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, it seemed they would be perfect as my first test subjects.
Macarons are comprised of 5 simple and easily accessible ingredients: almond meal/flour, confectioner sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, & superfine sugar. However, if you do not treat these ingredients in the exact nature to which they have become accustomed, you are sure to end up with more of an almond flavored cookie than a proper macaron. Proper meaning the ability to elevate these ingredients in order to obtain the ever so slight (egg shell like) crunch to the outer shell with a soft (but 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… even though I am not a true chef, in moments like these I enjoy pretending. 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 batter has been piped you allow them to sit for 30-60 minutes depending on climate, while they become tacky. 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 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 proper feet (ruffles on the edges) look from the base. I believe this was due to three potential causes: either because my almond meal (homemade) was not refined enough, my meringue was not stiff enough, or my macarons were piped too thick. On my next go around I will run my almond flour through a grinder before sifting, I will likely have to break a batch or two of meringue to ensure the perfect shiny firm peaks, and will pipe the macaron batter onto parchment thinner.
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 will take the technical win of how the cookie is suppose to feel, and the flavor win of delicious taste over appearance any day… not that I won’t set out to hit all three categories next time. Perhaps I’ll even splurge and throw in some blueberry juice.