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Macarons – The delicate French invention.

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you can grind them very fine in a coffee/spice grinder. I use one at home that holds about 1/2 cup and it grinds the almonds as fine as the almond flour I use at work. The grinders are usually less than $20.00 at any place like Wal Mart.

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Commercial almond flour cannot be duplicated at home--you might be able to duplicate the fine particle size (though I have not been able to myself--you need special commercial equipment to grind almonds as finely and evenly) but you cannot duplicate pressing the almond oil out of the almonds, as almond "flour" usually has been pressed. This matters in some applications, less so in others.

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Merci a tous,

If the almonds are pressed in almond flour, doesn't that subtract from the flavor of the macaroon? Using the Herme recipe that interests so many (including me), how much flour? Would less sugar be necessary?

Has anyone actually used commercial egg whites for fancy-schmancy type baking? I have heard that dried egg white powder produces rubbery results, but maybe liquid egg whites in bulk are OK. Some have additives for stiffer mixing (so you don't have to leave it out for a few days.) I really have trouble believing that bakeries break hundreds of eggs.

Thangya, thangya verra much.

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They are gorgeous. They're full-sized macarons (not gerbets), right? Please, how can I find Lousisa's thread?

Some one mentioned pre-heating the batter slightly. Anyone know about that?

And --- If Herme sprays the inside of the macaron with syrup for some flavors, does he do it for the chocolate?

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The recipe was written for full size macarons but I made mine gerbets. I found that smaller rounds are easier to pipe. Since my piping skill is far from spectacular, I used a template underneath the parchment paper so I can get all the rounds about the same size. Using a small round cookie cutter, I penciled in as many circles as needed onto a piece of parchment paper. This served as the template. Just slip the template under another piece of parchment before you pipe.

I didn't preheat the batter. Rather, I warmed the egg whites to room temperature using a bain marie before whipping.

Hope this helps.

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I didn't preheat the batter. Rather, I warmed the egg whites to room temperature using a bain marie before whipping.

Hope this helps.

It does. Thank you.

Did you use fresh egg whites or did you keep them in the fridge for hours/days first? Whatever you did, it was exactly right.

Have you ever used Eggology liquid egg whites?

Are the full-sized macarons supposed to be as glossy as the gerbets? Mine are not. I wonder if Herme's are. I've seen pictures of full-sized ones made according to his recipe by other people but they were not smooth. Has anybody succeeded in making glossy full-size macarons? Maybe they ain't meant to be glossy.

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The egg whites had been sitting in an airtight container in the fridge for at least a week. Wasn't intentional....I didn't have the time to work on the macarons until then. I think the whole idea of using old egg whites at room temperature is because they whip up the most volume. I have read elsewhere that sometimes meringue powder is added to the egg whites in order to strengthen the mixture without adding extra liquid.

I did not experiment with liquid egg whites.

The glossy surface is the result of drying the piped mixture until a skin is formed on the surface. Similar to royal icing (meringue and icing sugar), the macaron will dry to form a smooth surface when left at room temperature. The time it takes for the skin to form depends on the humidity, the viscosity of the mixture (i.e. how dry is your mixture), and the size of the macarons. Naturally, gerbets macarons take less time to dry than full size. Perhaps your full size macarons need more time to dry before going into the oven?

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I added more dried egg whites and less fresh, that made a huge difference in my piping consistancy

Did the egg white powder you used have stabilizers added (like meringue powder) or was it just egg whites? Do you remember what brand you used? Henningsen only sells dried egg white in 50-pound bags, which yields (if you're adding about 10%, the rest being real egg whites) about 3 tank cars full of product. It would be good to know where you can buy smaller amounts.

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The egg whites had been sitting in an airtight container in the fridge for at least a week. Wasn't intentional....I didn't have the time to work on the macarons until then. I think the whole idea of using old egg whites at room temperature is because they whip up the most volume. I have read elsewhere that sometimes meringue powder is added to the egg whites in order to strengthen the mixture without adding extra liquid.

