La Petite Macaron (le petite désastre)

It's not raining. We've turned the humidifier off. The eggs are sitting at room temperature. We sought out powdered food colouring. Ok, we are all set. To kick off the #domesticphd, we embarked on the most challenging baking experiment of our lives- macarons! Dramatic, maybe, but there is a reason macarons are tricky for any home baker to master.

In retrospect, we may have been a bit overconfident, as our past baking endeavours have usually worked out. However, even after reading all the tips and tricks in the baking book, our first attempt at macarons was a complete disaster. They are finicky little delicacies -- so let's just get this over with: 

Attempt #1: Pancakes?

Attempt #1: Pancakes?

Are you done laughing yet?! We aren't, so no offence taken. We warned you that not everything in the #domesticphd test kitchen would turn out, and here is the proof in our very first post! The take home here is to enjoy the process -- two friends enjoyed a day of baking and chatting (and for once, a hangout not on school campus, success!). 

BUT, in case you too would like to try your hand at making macarons, here are a few tips that we learned during our second (and successful) attempt: 

1. It is important to follow the actual recipe to a tee (obvious, maybe) but, we were lazy and didn't sift the almond flour and icing sugar together during our first attempt. Note: this sifting business is a great alternative to going to the gym (a.ka. a very good arm work out). Sifting helps prevents the over-stirring of ingredients which is an important factor later on in the macaron process. 

Sift baby, sift! 

Sift baby, sift! 

2. It is important that the meringue is stiff. Like really, stiff. Then, as hinted at above, it is important to stir the meringue with the almond flour/icing sugar combo enough, but not too much. Under-stir your batter and the shells will not be smooth. Over-stir and the batter will be too runny and the macarons will not have feet. Feet....right....we assumed this meant the spongy looking texture part you see under the bottom of the shell. Anyways, we found that stirring the ingredients until just combined and then folding the ingredients (a.k.a the "macaronage" according to the recipe) 5 times around the bowl was our magic number. "Feet, we have feet!!"; the sound of us rejoicing while we watched our creation unfold in the oven.

3. Have a light hand when piping the batter onto the cookie sheets. Size does matter here. In our first attempt we piped large amounts that caused the batter to spread out and we ended up under-cooking our macarons. Our second attempt was just right- about the size of a loonie. 

Here you can see evidence of under-stirring. The macarons look grainy with irreversible peaks. 

Here you can see evidence of under-stirring. The macarons look grainy with irreversible peaks. 

We hope this post hasn't turned you off of macarons, but instead maybe inspired you to try something new in the kitchen. After making these slight changes, our second attempt turned out perfectly! 

Fresh out of the oven. Definitely no pancakes here. We also left the macarons in a little bit too long so they began to brown, but after our first disaster we didn't complain because we had smooth macarons with feet!

Fresh out of the oven. Definitely no pancakes here. We also left the macarons in a little bit too long so they began to brown, but after our first disaster we didn't complain because we had smooth macarons with feet!

Voila, perfection!

Voila, perfection!


Here's the original recipe from the Duchess Bake Shop book, enjoy! 

French Meringue Macarons

1 1/4 cups almond flour 

1 1/2 cups icing sugar

3 large egg whites, at room temp

3 tbsp granulated sugar

1 3/4 tsp egg white powder

1/8 tsp powdered colour of your choice

(use filling of your own choice -- we chose a butter cream filling made with egg whites, sugar, unsalted butter, and a pinch of salt)

  1. Sift the almond flour and icing sugar together and set aside.
  2. Place the egg whites in a stand mixer bowl and sift in the granulated sugar, egg white powder, and powdered colour onto the egg whites. Whip meringue mixture on high until it's really stiff.
  3. Pour the sifted almond flour mixture over the meringue and mix until ingredients are just combined.
  4. Proceed to the macaronage. Fold in your ingredients (and based on our attempt, fold and check batter consistency, fold and check again, repeat until the batter is like slow moving lava (note: for us it was 5 times the charm)
  5. Pipe the batter onto a baking sheet onto parchment paper. Bang the baking sheet to eliminate any air bubbles from the batter. Let shells sit at room temperature for 20-25 minutes until a skin has formed on the shell (trick: touch the top and if it's not sticky then you are all set).
  6. Bake shells for 8 minutes. At about 4 minutes open the oven door to let out steam and rotate the tray. (Note: If you see ANY browning remove asap).
  7. Let shells cool for 20 minutes. Find pairs and fill with your filling of choice. If you want to save them for a later date, wrap the shells and freeze them for a week, making sure to thaw for about 20 minutes before assembling. 

Source: Giselle Courteau -- Duchess Bake Shop, copyright 2015.  

xoxo Michelle and Kathryn (pastry chefs, still in-training) 

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