Macarons adventures started!

This day, I have decided to take the plunge to bake Macarons. I have put this idea off for months and since this week is a relatively relaxing one for me, I thought why not try this today?

I have read up quite a fair bit about Macarons because I’ve heard that it is not an easy bake, that it is finicky in nature. Hisako Ogita’s I love Macarons made it seem so achievable to bake these dainty goods; you don’t need sophisticated apparatus to make them! And it is perhaps a Macaron cookbook given by some friends here that prompted me to take the step to BAKE.

Of course, there are plenty of resources in the Internet and many of them are so rich in information. Some of them are videos which really help visual learners like me. If you are like me, you might want to try some macarons from famous patisserie for benchmarking. =p I tried Miette’s when we went SF and Bouchon Bakery by Chef Thomas Keller in NYC. Macarons from them are good, especially the Pistachio ones from Bouchon Bakery.

There are two common ways of making macarons, the Italian Meringue method and the French meringue one. I much prefer the latter since it is less troublesome and will be more suitable for first-timers like me.

Generally, the ingredients necessary are ground almond, icing sugar, egg whites, pinch of salt, caster sugar and any garnish that you want to put on the shell. For filling, I’m going for good old chocolate ganache.

My egg whites are aged ( a few days old in freezer) since this reduces the moisture content while at the same time preserve the proteins bonds from the egg whites.

Things to take note: 

Early in the morning, I have drawn circles on the underside of the parchment paper to assist me in the piping of the shell later. I drew up circles of 4cm in diameter. But I realised that the next time I do it, I would keep to 2 cm since the batter will spread a little.

I used parchment paper, silicon mat and wax paper but in the end, I think I prefer parchment paper because for the other two, my shells stick to them. Perhaps, they need more time in the oven and I would continue to experiment with them in future.

There are two things that I’m fearful of. One is whether I have whipped the egg whites to stiff peak and from what I’ve read, the test is that when you invert the bowl, the meringue won’t fall out. Secondly which is the more important and dreaded stage is the macaronage, the mixing of meringue with almond and sugar. This is the ‘make-it-or-break-it’ stage. Overmixing will cause the shells to crack and be feetless, something you would not want for your shells!

 

The batter is said to be ready when it resembles that of a smooth molten mass (think ‘magma’).

Most of my shells turn out well, except for a couple which cracked and they all have feet, thank God! For the cracked ones, it could be due to my unsteadiness in my piping (yes, I did tremble when I piped).

One thing that baffled me is the inconsistency in the sizes of my shells. Some are obviously bigger than others (they spread more when I piped out). So, does it mean that it needs more egg whites since it is runny? Updates: I think I might have the answer to this after reading Veronica’s write-up! It could be because I dumped in all my dry ingredients in one go rather than in four additions! Okay! I’m so going to try again in my lab aka kitchen. I have never loved experiments and research that much until now. Woohoo!

This being my first attempt, I’m rather pleased with the result. The taste resembles those of which I had eaten from the bakeries and though I fumbled and dropped some apparatus here and then (startled the hubs), it was still a wonderful adventure.

I’m hooked and wanting more!

Useful resources:

I love the macaron tutorial from Tartelette.

Loaded information from Ms. Adventures in Italy.

A little bit of Macaron history from Serious Eats.

I’m loving The Pleasure Monger‘s macaron journey!

The video helps a lot though I know nothing about French.

Check out Kitchen Musings‘ Macaron Chronicles!

There are numerous bloggers out there who are doing a mighty good job in macarons. The above are but a few that I read up on. Their blogs already contain quite a few links to more useful sites.

I need more time to read and experiment!

The video is Chef Joanne Chang’s demonstration on macarons.

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