Saturday, August 6, 2011

Three Times Is A Charm-French Macarons

Voila la Macaron Francais!! 

Here is a French bakery classic, the French macaron.  They have also been the rage amongst food bloggers for a couple of years now.  It was time I got on the band wagon and gave my spatula a whirl to try and master these elusive cookies. 

The thing about them is that the list of ingredients couldn't be more elementary: ground almonds, egg whites, powdered and granulated sugar, and flavoring  of your choice.  These cookies are all about technique.  One false move and you have a tray full of tasty sweets, but they are not French macarons.  There are a couple things imperative to a true macaron.  They must rise with a small "foot" at the bottom and the top must be smooth, shiny, and nicely rounded over.  It is said that making these are one of the trickiest techniques in French pastry making and that French bakeries throw away approximately 20% of them due to failure.
My first attempt turned out wrong as the batter was too thick.  I flavored these with some finely grated lemon zest and a few drops of yellow gel food coloring.  As you can see, they did not smooth out and the foot never appeared, just big cracks.  They tasted very good.
My second attempt turned out wrong as the batter was too thin.  The variance in batter texture has to do with how many times you fold it once the dry ingredients are incorporated into the stiffly beaten egg whites.  These ones didn't rise at all and their tops cracked.  They were flavored with vanilla extract and colored with a few drops of red food gel. Everything I have read says to use gel food colorings because even the slightest variation in moisture in the batter can effect the end results.  These too, were very tasty.
Today I attempted chocolate macarons as posted on a great baker's blog by the name of David Lebovitz who is an ex-patriot who lives in Paris.....lucky, lucky David.  I'm not going to post his recipe.  I'll just direct you to his site, Living the Sweet Live in Paris, and let you read up on his thoughts and his links to the many people who have achieved success and their techniques.
The possibilities are endless with flavorings you can use for both the cookie base and the fillings.  I filled these chocolate ones with a cherry butter cream which I made by combining powdered sugar, a little butter, a dollop of cherry jam, and a few drops of red food gel. if you attempt to make these, just know to be patient and give yourself time for some trial and error.  Once you've made your first successful batch you may be so excited you'll have to call your mother and tell her.  That's what I did!!


Big sis said...

Some of my favorite treats but I have never been brave enough to try and make them. Yours look wonderful.

Savorique said...

Every time I visit France, I'm asked to bring one treat, Laduree macarons.
One can be very creative and create endless combinations of flavors and colors. My fav is chocolate macaron, which actually was the first ever macaron created.
May I share this link as you may find the video about the macaronnage technique helpful in your endeavour

The Mulligan Family said...

Look and sound delicious. I doubt that I will be attempting them any time soon - but your efforts appear to have paid off quite nicely.

Cheers, Cindy

Jessica said...

I'm impressed! They look delicious!

Anonymous said...

I wish you would have more "mistakes" in the kitchen so that your co-workers can sample the fruits of your labor.


A Concerned Co-worker (who wants more treats:)

whack patti said...