I have had a serious handicap in the baking world…..up until very recently, and at the grand old age of 50#**%$(mumblestherest) I have been a macaron virgin *blushes furiously*!! I have been determined to rid myself of the stigma of being so challenged a) because I do like a challenge and b) because I am totally into Macs….the eating of them that is hehe. I read voraciously on other peoples blogs about the macs they have made, I slobber furiously at the mention of all the different flavors….I dream nightly about finding a magical stash of matcha powder somewhere and baking up a macstorm!! I sweat and agonize over whether I would achieve the “happy little feet” that are an essential part of successful mac baking. And wherever I can lay my sweaty little palms on one I grab it and close my eyes and savor the flavors, licking the last little bit of crumb or filling off my fingers. And it has taken months of serious studying for me to feel prepared enough to attack the macs in my own kitchen. But finally I felt I was ready……..did some final reading up from some of my favorite bloggers who are serious maccers – Jamie from Lifesafeast , Aran from Cannelle et Vanille , Deeba from Passionate about Baking ,Meeta from Whats for Lunch, Honey? & Helen from Tartelette ! And then there was one Joe Pastry who really inspired me and gave me the courage to carry on! Jamie suggested that I try chocolate macarons for my first time as the cocoa powder gives some stability to the mixture so being a good girl ( 🙂 ) I decided to listen to a pro and did as I was told. I asked on twitter for flavor combos and got quite a few that sounded good for next time. For my first time though I decided to go with a citrussy vanilla bean white chocolate filling to go with the chocolate shells.
Finally the morning dawned bright and clear…it was not too hot or too cold….the humidity was not too high…..it wasn’t raining…..and more to the point…..my egg whites had ripened on the counter overnight (sounds like a catchy song title to me hehe)! 2 days earlier I had baked my flourless chocolate almond torte for brownieboys birthday dinner and had used up the yolks…so I covered the whites, popped them into the fridge for a day and then left them out overnight as instructed. I had run out of time and excuses…….
I have to say that I was really excited during the time that I was waiting for the oven to heat up and for the skin to form on the piped macs…..but nothing could contain my elation and excitement when I peeked through the oven door and saw…………..FEET forming!!
I am posting a couple of photos here from different angles and I would like to ask my mac guru’s to please give me some good constructive criticism here. Although they had little feet I was not happy with the general appearance of the shells…..they were not nice and smooth like others I have seen. A bit wrinkly and bumpy mine were. Maybe it has something to do with my age 🙂 But I would seriously value any input from any experienced mac bakers out there please as to why they look like they do!
So without further ado……..my miracle first time ever macs!
COLLEEN’S MIRACLE FIRST TIME CHOCOLATE MACARONS WITH VANILLA BEAN & ORANGE WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE FILLING
(adapted from Jamie Schler’s recipe as my egg whites weighed a bit more)
3 XL Egg Whites (weighing just over 115g)
215g Superfine Icing/Confectioners Sugar
130g Blanched Almonds
30g Granulated Sugar
15g unsweetened cocoa powder (I used NoMu in mine)
Leave the egg-whites in a covered container to ripen overnight on the kitchen counter (not in the fridge)
Line a large flat baking sheet with baking parchment on which you have drawn small rounds about an inch or so apart in rows. Make sure this side is on the underside next to the baking sheet
Prepare a pastry bag with just the coupler and no nozzle. Stand it up in a glass ready to be filled
Grind the almonds together with the icing or confectioners sugar until fine
Add the cocoa powder to this mixture then sift it all into a large bowl and set aside
Using your electric mixer with the whisk blade or using a handheld mixer beat the eggs until foamy then add half of the granulated sugar and beat until shiny. Add the remainder of the sugar and beat well again until glossy and firm peak stage is reached. If you can turn the bowl upside down without the egg whites sliding out then you are good to go.
Place about ¼ of the mixture into the dry ingredients and mix in using a silicon spatula
Add the rest of the egg white mixture and fold the mixtures together using a lift and fold method while turning the bowl around. Make sure you mix all the dry mixture into the wet. It should take about 30 turns and lifts. When it is ready the mixture should be thick and fall off the spatula like molten lava.
Test some by placing a spoonful onto a flat surface. If it spreads immediately into the round flattish form then it is ready. If it stays a bit peaked then fold the mixture just a few more times. You definitely don’t want over mixed batter otherwise the macarons will not bake properly.
Fill the piping bag and pipe the mixture onto the circles that you previously drew on the baking parchment.
Preheat oven to 1500C Place the shelf on the lower middle rack of the oven
Allow the baking sheet with the piped batter to stand at room temperature for about 30 – 40 minutes until a thin skin has formed on the meringue batter. This is what causes the little feet to form on each meringue shell when they are baking.
Place into the preheated oven and bake for about 12 – 15 minutes. Test one after 12 minutes and if the top still wobbles loosely on the bottom then pop it back in for another minute or so and test again.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on the parchment paper for at least half an hour before gently peeling them off the paper and placing them on a cooling rack to cool completely before filling the shells.
VANILLA BEAN & ORANGE WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE (my own recipe)
100g Good Quality White Chocolate (I used Lindt)
20ml Fresh Whipping Cream
Finely grated zest from ½ an orange
Seeds from ½ split Vanilla Pod
Chop the chocolate roughly, add the cream and microwave at 20% power for 1 minute then allow to stand for a few minutes until the chocolate has melted.
Stir in the zest and vanilla seeds then pop it into the fridge for about 5 minutes to cool
Using a small wire whisk whip the ganache until it is thick and smooth.
Pipe a small amount (just a scant teaspoon) of ganache onto a meringue shell and then sandwich it together with another shell that is the same size and shape.
Repeat until all are paired and completed. (I found that pairing the dry shells together with the best matching shells, before filling them, worked well)
So there you have it…………I am a mac virgin no more and feel totally liberated 🙂 What’s more, they were pretty successful and tasted absolutely fabulous. I am looking forward to more mad mac moments in my future. Can I join the mac club now?? Just btw, I have seen a LOT of places where people have spelled these little darlings macaroons…in my mind macaroons are coconutty cookies…not these delicate little French meringue shells begging for exotic flavored and colored fillings.
So to all those mac virgins out there……its not that difficult to do and you will never know the feeling of elation until you have made them yourselves. Go do it! And share with everyone when you do.