But first, if you are in the Bay Area and wanted to learn how to make macarons I highly recommend you give Thip a call. She's a professional pastry chef, a talented photographer and windsurfer to boot. Now, how can you not be impressed with such breadth of talents? Her class is hands on and very thorough and Thip is very helpful and patient (trust me we asked lots of silly questions like how in the world do you pipe those macarons uniformly and in neat and nice rows? not me, as I have hardly used a pastry bag ... ever :))
Here is a picture of the macarons we made chez Thip with accompanying recipe and notes.
Basic Macaron (recipe from Thip)
makes 80 shells
Ingredients for the shell:
- 150 g almond flour (Weigh the almond flour and leave it to dry out overnight.)
- 200 g powdered sugar (Use sucre glace' if you can get it from france, US powdered sugar all have cornstarch mixed in and alter the taste of macarons a bit)
- 45 g egg whites, aged at room temperature (i.e. leave them out uncovered for 24hrs -- allowing the water evaporation and concentration of protein to get shinier product)
- 30 g sugar
- 55 g egg whites, aged- food colour powder if used
Note: recommend to measure in grams -- time to invest in a digital scale with grams -- there is no way around it :-)
Preparations for the shell:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Sift almond flour, powdered sugar together in a big bowl, discard the solid balls that won't go through the sieve.
3. Create “Mass” by folding almond flour, powdered sugar and 45 g of egg whites together with a big spoon. Mix fast until all ingredients come together. It will look lumpy -- don't worry about it (note: sifting the almond flour once first helps. If the batter is too stiff, adjust it with more egg whites about 3-5 grams. If ti's too runny, forget about it ... you need to start all over again :-()
4. To make French meringue: whip egg whites in a mixer on medium until foamy. Gradually add sugar in additions (start with 1/3, then add the rest in 3-4 portions) while continuing to whip to medium peaks. (if using color, add it to meringue at the end).
5. Mix 1/3 of meringue into “Mass” to lighten the mixture. Do not overmix.
6.. Fold in the rest of meringue. Do not overfold. (note: gather batter at bottom of mixing bowl, fold gently, once in while split in the middle and fold out. Batter is ready when slightly spreading like molted lava ... ha ha I have never seen molted lava have you? :-)
7. Place into a pastry bag with Alteco plain tip# 3 or Wilson #12, pipe 1" diameter circles on a baking sheet line with a silpat. (Note: Hold the tip at 90 degree from the silpat, don't swirl, just lift it up once you get enough batter piped. Don't worry about the little peak, it will flatten out. Drop/bang the baking sheet straight down on a hard surface helps get the air bubbles out of the piped macarons. I got really good at this, dropping the tray about three feet down once :-))
7. Rest for an hour to form skins. (Note: very important -- and keep all pets away :-))
8. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
9. Bake for 9-10 minutes, rotating half way through. (Note: bake on top shelf, use two aluminium sheet pans to keep the heat away from the bottom of the macaron longer and allow the 'foot' to develop up right and preventing the top of the macarons from cracking. As a matter of fact add another empty sheet pan on the bottom shelf in the oven to diffuse the heat further. The bigger your macarons the longer you have to bake them)
10. Let them cool on the silpat, then remove and sandwich them with the filling. (Note: remove the silpat from the hot sheet pan to a colling rack to 'stop' the baking)
Preparations for the filling:
Pistachio ganache (heavenly :))
- 80 g heavy bream
- 80 g pistachio paste
- 130 g white chocolate (35%)
- 20 g unsalted butter, softened
1. Bring cream and pistachio paste to a boil
2. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and butter
3. Stir until smooth.
Cream cheese and cassis filling (Yum):
- 226 g (8 oz) cream cheese
- 50 g powdered sugar
- 50 g cassis preserve/jam
- 100 g unsalted butter, softened
1. Cream butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar together in a mixer.
2. Add preserve, mix well.
And finally here is a pic of the macarons made chez moi a couple of days later.
And a pic of the work in progress ...
And some other lessons learned:
- What's at Trader J's are 'italian' not french macarons. Italian macarons tend to have a more rounded dome but sometimes they get hollow inside the shell.
- With the exception of the almond taste, most if not all the flavouring from the macaron comes from the filling. The pretty colours are ... in most cases from food colouring :-)
- Overbaked macarons (the brown ones in the photos) are a bit like crunchy vanilla wafers... don't toss them out :-)
- Macarons definitely tasted better after a day or so in the fridge, the flavours are more intense
Watch this space for more macarons ... who knows maybe even one with banana and crab? ;-)
Where to buy: