Before I had my kiddos and had some free time I was a member of the Daring Bakers. I only did a few challenges even though I really enjoyed it. Now that the kids are slightly older and less reliant on mom 100% of the time I decided to rejoin!
For the month of October we got to take on one of many bakers’ deepest, darkest kitchen nightmares : macarons. Our talented bakers Korena from Korena in the Kitchen and Rachael from pizzarossa made the intimidating task of mastering these French beauties a breeze.
You know when you spend 30 minutes whipping up a batch of cookies that take no talent at all and everybody raves about them for days? And then on the opposite side of the spectrum you slave for hours and hours to get something done perfectly and no one says one thing about them? This recipe definitely ended up on the later part of that spectrum. I even made a special container for some co-workers of mine who usually rave about my food and nada. Oh well. Good practice anyway, even if people like chocolate chip cookies better.
I thought going to Winco would get me the best prices for things. I looked for blanched almonds in bulk but they only had the kinds with the skin on so I ended up buying a pound and a half of those with the plan of removing the skins myself. (I found a tutorial here.) Then I found some dehydrated strawberries in their Food Storage section. There was a huge can for $25ish dollars or a smaller can for about $8. I didn’t think I’d be able to find that anywhere else so I went ahead and purchased the $8 can. They also didn’t have the powdered peanut butter I needed.
Then I went to target and found some Bob’s Red Mill almond meal made from blanched almonds and a small bag of dehydrated strawberries for about $3. Dangit. Should have tried Target first. They also had the peanut butter powder no one else had. :/
Moral of the story: Start with Target.
I also need to bring your attention to this beautiful tea cup and plate. This is from a collection my dad inherited from his step mother. It’s a mismatched collection of about 12 cups and maybe 16 plates where probably only 8 or so match up to be a set. These cups are so beautiful and have always been kept in a china hutch in my parent’s dining room. I can only remember ever using them once when I was growing up where we drank hot cocoa and ate mexican wedding cookies. I have no idea what the occasion was, but it obviously left an impression. Since I am the favorite daughter I am obviously going to be inheriting this entire set. Plus my mom’s doll collection that she inherited from her grandmother.
Back to the cookies. For the challenge I made 4 batches of macarons: chocolate with salted caramel filling, strawberry with lemon curd filling, peanut butter with chocolate filling, and lemon with citrus bliss buttercream filling. One batch was undercooked, once batch didn’t rest long enough to dry out so it cracked, but the other two batches sprouted perfect feet and looked beautiful!
Step by Step instructions:
- Prep 2 baking sheets by covering them with parchment paper. Place macaron template under the parchment paper. Set aside.
- Sift together almond flour and powdered sugar (plus any powdered flavoring you are using: cocoa, powdered peanut butter, ground dehydrated strawberries etc.) or pulse together in food processor until well combined.
- Put egg whites in scrupulously clean large mixing bowl. (I wiped the bowl and whisk down with a vinegar dampened paper towel to ensure there is no oil anywhere near the egg whites.) Beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy then gradually add granulated sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form but don’t over beat. Add gel food coloring or vanilla bean seeds just before the egg whites reach stiff peaks.
- Add half the almond flour mixture and fold about 15 times. Make sure to scrape sides and bottom of bowl thoroughly so everything is well incorporated.
- Add the rest of the almond flour mixture. Continue to fold until well combined. The batter will thin and deflate as you fold it. To test if the consistency is correct, lift a spoonful up and drop it on the rest of the batter. The batter should smooth out with no sign of the edges within 30 seconds.
- Put the batter in a large piping bag with large round tip or plain coupler and pipe onto the prepared baking sheet.
- Firmly bang the pan on the counter to dislodge any air bubbles. Let the macarons dry for at least an hour. They should develop a skin and not feel sticky to the touch.
- Preheat oven to 275°. Bake shells one baking sheet at a time for 12-16 minutes (if you used cocoa in your cookies, they may need an extra 2 minutes per batch.) Test the cookies by lifting lightly on one of the cookies. It shouldn’t jiggle at all and it should peel cleanly off the parchment.
- Allow to cool completely on the parchment paper then store in airtight container until ready to fill. Once filled they should be kept in an airtight container. The cookies are better when aged a day or two (if they last that long!)