I've often thought that French Macarons look like they're wearing a little hat. After they're all baked and are "outfitted" with their fillings it is then time to place their little cap on the top and send them out the door. I like how the one in the photo at about 3 o'clock looks like they've tipped theirs to add a little attitude. And she should have some attitude ~ yes, "she," for they're just too cute and dainty to be anything else. She has a zesty lemon soul with a delicate raspberry shell - and, were she to use her little feet and take a stroll down the street, she would have gentlemen lined up to tip their cap as well! Pretty and delicious!
I'm back at the French Macaron project again. Practice! Practice! Practice! I am much less apprehensive now, even though I still have some flops now and then. And when I do have those flops, I can usually tell what I did wrong.
These raspberry macarons are a practice run for an upcoming wedding reception. My friend has ordered three different flavors from me. The wedding colors are soft pinks, cream, and glittery gold. Fun, fun, fun!
I think I'll fill the raspberry shells with a chocolate ganache for the wedding but I had the egg yolks left over from the shells and thought it had been a long time since I'd made some lemon curd. Raspberry and lemon ~ oh, yes! They get along very nicely!
Some new tips to add to my macaron-making notes are:
A. It's probably better to err on the side of under-mixing the batter than over-mixing. I like to work the batter several swipes around the bowl and then scoop some up on the spatula and let it fall in ribbons. I watch to see how quickly the fallen ribbons settle back down and disappear. If it doesn't disappear at all, I just continue to work the macaronage - spreading the batter out over the bowl, and then scraping it back up to the center. When that ribbon just about completely disappears in about 10 seconds, I stop mixing. I know that the batter will continue to be "worked" as I scoop it out to fill the piping bag. I don't want to overwork it. Once it's over-mixed it's really hard to salvage.
B. Another note is how key it is to let them rest adequately before baking. My first batch I was a little hurried. I tapped and they didn't stick to my finger. But they still felt a little wet. But, hey, they didn't stick so I stuck them in the oven. Fail! They all just burst open like volcanoes. You really need to give them a set top so that when that heat hits and the steam is looking for a way out, it's easiest escape route is by lifting up that dome and going out below - giving your little macaron the feet it so desperately needs!
C. And, lastly - for today anyway - make sure you bake them completely! After all that work, after all that care - if you take them out early they develop other little idiosyncrasies - for example, they have feet but no bottoms! Those are salvageable - you can add more filling. But, if you're tight on filling, you could find yourself in a real bind. Give them time! Gently push on their dome and see how loose it is. When they are fully cooked, those domes don't move around so freely.
OK - one more thing. This isn't part of my notes. I mean I haven't experienced this personally. But, from what I've been reading, macaron shells, if over baked, will chirp! Like a bird! I've seen it mentioned too many times for it to be a lark. Hahahaha! Get it? Ahem. Well, there's that weird and curious part of me that really wants to over bake a batch. Just to see! Have your macaron shells chirped at you?
makes about 65 shells
2/3 c. almond flour (65 g)
2 T. rice flour (20 g)
1 1/4 c. powdered sugar (150 g)
3 egg whites, room temperature
1 T. egg white powder
1/3 c. granulated sugar (65 g)
2 T. raspberry puree
1 drop red food coloring, optional
Line 2 sheet trays with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Rest each of the baking sheets inside another sheet tray. Using a double layer helps protect the bottom of the macarons and helps them bake more gently and evenly. Set aside.
Fit a pastry bag with a round 1/4" tip and place inside a large upright glass or small pitcher. This will hold the pastry bag open while you're trying to fill it with the batter.
Add the almond flour, rice flour, and powdered sugar to the bowl of a food processor and process for 20 - 30 seconds. Empty the contents into a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl and sift. There will be some little pieces of almond left in the sieve - I usually go ahead and toss a couple tablespoons of them into the sifted contents. Set aside.
In a large mixer bowl, beat the egg whites on medium high speed with the whisk attachment. Combine the granulated sugar and egg white powder. Once the egg whites become frothy, sprinkle the sugar mixture in and continue to beat. You can gradually increase the speed of the mixer to high. You're looking for a moderately stiff peak. I test my egg whites by stopping the mixer and removing the whisk attachment and pushing it down against the meringue. If it seems slightly resistant and feels like it has a good body to it, I know it's ready. Reattach the whisk attachment and add the raspberry puree and the red food coloring, if using. Let the whisk make a few passes around the bowl to introduce the puree around, then stop.
Scoop the meringue out into a large bowl and sprinkle the sifted mixture over it. Use a large spatula or bowl scraper and mix the dry ingredients in by cutting it through and lifting the contents from the bottom of the bowl up over the top. When it's distributed, start the macaronage by spreading the mixture out and around the sides of the bowl and then scraping them back up to the center. You will do this several times, stopping to check for consistency. When you scoop up some batter and let it fall back to the bowl in ribbons, the ribbon should disappear within about 10 seconds. It will look like lava and will be shiny and fairly smooth.
Fill the pastry bag with half of the batter at a time and pipe out onto the prepared sheet trays. You can use a circle guide under the mat or parchment. I made mine out of parchment paper and just traced around the outer edge of a large pastry tip with a marker. The lines show through to help me make evenly sized shells. You can pipe them close together as they don't spread when baked. I pipe each circle to within an 1/8" of the perimeter. The batter will slowly ease out to the edge.
Preheat the oven to 285 degrees.
Let the piped shells rest until you can tap the tops and they feel dry and don't stick. This can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the weather inside and out! Be patient - AND attentive.
Bake for 20 - 30 minutes - checking them regularly. I check first at 10 minutes, and then every five after that until they are done and their domes don't wiggle too freely when I touch them.
I see feet! Such a feeling of accomplishment!
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before trying to remove them from the baking tray.
Once cool, fill with whatever your heart desires! And, just so you know, these actually taste best if you let them mature for a day or two in an airtight container.