Vanilla Maracons

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So I think I’ve acquired a bit of a problem. You see, on my recent trip to Delray Beach, Florida, my friend and I made a discovery that changed my life forever. As we were doing some shopping we stumbled upon this quaint macaron shop filled with an arrangement of beautifully colored morsels. These eye-catching little delights were now the #1 thing my taste buds had to endure. Upon walking in we were introduced to this adorable french man working behind the counter who probably thought I was a bit off my rocker for how much I was gawking over these things. After a few minutes of banter he offered me a free sample (because the shell was broken) of a vanilla basil macaron. With no hesitation I took a bite and I swear I experienced a euphoric moment. Being a baker for the past 14 years and this being the first time I have tasted these only means that I have not lived the past 14 years of my life with total fulfillment. After placing a decently large order to bring home to the family I expressed my excitement to the man behind the counter, telling him how it was my goal when I got home to make a batch of these. His reply was as follows: “You know, I can almost guarantee that the first 3-5 times you try to make this is going to be a failure” (you must read it in your head with a french accent to get the full effect), and that is where my challenge started.

After coming home from my trip, I did a lot of research on the art of macaron making. Through the recipe that I will provide I will bold a bunch of the tips that I have either read or found through my own process of making them. In the past two days alone I have made two batches, both being a surprising success (take that macaron guy)!!! Don’t get me wrong, these are incredibly tricky to make, but if you pay attention to every small detail along the process, you are bound to get them right!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So if you have never had a macaron before, it is a type of cookie, similar to meringue cookies, with a cream, ganache, or jam filling. The cookies are a combination of airy, chewy and crunchy which is just a texture explosion in your mouth. They can also be tailored to any taste due to the fact that you can pretty much fill them with anything, even mustard if it tickled your pickle. If you are up to the challenge I would say absolutely go for it, and the ease of this recipe will surely be a great guide to help your experience be a success.

The recipe that I tweaked to make these measured everything out in grams. I did the same because it makes sure that all measurements will be exact, so if you have a food scale handy, I would highly suggest. But I did convert all the measurements out into cups which I triple checked was correct so you can just follow accordingly with that as well. The pictures of the blue and purple macarons were made from my first batch and the yellow ones from my second batch. As you can see, the yellow ones are more aerated because I took much more care with measuring out the ingredients and following the recipe to a tee.

Vanilla MacaronsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yields: 20 macarons

Ingredients:

Macarons:

  • 4 large egg whites (or 5 small)-140 grams
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon superfine (caster) sugar-70 grams
  • 1.5 cups+4 teaspoons confectioners sugar-230 grams
  • 1 cup almond meal-120 grams
  • pinch of salt
  • powder or gel food coloring (optional)

Tips:

Be sure to use superfine sugar, granulated sugar is too coarse for the batter.

If you are unsure what almond meal is, just look for it by the all natural foods in your grocery store. To make it yourself, just finely blend 8 oz of almonds in a food processor. It is recommended they be skinless – To do so, place almonds in 5 cups of boiling water for 60-90 seconds. Dump all the almonds into a strainer and pinch each almond between your fingers. The skin will come off with ease.

The almonds can be substituted for hazelnuts, pistachios, or even pumpkin seeds if you have a nut allergy!

It is highly recommended to use either powder or gel food coloring. Liquid alters the texture of the batter and can cause it to be runny and not cook correctly. In my recipe I used gel.

Filing:

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and cold
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • food coloring (optional)

Special Supplies Needed:

  • Parchment paper
  • Piping bags

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Place egg whites and superfine sugar in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Continue to whip for 1-2 minutes more. Add gel or powdered food coloring and continue to mix for another 20 seconds until color is fully distributed.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  3. Sift the almond meal, confectioners sugar, and salt twice, discarding any almond lumps that are too big to pass through the sieve. Tip: Finding a lot of big clumps in my almond meal, I took the larger pieces and ground it further using a stick blender then worked it through the sieve.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  4. Pour all the almond meal/sugar mixture into the egg whites and fold using a rubber spatula. This should take roughly 30-50 folds to achieve the texture that you’re looking for. Do not over mix the batter. It will result in a flat and lifeless cookie. Count the number of folds you do, remembering to take the rubber spatula down through the mixture, across the bottom, and up over the top. Be patient, the mixture should be smooth and have body. When you pick up the spatula full of batter, it should slowly ribbon and ooze off into the bowl.
  5. Fill your piping bag and pipe the batter onto a parchment paper lined baking tray. Hold the bag perpendicular to the baking tray, squeezing out a dollop size amount and swoop the tip around the top. Take the tray filled with the batter and firmly hit it against the counter three times. This prevents the cookie from cracking as it bakes. Bake in the oven for 20-24 minutes, rotating the pan halfway between cooking. To check if it is done, try to pick one up off the tray. If it comes off clean, it is done, if not bake for a few minutes longer. Be sure to use non-stick baking paper or else the cookies will stick. Wax paper will not suffice.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  6. While the cookies are baking, split the vanilla pod lengthwise, and using the back of a paring knife, scrape the beans into granulated sugar. If you do not have a vanilla pod, you can omit this process.
  7. Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
  8. Bring the vanilla pod, vanilla sugar, and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small sauce pan, and cook the syrup until it reaches 238°F. Remove the vanilla pod and gradually pour the syrup down the side of the bowl while whipping the egg mixture on medium speed for 8 minutes.
  9. Add in the salt, butter and whip on high-speed until fluffy, about 10 minutes. Add vanilla extract and food coloring if desired.
  10. Fill piping bag full of cream and pipe about 1 tablespoon of cream onto a macaron cookie, top with another macaron and you are all set! Serve immediately and enjoy.

Storage:

Store the macarons in an airtight container, if stacking be sure to put a layer of parchment paper between them.

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