Thursday, September 15, 2011

My First Macarons

Today I feel like a real baker. While I've definitely grown in my baking ability over the last three years, I still consider myself mostly a person who just follows the recipes and achieves results. These macarons are the first thing I've ever baked that required technique - lots of technique - and that actually came out.

Back in 2007, the Christmas before I graduated from high school, I asked my grandfather to send me a couple of my grandmother's recipes. I had this grand idea that I was going to make everyone's favorite cookies of hers and send them out. When she was alive, everyone always got a tin of their favorite cookies at Christmas. I did manage to bake a few of them, but in the wake of finals I didn't manage to send them. my mom discovered two or three tins of cookies somewhere during winter break and we all devoured them without ever putting them in the mail.

Anyway, one of my grandmother's cookies was a vanilla creation that required making a dough that I now know to be very similar to croissant dough. My cookies ended up being more like shortbread, with none of the wonderful flakiness I remembered. Technique fail.

Since then, I have baked a great amount more and definitely have a better grasp on how ingredients work together and such. I still haven't reattempted those particular cookies (have you seen the price of butter these days?!), but maybe it will happen this year.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have never actually had a macaron before. I've only seen them in real life one time in Des Moines. I had wanted to bake french macarons for a couple of years, but knew they were out of my league from all the blog posts I've seen on them.  I didn't have a food processor and didn't know where to find almond flour near me. Since I snatched up the food processor late this past summer, I've had macarons on the brain.

Today seemed like a good day because it's finally cooled off here and I had nothing else I wanted to be doing - plenty to procrastinate on though, that's for sure. I've read a number of tutorials online about how to make macarons, but I couldn't find most of them today. I ended up trying to remember as much as I could from the past and following this tutorial. Yes, I microwaved my egg whites (in fact, I went a little long and a little bit cooked - eep!). No, I didn't use any food coloring. Yes, my powdered sugar had cornstarch in it. Yes, I used slivered almonds.

Basic Macarons
  • 3/4 C Almond Flour
  • 1 C Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Large Egg Whites
  • 1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1/4 C Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
In terms of technique, I'm really not good enough yet to give it, so check one of the awesome tutorial's that's out there. I will say that I found the hardest part to be piping the macarons out and only a handful of mine were appropriately sized and matchable to another half.

I filled these babies with some South Carolina peach jam that Matt brought me back from his vacation. Yum!

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