Macarons: A Recipe for Disaster

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“Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.”

This saying has never before seemed to be so relevant in my entire life. A little less than a year ago, I had made my first valiant attempt at making chocolate and raspberry macarons. I was pretty satisfied with the results and the lack of any major catastrophes. However picky me had to be picky. I found the shells to have been too lumpy and some domed while not terrible, I found them to be mediocre at best.

I decided to try a different recipe – the glossy photos showcased gorgeous smooth flat-topped macarons with beautiful “feet”. Upon close examination, I could see that the photos of the macarons in the book I had used for making the chocolate and raspberry macarons were like mine: lumpy and bumpy. I wanted smooth and silky.

Needless to say, round 1 was a disaster. Perhaps I was getting too cocky and overconfident. Seeing this tray brought me back to reality.

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Every single one of the shells had a cracked top and only a few had “feet”. I had not doubled up on the baking sheets for this round so maybe that was the problem. Regardless, I was in shock. As of recently I have only encountered success in my baking endeavors, so seeing these shells was an extremely humbling experience.

Round 2, I was more careful to double the baking sheets and I kept a close eye on the shells at all time. I started off baking them at a low temperature to harden the outer layer of the shell, and then I raised the temperature so that the “feet”, symbolic of a god macaron, could form.

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A consistent problem I seemed to be having was the macaron shells sticking to the parchment paper, making their removal extremely delicate and difficult. I kept shoving them back into the oven, but they had to overcook before they were able to peel off easily from the paper. Otherwise they remained too wet to peel off easily.

All in all I ended up with more bad than good macarons (aesthetically speaking). I made one batch of Lemon Crème Macarons, and one batch of White Chocolate Berry Macarons.

Recipes translated and adapted from Le grand livre des macarons by Sylvie Aït-Ali

Macarons, base recipe

For 40 macarons

  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 110 g finely ground almonds
  • 95 g egg whites
  • 30 g granulated sugar
  • food coloring

Mix the icing sugar and ground almonds to obtain a very fine powder.

Whip up the egg whites with a pinch of sugar. When the mixture starts to foam, add little by little the sugar. When all of the sugar is incorporated, increase slowly the speed of the mixer and beat until formation of soft peaks when the beaters are lifted out. Add in the food coloring.

Add 1/3 of the ground almond-icing sugar mixture, and mix with a spatula to collapse the whites. Add the rest of the poser and mix delicately with the spatula by folding, being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bow. Mix enough to smooth out the mixture but without liquefying it.

Fill a piping bag with an 8 mm tip and pipe the macarons onto 2 superimposed baking sheets. Tap the trays on the counter to remove air bubbles. Let them dry for 30 minutes.

Place them in the oven for 15 minutes at 150 C. Rotate the trays midway through baking. Take the macarons out of the oven and let them cool completely before removing them from the parchment paper.

Lemon Crème 

  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon
  • 30 g sugar
  • 100 g butter

In a heat-proof bowl, mix the egg, 25 mL of lemon juice, zest from 1/2 lemon, the sugar and 30 g of the butter. Place the bowl on top of a pot of simmering water to create a water bath and using a wire whisk, mix constantly until it thickens. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Whip the rest of the softened butter with an electric mixer and add little by little the lemon crème. You will obtain a thick cream that holds its shape.

Pipe a dollop of the lemon crème onto the bottom of a macaron shell and close it with another half. Chill in the fridge for 24 hours before eating.

 

White Chocolate Berry Ganache

  • 100 g of berries, fresh or frozen
  • 160 g of white chocolate
  • 50 mL heavy cream

Puree the berries and pass them through a sieve to collect the pulp. Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream in the microwave 3 times for 30 seconds each, mixing well in between heating. Add the berry pulp. Cool to room temperature. Garnish the macarons using a piping bag before the ganache hardens and keep cool for 24 hours.

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