Tag Archives: french macarons

Macarons . . . success at last (with a little help)

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.

Chef Walter demonstrating how to pipe macarons

My macarons, ready to go in the oven

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.

Success 🙂

My 16 macarons....which I proceeded to eat within the next 24 hours

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French macarons, a love-hate relationship

Yesterday I baked French macarons  I have attempted these once before, but the macarons did not turn out correctly.   This time, I was slightly more successful but the macarons still did not turn out as they should.  French macarons should look like this.

Laduree rose macaron (and chocolate-rasberry macaron)

The actual macarons (not the cream part in the middle) should be glossy and have a “foot”, the little part at the bottom of the cookie that is not smooth and slightly comes out.  When you bite into one, it should crack and have a slight crunch to it, but also, it should be soft in the middle.

I used the recipe from a book titled I Heart (with an actual heart) Macarons.  Some tips for making macarons from this book:

  • Double up your baking sheet
  • Draw circles on the parchment paper so you know much of the macaron batter to pipe onto the sheet
  • Let the batter sit on the baking sheet for about 15 minutes before you bake it

When I was making the macaron batter, I could not make the egg white and sugar mixture as stiff and thick as it looked in the picture in my book.  I even beat it longer than recommended to see if it would stiffen up more.  But I didn’t want to overbeat it either.

My first batch turned out just plain wrong.  They were cracked, flat, they had no foot, and were way too crunchy.  They only thing correct was that they were glossy.  Score one for me!

The first batch: cracked, flat, and too crunchy

After making this first batch, I thought that the rest of my batches would be just as bad.

For the second batch, I piped more batter onto the circles because the macarons in my first batch were too small and flat.  Batch 2 turned out much better.  They were still glossy and this time, not cracked and they had a slight foot.  They also had a slight chewiness in the middle.  The third batch turned out pretty much like the second batch, except for they were a little chewier in the middle.   I was getting closer and closer each time.  But by this time, I was out of batter.

Batch 2: no cracks!

Batch 3

I suspect that the problem has something to do with the part where the egg whites and sugar get beat together.  Next time, I think I will try adding the sugar to the egg whites much more slowly.

Also, the macaron cookies should be sandwiched with buttercream, ganache, or something between them.  But I refuse to do so until I am successful with the macaron cookie itself.

I love the bright colors of macarons.  I love the fact that they come in so many delicious flavors (I have yet to encounter one I dislike).  I love eating macarons.  But I hate how tricky they are to make.

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