Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Macarons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
At first, I wasn't going to participate in this month's challenge because macarons are made primarily of two ingredients I do not like: nuts (i.e., almond flour) and meringue. However, because I've always been curious as to if i could ever create the coveted "feet" on the first try, I went along with the challenge and decided I would just give these French cookies to my students and colleagues afterward.

Now I can say proudly that I've made macarons and even saw the "feet" on my first and second attempts. The second batch didn't come out as well as the first one, but they tasted much better. While both batches didn't come out perfectly, they were good enough for my first and second attempts. I have posted some process photos below for the chocolate macarons:

I put the almond flour and powdered sugar in my (NEW!!) food processor...

I noticed how much I like the juxtaposition of onyx and silver on my techie stuff and kitchen appliances. My stand mixer, laptop, desktop (not pictured), and food processor are all the same color!


...and sifted the mixture twice and still got bumpy macarons. Oh well.
I added about 15 grams of cocoa powder and then sifted again.
Beat the egg whites until you reach stiff peaks.

Fold the almond mixture into the stiff egg whites in 3 installments. Keep folding until the batter looks like magma or lava. Do not under- or over-stir!
Put the mixture into a piping bag. I didn't use a tip the first time around. With the second batch, I used a 1/2-inch rounded tip. I didn't see any difference in the outcome.

See? The pre-baked macarons look pretty good (shape-wise) without the aid of a tip. I'm not that great of a "piper", but I was pretty satisfied with how they were turning out at this point, despite the bumpy texture.
For the first batch, I made chocolate macarons with coffee buttercream and Mexican chocolate ganache. I didn't like the taste of the chocolate ones because I could taste the almond flavor. The buttercream and ganache were divine though!
For the second batch, I made a "cinnamon roll" macaron because I was craving cinnamon rolls. I added a blend of cinnamon (~10 grams) and brown sugar (~10grams) to the almond flour and powdered sugar mix. Then I made my go-to cream cheese frosting that I use for my favorite cinnamon rolls.
I, of course, just had to take a bite of the macaron for the blog (sorry for the many bad photos!), and that was when I realized how yummy these were. I have to admit that these were really, really good. I also added a little bit of Mexican chocolate ganache in the middle of a few of the macarons, but I didn't like that variety very much. It was overkill.

CHALLENGE AFTERTHOUGHTS: I don't regret participating in this month's challenge; it was a good experience, and I can now say I've made macarons. I doubt I'll ever make them again, even though the cinnamon roll macarons were very good. I have a bunch of them sitting in my freezer, and I plan to give them away to my students on Monday.

*UPDATE* I gave them away today and my students and colleagues LOVED both varieties. Some came back for seconds. I got rid of them all very quickly. I was surprised at how no one had heard of macarons, especially my colleagues who have traveled to Western Europe many of times.
I personally think they were pretty easy to make even though mine didn't come out perfectly. If I were to make them again, I would need to find a better way to sift the dry mixture. Anyway, I enjoyed studying many videos and food blogs relating to macarons, including Tartelette's (she won't be referenced to very often by other bloggers in this challenge HAH!) and Mad Baker's blogs. Thanks for this challenge, Ami! Also, thanks to all the food bloggers and youtube cooks with their tips, photos, videos, and blogs about macarons. Don't forget to check out what the other Daring Bakers did for this challenge!

adapted from Tartelette

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 large eggs
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water (I used instant coffee)

In a small heavy saucepan set over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the water. While stirring bring the mixture to a boil, stop stirring, and continue to cook until it registers 235-240°F on a candy thermometer.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand held beater beat the eggs until they are frothy. Add the sugar syrup in a thin stream, beating, and beat the mixture until it is cool. (The mixture should change to a pale white, thick mixture. You will be have to beat the mixture for 5-10 minutes in order to reach that point.)

Change to the paddle attachment and add in the room-temperature butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, the espresso or coffee mixture, and beat the buttercream until it is combined well. Leave at room temperature so it will be easier to spread.

