Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Making Macarons - Part 5 - Success At Last?

In case anyone is interested in  my blogs "Making Macarons", parts one, two, three and four, they can be found under the following dates:  8/12/13, 8/13/13, 3/10/12, and 1/14/14.  Just scroll down the right hand side of the page where it says "Blog Archive" and select the corresponding month. Click on it and it will give you headings. Now, on with the current show. Don't ask for the recipe because there are so many varied ones available. Pick any one but follow these instructions.
 My friend and I own all the correct equipment from a food processor to a Kitchenaid mixer. We have an official macaron making kit complete with silicone mat, stand, tips and piping bag. We have not one, but endless books and magazines on making macarons. Nothing can go wrong any longer...or can it?


So far, this project, has included classes, materials, trial, error, equipment, wine, and has cost us almost $1000. As I've said before, no wonder macarons are so expensive.

This past weekend, we finally got together again.  We have been determined. We have been stubborn. We have been frustrated, and we have been persistent.

Our first attempt this time was close, but not quite right. We ground the already ground almonds and ended up with a paste like substance...mistake even though it says to do this in the recipe. We decided that you should only grind if you have sliced blanched almonds but then, the length of time before it turns to paste is a mystery. Methinks the people who have figured out the macaroning secrets don't really want others to know. It might cause their stock to decline.

On our second attempt, we simply sifted almond meal.  We also sifted the confectioner's sugar which I believe is a foreign term for powdered icing sugar. We did this several times mixing the sugar with the almond flour and getting a delightful acceptable powdery consistency.
almond meal
Delightful acceptable powdery consistency

We whisked the egg whites in the Kitchenaid on high speed (not medium as was instructed), adding the castor sugar one teaspoon at a time. Castor sugar is a fancy confusing term for...well, sugar. (I am unable to resist the temptation to say, "Castor? I don't even know 'er".) When the egg whites reached the correct consistency, we added gel not liquid food colouring. Again, recipes suggest using an amount on a toothpick. This gives very little colour. We used two squirts and still our cookies were pale. Next, with a large medal spoon (I don't know why medal), fold the egg whites and the delightful powdery consistency of almond meal and icing sugar together to form a smooth molten mass. That's m-a-s-s.
Correct consistency
Smooth molten mass with gel colouring

At this point we were ready to pipe our small rounds onto the silicone cookie sheet. We placed a regular cookie sheet beneath for stability. Then we filled the piping bag and squeezed the dough onto the circles attempting to keep them slightly smaller than the prescribed diameter (they spread). When finished, we gave the pan a quick tap on the counter to release air bubbles and let it sit for 15 minutes before placing it in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes. Getting the cookies to the right size and shape requires a bit of practice.
Piping bag from kit


Holding our breaths, we removed the cookies from the oven before giving a sigh of relief. At last, our cookies had legs! That's the term for the crispy, bubbly edge around the bottom of the cookie. We screamed with excitement.
After trying to remove one, we learned that we had to wait for the cookies to cool before attempting to take them off the cookie sheet.

Caution - We then piped a second batch but discovered that this didn't work. The dough had changed in consistency and the result was once again failure. Make sure that you have adequate numbers of prepared pans and pipe all the dough at once. The pans can sit with the dough on them if they don't all fit into the oven. Make them all at once and the recipe will give you a few dozen cookies.

Unsure as to what to do about filling, we decided to forgo the ganache and other options this time (Yes, there will be more...watch for Part 6 - The Final Chapter). Instead, we used part of a can of buttercream icing, added food colouring and some icing sugar to thicken it. This made the cookie a bit sweet but it was our quick solution as we wanted to see an end product once and for all. Our assembled cookies looked pretty good.

Here are the faces of success!

 Next time, and there will be a next time, fancy fillings, colours, and flavours.

No comments:

Post a Comment