Today is a mini-milestone in my life. I have successfully (although certainly not perfectly) made french macarons from scratch. Me! Moi! Someone pinch me because, surely I’m dreaming right?! But non! it is true! I did it and best of all, you can do it too!
Here’s how it happened… I received an email from the amazingly talented folks at Sucré, a sweet boutique, asking me if I would be interested in participating in a blogger Macaron challenge? They would send me a package of their amazingly wonderful macarons plus their recipe for me to try making them at home and add my own twist on the flavor. I was intrigued. I adore macarons but have been seriously intimidated by them, I mean, this is french cuisine after all. But, I love a challenge and felt like I’d never have a better opportunity to test the macaron waters than with a proven macaron recipe by my side, right?
I accepted and received my delightful package and the recipe and then… real panic began to set in. What have I gotten myself into? Despite my rising trepidation, last week I decided to roll up my sleeves, tighten my apron strings and have a go at making my first ever batch of macarons. I dutifully read the recipe, gathered my ingredients, measured, sifted, mixed and baked and held my breath for the results… which sadly, were wafer-thin flat discs. Tasty though they were (the flavors were right but the “look” was wrong) and feeling defeated I needed to take a break and do some more research.
I found some great information online, particularly from FoodNouveau.com. God bless Marie for making a great video and for sharing so many tips and ideas! I realized that my main mistakes centered around the egg whites.
Problem #1: I had used liquid egg whites from a carton and not from cracking and separating the egg yolks and whites from actual eggs.
Problem #2: I didn’t “age” my egg whites (separate them, and then let them sit in your fridge for 1 to 2 days before making your macarons).
Problem #3: I didn’t properly whip the eggs. For me this was mostly the result of using an old hand beater. This was the perfect excuse to go to Target and get a new hand mixer, hello Kitchen Aid hand mixer!
Armed with these new tips, I charged back into the kitchen last night and dove right in. I had cracked and separated my eggs the day before and I was ready to go! I had forgotten to set my egg whites out for a few hours prior to whipping but I took another tip from Marie and microwaved them for 10 seconds and then whipped them. I got so excited with how well the whipping was going (the egg whites were standing on their own even when I held the bowl upside down!!) that I forgot to sift my almond flour/sugar mixture before incorporating it into the egg whites… this resulted in a less than perfectly smooth texture on my macarons… but otherwise these little darlings are delicious! And brace yourself, not as hard to make as I had thought.
Once I worked out the initial kinks, I realize that they are more time consuming than difficult. Now, if you are expecting perfect store-bought results, well then, prepare to be a bit disappointed, but if you are hoping for a delicious (and still pretty) extremely decadent dessert than have I got a treat for you!
- 1 cup almond flour + 1 cup powdered sugar - sifted together
- ½ cup plus 1 ¾ tablespoons sugar
- ½ cup egg whites
- food color as desired* I used about 10 drops of Neon Pink liquid food coloring for mine.
- ⅓ cup powdered pink lemonade mix + 2 Tablespoons water
- 2 sticks fresh butter
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbs vanilla
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Mix pink lemonade mix with water to break down sugar crystals (you don't want to have the granules in the frosting). If you add too much water to mix it you will need to reduce the amount of cream you add so that your filling doesn't get too thin. Set aside.
- Bring butter and cream to room temperature.
- Cream butter till smooth, add cream and vanilla, mix till smooth.
- Add sifted powder sugar and pink lemonade paste, again, mix till smooth. Set aside until ready to fill your macarons.
- The day before you plan to make your macarons: separate your egg whites, store them in your refrigerator for 1 to 2 days prior to using them. Trust me on this...
- The day you are baking: Set your egg whites on the counter to come to room temperature a few hours before getting started.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Use a food processor to briefly but thoroughly mix together almond flour, powdered sugar and ½ cup sugar.
- Next, run this flour/sugar mix through a sifter or sieve to remove any larger bits of almond flour/powdered sugar. Set aside.
- Use a hand mixture to whip your "aged" egg whites. Now some recipes will tell you different things about when to add your sugar and food coloring. Here's what I did and it worked for me... Use the mixer to whip your whites on high speed and when they are beginning to turn white stop and add 1 ¾ tablespoons sugar. Continue whipping on high speed until it begins to form solid but not too stiff peaks. Add your food coloring and mix for a few more seconds until you have those nice stiff peaks and it won't slide when you hold the bowl upside down. Now put down the mixer, you won't need it again. Grab a rubber spatula and fold ⅓ of the almond/sugar mix into the colored egg white mixture. Try to be gentle and not overwork your egg whites but don't worry about being too gentle. Just mix and go as best you can. Once that is well combined, add one more ⅓ and mix well and finally add the final ⅓.
- Once it is well mixed, transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a wide plain tip.
- Pipe small disks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Per Marie's advice, I laid a template down on my baking sheet under the parchment paper which made piping so much easier! Here's the template I used.
- Tap the pan on the counter to help remove any air bubbles.
- REST THE MACARONS FOR 20 MINUTES. Seriously. You'll thank me.
- Bake 10 - 15 minutes, until they are firm to your gentle touch.
- Remove from the oven, and cool on the pan sitting on a cooling rack.
- Place buttercream in a pastry bag and pipe a thin layer of filling onto the bottom of a cooled cookie, and top with another cookie.
- Sit down and enjoy your very own Parisian delicacy that you made yourself! Well done!!
Because my daughter and I love all things pink and I’m dreaming of warmer weather, I decided to make a pink lemonade flavored cookie and I am so happy I did. The tang of the lemon combined with the sweetness of the cookie and the lovely almond flavor – ah, it’s a delectable combination that truly is in danger of train-wrecking my weight loss plan.
Now for the challenge part: can you hop over to Sucré’s website and vote for my Pink Lemonade Macarons? I’d be ever so grateful! I think they are also cooking up a contest for readers too and I will be sure to share those details with you as soon as I know more.
So, what do you think? Do you think you want to try and make your own? I’m already getting excited about a few more flavor combinations and can’t wait to give them a whirl. Now that I’ve gotten this batch under my belt, I know that my skills will only continue to improve over time and what a tasty time it will be! And if you’d rather just buy them, than definitely check out the wonderful options from Sucré, they have so, so, SO many delicious treats (much more than macarons) that they will ship right to your door! You will be amazed by the possibilities – I know I was!!
I was given a free package of macarons for this challenge but the thoughts and opinions are my own. I only share products that I think will benefit and interest my readers. You are important to me!
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