Why what do we have here? Just my long promised second (and more successful!) post about making macarons! I know. I left you hanging for forever. A few of you even emailed me. But what can I say? I got distracted by other goodies like pineapple upside-down cake, cappuccino cheesecake, and a delicious orange pound cake that I still need to post.
I recently began seeing a group of people on twitter posting about a monthly #mactweets event. It took me a while to figure out what exactly was going on, but eventually I got it : a group of people looking to perfect macarons, and sharing laughs, encouragement, and cheers along the way. All with a monthly theme. I’ve been watching from the sidelines for a while, but decided that this would be the month that I would jump right in.
The theme for March is “Spring Fling: Baking Your Favorite Springtime Flowers.” I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy some of the beautiful dried flowers that they keep in the bulk bins at the co-op, so this was the perfect month for me to start! It took me a while to settle on a flavor, but I ended up choosing lavender and vanilla bean macarons with buttercream frosting.
I’m not going to lie. These are tricky little devils to make! It actually took me two tries to get them right – I over folded my first batch and ended up with flat, cracked cookies that stuck to the baking sheet and were a huge mess to clean up. But I didn’t give up. Instead, I did a little more reading and gave it another go. My results still weren’t perfect, but they were a lot closer! I mean, how cute are these?!
A few tips that I learned along the way:
- You need to mix the batter a lot more than you think you should. It’s ok! Start out quickly and the slow down — it should take around 50 strokes. When it’s folded enough, the batter will flow like magma, and a line drawn in it with a knife will disappear after about 10 seconds.
- Use a scale. It’s much more accurate than trying to measure your ingredients.
- Parchment paper works better than a silpat. I don’t know why, but it does.
- Don’t crowd your oven. Bake one tray at a time, turning it halfway through so they cook evenly.
- It’s much easier to put your “toppings” on before the macarons bake. I don’t now why I thought I would be able to get stuff to stick to them once they were baked last time!!
Also, one of the things that I didn’t like about the other recipe I had used was that it didn’t call for the piped macarons to rest before baking. Instead, you baked them for a few minutes at a high temperature, and then the rest of the way at a lower temperature. I much prefer the method of letting them rest, which helps the tops dry out. When they bake, the dried top will rise straight up, giving you nice, ruffly “feet.”
The tops on this batch isn’t as smooth as I would have liked — blame that on me being lazy and not sifting my sugar/almond mixture. Also, I didn’t let my egg white age (my aged white went into my failed batch). I’m not sure what aging does to them, but these seemed to come out ok. They were also a little more hollow than they should be. So I know what I have to work on for next month. But for now, not bad, if I do say so myself.
Lavender and Vanilla Bean Macarons
Based on various recipes from Helen of Tartelette
Every macaron recipe that I’ve seen calls for the egg whites to be aged for at least 24 hours. I used fresh eggs and did not have a problem with these, but your milage may vary. Lavender has a very strong flavor, so I recommend topping using it only on the tops, rather than on the tops and bottoms. I filled my macarons with store bougt buttercream frosting that I added some vanilla bean to and colored with a few drops of food coloring. The others are filled with Nutella. While I wouldn’t go as fat as saying that macarons are healthy, there are cookies that are far worse. I also find it very easy to control my portion size with them – they’re so delicate that one or two with a cup of tea is plenty.
90 grams eggs white (approx. 3), aged for about 24 hours at room-temperature 30 grams sugar 200 grams powdered sugar 110 grams almond flour 1/2 vanilla bean 1 Tbs dried lavender 1/4 cup buttercream icing (I died mine pink with a few drops of food coloring)
Use a stand mixer or eggbeaters to beat your egg whites until they begin to foam. Add the sugar and continue to beat until you have a glossy meringue that holds a soft peak.
Combine the almonds and powdered sugar, then press through a sieve to remove any lumps. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean.
Add the almond mixture to the meringue. Give it a few quick beats to break down the meringue, then fold slowly until everything is incorporated and the batter flows like a ribbon. If you run a knife through the batter and the line disappears after 10 seconds, you’e all set.
Transfer the batter to a pastry bad or a large zip-lock bag. Pike small rounds onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle half with the lavender, then let sit for one hour. When the top feel firm to the touch, your ready to bake them.
Heat the oven to 280. Bake, one sheet at a time, for about 10 minutes. Turn the sheet and bake from another 8-10 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies.
Let cool, and remove from the baking sheets. If you have difficulty removing them, run water under the parchment paper. Remove the macarons immediately after doing this or they will get soggy!!
Spread a little icing on the center of each plain macaron (the ones without the lavender). Top with a lavender macaron half.
These keep great at room temperature and are even better the second day!
Yields Approx. 20 macarons
Approx. 90 calories, 3.3 grams fat, 0.6 grams fiber, 2 grams protein each