In January when my mom and I decided to go to Paris this February, I looked into cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu. To my delight, there was a class on making caramel macarons on the Friday that I was going to be in Paris.
Our class was taught in French by Chef Walter and fortunately for me, translated into English. The class started off with Chef Walter demonstrating for us how to make the macaron cookie. What I liked about his teaching was that he explained very clearly what he was doing and why he was doing it that way. He also provided us with little tidbits of extra information that was helpful. For example, often times if you buy ground almonds from the store, there is a lower content of almond oil in these ground almonds because the food companies take it out so they can sell the oil. Thus, it is better to ground your own almonds.
Without my handy Kitchenaid mixer, whipping egg whites became more like an arm workout. We first whipped the egg whites and then whipped in the granulated sugar. Then we folded in the ground almonds and confectioner’s sugar. The macaron batter is then piped onto parchment sheets. After piping the macarons, we let them sit out for about 15 minutes before putting them in the oven. When the macarons are ready to go in the oven, we were told that the oven should be turned off when we initially place the trays into the oven. After the trays have been in the oven for one minute, the ovens were turned back on. Chef Walter also told us that the oven needed to be opened once or twice during baking.
While our macarons were in the oven, I was kind of worried that even with the help of a professional pastry chef, my macarons would not turn out correctly. Thus, I was very happy when my tray came out of the oven and they looked like actual macarons, feet and all.
To make the filling, Chef Walter demonstrated how to make caramel on the stove. This is something to be done only when you can give it your full attention as it can be burnt in a matter of seconds if overcooked. We used two fillings, one was a caramel and mascarpone mixture and the other a caramel and butter mixture. I personally preferred the filling that had butter because the caramel flavor was stronger. Also, the macarons filled with the mascarpone filling became somewhat mushy the next day. I’m not usually the biggest fan of caramel, but the caramel flavor in the macaron filling has definitely improved my feelings toward caramel.
Long story short, the macarons were successful and addictively delicious. I also tried to eat as many as I could because I was flying home the next day and knew they would get crushed if I tried to take them with me.
Now the challenge is to see if I can make macarons at home…on my own.