27 October 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge - Macarons (Macaroons)

My very first daring bakers challenge was chosen by Ami S. This is a macaron recipe from Claudia Fleming's The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern.

For my first daring bakers challenge I was quite excited about this. I had been wanting an excuse to try them out after sampling the most delicious raspberry macarons from a new shop in Eversleigh Rd, and also Pyrenees the french deli just down the road do the most petite ones! I have been wondering how hard it really could be!

First of all I decided to make the almond flour from scratch, mostly because none of the shops sell it around here and I figured it couldn't be that hard. All you need is a blender, blanched almonds and some icing sugar. So I did that well in advance and kept it for another week. I had a plan with my macarons!

I added the icing sugar to the almond flour, and then beat the egg whites to a soft peak. I wanted to do this fairly simple so I decided I'd just add lemon rind and do a lovely rich chocolate ganache for the filling.

So in went the lemon rind after gradually adding the almond flour to the egg whites and folding in slowly.

I then filled a piping bag and put the mixture in. I had to draw circles on the baking paper so I would get a uniform size to my macarons. Note; I used a non toxic pencil and the pencil outline did rub off onto the bottom of my macarons but being blue in colour it tended to look like the bottom of the macaron was mouldy! Nothing that couldn't be hidden by the filling though.

Into the oven at 93 deg Celsius for 5 minutes. The aim of this was to get the base or 'foot' on the macarons. I had to do mine on 3 separate baking trays and the first tray I think I took out too early. The next two I left in for a little bit longer, only a minute or so but the foot was much sturdier looking. Then I chucked the oven temp up to 190 deg Celsius and baked them for 7 minutes. The first tray was a disaster. They all came out flat and huge, some of them had run into each other so they were also stuck together! Uh oh.

The next two trays however were much much better.

Success! Well kind of. After cooling the macarons I filled a piping bag with some dark chocolate ganache and sandwiched the best looking ones together. Some of the tops did crack in the process. The best ones were saved and thoroughly enjoyed by all the family - even the flat pathetic looking ones got eaten! I love a challenge and this certainly was one and I can't wait to try them again with different flavours and fillings.

The best ones went into the box for my audition for the baking show. See, they were good enough to help get me shortlisted for the show!

2 1/4 cups icing sugar
2 cups almond flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 egg whites, at room temperature


1. Preheat the oven to 93°C. Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 190°C. Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

1 comment:

Kitchen Bliss! said...

Oh yours turned out wonderfully! I like your choice of flavorings too. I had the same problem with the "flat-run-into-eachother" batch, but I was probably just too lazy to do another batch so it was probably because I jammed all my macarons onto 2 baking sheets which wasn't quite enough room. Oopsie.. great job on yours, they look splendid!