Jenny La Fleur
The Great Macaron Post - Jenny La Fleur
adventures in costuming
jennylafleur
jennylafleur
The Great Macaron Post

My long-overdue macaron post! I am of course no expert but since so many of you have asked, here are my thoughts on the tasty little things.



The Recipe
The basic recipe I've been using with such success can be found @ Travelers Lunchbox while the buttercream recipe I love is from My Tarteltte. (I orginially used it for the candy cane buttercream (which I make by adding the candy to the buttercream rather than just rolling the edges) but liked it so much that I use it as the basic base for all my buttercreams fillings.)

Macarons are really very simple, just persnickety. If you can make a meringue you can make a macaron. However there are a few tricks and, more importantly, a few variables you need to be aware of.

With macarons you are following an unshakable formula when it comes to the dry-wet ratio of sugar to egg whites to almonds. There is a great explanation of this ratio here. However the rest of a macaron recipe needs to be, um shall we say... flexible.

Variables in Macaron Making

1. Almond flour.
I've been using the same brand of flour from the same source and yet each batch is different in exactly how fine the almonds have been ground. It's a easy fix though, combine your flour with the powdered sugar and sift. (It will go through the sifter much better with the sugar - trust me!) If it will go through a sifter it will make nice macarons, it doesn't have to be almond dust.

2. Humidity / Climate
Don't take the word of a macaron recipe on how long the piped batter should dry out before baking. I've seen everything from 30 minutes to 6 hours. You'll need to experiment to find what the perfect time is for your climate. For me, living in Virginia and baking in the winter/spring, I get the best results when I let the piped batter sit for about 1.5 hours, depending on the relative humidity that particular day. In the summer I expect that time to increase a bit as the humidity increases.

The freshness of your eggs and whether they are organic, farm fresh or not can make a difference too so be aware of that. Do a test batch, letting your trays of piped macarons sit for various times to discover the "sweet spot" for you.

3. Oven temperature
Again don't take the word of the recipe on this. I found my macarons do best at a slightly lower temperature, I guess my oven is a bit hot? I also bake them for slightly less time. Do make sure that your oven is fully up to temp though before you start baking, especially if you are doing multiple batches and want consistency in the finished results.


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A Couple More Tips

Under-mixing is as disastrous as over-mixing. Macaron batter turns out to be much more hardy than you'd think - don’t be afraid to stir it like I was! You need to mix it until all the ingredients are combined and then continue to mix until small peaks of batter dissolve into a flat surface in the batter bowl. (The batter should not spread once it’s piped.) Putting it another way, it should have the consistency of flowing magma. So it should flow, not be stiff (note chocolate macarons will be a bit more stiff than other macarons) but do be careful - the difference between stiff and overbeaten can be one stir around the bowl!

Some recipes call for you to let the egg whites sit out for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight before you whip them. I haven't found this necessary but be all means experiment yourself!

I also noticed some recipes (particularly the ones in French) want you to layer multiple baking trays when you bake the macarons. I experimented with this and found I actually got better results (better feet!) if I didn't. It's worth experimenting with though since it obviously works for someone. :>

Proper cooking parchment paper really does work the best. I've also tried silpat mats and wax paper with not so good results.

Gel food coloring works better than liquid food coloring, especially if you want a medium or intense color. Too much liquid dye tips the magical balance of the wet-dry ratio, resulting in runny batters and no feet on your macarons. For extra flavoring try a gel-based vanilla bean extract for the same reason.

Don't store them in plastic as they will get soggy. Or at least it does if you live in a more humid climate like me! I've found a cookie tin lined in wax paper keeps them the longest.

They taste much better if you fill them the night before and let the flavors meld. It's one the the real keys to having a crunchy outside and a chewy inside too!

Chocolate Macarons
My tips for good chocolate macarons is to use the recipe above (the chocolate variation is at the bottom of the page). Also because you can’t add more if the flavor isn’t chocolaty enough, be sure to use a very high quality organic coco powder. I tried an organic non-Dutch process last time and was really happy with it! I also add a dash of instant espresso powder. It intensifies the flavor making the chocolate taste more chocolaty, not tasting like coffee.


Man that is a lot to say about something I’m not an expert on! Well I hope that it is helpful and will help you not make some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way. Happy baking!

