The Ultimate Baking Guide for the French Macaron – Part Un – Getting Prepared

 

Hi!

If you’ve been here before, you know that I LOVE french macarons. In fact, as of right now, I’m pretty sure the only thing I’ve posted about has been the macaron, even though I bake plenty of other fun stuff (and hey, sometimes I even leave the kitchen and do other things, too). I figured it was about time for me to put together my list of secrets for perfect macarons at home so you guys can love them just as much as I do… and maybe so my coworkers can start making them for themselves if they happen to see this. 🙂

Blind love aside, the truth of the matter is: macarons are jerks. Maybe I find it relatable that they’re expensive and extremely picky about who they let woo them. Maybe, being the stubborn perfectionist that I am, I enjoy the challenge. Maybe I’m really just that chubby that I want delightful cookies at my disposal at all times. Whatever the attraction, like most of the guys I bring home, I’m willing to overlook their crappy personality for one reason or another, and it’s probably because they’re cute.

Like most people, when I first set out on my macaron journey, I was intimidated and nervous. I’ve seen tons of horror stories/photos all over the internet about flat, misshapen, cracked, abominations and I wanted no part in it. I wanted to go from 0 to macarons in one batch.

1 .

This brings me to my first, and if anything, most important rule for macaron baking: your first batch, maybe even your first few, will not be perfect, and that is OK. You’re making cookies, not performing potentially fatal brain surgery. If they do not come out as pretty as you had imagined – guess what! They will still taste utterly amazeballs. If they’re flat and ugly? Who cares? No one needs to know what they look like when you’re secretly stuffing the entire batch in your face, anyway. Just have fun with it. Relax, for once. Namaste, kitchen.

2 .

Now that you’re relaxed and one with your kitchen, let’s pick out a recipe. The following are my absolute go-tos and I have had great success with all of them. In addition to the recipes being great, there’s wonderful information in each article.

Indulge With Mimi’s Best Macaron Recipe – I really suggest starting out with this one to be honest. It’s very easy to follow AND the recipe doesn’t really yield that many macarons, which makes for less waste if you screw up.

BraveTart’s Macaron Recipe – The rolls royce of macaron recipes, by one of the internet’s most respected food blogs.

Wilton’s Macaron Recipe – If you’re not ready to spring for a kitchen food scale (which, you should, for a multitude of reasons), this is a good place to start.

3 .

On to the mise en place, oui? Let’s get you set up for macarons:

Day 1 – You will need

  • 2 bowls (glass or stainless)
  • White vinegar
  • Eggs, separated. You can either dispose of the yolks or use them for another project, like curing them for example. Make sure to have more egg white than your recipe calls for.
  • Almond flour/meal
  • Plastic wrap

Spritz each of the bowls with the vinegar and wipe clean until they are completely spotless and free of grease/residue. In one of the bowls, place your egg whites. Cover with the plastic wrap and poke a few holes in the top, then drop off your egg whites in the fridge. In the other bowl, drop your almond flour. You can loosely cover with a towel, something that’ll let the air in but keep stuff out (like cat hair if you’ve got furballs like I do).

…. fast forward a couple of days ….

Day 3 – You will need

  • 2 bowls (glass or stainless)
  • 1 large mixing bowl (glass or stainless)
  • White vinegar
  • Your “aged” egg whites from day 1 – weighed out to amount called for in recipe
  • Your “aged” almond flour from day 1 – weighed out to amount called for in recipe
  • Castor Sugar – weighed out to amount called for in recipe
  • Confectioner’s sugar – weighed out to amount called for in recipe
  • Salt/Cream of tartar – measured out to amount called for in recipe
  • A fine-mesh sieve
  • A food scale (unless you chose a recipe that doesn’t use weight measurements)
  • A food processor
  • Stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment
  • A pastry/piping bag fitted with a round tip
  • A tall glass
  • 4 large baking sheets
  • 2 silpats OR parchment paper
  • Printed macaron diagram (free to download in my next post!)
  • A dehumidifier
  • A SUNNY day 🙂
  • Oven thermometer

So if this seems like a daunting list… that’s because it is! And I’m sorry. And I want you to know, macaron virgin, that this list will get smaller the more you experiment. Think of this set-up as you taking out a huge insurance policy on your first batches of macarons. In the above list is every single thing I can think of that will help make sure your macarons come out perfect. If you want to try and not age your egg whites or not hose down your bowls with vinegar, by all means, go for it. Just try and only get rid of one insurance policy at a time, that way you know if you absolutely must do something to ensure everything comes out OK.

