Daring Bakers October Challenge- Macarons

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*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.

This was my first Daring Bakers challenge and I was very excited about it! I have been wanting to make these since I discovered them just a year ago. When I first read the recipe I thought they would be easy. But now 2 failed batches later I am thinking of two things: 1) I will never consider myself a talented baker until I master this recipe 2) The battle is not over. Unfortunately, the cost of the almond meal will probably prevent me from trying these again anytime soon but at least if you fail making the distinctive “feet” of macarons, the taste is still magnificent.

In my experience, the best recipes have a minimal amount of ingredients. These are no exception. You are basically folding a meringue into a combination of nut flour and sugar, piping it and then baking it. Simple, right? BUT THERE ARE SO MANY VARIABLES! Is my meringue at the “stiff peaks” level? Is my almond meal too coarse? Is my oven temperature correct? Do I use aged eggs or not? Did I stir everything too much or not enough? Are my eggs at room temperature? And on and on and on.

I thought I had everything right. The first batch turned out better than the second- maybe because I was over-thinking it the second time, I don’t know.

My first batch looked like this after baking:

macaron

Not a complete fail but lots of issues! They just look okay.

okay

When I piped the second batch I could almost see that it wasn’t going to work from the get-go. I think I over-beated the mixture.

piped on

Some of the seasoned pros can verify that or not. But anyway I did have one that actually puffed up okay in the 1st batch. I put it in a pretty little package and gave it a ribbon because I was so proud of it.

ribbon undone

wrapped up

I used Claudia Fleming’s recipe for macarons (see below) and then came up with my own frosting for a filling.

Claudia Fleming’s Macarons

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.

Hazelnut Buttercream Frosting:

1/2 cup butter (room temperature)

1 cup powdered sugar

2 TB Nutella

1 TB half and half or milk

1TB cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla

Stir all ingredients to combine.

Toasted hazelnuts for garnish

I can definitely see these becoming the next big craze after the cupcake! I certainly hope we don’t see bacon macarons though. . .

tower o' macs text

Yield: 1 that turns out okay and 10 flat ones similar to those in this pic, unless you have better luck than I and I really hope that you do!

****UPDATE*****

I just made these again because it was killing me that they didn’t have feet and this time they turned out the way they are supposed to! Here is what I did different:

-Let the egg whites age overnight on the counter

-SLOWED DOWN! I let them sit for about 45 minutes after I piped them and then let them sit a bit after the initial baking.

-Turned my oven up an extra 25 degrees from what was stated in the recipe. I think my oven might run a little low so I did this to help with the “puffiness” of the macaron.

Here is what they looked like after the first baking:

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I put a little raspberry tea in there to color them up but that didn’t work for color 🙁

Pretty to put in a box though:

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fun to stack:

macaron stack text

These were gone by suppertime. The neighbors all around us enjoyed them and even I ate a fair share. Usually I don’t eat too much of what I bake but these were THAT good! There will be more macaron baking in this house- I think they are my new favorite treat!

White Macarons

16 Comments

  1. Posted October 27, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    this is so pretty, I think I am in love with your pictures.

  2. Posted October 27, 2009 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much!

  3. Posted October 27, 2009 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I think I saw a bacon macaron in the forums actually 🙂

    Glad you persevered because they all turned out terrific in the end! Great job!

  4. Posted October 27, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I saw that too! Next I am trying your recipe. Sounds like it’s the best!

  5. Posted October 28, 2009 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    Well I think they all look amazing! Congrats on your first challenge, you handled it flawlessly =D. Not to mention your gorgeous photos!

    Don’t forget that you can always grind your own almond flour, either in a coffee grinder, or in a food processor =D.

  6. Posted October 28, 2009 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the kind words! Unfortunately I am operating without a coffee grinder or food processor but I hope to get one in the near future!

  7. Posted October 28, 2009 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    Good to see that you finally found your feet 🙂

    I likewise didn’t have much success with the DB Challenge recipe.

  8. Posted October 28, 2009 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    Wonderful that you got perfection at the end well done and they sounds delicious. Cheers from Audax in Australia. Pretty feet:)

  9. Posted October 28, 2009 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    Yes! Well, it was all your wonderful suggestions in the forum that helped me to achieve those feet so THANK YOU!

  10. Posted October 28, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Such pretty packaging and presentation.
    Just found out that we’ll be doing the foodie fight battle 🙂 Let the cooking begin!

  11. Posted October 28, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Good luck on Foodie Fights!

  12. Posted October 28, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I think that these look great! The second batch was beautiful =)

    I think a lot of us have a mac addition now…

  13. Posted October 28, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Very well done! Your macarons look so pretty and delicious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  14. Posted November 2, 2009 at 4:17 am | Permalink

    Your macarons are lovely!

  15. Posted November 8, 2009 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Yours look so good I don’t know how you can even think those might be a fail!

  16. Posted November 8, 2009 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    They didn’t poof up as much as I wanted to! I wanted mine to look like those pure white ones that had the violets on them. 🙂