Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sweet Feat: Macarons with Feet!

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

This month's Daring Baker Challenge was the hardest challenge yet for me. We all made macarons, or something kinda like macarons, anyway. I've never tasted a macaron, but I keep seeing them all over the 'net. David Lebovitz makes some beautiful creations, as does Aran of Canelle and Vanille, and Helen of Tartelette fame.

Essentially, a macaron is a cookie, albeit a double decker. How hard can that be, right?

Getting to the point you see in the photo above took four very laborious tries.


The first time I didn't fold my batter (referred to as macaronage) enough times, so I ended up with flat little failures. Very tasty, but very flat.

The second attempt also fell flat, this time due to my mathematical skills. Macarons are all about ratios of ingredients. So yes, math is involved. Oy.

Third attempt, I aged the eggwhites for too long, and they just wouldn't beat up.

On the fourth attempt, I finally found my feet. Perfect macarons are smooth on top with vertical walls. At the very bottom of the cookie there should be a ruffled edge, called the foot.

You can't do the happy dance without feet, you know!

So, on this fourth attempt, I abandoned the recipe given to us in the challenge, and used Tartelette's ratios instead.

Here's the macaronage piped onto the baking sheet:

After drying for one hour:

In the oven for about eighteen minutes.
Nothing is happening.
I'm sad.

Two minutes later...

My variation on the recipe is flavored with cinnamon.
It smells heavenly!

And here's the final product, filled with bittersweet chocolate ganache.
Served with a little hot mocha.

Helene's ingredients are:
90 gr egg whites (about 3)
30 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds

Following the lead of Audax Artifex, Daring Baker Macaron Extraordinaire, it's better to use ratios. So, measure the weight of your aged eggwhites and adjust your other ingredients to suit.

To make the macarons, beat the eggwhites until soft peaks form, then add granulated sugar and beat to very stiff peaks.
Grind up the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor until smooth. I added one teaspoon of cinnamon per eggwhite at this point. Fold dry ingredients into the eggwhites rather vigorously, in three parts, just until the macaronage falls from the spatula in a ribbon.
Pipe onto parchment paper or a silpat and let rest at room temperature for one hour.
Bake at 280F for about 20 minutes. When they're done, turn off the oven, crack the door open, and let them return to room temperature slowly.
Fill with your favorite creamy substance (ganache, jam, buttercream frosting, etc.).

They're awesome right away, but improve with age up until about 4 days. On day four you must sit down and finish them off. Trust me, you won't this chore mind at all!

That's it.

I'm sorry this post doesn't capture the full amount of enthusiasm I actually had for this challenge. Three failures followed by a fourth success was a glorious victory.

Yes it was.

Let's just say that the Dr. Seuss hand I feared from yesterday's post slapped my upside the head a minute after yesterday's post. I can't post about it, but my very roots were shaken when the the rock of the family called me (me!?) in a heart-breaking panic. It's taken care of. It's all ok. But we're all feeling a little bit more fragile today. You could say we're nearly back on our "feet" again :~)


  1. Gorgeous macarons!! I understand your happy dance :) It was a wonderful thing to see feet in the oven (never thought I'd say THAT).

  2. These are gorgeous.

    Baked goods that get better with age is a lovely idea, but who's going to let them sit around that long?

    By the way, I used to use cooking to teach my daughters math when I was homeschooling them. This would have made a good lesson, apparently.

  3. What does aging the egg whites for 24 hours do? Why is it 48 in the fridge? This is what I am doing tomorrow afternoon instead of grading papers. Feet definitely intrigues.

  4. Aging the eggwhites reduces the moisture content and breaks down the protein bonds, so you get a drier and more substantial fluff after beating them. You can age them for 1-3 days, on teh counter or in teh fridge. Remember, you're dessicating them to some extent, so don't cover them up. A loose paper towel is fine if you're concerend about dust.
    Also, I didn't really mention the ratio I used. After drying, I had 37 grams of eggwhites. Using the Helen (Tartelette)ratio, egg whites : icing sugar : granulated sugar : almond meal
    1 : 2.00 : 0.50 : 1.10, I added 21 grams of granulate sugar, 83 grams of powdered sugar, and 46 grams of almonds.