When deciding to make Temporal Relish more food centric, part of that included fulfilling my want of learning and better understanding technique. Since macarons are infamous for their fickle nature, they seemed the perfect fit for my first test subject.
Macarons are comprised of 5 simple and easily accessible ingredients; almond meal/flour, confectioner sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, & superfine sugar. While the ingredients seem common enough, preparation varying even slightly from the nature by which these household items have become accustom, will not result in the making of a macaron. As anyone who has sampled a macaron is aware, the delicate cookie is not complete without the smooth and ever so slight (egg shell like) crunch to the outer shell with a soft (not gooey) texture inside, resting atop a ruffled foot that is the macaron.
After consulting my chef friend’s copy of Jacque Pepin’s Complete Techniques (for his notes on meringue) and watching the Joy of Baking online tutorial about 20 times, I felt confident enough to take my first crack at the ever dainty macaron. Well to be clear, I cracked the eggs required to sit for a minimum of 24 hours, re-watched Joy of Baking macaron tutorial and then waited until the allotted time had passed to use the eggs in question.
The day of, I set my ingredients out and got to work. All in all, it was a fairly easy process… though incredibly time consuming! I venture the making of these macarons took 3-4 hours from start to clean up and I include clean up since a true chef never leaves a messy station. Despite purchasing some blueberry juice to dye my meringue, I ended up heeding the advice from Joy of Baking: ‘make them plain first, once you get that correct you can attempt making other versions’.
Many macaron recipe guidelines will recommend drawing 1 1/4” circles on paper, then setting parchment on top of that paper and piping the macaron batter directly into the circled outlines. Being more of a free form kind of gal, I decided to eyeball as I piped onto the silicon mats and parchment paper. Once piped the batter rests for 30-60 minutes depending on climate, until tacky to the touch. Being in a drier climate I anticipated waiting closer to 30 minutes, but ended up waiting almost the full hour for the tacky sheen.
If I were to go back, I would have cracked more eggs than necessary for this recipe. As I was so paranoid of breaking (or over-whipping) my meringue that I was unable to take it to the limit. The meringue should have a nice shine and firm peaks when the mixer is lifted, I wonder if mine could have been a bit shinier and a bit firmer.
When my macarons came out they met the standards in texture and taste, but were puffed up too high and did not have the delicate ruffled foot. I believe this was due to three potential causes: either because my almond meal (homemade) was not refined enough and/or my meringue was not stiff enough.
Before my next go around I plan to take a batch or two of meringue to the limit, run my almond flour through a grinder before sifting, and to ensure a thinner batch of batter.
For the filling my mind could think of nothing but Nutella, so I went with a Nutella frosting recipe I discovered on Sally’s Baking Addiction.
All things considered, for my first go at making a macaron, I was happy. Though my macarons did not meet the standards for aesthetic perfection, I’ll take the technical win of how the cookie is suppose to crumble, and the flavor win of deliciousness… not that I won’t set out to hit all three categories next time. Perhaps I’ll even get the nerve to add a bit of blueberry juice.