Today is my little sister’s birthday. Well, she isn’t so little anymore seeing as she’s turning 21, but with such a large age gap (I will not tell you how many years) between us, she will always be my little sister.
We were not very close growing up. I was more like a second mom (I’m sure she found this annoying) to her than a sister. As she got older, we started to have more things (food) in common and started to spend more time together. She has become more of a friend, though I still reserve the right to revert back to my big sister role if need be. ;)
She has become an outgoing, outspoken and independent young lady. She is compassionate, always ready to help out and has even come to my rescue a few times. For these reasons, I am proud to be her sister and I wish her a most wonderful birthday and year ahead full of joy and success!
For her birthday, I wanted to bake her something, but I didn’t want to make the usual cupcakes or cake. I wanted to make something fancy, yet simple, so I decided on macarons. I have actually never had a macaron before, let alone made them. And I was sorely mistaken about the simplicity of it all. This was by far one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever made. Let me explain…
It didn’t go well right from the start. I don’t have a food processor so I used my blender to ground the almonds, which I did in two batches. For the first batch, I ground the almonds with the powdered sugar as suggested in the recipe, but it wasn’t easy to grind the mixture evenly. So for the rest of the almonds, I ground them first before adding the rest of the powdered sugar and cocoa powder.
The next step was to whisk the egg whites until peaks formed. Easy enough right? Sure, if I hadn’t broken one of the yolks while trying to separate the egg white. After a few minutes of unsuccessfully trying to fish out pieces of yolk, I gave up, saved those eggs for David’s famous breakfast sandwiches and cracked another 3 eggs.
And then things got even iffier. It took me more than an hour to pipe the cookies. The meringue was very thick and sticky and it was very difficult to pipe out of the piping bag. I think I lost about 1/4 of the meringue that was stuck to the pastry bags. Could it be that I didn’t grind the almonds fine enough? I did find a large piece of almond stuck in the tip and some pieces in the cookies. It also didn’t help that I didn’t have the right size tip, about 2 times smaller than what was needed. I tried another tip that was larger, but it wasn’t a round one so the cookies weren’t round and flat and I had to scratch that idea. I guess having the right tools is important.
As you can see, my piping skills aren’t very impressive. I couldn’t even pipe within the circles I drew as a guide. My macarons don’t have smooth dome tops. They are also smaller than usual and look more like mini chocolate burgers according to David. :(
Maybe if I put them in a nice box, my sister won’t notice how unattractive they are.
As for the taste, the cookies are a bit chewy and a bit doughy, like they were undercooked. Is that how macarons are supposed to taste? Did I pipe the meringue too thick? The best part was probably the chocolaty ganache centre.
Can anyone tell me where I went wrong?
Recipes (adapted from the Miette cookbook by Meg Ray):
- 1 1/2 cup whole almonds, with skins
- 2 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a 1 1/2-inch bottle cap as a template, draw circles in rows on the paper, about 1 inch apart. You should have room for eighteen circles on each sheet.
- Place half of the almonds and half of the powdered sugar in a food processor. Process for 30 seconds, until the almonds are finely ground. Pour the mixture into a separate bowl and repeat the process with the remaining almonds, powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and whisk on high speed until very stiff peaks form, 3-4 minutes.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold about 1/3 of the almond mixture into the egg whites. Fold in the remaining mixture in two more additions, just until the ingredients are completely combined.
- Fit a pastry bag with a medium (1/2- or 5/8-inch) round tip and fill the bag with the meringue. Pull up the cuff and twist it to seal and tighten the meringue down into the cone. Purge the bag of air bubbles by squeezing the bag until there is a burst off air and meringue sputters out of the bag. Using the template as a guide, pipe circles, 1/2 to 3/4 inch high, onto the baking sheets. Set the baking sheets aside and let the cookies stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
- Bake the macarons until set but not browned, 10-12 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the macarons cool completely on the pans. When they are cool, use your fingers to carefully lift half of the cookies from the parchment and turn them upside down. Using a pastry bag (I used a spoon) fitted with a medium (1/2- or 5/8-inch) round tip and filled with ganache (recipe below), squeeze a nickel-size dollop of filling onto each of the upside-down cookies and then top with the remaining macarons to complete the sandwich cookies.
- Store, refrigerated, in airtight containers for up to 2 weeks. Serve at room temperature.
- 10 ounces (~280g) dark chocolate, chopped
- 2/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) sifted powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Combine the chocolate and powdered sugar in a heatproof bowl.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a gentle simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Nest the bowl over a pan of simmering water to make a bain-marie. Heat, stirring, until all of the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat.
- Whisk the egg yolks in a small heatproof bowl. Pour about 1/2 cup of the melted chocolate mixture into the yolks while whisking, to temper them. Pour the tempered mixture back into the pan of chocolate and whisk to combine. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Pour the hot ganache through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean heatproof bowl (I didn’t do this).
- Use the ganache immediately, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.