Are you intimidated by these little cuties? I really was, especially after reading everywhere how fickle they are, how important technique is, etc. I’ve now made these well over a dozen times and each batch gets better than the last. I think the key is the batter consistency more than anything else. Here are some things I DON’T do, as I haven’t found them necessary for making macarons (macs for short!):
– aging the egg whites (I only separate them an hour or 2 ahead of time to get them to room temp so they whip up better)
– using cream of tartar (I used this for several batches and then left it out, and haven’t seen a difference in my macs)
As we speak I have close to a dozen egg yolks in my fridge leftover from my macaron-making extravaganza, so I’m open to suggestions on what to do with those!
Here are some step-by-step pics to help you along.
Those are freeze-dried strawberries, btw, not just dried. Regular dried fruit has too much moisture for macs – you need to keep those babies dry! Aldi and Target sell freeze-dried fruit.
This is how I get my flours light and fluffy. I don’t own a traditional sifter (I don’t like extra stuff sitting around my kitchen!), but I use a fine mesh colander and just gently tap it against my opposite hand to sift the flour/sugar together. I’ll do this a total of 2 times for making macs.
Do you own a scale for baking yet? You totally should!! This has been one of the things that has improved my baking for sure, maybe more than anything else. I used to skip over certain recipes written in metric, frankly because I’m lazy by nature and never wanted to convert stuff (even though Google would do it for me – I guess I’m really THAT lazy!); now I don’t have to and can make any recipe that looks awesome.
This is what your egg whites should look like when you start slowly adding your granulated sugar to make your meringue. I just eyeball it, while I’m whipping, adding a tablespoon of sugar at a time.
Not ready yet…almost there…
THIS is what you want – literally turn the bowl over your head and it shouldn’t move – hope you whipped them correctly 😉
Added my gel dye to this – going for a pretty strawberry color. I HIGHLY recommend gel colors, as I only had to use 2 drops to get to this shade. Keep in mind it will lighten a bit when you add your flour/sugar.
When you finally add your flour/sugar mix to your egg whites, you will say to yourself, “What the heck is this?? There is no way this will become the beautiful little macaron I know.” BUT IT WILL. You will keep folding it together – not violently, but not gently either. Don’t worry about not deflating your egg whites, cuz you’ll have to. You’ll need to keep an eye on it though, mixing it by hand with a spatula or wooden spoon.
BEHOLD – correct macaron consistency. The best description I’ve read for this is lava. It will slowly flow a bit like lava, but not too much or it’ll spread on your pan. When you pick up a blob of it on your spatula and let it drop in the bowl, the edges will disappear within a few seconds. Now is a good time to stop – don’t keep going because you like to mix stuff!
Here is a disposable pastry bag with a round tip – not sure of the size of the tip cuz I’m cheap and don’t buy the good stuff with numbers on them apparently 😉
Here is the fun part! That template underneath is from here – http://www.southernfatty.com/macarons-101/ – I printed out that template and cut them into strips and glued the strips onto construction paper, since I like to pipe mine closer. I will say that many times I DON’T use a template at all and just eyeball it. But my eyeballs are crooked sometimes 🙂 Just pipe them what size you want onto parchment paper.
Here is the cutest ever tiny colander sifting some crushed freeze-dried strawberries onto tops of macs right after piping. BTW – I have in fact added crushed strawberry powder to my mac batter and I could never get to the correct consistency. My macs would be a bit lumpy and not flat enough for my liking.
Now LET THEM SIT. You want to be able to touch them without getting goo on your finger. I’ll generally place them on my kitchen table with the ceiling fan above it on low and go do something else while I’m waiting. Depending on humidity in your kitchen, this could take 15, 30 minutes, or more.
Ready to go and lookin’ good. Once they’re no longer gooey, preheat that oven. You DID take the paper template out before putting them in, didn’t you??
(PIC OF THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE OVEN) – Sorry, forgot to grab one of these 😉
YAY! They are done now, right? They will gently lift off parchment when finished, i.e. if you lift one off and half sticks to paper, they aren’t ready. Keep an eye on them…they can go from not finished to too hard and slightly browned pretty quickly.
These babies are done and ready to fill. Before making the buttercream I turn them upside down and pair each mac with a partner of the same size. A few won’t be exact, but that’s okay; they’ll either be slightly uneven or you can eat them if you can’t live with the asymmetry 🙂
These are the ingredients to some fabulous strawberry buttercream. I added a splash of heavy cream to thin it out a bit. You don’t want drippy, but you need to be able to pipe it onto your macs.
Just….about….there. Quick, pair them up and EAT! These freeze fantastically, are good in the fridge for probably a week or so. Bring to room temp before serving. Enjoy! — Tiffany