Macarons – Daring Bakers Challenge October 2009

October 27th, 2009

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The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Unfortunately, my two attempts at this recipe were quite disappointing. I had made macarons a few times before (not having perfected them…yet), so I thought I would manage quite well and hoped that this would be the perfect recipe and the macarons would look gorgeous. This was not the case. My macarons looked worse than all other trials – including my first one, when I didn’t even know what they should look like. The macarons didn’t form “feet”, didn’t have a nice crisp top – they just puffed a bit in the oven then the top dried a bit and they sunk back down. Fortunately they were still moist and tasted quite good.

For the filling, I made salted caramel which had mixed reviews. Most people enjoyed it immensely, others found it extra sweet, and I just found the taste a bit strange, I think I’m just not a caramel liking person, unfortunately. I like butterscotch, flavours, so I’m not sure why I don’t like caramel?

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I made two batches of this recipe, as I thought the first time it mustn’t have worked because, perhaps I didn’t beat my meringue mixture enough (as it says stiff peaks and other recipes state glossy meringue), or that drying them out in the oven caused the problems that occurred. Neither seemed to be the cause, I decided to keep beating the meringue, but it just would not form a glossy meringue. Either I put my KitchenAid on too fast and over beat the meringue, added my sugar too late or there may not have been enough sugar to form the meringue, although I’m not totally sure.

I have decided to share all my previous macaron experiences with you all, to give you an idea of problems I have had through each recipe, as well as give everyone suggestions for recipes they may or may not like to try. I never got around to posting these (apart from the latest one), as each had something slightly wrong with it (not necessarily the recipe, most are my mistakes while learning and trying to achieve the perfect macaron, inside and out).

The following photo was my first ever attempt at macarons and was Nigella Lawson’s pistachio macarons from How to be a domestic goddess. The recipe did not state to leave the macarons to form a skin, resulting in biscuit looking macarons. This flavour was beautiful and as I recall the inside texture was also lovely, with the only problem being the look. They had half the recipes’ pistachio buttercream in them (the full amount is way too much, like stated on many other blogs).

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After reading many more macaron tips, I had decided to trial out the pistachio macarons using Syrup and Tang’s French meringue method (replacing the almond meal for pistachio meal). After leaving them to sit for half and hour the formed quite lovely macarons that probably could have been beaten a few more times, for a better look and because they were a bit meringue-y still. Also – half almond, half pistachio may have worked better. I filled these with a rosewater buttercream. (For the buttercream: 25g butter, 1/4 cup cream, 1/2 cup icing sugar and 1/8 teaspoon rose water – beat the butter till soft and lightened in colour. Beat in the cream, then the sifted icing sugar or mixture with the rose water).

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I had heard that the Italian meringue method was by far the most reliable and best around, I used Syrup and Tang’s Italian meringue method for these macarons. The two problems I had (apart from my enthusiasm with the pink food colouring) were the sugar syrup forming large chunks when drizzled into the egg white mix, as well as bumpy tops. The first problem may have occurred as my sugar thermometer didn’t reach into the sugar syrup, so I had to keep tipping the saucepan up to read the temperature. This disruption may be the cause of the sugar lumps. The second problem may have been able to be fixed by beating the mix a few more times. I would like to try this again as the inside was lovely and moist, filled the entire shell and seemed the perfect consistency. These were filled with white chocolate and raspberry ganache from Gourmet Traveller.

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The recipe that produced the most beautiful macaron was Helen’s from Tartlette. Helen’s recipe produced a gorgeous glossy smooth top with pretty feet. My only problem with these were a bit of a hole under the shell of the macaron – could this be an oven problem? I filled these with a simple chocolate ganache.

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My latest trial were hazelnut macarons, which had a beautiful flavour, although were lacking slightly in appearance.

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Recipe adapted by Ami S from Claudia Felming’s The Last Course.

Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.) (I used castor sugar)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature) (I aged mine overnight at room temperature, covered in a paper towel)

Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.

Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.

Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).

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Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored. (I also tried leaving them at room temperature for 30 mins at room temperature, bu they still didn’t rise like they should).

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Cool on a rack before filling.

