Macarons: Something a Little Different

I think I’ve mentioned here before that my daughter is on a restricted diet at the moment. It makes cooking a bit of a challenge (no onions and no garlic!!) and baking has been altered somewhat to include gluten free options. The macarons, as lovely and delicious as they are and even though they’re gluten free, are not an option for her as they contain almonds and she has a sensitivity to all tree nuts (I have a similar sensitivity but mine is limited to hazelnuts).

Because of that, I decided to try making nut free macarons today. I found a couple of options. One uses grated white chocolate instead of almonds. Stella, over at Bravetart, suggests using pumpkin seeds (pepitas), which I usually have handy. She also has a recipe for macarons made with corn flour. I made the ones with the pumpkin seeds; maybe I’ll try the corn flour macarons another day.

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They didn’t turn out quite the same as the macarons I’ve made so far but they to taste good. They didn’t rise very well and not one tray of macarons developed feet, unfortunately but I’m not overly concerned. My daughter can actually eat them.

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I filled them with whipped chocolate ganache and raspberry curd and drizzled them with ganache.

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Right now, they’re mellowing out at my backdoor (it’s hovering around the freezing mark, making the great outdoors one giant refrigerator). They’ll make a nice little treat for tomorrow, her birthday.

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Macarons – Round Four: Perfection?

After reading the article I linked to in Macarons – Round Two, I decided to try using my mixer to integrate the sugar/almond mixture. I wasn’t sure how it would work until I came across the following video (it’s in French but it isn’t difficult to follow).

I do love listening to “real” French; it’s the French I learned in high school. I could understand quite a bit of the video but I wish I could understand more of it. I kept wanting to say “lentement, plus lentement” (slower, much slower).

As in the video, I added some colour to the last batch because I remembered that I still had some FD&C powdered colours. You’ve read the results of the above experiment in my last post. Armed now with everything I’ve learned, I’m ready for Round Four.

I decided this time, I would try Lemon Macarons. I went shopping this morning and picked up a couple of gel colours at our local Bulk Barn; I picked up some brown, red, and yellow, thinking I could mix colours to make new colours (a la artiste using paints). Silly me, I forgot to get the blue. Ah well, the store’s not that far out of my way and I’m there fairly regularly. I’ll just have to remember to pick some up next time.

So how did it go, you ask? Well, not perfection but better than most of the macarons I’ve made so far. To be honest, I think I could have mixed the batter just a little more; it may have been a bit thick.

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Some of them developed feet, others didn’t. Some are hollow, others aren’t. I have a feeling, too, that I may be taking them out of the oven too soon. I should probably leave them a little longer or turn the oven up just slightly. Thank goodness I have an oven thermometer now; it’s definitely made a difference in our baking and cooking. I mean, we knew it ran hot but we had no idea it was even hotter than we’d realized.

I’m sort of following a recipe with these Triple Lemon macarons (links below); sort of because I am, and have been using, the same recipe for all the macarons I’ve made so far. I’m making the lemon buttercream in the Triple Lemon macarons recipe and, instead of using supermarket lemon curd, I’m making my own using an Alton Brown recipe.

Again, it’s a learning process. It definitely takes a few batches (or more) to learn what the perfect texture for the batter is. I’m pretty happy with this batch, though.

That said, I’m still aiming for perfection!

Recipes used in the making of these macarons:

  1. Alton Brown’s Lemon Curd
  2. The Blond Buckeye’s Triple Lemon Macarons (Lemon Buttercream recipe)
  3. Step by Step Guide to French Macarons at Sally’s Baking Addiction 

Macarons – Throwing Caution to the Wind

Armed with everything I’ve learned this week, I decided to throw all caution to the wind. I broke numerous macaron “rules”, like the one that dictates you have to incorporate your sugar and almonds by hand; like the one that says to allow your macarons to dry slightly; like the one that says you need to age your eggs or use room temperature whites. Yup, I broke those. So, what are the results you ask? Mixed, I’d say.

As for using room temperature, aged egg whites, I really don’t think it matters all that much. My egg whites beat up just fine (forgot to add a pinch of salt), as I was pretty sure they would (see here). I took it slowly, working my way up to full speed, adding colour before I got to the peak stage (I used FD&C powdered colour as that’s what I have in house). Then, I used the mixer to incorporate (just barely) the icing sugar/almond mixture. I stopped as soon as everything was mixed. I finished up by hand and may have gone a touch too far. I also made this batch larger than I have so far, just cuz.

Then I baked. They cracked. Boy, did they crack! The first batch I baked didn’t get any feet; they also hadn’t rested to develop a skin.

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The second batch has feet but also has cracks. At this point, they’d rested for about 15-20 minutes and were tacky to the touch.

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The third tray looks the best of the three, less cracking, nice looking feet. These had rested approximately 30 -35 minutes and were almost dry to the touch.

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So what have I learned? Some things are important. From here on in, I will let them dry, to develop that skin. It definitely seems to help. I think I will blend the sugar/almond mixture by hand. There’s a level of satisfaction in the mixing. It isn’t a chore; it’s almost therapeutic. As for the egg whites, I really don’t think it matters whether they’re cold or room temperature, fresh or aged. I think the amount of the egg whites is more important than the age. As I said earlier, in a previous blog post, if you’re going to err with the weight of the egg whites, err on the side of less rather than more.

I’m still on a quest to make the perfect macaron; I’ll keep posting about it, at least until I’m comfortable with what I’m doing. Some times, though, you just have to throw caution to the wind. It’s part of the learning.

My takeaway, at this point in the process, is not to worry too much about perfection. Sure, try for it but, you know what? Even though they don’t look perfect, they sure do taste good!

P.S. These will be filled with a White Chocolate Raspberry Ganache… at this point, it’s still firming up.