This has been a long time coming and it’s finally here! I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be starting a new string of posts under a series entitled “A Year in Macarons” where I’ll be experimenting with (and subsequently sharing) different macaron flavors each month! Some flavors might be fairly standard fare, others might require a little more thought. Either way, I’m super excited to begin this journey and share it with everyone!
My interest in baking homemade macarons began about a year ago. Since then, I’ve made a handful of successful (and some not) batches of the almighty French dessert, but I’ve recently decided that I want to take this hobby to the next level and learn to perfect the handmade technique. The only way of doing that? Practice. And if there’s practice involved, might as well make it interesting and mess around with new flavors as well!
So that’s where we are now, in the first installment and the first month of “A Year in Macarons.” To kick off the series, I made a batch of coffee macarons featuring a flavored buttercream. (Fun fact: September 29 is National Coffee Day!) These delightful little confectionaries are a wonderful accompaniment to a hot cup of coffee, and what better pairing then a coffee-flavored macaron!
Despite my best efforts, I accidentally created cookies that were a little too large. Oops. But they were still downright delicious, and I’m pleased to say that all of my taste-testers agreed!
I hope you’ll laugh at my mistakes and failed undertakings throughout this next year. I’m certainly looking to better my macaronage technique, take many pretty pictures, and share the entire ordeal with you in the process!! And if you have any objections, say them now or forever hold your peace… drop me a line in the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy baking :)
- 100 g egg white, aged 3-5 days
- 40 g caster sugar
- 125 g almond flour
- 200 g confectioner sugar
- 2 tbs espresso powder
- 1 pinch salt (optional)
- 1/2 c butter unsalted, softened
- 1 1/4 c confectioner's sugar
- 1 tsp espresso powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Measure out dry ingredients using the food scale. Let egg whites sit until room temperature. Meanwhile, pulse together powdered sugar and almond powder in food processor until well blended. Add in expresso powder and pulse a few more times until blended.
- Meringue--In a very large bowl, whisk the room temperature egg whites, caster sugar, and salt (optional) into a meringue. I’ve found that it takes me about 7-9 minutes to completion, and I break it down into three basic steps:  Starting on a low-speed setting, whip the egg whites with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes until frothy, adding ⅓ of the caster sugar and a pinch of salt along the way.  Move mixer to med-speed setting; continue whipping egg whites another 2-3 minutes until soft peaks form, and add half of the remaining caster sugar along the way.  Move mixer to high-speed setting; whip egg whites 1-2 minutes and add the remaining caster sugar along the way. Move mixer to highest speed for last minute until firm peaks form.
- Be careful not to over beat the egg whites! You will know when your meringue is ready by checking to see if (a) nothing falls out of the bowl when you turn it upside down, and (b) the meringue remains in the whisk/beater when you stop the mixer.
- Fold in the mixed and sifted dry ingredients into the meringue; this is the actual macaronage step. I find that it takes me anywhere from 40-50 folds (and I actually do keep count) to achieve the right consistency. Folding doesn’t require gentleness; the macaronage process requires one to “beat” out the air from the eggwhites. When a shine develops and the consistency resembles lava or thick pancake batter, macaronage is complete. I’m careful to count the folds in order to not overmix!
- Transfer macaron batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (I use the Ateco #11 round). Pipe even circles on prepped baking sheets lined with Silpat-like mats. For even circles, I count out 1-2-3-4 while piping to help ensure more even batter distribution for each circle. It’s not a foolproof solution, but it works surprisingly well! Alternatively, there are templates that can be used and placed under the Silpat-like mats for additional assurance.
- Knock the air bubbles out! To prevent cracking and empty shells, the extra air bubbles have got to go! In parallel, drop the fully-piped baking sheet from a 4-6 inch range onto a counter or table that can withstand an impact. Do this three times, rotate the sheet 180-deg and do so three times again. It’s loud and might seem excessive, but seeing those tiny bubbles rise to the surface and pop make it all worth it.
- Let the shells try in a dry place. The top coat of the shell should be dry to the touch; no batter should stick. This may take anywhere from 30-120 minutes. I tend to wait at least an hour to ensure a hardened shell. Drying the shell is required for a smooth shell and macaron feet to form without cracking. Bake too soon before the shells are dried and the shells will crack—I’ve had this experience once or twice before and it’s the last thing you want to happen after having invested so much work into preparing the shells leading up to the baking.
- Pre-heat the oven to 320º F. Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the sheet a touch more than halfway through the baking process after feet have formed. While I prefer to bake each sheet individually to exercise greater control over each, but in the interest of time, I have tried baking both together (on middle/bottom rack and switching them halfway through) and have found success.
- Remove shells from oven and let it cool completely before removing/peeling from the mat. Be sure to let them cool completely, as premature removal will result in decapitation—the “cap” of the macaron shell will literally come off, leaving the base/crinkly feet on the mat. No bueno :(
- As shells bake/cool, prepare the buttercream frosting.
- Whip softened butter on medium-high with an electric mixer for 3-5 minutes.
- Slowly add in powdered sugar and beat together with butter in low-medium speed until creamy. I add in about a quarter of the sugar, cream until well incorporated, and repeat until all of the sugar has been added.
- Increase speed to med-hi for another 5 minutes until fluffy. Add in vanilla and espresso powder about halfway through this process. The buttercream becomes increasingly light and fluffy as you whip.
- Fill the buttercream in a pastry bag fitted with a piping tip (#11 Ateco, I use the same one for the macarons) in preparation for assembly.
- Sort and match macaron shells into pairs of roughly equal size.
- For each cookie pari, pipe a generous amount of buttercream onto the flat side of one cookie. I pipe a border around the perimeter of the cookie, before spiraling in and filling the center.
- Place the accompanying cookie on top and optionally twist the cookies in opposite directions to help distribute the buttercream throughout the macaron. Repeat for remaining cookies.
- Store assembled cookies in an air-tight container in the fridge for 12-24 hours. This allows the flavors and ganache to penetrate through the entirety of the macaron, enhancing both the texture and flavor of the eventual tasting experience!
- To serve, remove from refrigerator and let the macarons warm to room temperature prior to enjoying. (Hint: if it's crunchy when you bite into it, it's probably still too cold)
- Food processor
- Flour sifter
- Electric Stand Mixer/Hand Mixer
- Food Scale (in grams)
- 2 Silpat-like baking mats
- 2 half-sheets baking sheets
- pastry bag and piping tip (#11 Ateco)