Macarons. Macarons are those famous treats that both delight and frustrate. From what I’ve learned testing some recipes for these sweet treats there’s a lot to remember when it comes to making Macarons, and missing even one step can produce some rather interesting results. But because I had such success with the beignets I was emboldened, and I knew I had to give Macarons a go for this FF!.
It’s been a really fun challenge, and I feel as though I’ve learned a lot of skills on the side from practicing these recipes. For one thing I seem to have recovered the ability to separate eggs with my hands. I know it’s normal for a lot of people to do it, but for a long time I have been known for “Hulking out” on eggs, accidentally half crushing them when attempting to crack them delicately, and so on. I have a rather strong grip for someone with tendinitis and such apparently! But it was fun to be able to separate eggs bare handed again, as I didn’t then have to worry about the yolk breaking or washing the egg separator afterwards! And there’s something very zen about separating them with your bare hands, oddly enough.
I have also become a lot more confident in my ability to make meringue base. Twice now I have managed to get beautifully stiff, glossy peaks, which I have then been able to do the trick of holding upside down over my head without ending up with a terrible mess afterwards! The first time I was tentative about it, but the second time I took the risk and just upended the bowl over my head to see what would happen. The egg whites didn’t so much as wobble.
They were perfect! But getting used to Macarons has been interesting. I have now learned the importance of a very uniform batter, as not having it uniform will mean the tops will crack. I have learned the importance of texture, and how the batter must be able to run from your spatula in one smooth, unbroken sort of ribbon like lava or honey. I have also learned that the tap you give the baking sheet of Macarons against the counter can’t be all that gentle, as that won’t shake the air bubbles out and will mean little air pockets inside your Macarons. Lastly, the importance of letting the Macarons sit at room temperature to form a skin on the top. I still have a lot to learn, but I have gained a lot along the way!
When folding the batter, I cut through the middle with the flat of the spatula and drew a big J in the bowl as I folded and turned it, this seemed to work better for the texture of the Macaron mix. Using a large, round piping tip or cut in the piping bag as recommended works well, because the mixture will be thick enough you don’t have to worry about it running out all over the place and you don’t want a gigantic ball of mixture, you just want a semi-flat circle. Extra sifting and grinding is useful because lumps in the flour – be it almond, pistachio, hazelnut, etc, can make the batter not come together well or be less uniform. I sifted my second recipe’s dry mix an extra two or three times and used my little smoothie blender to work the lumps out. Using a stencil the first time to get a feel for the shape and spacing of the Macarons.
What Didn’t Work
Not folding enough with the first batter. I didn’t fold enough to get the batter completely uniform, so some of mine cracked. With the second batch I counted how many folds I needed until I had that honey/lava texture, and I did about 40-45 folds after adding the second half of the flour mix before I was satisfied with the texture. I think the first time I was worried about over folding, but seeing the improved texture reassured me. Not using a wide enough piping tip/cut in the bag the first time wasn’t so great, as I noticed that it was so much easier to pipe more uniform Macarons using the larger cut/piping head as recommended. With the second batch I didn’t give them as rough a bang as I did with the first batch, so there were still some air bubbles trapped under the skin.
There is a lot of information about Macarons out there, and it can seem overwhelming, but having done some research actually really helped me out a lot. Also I find in general that recipes done by weight/volume tend to be more successful than recipes not using such exact measurements. But that can also be personal preference.