Hello, Christmas lovers everywhere!
This has been a very cold and snowy weekend so after church this morning we've been snowed in at home. I spent the day trying my hand at the French pastry known as macarons. This was my most difficult baking project to date, as far as I can remember. I wanted to share my tips from this baking adventure!
I used this recipe from studiodiy.com.
My attempt certainly wasn't perfect (I threw out 3 pans of macarons) but the cookie sheet that didn't overcook was pretty good for a first attempt, I think!
First of all, to translate the measurements from the studiodiy recipe. They list the ingredients in grams so I'll pass on the wisdom of the internet to you all in case you're like me and don't own a kitchen scale.
200 grams of icing sugar = 1.6 cups
200 grams of almond meal = 1.8 cups
80 g egg whites = whites from 3 eggs
200 g granulated sugar = 1 cup
The next tip? I tried to make almond flour myself from whole almonds. Hubby did the grocery shopping and didn't put his full effort into finding almond meal at Bulk Barn (they have it and I went back for it later). In theory, almond meal/flour is simply ground almonds. You just grind the almonds in a food processor and then use a sifter so it's a fine consistency. The issue I ran into was if you grind the almonds too much they become a paste. However, if you don't grind them enough, they're really quite big pieces and that doesn't work either. When I went back to Bulk Barn I found they had almond meal that was much finer than I could get it on my own, so I just bought it. Definitely the way to go, in my opinion.
I would have made the macarons slightly thicker, as well, when applying the batter to the cookie sheet. The cookies aren't too thin, but I would have liked them to be a little bit thicker, I think.
My oven and I are constantly waging war against each other, in case you didn't know. It is a very difficult oven to work with!!! The longer it's on, the hotter it gets. I mean, only the first sheet of cookies comes out right. After the first pan I have to turn the temperature down and bake for less time, and everything still seems to burn. That was the issue with these. It seemed like there was a very fine balance. They are very delicate pastries so being slightly brown on the bottom makes them too hard and just not right. As always, the first pan out turned out fine. *Dreaming of a convection oven.*
If you're planning on using candy cane pieces (or anything else) for embellishment, you have to make sure the buttercream frosting is layered on quite thick so it can pick up the pieces of candy. It's best to squeeze a big dollop into the centre of the macaron. I squiggled the frosting around (technical term) at first and when you pushed the cookies together, you could tell it had been kind of messy and squiggly.
And that brings me to my last tip. When you press the cookies together, hold them by the edges. If you push from the centres, the macarons will crack and collapse. They really are delicate little guys. (Lesson learned.)
So it wasn't a complete home run, but successful enough that I will definitely make macarons again. And this time I'll have a little experience under my belt so they should turn out even better!