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Comments
fancyfrocks From: fancyfrocks Date: May 27th, 2010 01:04 am (UTC) (link)
nom nom nom. I've really been craving macarons for over a week. This isn't helping. hehe.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: May 27th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC) (link)
I know, I'm a bad friend! :P
bauhausfrau From: bauhausfrau Date: May 27th, 2010 01:56 am (UTC) (link)
Thanks for all the tips. One of these days I plan to make my own...or I could just keep buying them from the Euro Pane bakery. ;P
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: May 27th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC) (link)
They are fun but v-e-r-y time consuming. Personally I'd go with the Euro Pane if there was one in town! :P
padawansguide From: padawansguide Date: May 27th, 2010 03:03 am (UTC) (link)
Your macarons were delicious - and way better than the few other brands/bakers I've tried! I think you've definitely become an expert!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: May 27th, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC) (link)
Wow - thanks!
rebecca817 From: rebecca817 Date: May 27th, 2010 05:04 am (UTC) (link)
Thanks for this, especially the bit with the chocolate and coffee since my husband loves both of them (I just made him chile espresso brownies). I do not think I'll try chili in the macarons though...but we'll see.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: May 27th, 2010 09:27 pm (UTC) (link)
I don't know chili chocolate macarons sound good to me... I might have to give that a try next time.

I actually hate coffee but like I said, just a dash intensifies the chocolate flavor, giving it more depth. You'd have to add more espresso powder to have it actually taste like coffee. :>
vanityfairy From: vanityfairy Date: May 27th, 2010 09:12 am (UTC) (link)
I've been meaning to try macaroons for a long time, thanks for all these great tips!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: May 27th, 2010 09:28 pm (UTC) (link)
You are welcome! Good luck!
myladyswardrobe From: myladyswardrobe Date: May 27th, 2010 11:27 am (UTC) (link)
Gorgeous.

We have Laduree branch in London and also Paul's bakery - both of which have macarons.

When we had the costumed event here in the UK a fortnight ago, someone brought up macarons from Laduree in London. One of them was ROSE!! It was sublime. Very buttercreamy initially and then one got the gorgeous after taste of pure rose. And one could "smell" it at the same time.

I now need to find some really good rose flavouring to replicate that.

Thanks for your post.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: May 27th, 2010 09:34 pm (UTC) (link)
Lucky! The rose sound heavenly! My one try at rose macarons was a bit disapointing. Plain rosewater just didn't have enough flavor. A friend just gave me some rose-lime syrup though so I'm thinking I'll try again with that...
mlsdesigns From: mlsdesigns Date: May 27th, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC) (link)
I think you must be an expert by now!! I must have a go some day, they looks so pretty!!!! Something tells me I might just be getting to try these little beauties in June, and I cannot wait ;)
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: May 27th, 2010 09:35 pm (UTC) (link)
Hee hee. It's a possibility. :>
From: silkfrocks Date: May 27th, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC) (link)
I so want to try making these, yumm yumm. So bad for the diet (pout).
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: May 27th, 2010 09:36 pm (UTC) (link)
Yeah definitely not diet food. They are super sweet though so I can't really eat too many of them... my friend's are a differnet matter of course. :>
isiswardrobe From: isiswardrobe Date: May 27th, 2010 06:32 pm (UTC) (link)
I never wanted to make macaroons before, but now I do!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: May 27th, 2010 09:36 pm (UTC) (link)
Yay - a convert! :>
chloeandrudy From: chloeandrudy Date: May 27th, 2010 06:45 pm (UTC) (link)
You're sure doing a good job of keeping our interest up in making these. I need to dig out my ingredients and recipes again and give it another shot. In class, we were told to use the organic fair trade brands of cocoa like Trader Joe's sells. And I bought some of the gel food colorings as suggested.
So. How many did you screw up first? My first batch went in the trash.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: May 27th, 2010 09:48 pm (UTC) (link)
I try! :>

Yeah when I was shopping for the coco I was really wishing I had a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods in town! I did manage to find a good one, from Scharffen Berger that I'm super happy with.

I only had 2 trays that I actually had to toss. (I get about 4 trays per batch). The rest were varying levels of not-so-great but still eatible. At least my family didn't complain about them. :>
chloeandrudy From: chloeandrudy Date: May 27th, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC) (link)
Yes, Scharffenberger was one of the chocolates they also recommended.
Sadly mine weren't even worth trying to eat, unless you like gummy bears.
mythosidhe From: mythosidhe Date: May 28th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC) (link)
Wow, you did a great job! These look beautiful and I'm sure they are delicious. I wish I could make my own, but I am a terrible baker, so I'll stick to Whole Foods for my supply ;p
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: June 3rd, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC) (link)
Lucky you to have a local source for them! :>
rebecca817 From: rebecca817 Date: May 31st, 2010 02:01 am (UTC) (link)
When I print out recipes, I tend to put them in sheet protectors and keep them in sections of usage, i.e., main dishes (lamb, pork, chicken, etc.) sweets, etc.....but I think I'm going to have a whole "notebook" related to macaroons/macarons.
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