven’t yet used.

raspberrymacaronjamsml
A small macaron with jam filling–NOT seedless!
raspberrymacaronsstack
Real raspberry buttercream filling

For now, I highly recommend the really raspberry macarons. The recipe is in my cookbook, Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide.

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
Win free books and more!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 12: Blueberry Macarons

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

 

blueberrymacaron
Blueberry macaron with homemade blueberry preserves

I baked two batches of blueberry macarons last month and achieved different results. This was the first time I used a natural powdered colorant. With this type of color, you’ll need to use a bit more of it if you want a vibrant color.

 

The powdered colorant can be added during the meringue process or can be blended in advance with the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture.

Recipe #1 contained blueberry ganache filling. Even adding more cooked blueberries didn’t help as it still tasted like white chocolate. The color was a medium shade of blue.

Another change was the oven. I baked the macarons in a smaller counter top model. The oven reached the temperature in a short time, and it was properly calibrated. The problem was there were only 2 racks and 2 levels. That meant the tray levels were either too close to the top or lower heating elements. I put my first tray on the bottom level and shielded it with an empty cookie sheet to prevent further browning. Also, all shells were baked on parchment paper covered trays.

blueberrymacrons1done
Light blue blueberry macaron shells just out of the oven

The results of blueberry batch #1 featured browner than blue shells. The color of the blueberry ganache was lovely but only adding a fresh blueberry in the center gave the macaron any real blueberry flavor.

blueberrymacrons1filling
Blueberry ganache filling with a ripe blueberry

For batch #2, I used the quick ‘n’ easy method for making preserves. I pulverized 8 ounces of fresh blueberries with a potato masher as I didn’t want to get the food processer dirty and have to wash it. Then I added more than a cup of granulated sugar, stirred at a rolling boil and preserved it with liquid pectin. I followed a recipe in a book for baking cupcakes and the amount of pectin was far too much. I’ll be making this batch again with less pectin and see how it works. Too much pectin makes it more difficult to pipe.

blueberrymacarons2rest
Resting macaron shells on a silpat–darker blue than batch #1

More of the powdered blue colorant was used and I mixed it into the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture. The standard oven was used so the results were slightly better because I used the middle rack. However, I shielded each batch by putting an empty a cookie sheet in the rack above it. That meant the temperature never reached 350—instead it averaged 335. So, while the macarons have feet and aren’t burned, they are as hollow as most of my other batches.

blueberrymacarons2after
Out of the oven and bluer than the first blueberry batch

I also used only silicone mats to see if there was any difference. I prefer them because it’s usually easier to remove the macaron shells.

blueberrymacarons2fill
Homemade blueberry preserves for the filling

The second batch tasted better, more like a true blueberry macaron.

 

 

blueberrymacarons2box
A box of blueberry macarons
blueberrymacarons2tea
Tea and macarons!

Stay tuned for another macaron baking adventure soon!

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9

 

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 11: Blackberry Macaron Blues

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

blackberrymacs1
Blackberry buttercream is purple but the shells aren’t!

I’ve got the blackberry macaron blues. I’ve tried twice and both times the shell color isn’t blue, isn’t purple, isn’t black. I wanted “Purple Rain” colored macarons. I love that color. I love that Prince was fond of royal purple. The bottle of gel colorant is that hue. But the results are quite different.

I got the purple buttercream that I wanted. However, by using a violet mica colorant, the shells aren’t purple. Mica colorants are used for soap crafting but the ingredients aren’t harmful as they’re derived from minerals. I was doing this as an experiment and there were no negative results — just a lack of purple!

purplemica3
Purple mica colorant

 

The purple mica has a sheen to it—which is what makes the soap sparkle a bit but won’t do that to a macaron shell.

purple24kgoldsoap
Purple soap colored with mica. The flecks are real 24K gold leaf

For my second attempt I used a purple gel colorant for the shells. After separating my egg whites and placing them on the counter to age overnight, I emptied out the piping bag with the purple buttercream filling into a mixing bowl. The blackberry jam tasted no different from the strawberry jam I used in my first buttercream. I figured adding fresh blackberries would change the taste. All I did was cook the blackberries in a tiny bit of water and mash up the berries. Then I strained them, poured the seedless remainders into the buttercream, and mixed it with a mixer for several minutes. It was loosely incorporated. But 24 hours later you can see how it’s separating. The resulting mess looks curdled but it’s not. This time the fresh blackberries can be tasted. But the macarons are messy to eat!

blackberrymacsfilling
Blackberry buttercream filling
blackberrymacsfilling2
The separation of buttercream and blackberries seen here

blackberrymacsstack

The above photo shows drops of blackberry juice. Maybe someone can use this idea for Halloween if you want a blood theme, just use fresh blackberries–or raspberries!