Once you’ve assembled your list and have measured out everything per your chosen recipe, take your almond flour and confectioner’s sugar and throw them in the food processor, together. Pulse them until there aren’t any small pieces of almond floating around, but don’t go so far as to release all of the oils in the almonds and turn your mixture into a very sweet paste. Dump out your almond/sugar mixture into one of your two bowls, and use the other bowl with the sieve on top to sift the mixture. Make sure to sift TWICE.

Place your piping bag, fitted with a round tip, in the tall glass, being careful to have twisted the tip end of the bag so that no batter will be able to escape while you are filling. The tall class will help you to support the piping bag, leaving both of your hands free to fill.

Place your printed macaron diagrams on to two of your baking sheets, then cover them with either your silpats or parchment paper, depending on which you chose to use.

Turn on your dehumidifier and make sure the humidity is lower than 55, ideally lower than 50.

All of this sums up your mise en place and you’re ready to go! Stay tuned for my next post as we discuss how to use your home oven, proper “macronage” and piping, and filling/decorating!

<3

Flower Crown Macarons

Hi Everyone,

I have SO much planned for the kitchen this week, which is extremely daunting because I’ve also got a lot going on IRL. Regardless, I’m very excited to show you guys what I have been working on :). Allow me to present my last culinary adventure… the flower crown macaron.

Sometimes, when I’m having a rough day (which happens more often than you’d think for someone that’s literally half unicorn), I like to shut off my phone, turn off the internet and the computer, and chill out with my cats and paint some stuff. Over the past few years, I’ve really switched focus in terms of paint from oil to water color, mostly because oil is messy and I’m really keen on keeping my new home pristine, but I also enjoy the effortless, dream-like quality that I get from watercolor.

A few days ago, I had one of these “rough days”. Once I got home from work, all I wanted to do something that made me happy. While my whimsical artist side wanted to self-soothe with watercolor, the smarter, fatter part of me wanted a special treat. We met up somewhere in the middle when I decided to just bake and paint macarons.

I’ve never painted food before or had any inkling as to how to start, so I kind of just made myself a palette out of a plate and some food coloring and went to town, hoping to translate some of my watercolor skills into the food coloring. It wasn’t until many hours later that I looked down and realized that a) I had some seriously pretty macarons that I had absolutely no desire to eat because they were too pretty, and b) that I felt better. Take that, Monday.

Since creating these beauties, I have purchased all kinds of special stuff for food paintin’, so prepare yourselves for an onslaught of painted stuff – most likely more macarons because I just can’t stop baking them 🙂

I’ll be back in a few days with some more stuff. For now, enjoy the pictures!

Unicorn Macarons

This is super awkward since this is my first post here @ The Cosmic Kitchen. Here goes nothing!

Before I get to the Unicorn Macarons (that is why you’re here, right?), I figured it best to briefly outline my purpose here with this blog.

Hi! I’m Catie. I really like to spend time in the kitchen, and more importantly, bake. It’s currently the middle of the summer (which is pretty hot and muggy in my neck of the woods) and here I am, baking. That’s dedication. I’m also extremely pale, hate wearing bathing suits, and recently fell in love with my central air conditioning, so I suppose it’s more of a distraction than dedication, but that’ll be our little secret.

Anyway, I’m perpetually posting pictures and whatnot of all of my baking creations on Instagram, forcing them down my coworkers and family’s throats, and hissing my cats off the counter as I attempt to capture them in the best make-shift photo shoots possible, but no one really appreciates my efforts. Most of my kitchen projects go unnoticed, unloved, and worst of all, uneaten.

This, coupled with my day job (I also happen to work in graphics), has brought me here! All the way to the ever-expanding, wild west of information, the internet! Home of LOTS of foodstuff and food love. I hope, really hope, I can bring a couple of smiles to a few new corners of the earth with my pictures and crappy sense of humor.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, on to the macarons!

 

These puppies were made with BraveTart’s Recipe, which is the only one so far that I have gotten to work with some success in my kitchen. I’ve been busting out batches of macarons like it’s my job (it’s not), and still I have difficulty sometimes with my feet developing or cracking or hollow shells. I feel like I’m in an abusive relationship with these tiny cookies. They keep bringing me down and making me think I’m worthless and should step out of the kitchen, and I go right back thinking I can change them.

The feet on this particular batch were NOT to my liking, and a couple did manage to crack, but they were just too cute to not post!

I’ve got a lot more to make in the coming weeks so I’ll be posting them here. Until then – let me know your thoughts! And if you’ve got any secrets for perfect macarons, let me know in the comments.

Catie