October 27, 2009
The October Daring Baker Challenge
The 2009 October Daring Baker's 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. You can visit Ami at her blog, Baking Without Fear.
More than a few have suggested that French-style macaroons (called macarons in France) might supplant the cupcake. This may or may not come to pass, but the basic premise of the French macaroon is pretty damned tasty. In the United States, the term “macaroon” generally refers to a cookie made primarily of coconut. But European macaroons are based on either ground almonds or almond paste, combined with sugar and egg whites. The texture can run from chewy, crunchy or a combination of the two.
Frequently, two macaroons are sandwiched together with ganache, buttercream or jam, which can cause the cookies to become more chewy. The flavor possibilities and combinations are nigh endless, allowing infinitely customizable permutations.
Ami tried quite a few different recipes and discovered that her favorite macaroon recipe comes from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern. They have given her the most consistent results and so, for everyone’s delectation, here is an adaptation of Ms. Fleming’s recipe.
Yield: 6 to 10 dozen, depending on size
1. It takes a little more time to get everything ready to bake, but it doesn't take very long to bake the macarons.
2. Egg whites must be at room temperature.
3. Silicone baking sheets (i.e. Silpat) work better than parchment paper for piping out the macarons. However, if you chose to use parchment paper be very careful when you peel the paper off the back of the macarons.
4. You can make a stencil to pipe your macarons, so that they will all be the same size.
5. For 1 inch macarons, pipe out a 1/2 inch sized dollop of batter. As they dry on the counter, the macaron batter will spread out to the 1 inch size.
6. Pipe out the macarons, before preheating the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. It will allow the macarons to air dry for about 15 minutes before you start baking them.
7. Allow the macarons to completely cool, before trying to remove them from the pan.
Not taking into account the amount of time it takes for you to bring your egg whites to room temperature, the whole baking process, including making the batter, piping and baking will probably take you about an hour to an hour and a half. How long it takes to make your filling is dependent on what you choose to make.
Actual baking time: 12 minutes total, plus a few minutes to get your oven from 200°F to 375°F.
Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment
Parchment paper or nonstick liners
Pastry bag (can be disposable)
Plain half-inch pastry bag tip
Sifter or sieve
If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off
Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets
Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nut
2 1/4 cups confectioners’ (icing) sugar (225 g, 8 oz.)
2 cups almond flour (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
2 Tb granulated sugar (25 g , 0.88 oz.)
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp chocolate extract
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. 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.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 Tb milk or cream
1 oz dark chocolate, melted
1 1/2 tsp Godiva Chocolate Liquor
1. Place the butter into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until creamy. Add the milk, chocolate and liquor and blend. Then slowly add the confectioner's sugar and beat until thoroughly incorporated.
2. Fill a pastry bag (using a plain tip) with the buttercream and pipe on the flat side of a macaron.