Macarons (Daring Bakers Challenge Oct 2009)

macaroon v3 1

carob, matcha & lemon, rose, lemongrass & mango flavoured macarons

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.

Macarons are by far the most alluring treat in the windows of French patisseries. Their cute roundness and bright colours have a magnetic effect on me. After drooling over images of beautiful macaroons on Tartlette’s blog, I was eager to get started. However simple the recipe appears to be, after 3 attempts I have still not managed to create the perfect macaron ;-(

Attempt no.1

macaroon v1 1

Matcha, sherbet & liquorice, carob, carrot

macaroon v1 2

violet, rose, hibiscus

A silly idea popped into my head that made me pour my macaron batter into silicon cupcake cases. The resulting macarons were rather moist and cakey, not macarony at all. My flavours were: rose, hibiscus, sherbet & liquorice, carob, violet, matcha, carrot (I used packet soup!). I filled these with flavoured butter cream but found them far too sickly. The most successful from this bunch were the hibiscus and the matcha which I filled with lemongrass butter cream.

Attempt no.2

macaroon v2 2

argh…..what ugly lumps!!!!!!!

I decided to experiment with using different nuts. Not having a food processor meant that this was rather time consuming. I made chestnut & hibiscus, brazil nut & purple yam & raspberry jam, crystallized ginger & sago, apple & cinnamon. This batch were extremely disappointing and flat! I think I made the batters too heavy. They tasted ok.

Attempt no.3

macaroon v3 2

Frustrated with this recipe I opted for a different source. The one I made had a higher icing sugar percentage. I had a hard time making these – managed to smash my pyrex mixing bowl and clumsily stuck my oven glove into a half baked macaron…grrrr! However, they grew feet in the oven & had a lovely glossy sheen.

My flavours were: carob, matcha & lemon, rose, lemongrass & mango. I decided against using artificial food colorings so opted for the natural alternative. I used turmeric to color the lemongrass & mango, and crushed up rose petals for a lovely pink macaron.  Instead of making butter cream, I filled my macarons with raspberry jam, marmalade, chestnut & pumpkin puree & sago. I also sandwiched some extra discs of edible paper. This was by far the most difficult DB challenge so far!

Macarons by Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern

Preparation time: Not taking into account the amount of time it takes for you to bring your egg whites to room temperature, the whole baking process, including making the batter, piping and baking will probably take you about an hour to an hour and a half. How long it takes to make your filling is dependent on what you choose to make.
Actual baking time: 12 minutes total, plus a few minutes to get your oven from 200°F to 375°F.
Ingredients
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (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 375°F (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.

I used the following recipe on my third attempt
1 egg whites at room temp
82g icing sugar
41g ground almonds
1. whisk the egg whites to form stiff peaks
2. in another bowl, combine the icing sugar and ground almonds
3. Take a large metal spoon and gently fold a third of the sugary almonds into the egg whites until smooth. Repeat until all the almonds are incorporated into the mixture.
4. carefully spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a plain nozzle (about 1cm size). Pipe into about 20 rounds about 2 cm in diameter, allowing a little space between each. Stand for about 5-10mins before baking.
5. Bake at 170c/ gas mark 3 for 20mins.
6. Allow to cool for 5-10mins before transferring onto a cooling rack. When completely cold, sandwich the macaroons together in pairs with your choice of fillings.

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11 responses to “Macarons (Daring Bakers Challenge Oct 2009)

  1. Your colours and flavour combinations are the most exciting I have seen so far and your third recipe is very interesting it doesn’t have granulated sugar (which helps to stablise the meringue) I’m amazed you could such good result with no sugar in the whipped egg whites might have to give it a go. Where did find that recipe???? Wonderful attempts and I’m sure will get perfect macarons your determination is amazing. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

  2. wow, you did so many flavors..I’m with you with the frustration over this challenge, it was my first time making macarons too. You did your best and I think that’s what counts the most 🙂

  3. I’m always so excited to see your flavours – they are so cool! I think that the macarons look delicious, & they have such great individuality =D.

  4. Wow, you really went all out! Very impressive! I love how imaginative all your colours are!

    Macarons are hard, that’s for sure. I hope you weren’t frustrated enough to give up on them; it’s be a shame, with all your great ideas.

  5. I admire your creativity! I wish this was a recipe that I could even think about attempting more than once, like you did. Maybe next month’s challenge will be less ‘nutty’:)

  6. OH wow, who needs perfect macarons aesthetically with those flavor combos and colors!?! I would marvel at them for a few, then DEVOUR!! NOT a failure at all, but a delicious bunch of cookies..feet or no feet! WELL DONE!!

  7. I have not make macarons yet. I am putting making macarons aside until the right moment comes. They look hard to make. ( hehe ) Nice to see your experience in making them.

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