Cream Cheese Filling

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' or icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Beat together cream cheese and butter. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt.

26 comments:

  1. Wow they look delicious. love the pictures.

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  2. Ok, everyone likes chocolate, but cinnamon, brown sugar and cream cheese? Ridiculously awesome! :)

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  3. I thought I was done with macs for a while. But now I really want to try those cinnamon roll macs! Well done!

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  4. WOw very impressive work and these are your 1st and 2nd batches super effort. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

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  5. I have to agree with Audax, you have displayed an impressive body of work with your macarons! From the photos to the artful way you demonstrated the entire process is flawless! You make it look so easy! Like I always say, when I grow up, I want to be just like you :o)

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  6. Oh, I forgot to add: Your NEW Kitchenaid food processor looks great! It makes me want to go out and buy one so I can get in the kitchen and process a "mess of something!" ;o)

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  7. Love the great change up of flavors you have going on here!!! Looks delicious!

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  8. You did fantastic! Great job. Love the fall flavors going on here.

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  9. WOW! fabulous.. Barbara linked me here and am i glad.. Kudos on cracking it on the first try!!!

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  10. Omgosh those cinnamon roll ones look amazing! I've never made macarons. I do need to try. They don't look too difficult from your pictures. Maybe I'll give it a go.

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  11. Thanks for the process photos, your macaronage looks perfect! Great job!

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  12. Cinnamon flavoured macs sounds delicious indeed. :)

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  13. Thanks for the compliments everyone. The cinnamon roll macarons really were good.

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  14. Wow! Your macs turned out beautifully! I love the cinnamon roll idea! I sifted and processed my almond mixture twice and still got bumps too. But, I got feet, so I'm not complaining! ;)

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  15. Your macs look PERFECT! Great job!!! The cinnamon roll recipe sounds absolutely amazing...Wow!

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  16. Cara Memória, OBRIGADA por me informar que a língua do Brasil é o português, você se espantará ao saber que eu me envolvi com o país já há algum tempo. Concordo contigo, estereótipos brasileiros me dão arrepios também e este era meu objetivo ao escrever este post de modo sarcástico (é meu estilo) para mostrá-la até que ponto é importante que o Brasil seja exposto ao mundo durante as olimpíadas. Assim. Estou contigo! E por favor, perdõe o Nico --- ele é argentino...

    e ps. seus macarons estão LINDOS também, acho que farei uns de canela para o natal quando meu brasileiro vier me visitar :)

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  17. Great job on the challenge - you will find that you suddenly have more friends when they find out you macarons .. hehe! Anyway, the cinnamon ones look lovely!

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  18. Yours are not just gorgeous, but I also love the flavors you chose! A job very well done!

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  19. Gorgeous, such a beautiful macarons. It was a fun challenge, wasn't it?

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  20. Hi Memoria, so glad you stopped by my blog, so I could see yours. Great pics! Re the queso fundido, I'm sure could use water or chicken broth.

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  21. You did a wonderful job and next time it will be better, I am sure. I hope to see some pan de muerto on your blog later :D

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  22. OH WOW, first ket me start off by saying I love your blog. Phenomenal food, great photography, and mad skills! Secondly, your macarons are stunning..textbook perfect, and the cinnamon roll macaron is not only creative, but one I must make ASAP! I think I'm going to be a frequent visitor here, especially after seeing those cinnamon rolls above! Beautifully done and major yum!

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  23. Genius! Those cinnamon roll macarons are sick! I'm gonna keep those in mind when I try my hand at macarons.

    Btw, where's the bad photos? Oh, yeah, there aren't any here! :)
    ~ingrid

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  24. perfect macaroons, and great work at process pictures

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  25. Oh! I'm so sorry I misseed this... you see, your comment on my blog (thank you so much) has made me discover your beautiful blog! WOW!

    Those macarons are crazy amazing! They look soooo tender! And the colours are very appetizing! Bravo... macarons are known to be pretty hard to make, Bravissimo to you!

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  26. They totally like they're supposed too! I love those things, very impressive!

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