Friday, January 31, 2014

Fancy: French macarons!

At the beginning of the year, I made some goals for myself for 2014. The other day, my friend Kate of KateStyle Petite graciously helped me achieve one of them: Making French macarons from scratch! 

Now that I know what it takes to make them yourself, I will never question their price tag again. I will gladly pay $3 for one tiny, bite-sized delicious cookie, so long as someone else labors over them. You guys, these things are difficult to make! Every step of the process is super finicky.

If Kate and I hadn't watched
 this video before we started making our macarons, I don't think ours would have turned out as well as they did on the first try. A few things to remember: 

1. Sieve the almond flour + sugar mixture really, really well. This takes awhile but makes a huge difference in the macaron's texture, so it's well-worth the time. 

2. Make sure the eggs are room-temperature before you make the meringue.

3. When mixing the almond flour + sugar mixture with the meringue, the most important thing to remember is not to overmix. The second most important--not to undermix. Yep, good luck with that one (this is only the most critical part of the process). 

4. For piping out the dough, skip the parchment paper and buy a Silpat liner, like this one, so the cookies don't stick to it (it also really helps to have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, just FYI...). 

5. Before putting your cookies in the oven, bang the trays on your counter a couple of times and let them sit out for about 30 minutes. After you take them out of the oven, let them rest for about another hour before putting them together. 
Sieving the almond flour + sugar

Mixing the almond flour + sugar mixture with the meringue (after adding food coloring)
The correct texture of the dough (not overmixing or undermixing)
Piping out the cookies
Look at those ridges (aka "feet")!
(c) Kate Greer
There are tons of macaron and filling recipes online, so I recommend finding your personal favorite. Kate and I used this one. For the filling, we tried lemon curd, which was a little tart and complimented the sweetness of the macaron really nicely. 

Our biggest challenge was getting the cookies not to crack and trying to pick them off the baking sheet after they stuck to it (still working on getting those baking times right). We did get the "feet" on our macarons, though, which is apparently the true mark of a classic macaron. 

Overall, I think they turned out pretty damn great! They certainly tasted great (we may or may not have gorged on them over tea)! 

Have you ever made French macarons? Share your tips for the perfect ones in the comments below!

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