Armed with 2 day old eggwhites, kitchen beaters and red powdered food colouring, I had my first attempt at baking macarons. I was so nervous about getting it right that I split the recipe in half, so that I had two tries at getting it perfect.
Once my eggs were beaten to stiff peaks, I added the dry ingredients, but realised that there was no way it was going to make a ‘lava-like’ consistency, so ended up only adding a quarter of the dry ingredients called for in the original recipe.
Lesson 1: weigh the egg whites ‘after’ they have been aged, not before.
After scooping the mixture into a piping bag, I realised the tip was too small but went ahead anyway, thinking that the mixture was still far too thick. To my surprise the mixture settled into perfect looking little rounds, and I followed the advice of leaving them to rest for at least an hour (as hard as it was to leave them alone).
Lesson two: patience is your friend
I popped them into the pre-heated oven (140 degrees celcius for the Aussies out there) and waited impatiently, half watching ‘My Kitchen Rules’ and half watching the oven for any sign of success or failure.
There is something so satisfying about watching cooking shows on TV while baking. I don’t know what it is but I wish I had some kind of cooking channel running at all times when I am in the kitchen.
Peering into the oven with anticipation, I noticed that there was some action, my macarons were puffing up. I quickly turned them to make sure they cooked evenly, and within minutes I was surprised to see FEET!!!! YESSS I GOT FEET! I ran to get the boy and show him (for some reason he wasn’t as excited as I was?!).
The hardest part was waiting for the macarons to be cooked properly and deciding when to remove them from the oven. I remembered reading that you should poke the top and if it wiggles they need more time. Eventually i poked the top and it didn’t move from the bottom so it was time to take them out.
Again, patience is your friend while letting them cool, as trying to remove them from the baking paper while warm just means the ‘feet’ get stuck and rip away from the rest of the cookie. Oh well, the boy enjoyed the rejects.
Lesson 3: Use good quality baking paper
I cannot emphasise the importance of this enough. My first batch looked perfect until it came time to remove them from the paper. Even after putting some water on the bottom the soak off the paper they were still stuck, which was so disappointing after the success I thought I was having.
Before starting on my second batch, I took a visit to the grocery store and bought some of the more expensive branded baking paper. Wow, what a difference! The second batch were cooked to perfection and then when cooled they came off the paper so easily!
I whipped up some disturbingly pink vanilla buttercream, didn’t follow any particular recipe, just softened some butter and added icing sugar while beating. What a mess! Once it started becoming a frosting consistency, I added a half teaspoon of vanilla essence and a bit of pink liquid food colouring. As you can see, it came out disturbingly pink… but I kinda like it!
The ‘disposable’ piping bag sprung a leak at one stage, which was not ideal.
Very pleased with my efforts, I managed to salvage some from being eaten for dessert and take them to work where they were very well received (despite the over-use of food colouring). This time I really didn’t play with any kind of flavouring as I didn’t even know that they would work, but I’m so excited to try some flavour combinations, especially some of those suggested over at Mowielicious. I suggested a maple syrup flavoured macaron, with fig and pecan buttercream. Yum I might even try that one myself!
There is a regular macaron mac-attack challenge over at Mactweets that could be an inspiration to make some more challenging flavour combinations than plain macarons with vanilla buttercream. They also have some recipes & tips and tricks if you are trying to make your own.
Photos from: my camera (well… actually from the boy’s camera but I took them)