This Is How I Got Obsessed with Macarons
Hi y’all! I’ve been pondering all week, taking notes in my mind as usual on how I’m actually going to make the first real baking post work…then I stopped thinking.
I guess I just have to start writing and it will all roll out in front of your eyes. I had been preparing to make macarons for quite a while – I bought the almond meal about eight months ago…Yeah, quite a while ago! Macarons are the tiny little colorful desserts that have a creamy filling in between two crispy almond based disks.
Pierre Hermé is the French chef who turned the macarons into a chic delight and now it sells at a price that an average Hungarian makes in a year… Is that motivating or what?! There are many-many recipes and sites that write about macarons. I found this one the most elaborate and useful of all by David Lebovitz, another role model of mine (wouldn’t mind meeting him…). I can’t quite recall where exactly I first met these colorful French petit fours but I was mesmerized by the precision the recipe needs. It seems like a real challenge!
One spring afternoon a friend of mine called me if I wanted to take a ride in his new old-timer – of course I wanted, I was feeling like Grace Kelly in Monaco – and we ended up going to a cute little suburban pastry shop. I finally tasted the macarons and was hooked at once. I have to admit, they are not THE most delicious cakes in the world, but the harmony of color, texture and taste is so charming, you just simply cannot resist.
I became obsessed with the thought of making them and ever since was putting the idea aside…all the way until I found myself on a macaron class organised by a local five-star hotel and its chef, Laurent Vandenameele in November. The delicious benefits of work… Soon after this, my Mom surprised me with a pastry bag from Vienna and the macaron project kicked into gears.
Here is the recipe we learnt at the hotel with some technical tips:
(It makes about 40-50 macarons – depending on how good you are at mixing and pastry bag handling…)
380 grams (13.4 oz) of almond meal – high quality, finely ground and sifted (no lumps)
240 grams (8.46 oz) of icing sugar – finely ground and sifted (no lumps)
360 grams (12.7 oz) of sugar – recipe calls for high quality but i just simply sed what I had at home
2 times 110 grams (3.88) of egg whites (the older the better – seriously!) You can also freeze egg whites over time and let then thaw before you want to use them.
90 grams (3.175 oz) of water
We made chocolate macarons so we replaced 20 grams of almond meal with 20 grams of cocoa powder to make the macarons brown. It is CRUCIALLY important to keep the quantity of the dry ingredients and the proportions fixed. So basically whenever you want to add coloring or taste just distract the weight of the additional ingredient from the weight of the almond meal and add it to the mixture.
For the filling we were using a simple chocolate ganache made of heavy cream and chocolate. But really, this is where you can release your creativity and make any kind of filling you wish or feel like.
Laurent was an exquisite guide into the labyrinth of French culinary arts. He explained every single detail with such care and professionalism that no wonder the macarons turned out so mouth-watering at the class. Needless to say, it wasn’t that easy at home…
Apparently – as I have recently learnt from Syrup and Tang – even macarons have at least three types of ways to make:
- macarons au blanc monté (1) – a simple egg white foam is combined with the dry ingredients; preferred in Pierre Hermé’s books
- macarons au blanc monté (2) – a simple (?) French meringue is combined with the dry ingredients; in most other books, including Alain Ducasse
- macarons au sucre cuit – an Italian meringue is combined with the dry ingredients; preferred in most professional books
Laurent showed us macaron #3 and that is what I tried making at home over the holidays. Voilá, the results:
I wouldn’t call it a complete catastrophe cause some of the batches actually turned out useable that I filled with chocolate espresso ganache and took it to my friend’s New Year’s Eve party…but of course, I wouldn’t share this with you if there wasn’t a happy ending, so stay tuned…