Next week I’ll test a fantastic new fruity macaron recipe and a brand new type of colorant!

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9 

 

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 10: Double Cherry Macarons

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

doublecherrymacaronclose
Double Cherry French Macaron

It’s spring — a perfect time to bake pink macarons. I’ve made strawberry macarons, but not cherry, so that’s what I baked on Tuesday. I got the idea a few weeks ago after baking a batch of chocolate cherry cupcakes. Since there was extra cherry buttercream frosting, I double wrapped it in a Ziploc bag and put it in the freezer.

Before baking the double cherry macarons, I unfroze the frosting and removed it from the piping bag with the large star tip, which isn’t ideal for piping the filling. I put the contents in a bowl, poured in some heavy cream, and finely chopped up a couple of maraschino cherries. It was a sweeter contrast with the natural cherry fruit spread I’d used, plus the color was even pinker. I spooned it into a smaller piping bag with a round tip.

I was also going to be using eggs that had been resting for almost 48 hours, so I’d see if there was a difference between older eggs and overnight eggs.

Even though I’d had the gel colorant mishap the week before, I had to use a magenta gel colorant if I wanted pretty pink macarons.

At least the filling was already made and at room temperature. Also, I was going to use my new 3-quart stainless steel bowl. The last time I’d had to transfer the batter from a small bowl to a larger bowl before adding the second half of the almond flour/sugar mixture.

After the green colorant fiasco, I only added 2 drops of the magenta colorant. All was going well – the bowl was the right size, the color was bright enough, and I piped 66 shells on 3 separate baking sheets.

doublecherrymacaronspiped
Freshly piped macarons

There were very few mishaps and with each batch, right around the six-minute mark, I saw the formation of feet! Also, I didn’t notice any difference in the macarons due to the age of the eggs.

doublecherrymacaronshells
Macaron shells cooling off

The macarons rested for a little while before being filled. As seen in the following photo, I put the shells on a paper towel. Next time I’ll use wax paper to ensure that none of them stick.

doublecherrymacaronunder
Macaron shells ready to be filled
doublecherrymacaronsfill
Note the different colors of the cherry bits: purplish and bright red

By the way, I have an oven thermometer and always watch that carefully as the oven is about 30 degrees colder than what the temperature gauge on the outside of the oven shows. If set at 300 degrees, it will hover in the 250 to 275 vicinity as it did when baking these. In fact, it never even made it to 300 degrees. The results can vary from recipe to recipe and even batch to batch. The chocolate mint macarons had a failed batch and two successful batches within one hour. If you plan to bake macarons, get to know your oven!

doublecherrymacaronsbox
As a joke, I added these 6 to a Laduree box I have. The box originally contained 8, so I need to eliminate those hollows in order for them to fit! Note: I remembered to add wax paper.

doublecherrymacaronseiffel

Next week I’ll bake another fun and fruity batch of French macarons! Stay tuned!

Get this recipe and many more in my new book, BAKING FRENCH MACARONS: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE. Available in eBook and paperback formats!

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9 

 

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 9: Chocolate Mint Macarons

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

Before the release of my new eBook, I mentioned I’d be writing about a spring surprise. I was definitely surprised! I envisioned a beautiful spring green color macaron shell and a rich minty chocolate ganache filling. Well, I ended up learning more about gel colors, natural colors and essential oils.

At first, all was great with the meringue. It had the standard stiff peaks and to get that lovely minty color, I added 7 drops of gel food coloring. And that was followed with one drop of pure peppermint essential oil. So it looked and smelled like chocolate mint chip ice cream.

chocolatemint1drying
Nice mint green color

Everything mixed up well; the piping was adequate, the shells dried within 30 minutes. Midway through the first batch, I switched on the oven light and saw nice little feet forming. I set about making the ganache and when it was time to remove the macarons I saw that all the shells had a golden brown crust! My goal was green not brown. After removing them, I lowered the oven rack [it was one below the center] and lowered the temperature from 320 to 300. But as seen below, it didn’t help…

chocolatemint1brown
Too much gel colorant & wrong oven temperature 

I baked the other two trays at varying temperatures and oven rack positions. All of them were well done, even though twenty minutes was the longest time spent in the oven. Most were so hollow either the tops came off or you could easily see through the feet from one side to the other.

chocolatemint1half
The overbaked shell cracked in half!

The chocolate ganache tasted good but not great as I didn’t add enough heavy cream and discovered that the teaspoon of virgin coconut oil clogged the metal piping tip. I reversed the piping bag and adding the ganache that way! What a mess I was making. I also lost several of the shells due to the tops being so crisp they just flipped off. Maybe I could’ve added filling to the other layers, but I just decided to send them to the compost heap outside.

Later, I learned the reason my shells browned – too much gel food colorant and the oven temperature was too high. Okay, next batch I was changing the color to something all natural: matcha green tea.

chocolatemint1macs
Hollow macarons with brownish shells — but they tasted good!

Batch #13 was either going to be lucky or unlucky. Turned out it was a bit of both. My eggs sat on the counter overnight and I noticed they’d aged so well they whipped up to fill the 2-quart bowl up more than halfway. That was a first!

However, I’m going to pass along this tip: don’t mix the powdered sugar and almond flour together a week before you make macarons. I thought it’d save time but in reality I had to resift the remaining half because it got a little clumpy. That wasn’t much of a problem nor was having to move the batter into the five quart bowl because there wasn’t enough room.

Even though I only added 1.5 teaspoons of matcha green tea powder [which I sifted before adding to the sugar/almond flour combo] I found it more difficult to mix. However, it definitely turned the batter green and the resulting macarons look natural, tho’ not lime green or mint green. This was also the first time I used extra fine granulated sugar.

chocolatemint2matcha
Matcha green tea added to almond flour/powdered sugar mix

I added peppermint essential oil to the batter just before mixing it rather than to the meringue. There wasn’t a hint of the matcha green tea aroma.

chocolatemint2cracks
Cracked and deflated macaron shells

The first batch ended up cracking and went into the compost pile. The other two batches came out okay—there were feet, they puffed up but deflated a bit—and they were as hollow as heck but they resembled macaron shells. They’re on the rustic side. The chocolate ganache was made with dark chocolate with mint extract and I added a few drops of pure peppermint essential oil. This time the heavy cream was the right amount and I only added a teaspoon of real butter and no virgin coconut oil.

chocolatemint2shells
Second batch of macaron shells

While the resulting macarons don’t look like they’re from Lauduree, they tasted good and I ended up with 20 of them.

chocolatemint2stack
Natural green color

Next week I’m going to make a fruity combination to celebrate spring. Wish me luck!

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9 

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 8: Lemon Macaron Recipe

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

lemonmacarons1
Lovely Lemon Macarons — 3rd attempt

I didn’t think it would take 3 tries to bake lemon macarons but it did, thanks to some brain blips! If you’re trying to make lemon, orange, lime or any other type of citrus macaron which calls for zest, please carefully read this blog and avoid my mistakes!

 

The first try had nothing to do with the flavor and everything to do with thinking I could add more confectioners’ sugar for a higher yield. Nope, I just ended up tossing the batter in the compost heap.

Attempt #2 failed because I added a heaping tablespoon of lemon zest to the mixture. I’d grated a couple of lemons the day before and put the zest in a glass bowl to dry. The problem was twofold: too much lemon zest and it wasn’t 100% dry. It should have gone in the oven for a few minutes. The zest was pulverized in a food processor but I neglected to sift it as I thought it wasn’t fine enough. Another brain blip!

I added a lot of gel food coloring [in dropper bottle] and still only got a pale yellow color rather than the daffodil yellow I was hoping to achieve. The macaronage went well and I was able to pipe 68 shells on 3 different trays. At 12:40 I’d piped the first two parchment-lined trays. I wasn’t able to put one in the oven until 2:28—and the day was warm and sunny with average humidity. 90 minutes of drying time was highly unusual. The problem became apparent when the first tray emerged from the oven with yellow-brown macarons with NO feet. Ugh! I shouldn’t have used the center rack, either.

lemonmacsbadflat
Flat & footless macarons 

While I managed to put together 34 macarons, none of them looked good, especially the last tray with the freehand piped macs on the silpat. They were as flat as Oreo cookies and the next day when I bit into one, the filling spewed out onto the plate. Compost heap for those macs.

 

lemonmacsgood1
Freehand piping’s not perfect but is improving

My third batch of lemon macarons behaved nicely! Drying time took 30 minutes, I didn’t add any lemon zest and when I peeked into the oven after 9 minutes I saw pretty yellow shells with feet!

lemonmacsgood2
Lovely Lemon Macarons just out of the oven

78 shells, none cracked, all with feet, and even the silpat freehanded macs had smooth undersides—no visible hollows. Easily plucking them off the mat was the highlight to a successful macaron baking afternoon.

TIME SAVING TIP! Mix the almond flour and the confectioners’ sugar together the night before. This should be the fourth time you sift the almond flour but only the first time for the powdered sugar. They should be sifted into a large bowl so that it’s easy to combine them with either a whisk or a fork. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and when you make the macarons the next day, that step is already taken care of. I discovered this time saving method when I was separating the egg whites. I tend to age the eggs overnight rather than for several days. My theory is that as long as the eggs are at room temperature the meringue will turn out fine.

The following recipe is in grams as weighing ingredients is more precise. While similar to my pink lemonade macarons, the main differences are weighing the amounts and using 3 egg whites. For the filling, weighing isn’t necessary, but an increased amount of lemon curd gives it a tangy taste. I also recommend vanilla bean paste in the filling for its rich flavor.

Lemon Macaron Shells

100 grams almond flour

200 grams powdered sugar

3 large egg whites [room temperature]

50 grams granulated sugar

Yellow gel food coloring

Pinch of salt

Oven Temperature: 300 degrees

Time: Approximately 16 minutes

* Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. If the sheets are thin, double them up. You’ll also need a pastry/piping bag with a large round tip ready before you begin.

* Sift powdered sugar with the almond flour. Large grains that don’t make it through can be thrown away or used as a skin exfoliator.

* Whisk the sugar and flour to make sure it’s fully blended.

* In a stainless steel or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy like a bubble bath before adding the salt. Then add granulated sugar in 3 batches. Start at a low speed and gradually increase the speed. When finished, the mixture should have stiff peaks. Add color last, but only whip for the briefest amount of time to mix in the color.

* Add dry ingredients to the meringue in 2 batches using a spatula. Fold until the mixture comes together, scraping the sides and flip batter over. When the sugar/flour mixture is blended, the batter will be easier to mix and will look shiny. Lift the spatula and see how quickly batter falls in “ribbons” from the spatula. A ribbon of batter dropped into the bowl should merge with the rest of the batter in 20-30 seconds. Another test is to “write” the number 8 with the batter.

* Add tip to piping bag and then twist near the bottom to prevent any mixture from escaping. The tip should face upwards and that also helps keep the mixture in the piping bag as you place it in a cup and form a cuff over the rim so it’s easy to add the batter.

* Pour batter into piping bag. Twist the top of the bag and untwist the bottom, gently pushing the just-poured batter toward the bottom. You’ll remove any excess air that way.

* Pipe the batter onto the parchment or silicone mat. With parchment, you can use a template.  

* Pipe batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1.5-inch circles. Keep the batter inside circles if using a template.

* Rap baking sheet several times on the counter. This will further flatten the macarons, and remove air bubbles. Place a towel on the counter to lessen the noise!

* Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

* Allow macarons to sit for 30-60 minutes until a film forms. Lightly touch a macaron and if no batter clings to your finger then it’s dry and ready to be baked.

* Bake for approximately 16 minutes. Use either the center rack or the one just below it. The tops should be firm and glossy and the bottoms of the shells should have formed “feet” or frills at the bottom. The risen macarons should be firm with the slightest amount of give. When done, the cookies can easily be removed from the parchment or silpat.

* Remove from oven, place cookie sheet on a wire rack or flat surface and let cool completely.

Lemon Curd Buttercream Filling

1/4 cup butter, softened [President, Plugra and Kerrygold are all excellent brands]

1.5 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 Tablespoons heavy cream

4 tablespoons lemon curd

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Instructions:

Blend the softened butter with half of the powdered sugar. Add the cream, lemon curd and vanilla. Gradually add the remaining powdered sugar until the filling is the desired consistency. The filling should be stiff enough to remain on the cookie but not so hard as to crush the shells. Spoon or pipe the filling onto the row of macaron bottoms and cover with a top.

lemonmacsgroup
Lovely Lemon Macarons — 3rd attempt

New! Get this recipe and many more in my new book, BAKING FRENCH MACARONS: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE. Available in eBook and paperback formats!

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
 Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9 

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 7: Pistachios & Vanilla

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

 

pistachios1
Pistachios just before grinding

I had a bag of organic California pistachios and decided to make macarons with freshly ground pistachio flour. So, I read how the flour was made and spent several hours going through the steps. The pistachio nuts were removed from the shells, boiled in hot water to remove the jackets, dried out in the oven, and then ground and sifted. Adding some powdered sugar to the food processor [or spice grinder], prevented the pistachios from turning into pistachio butter. This was the same process for making almond flour out of whole or sliced [preferably blanched] almonds. And this was why I’ll pay about $12 per pound for finely sifted almond flour; which I still have to sift four more times!

 

 

pistachios3
Pistachio flour

After all that sifting, the baker encountered whipping the meringue, the exacting macaronage process, piping round discs of macaron batter, and then getting those delicate little cookie shells in and out of the oven.

Making the buttercream filling is the easy part.

I thought I’d spend part of my Saturday afternoon baking macarons with aged egg whites that were weighed out the night before. The recipe called for 100 grams of egg whites. The scale read 189 grams. I double checked it, subtracting the weight of the small glass bowl yet again. Still over 178 grams. So I subtracted more than half the egg whites until the scale read 109 grams. Okay, that was close enough.

pistachiovanillamacsingred
The ingredients for the shells & most of the equipment

But something didn’t seem right when I mixed the egg whites and added the sugar. The whites weren’t getting glossy. Peaks weren’t forming. Almost 18 minutes later, I had something that seemed like meringue but as soon as I added half the flour/sugar mixture and worked up a sweat trying to incorporate the ingredients, I knew I had a failed batch. The batter would be dumped in the compost heap instead of poured into a piping bag.

My first failure that never made it into the oven. I’d read of that happening and wondered what had gone wrong. Now I knew.

I’d left 3 eggs on the counter, along with the butter I’d use for the filling; some foresight in case I needed more egg whites. I thought I’d try the empty plastic bottle egg separation method I’d seen on a couple of YouTube videos. It looked so easy, but I accidentally jammed the top of the bottle into the yolk and there went that egg. I’d be having an omelette for supper that night! I had two eggs left and fortunately another dozen in the fridge. I used the warm water soak method to get them to room temperature. That took about 10 minutes.

 

pistachiomacsresting
Pistachio shells resting

I colored the batch green because of the pistachio flour. It also contained that marvelous vanilla bean paste which gave it more intense flavor and added interest to the shells. The shells came out flat but with feet. The surface was incredibly smooth and shiny, even with the added spots resulting from the two types of nut flour and the vanilla bean specks.

My day of macaron baking began at  noon and I finished cleaning up just before 7:00 PM. However, I had 35 completed macarons with light brown vanilla bean filling that tasted very rich  and scrumptious.

Want the recipe for vanilla bean shells? The amounts are the same except you can use 55 grams of almond flour and 55 grams of pistachio flour, which is what I did. You won’t taste the difference but you’ll get a more speckled effect with pistachio flour.

pistachiomacsdone
Pistachio shells just out of the oven
pistachiomacscloseup
Close-up of shell — very smooth & shiny

 

pistachiomacsgroup2
Pistachio Vanilla macarons ready to eat!

NEXT WEEK: Let’s talk about lemon macarons!

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
 Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9 

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 6: Vanilla Bean Macarons

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

frenchvanillamacs8
French Vanilla Bean Macarons

Time to try the metric system! I used my trusty little digital scale that I bought for soap crafting. It only measures up to six pounds but does grams and ounces.

I’m a fan of vanilla as I don’t think it’s plain. Vanilla’s a spice, it comes from an orchid and grows in the tropics. It’s not white, it’s black. And I finally tried vanilla bean paste. I highly recommend it. I used Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste because I wanted the tiny seeds and didn’t have to scrape them out of a vanilla pod. I was also curious to try the paste, as I’d read several online reviews from bakers of all levels of expertise citing it was very flavorful. According to the Neilsen-Massey website: “Due to its thick consistency, similar to molasses, this culinary paste enables you to add more delicious vanilla flavor without thinning out your batters or sauces. It’s also ideal for recipes, such as crème brûlée and ice cream, in which you want to add the enticing visual flair of vanilla seeds.” As macaron batter can be finicky, I didn’t want to take a chance in adding vanilla extract and I wanted the vanilla seeds. Win win!

Now, I was supposed to precisely weigh the ingredients but the three eggs didn’t weigh 110 grams but 88 grams. I figured I’d take a chance and I’m glad I did because this batch turned out fine. In fact, by using three rather than two eggs, I ended up with 53 shells. Since I had so much batter, I used a silicone mat on top of two warped cookie sheets. I’d read not to use warped cookie sheets but it didn’t make a difference—the shells came out just fine. So fine that they were effortlessly removed from both parchment and silicone surfaces! That was another first. What’s as good as a macaron with feet? Shells that don’t have to be scraped off with a spatula!

frenchvanillamacs2
The mint color is seen in the back

When I added the vanilla bean paste right after the blue gel colorant, the black seeds were apparent and the blue changed to mint green. After sitting in the fridge overnight, the shells returned to robin’s egg blue again!

I used up the rest of the strawberry buttercream filling and also used more of the lemon curd buttercream which had been double bagged and stored in the freezer. NOTE: Click links for recipes!

frenchvanillamacs4
Vanilla bean macaron with strawberry buttercream filling

TIPS: Sift the almond flour three [3] times before you make the macarons. The fourth time is when you blend it with the confectioners’ sugar. This is why macarons average $2.00 each – they are labor intensive. Patience is needed for crafting these fancy French cookies. 

Sifting almond flour isn’t tons of fun but the more you sift, the smoother and shinier your finished macarons will be. [Check out the one to your left].

French Vanilla Bean Macarons

110 grams ground almond flour

frenchvanillamacs6
Front to back: almond flour, confectioners’ sugar, blue gel & vanilla bean paste

200 grams confectioners’ sugar

100 grams egg whites (3 eggs)

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste [or extract]

50 grams granulated sugar

3 drops blue gel colorant

Pinch of salt

Oven temperature: 300

Instructions:

* Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat. If the sheets are thin, double them up. Macarons are sensitive to heat so they need to be baked on a durable tray that has lots of insulation. You’ll also need a pastry/piping bag with a large round tip ready before you begin.

* Sift powdered sugar with the almond flour. Large grains that don’t make it through can be thrown away or used as a skin exfoliator. I discovered this when I washed the equipment by hand the first time!

* Whisk the sugar and flour to make sure it’s fully blended.

* In a stainless steel or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy like a bubble bath before adding the salt. Then add granulated sugar in 3 batches. Start at a low speed and gradually increase the speed. When finished, the mixture should have stiff peaks. Add color last, but only whip for the briefest amount of time to mix in the color.

* Add dry ingredients to the meringue in 2 batches using a spatula. Fold until the mixture comes together, scraping the sides and flip batter over. When the sugar/flour mixture is blended, the batter will be easier to mix and will look shiny. Lift the spatula and see how quickly batter falls in “ribbons” from the spatula. A ribbon of batter dropped into the bowl should merge with the rest of the batter in 20-30 seconds. Another test is to “write” the number 8 with the batter.

* Add tip to piping bag and then twist near the bottom to prevent any mixture from escaping. The tip should face upwards and that also helps keep the mixture in the piping bag as you place it in a cup and form a cuff over the rim so it’s easy to add the batter.

* Spoon batter into piping bag. Twist the top of the bag and untwist the bottom, gently pushing the just-poured batter toward the bottom. You’ll remove any excess air that way.

* Pipe the batter onto the parchment or silicone mat. With parchment, you can use a template.  

* Pipe batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1.5-inch circles. Keep the batter inside circles if using a template.

* Rap baking sheet several times on the counter. This will further flatten the macarons, and remove air bubbles.

* Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

* Allow macarons to sit for 30-60 minutes until a film forms. Lightly touch a macaron and if no batter clings to your finger then it’s dry and ready to be baked.

* Bake for 12 minutes. The tops should be firm and glossy and the bottoms of the shells should have formed “feet” or frills at the bottom. The risen macarons should be firm with the slightest amount of give. If it wobbles, they require another minute or so. When done, the cookies can easily be removed from the parchment.

* Remove from oven, place cookie sheet on a wire rack or flat surface and let cool completely.

frenchvanillamacs3
Shells on silpat minutes out of the oven

Learn to bake macarons! Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide is available in eBook and paperback editions!

Baking_French_Macarons_A_Beginners_Guide_3da

 

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
 Win free books and a book about baking macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9