Monday, April 16, 2012

Cooking Challenge: French Macarons

French Macarons! The temperamental, yet adored, cookie is a cooking challenge that many home bakers one day aspire to make. A group of fellow food bloggers decided to conquer this cookie together, so we could share our questions, successes, and tales of woe. See the round-up here!

In my search for macaron recipes, I came across some adorable Easter bunny macarons, and instantly knew that was what I wanted to make. I kept the flavoring simple - vanilla bean, and let the caramel buttercream from my Glee cupcake pull double duty for the filling.

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This was definitely a learning experience for me. I was so happy that, by all appearances, everything went well with the macarons: they have feet and for the most part they did not stick to the parchment. Going through the process of making them, I had a few concerns that I will pay more attention to if I make them again.

First, I think I would have benefited from sifting the almond meal/powdered sugar mix. When I added it to the egg whites, the batter was very lumpy. I had to do a lot of folding/mixing to get it smooth, and I think by then I had deflated it too much and the batter was more runny than it should have been (though it wasn't flowing like ribbons, either, so all around it was a little confusing). It probably would have been fine for just piping rounds, but the ears require a thicker batter to stay separate, and clearly my poor bunnies ended up with uni-ears.

I also think that I under baked the bunny faces by maybe a minute. In hindsight, I should have put all the faces on one sheet and the rounds on another. The rounds didn't need as long as the faces and a little extra time in the oven would have helped the faces that were reluctant to release from the parchment.

Sadly, after all that, I was a bit underwhelmed with them. I've never had macarons before, so perhaps I need to taste some made by someone who actually knows what they are doing, but I felt very take-it-or-leave-it. However, my aunt ate three of them at Easter, so I must have done something right.

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Vanilla bean bunny macarons with caramel swiss meringue buttercream were a fun addition to our Easter dinner!


Vanilla Bean French Macarons with Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Vanilla Bean French Macarons with Caramel Swiss Meringue ButtercreamSource: Adapted from Annie's Eats and inspired by Raspberri Cupcakes
Yield: About 12 bunnies
Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus one hour resting time
Cook time: 12-18 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 110 grams almonds (blanched or slivered), or almond meal
  • 200 grams powdered sugar
  • 100 grams egg whites (about 3 large eggs), aged at room temperature for 12-24 hours or in the fridge for 3-5 days
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 50 grams granulated sugar
  • 50 grams granulated sugar
  • chocolate sprinkles, sugar pearls, and foodwriter pen for decorating
  • caramel swiss meringue buttercream

Instructions

  1. Pulse the almonds and powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor until finely ground and well blended. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pod into the mixing bowl. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue beating until a smooth, shiny meringue with stiff peaks forms. Blend in the vanilla extract, if using.

  2. Add the ground almond mixture to the bowl with the meringue and quickly but gently fold together using a wide rubber spatula until no streaks remain. You want to achieve a thick batter that ribbons or flows from the spatula when lifted.

  3. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain wide round tip. Pipe into small rounds on the prepared baking sheets (each round should be about 1-1½ inches in diameter, with 12 rounds on one sheet and 12 rounds with bunny ears on another), spaced about 1 inch apart. Add sugar pearls for nose and tails (I used a cluster of about 7 to make a tail), and sprinkles for whiskers. Let sit at room temperature for about an hour to develop a hard shell.

  4. Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Bake for 12-18 minutes, depending on size. (Baking time can vary widely due to humidity and other factors of your kitchen environment. To test whether or not the cookies are done, let cool for a minute until cool enough to touch. Carefully attempt to remove one shell from the silpat. If it cracks at all or does not remain intact, continue to bake until one is removed intact.) Transfer the pans to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely before moving the cookies. Draw eyes on bunnies with foodwriter pen.

  5. Pipe a small dollop of buttercream onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair. Sandwich together with the remaining cookie, pushing the filling to the edges. Store in the fridge overnight in an airtight container. Serve at room temperature


    5 comments:

    1. They came out so adorable! So stinking cute, and look fabulous for your first time!! ;-)

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    2. They look so good! I've never had macarons either, and one of the reasons I haven't tried making them yet is that they don't sound all THAT good to me.

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    3. These are so adorable, bookmarking this for next Easter!

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    4. How cute are those?!? I found that I liked macaroons better the 2nd or 3rd day. At first I wasn't very impressed either but they definitely grew on me when I made them.

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    5. interesting recipe..compliments.:)
      new to your space..
      lovely space you have
      happy following you..:)
      do stop by mine sometime
      Tasty Appetite

      ReplyDelete