I filled my macarons with salted caramel

Salted Caramel

Recipe from Chef Pang Kok Keong on Chubby Hubby’s blog

200g sugar
1 vanilla pod
200g cream
3.75g fleur de sel (I used salt flakes, as that’s all I had :( )
140g butter, chilled

In a 1 litre heavy based pot, cook the sugar, stirring all the time to get an even caramel. Then add in the vanilla pod, scraped. Add in the warm cream a bit at a time as it will bubble up and splatter. Then add in the fleur de sel. Stir to make sure all the caramel has dissolved. Cool the mixture to approximately 40 degrees Celsius. Add in the well chilled butter, cut into cubes. Using an immersion blender, blend in the butter till you achieve a smooth glossy paste. Line the surface of the caramel with plastic wrap or greaseproof paper to prevent a skin from forming and chill in the fridge until needed.

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20 Comments

  1. Snap on the salted caramel. I used fleur de sel in mine – and the top of the shells. Great re-cap on your trials. I only use the Italian meringue version now to try and avoid hiccups. I love how you have persisted with different recipes. Maybe keep trying Tartelette’s recipe again and again until you perfect it? You know, adjust oven temperature, baking time, resting time etc. Anyway, the best thing is, even if they don’t work out the way they should, they still sure taste great!

  2. Karen says:

    Oh you did the salted caramel recipe from Chubby Hubby? I tried that twice and it was ultimate failure :(

    Anyway great recap! I think I’ll try Helen’s recipe next, Those glossy tops are beautiful!

  3. shez says:

    So many people seem to have had trouble with the DB recipe this time around! I love the idea of a salted caramel macaron though – it sure looks gooey and glossy!

  4. Good on you for trying, that’s all I can say. I’ve only made macarons once before (fail) and that was enough. I do like salted caramel – though maybe you could do a butterscotch ganache next time.

  5. Sounds like this was a disappointing recipe. Your pistachio ones and hazelnut ones look heaps better!

  6. Alli says:

    I’m impressed with you determination and the end result was triumphant, well done they look great!

  7. Parita says:

    You have so much patience my dear hats off to you!
    Macarons look gorgeous, loved all!!

  8. Good on you! You really persevered with this and I definitely applaud that. Well done on the gorgeous flavours too :)

  9. Trissa says:

    The ones you made using Helen’s recipe look perfect to me. I think the hole under the shell just means you can fill it with more yummy filling. hehe

  10. Caitlin says:

    Well *I* would have loved the salted caramel – such a wonderful flavor! And you’re not the only one who had problems with the challenge recipe – Helen’s recipe is the most reliable for me as well.

  11. Rosa says:

    Wow, you are daring and perseverant! Your macarons are fabulous! Wonderful flavors too!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  12. Rose says:

    Outstanding! Great job on the numerous attempts! Your final results look fantastic!

  13. Juliana says:

    Oh! So many of them….the macarons look so yummie…great pictures as well :-)

  14. billy@ATFT says:

    btw, holes means more fillings, even better! LOL! usually even with flat bottom, it is advised to squashed it in so it fit more fillings. is quite common, good job! :)

  15. sabiilaa says:

    Great effort your macs look yumm to me and the ones you made using Helen’s recipe look perfect.

  16. Allison says:

    Congrats with sticking with it! I’m sad to say that I gave up after two attempts. The recipe from Tartlette does look like it yielded the best result. I will have to make that recipe my next attempt.

  17. Ellie says:

    Well done! They are lovely.

  18. I’m so impressed with your progression and beautiful macs!

  19. Lisa says:

    It was such fun following you on your journey from feetless macs to gorgeous, well ‘heeled’ textbook perfect macs. Love your flavors too, especially the raspberry white chocolate, and the salted caramel. that first photo is mouth watering!

  20. I have tried 2 different recipes and they both failed! The first time made it with the french meringue, second italian.

    In both batches I used baking paper and no baking paper. The ones on baking paper looked horrible after baked. THe ones directly on the tray looked good, but there was a gap between the skin and feet! :( Both mixtures with and without paper were very difficult to remove!

    I will attempt to make them again! Helen’s recipe looks beautiful!~
    I’m excited for you to have made so much progress! :)

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