It's been a while since my macaron making classes and I have been dying to try making them all by my self at home. I just assumed that since we made such beauties at the class, making them at home would be a breeze as well. How wrong I was!
First I had trouble finding almond meal so I ground up some almonds in my blender and had some delicious flat free form almond cookies, but no macarons since grinding nuts makes them oily and hence makes the batter too liquid-y. Note: if you are grinding the almonds yourself, check frequently to ensure you don't grind them so much they start releasing oils.
After T finally found almond meal at our local Trader Joe's (They are in the nut section in case you're looking-not in the baking section and ask for almond meal and not almond flour!) I set about aging the eggwhites for a long 24 hours on my kitchen counter and had just a little more success. They weren't smooth and shiny on top, nor did they have the characteristic ruffle-like underside "feet", and they do look more like whoopie pies than macarons but sandwiched with a dollop of Nutella, they were delicious. ( Nutella makes anything better :) I think not sifting the rather coarse almond meal enough caused my downfall. Maybe I should have pulsed it in the food processor to make it finer.
Macaron pundits may have also raised an eyebrow when I eschewed the pastry bag in favour of a spritz cookie gun fitted with the icing tip. I had a mess last time after my overfull pastry bag started leaking from the other end and I must say I think the cookie gun is way easier to handle-using my free hand to guide the gun, making sure I was holding it at 90 degrees.
I used Namthip's recipe from class. It is very similar to the one posted on her site except halved.
Recipe source: Namthip of Bonbini
Makes 80 shells (I halved the recipe)
For the shell
- 140 g almond flour
- 10 g cocoa powder, Dutch-processed
- 200 g powdered sugar
- 45 g egg whites, aged
- 30 g sugar
- 55 g egg whites, aged
Method for the shell
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Sift almond flour, cocoa powder and powdered sugar together in a big bowl, discard the solids.
(If the almond flour or meal is too coarse, pulse in your food processor until fine and powdery- but careful! don't over grind or you'll make it oily)
3. Create “Mass” by folding almond flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and 45 g of egg whites together with a big spoon. The mass will look lumpy. That's ok
4. To make French meringue: whip egg whites in a mixer on medium speed to soft peaks. Slowly pour sugar in three additions, continue whipping to medium peaks. Basically the peak should stand up at 90 degrees. Another way to test us to carefully turn the bowl upside down. If the whites stay in the bowl without falling out that mean's they're done.
5. Fold in 25% of meringue into “Mass” to lighten the mixture.
6. Fold in the rest of meringue carefully in circular motions, cutting the batter to incorporate the whites well, until the batter has a "magma' like consistency- basically if you put a drop of the batter on a plate, it should sink into itself and not have a peak. If it has a peak, fold a little more. Don't overfold or it'll be too runny.
7. Place into a piping bag with plain tip # 3, pipe 1" diameter circles on sheet pan lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. ( I used a spritz cookie gun fitted with the icing tip since I haven't quite mastered double ended squirty icing bags)
8. Rap the tray on the counter to get rid of air bubbles.Rest for an hour to form skins.
9. Place another baking tray under the tray with the batter (doubling the tray-this helps to ensure the underside of the macs don't get overbaked) Lower the oven temperature to 320 degrees, bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the trays half way through.
10. Let them cool on a silicone baking mat, then remove and sandwich them with the filling.
( If you are having trouble removing the parchment paper from the tray, keep it in the freezer for a few mins and then you should be able to peel the parchment paper off easily)
I was thinking of making a Nutella ganache but then decided I couldn't wait so just spooned a dab of Nutella and sandwiched my macs. Although this kind of overpowered the delicate flavour of the almond flour shells, I can't say I regret it. Who can resist the chocolate-hazelnut combination and creamy texture of Nutella?It's a firm favourite right through from childhood. We didn't bother to spread it on anything but licked spoonfuls with sheer delight. Well not much has changed! I have been wanting to make a Nutella filled macaron for ages. I would like to try a hazelnut macaron the next time though, after I have had a little more success with the basic recipe!
Although a failure, I'm sending my feetless, pockmarked macs to this month's Macattack hosted by the amazing Deeba and Jamie at the Mactweets blog.
Mad about macarons? Meet others who are obsessed and hear what they have to say about Technique and Macronnage and those blasted feet!
Helen's inspiring recipes
David Lebowitz's recipes and links for further reading
Coco's tips and pics
Duncan's exhaustive notes and step by step photos
Meeta's quick notes and tips
Deeba's macaron adventures