Actually, when recipes for macarons refer to "old" egg whites, they mean whites that have been left to sit uncovered (very important) at room temperature for about 24 hours. This causes some of the water to evaporate so you basically get "concentrated" egg whites - something that will never happen if they are covered in the fridge. This will give you a much more stable foam when you whip them. And yes, it is completely safe to leave them at room temp as long as they are not covered. If you left then uncovered in the fridge they would pick up nasty odors and tastes.

You can also add pure egg white powder (not meringue power, which contains sugar and other stuff) to help strengthen the whites. I think Herme actually recommends a mixture of fresh whites, old whites, and powder in his professional recipe.

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I think Herme actually recommends a mixture of fresh whites, old whites, and powder in his professional recipe.

Yes, I have seen Herme macaron recipes on eG and elsewhere but never the recipe that contains the actual proportion of fresh, old, and powder that Herme uses. It may be fairly important for his consistent successs in making 5000 a day, eliminating a good deal of trial and error. Does anybody actually know that proportion?

Your info is always valuable, Nightscotsman.

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the recipe from The Patisserie of Pierre Herme is

560 g peeled Marcona almonds

960 g non starch confectioner's sugar

400 g beaten egg whites

1 g powdered egg white

1/3 of the whites should be fresh, 2/3 old.

Grind the nuts and sugar. Beat the whites with the powdered egg white till stiff. Mix all together with the whisk. Stir to deflate and pipe and bake.

There is no mention of drying the macaroons before baking, a specificity he must feel the merely mortal can get along without.

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What is the best way to grind the nuts without ending up with almond butter? Would having the sugar in the mix during grinding help keep things dry, or should you start the nuts until they are sandy and then add the sugar and contiue until its nice and fine?

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This is amateur advice--but I grind the nuts with some of the sugar. Also, as per in Healy and Bugat's book, I grind until relatively fine using pulse mode; then sift through sieve to capture larger pieces. Then, regrind the pieces retained by sieve with some more sugar. Doing this in two steps yields finer, more uniform powder; not oily--and the macarons came out well. (Also, when I blanch my own almonds I wait an extra day to make sure they are nice and dry).

I actually had trouble the second time I made macarons using pre-ground almond meal--almonds were not blanched. I changed a few other parameters though and I haven't isolated the problem yet.

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Another way to get really fine ground almonds at home is to put them through the grating disk in the food processor before processing with the steel blade. Or even better, use a Microplane rotary grater - time consuming and a real pain, but you get almond flour that's even finer than most commercial sources (though the almonds won't have the oil pressed out as Steve mentioned before).

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Tami ground almonds then weigh and add to large bowl. Sift powdered sugar then add, whisk to uniform then turn to papered plaque. Mount whites, add sugar and seal. Add red food colouring to pale raspberry pink and whisk uniform. Have partner fold paper lengthwise then gradually add almonds and powdered sugar to whites while folding well with spatula. Have partner turn paper over and magnet corners. Seal and work to fluid and shiny. Scraper sides down then over. Pipe from top, about 3 cm, sealing point to side, staggered rows. Bake about 15 minutes. Remove plaque from oven and pour some cold water under paper, rest several minutes then metal scraper off carefully, cleaning scraper often, to papered grill, face down. Set aside to dry.

Can someone please translate this for me !!! I am not sure what this means.

ComeUndone's cookies came out so wonderful that I have to try it after the miserable failure of my previous attempt with the Nigella Lawson recipe. However, I honestly do not understand what this paragraph is saying exactly (I am a little slow today).

Thanks

Elie

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560 g peeled Marcona almonds

960 g non starch confectioner's sugar

400 g beaten egg whites

1 g powdered egg white

1/3 of the whites should be fresh, 2/3 old.

Excellent! I'll try it. That egg-white proportion is valuable advice. Lay on, McDuff!

(Or was it MacDuff...)

Marcona almonds may be available only at gunpoint from a small Mafia-operated orchard in southern Naples, so California almonds will have to do. Besides, I prefer ready-made commercial almond flour to grinding my own. Herme grinds his own, but he has cheap labor to sift it (devoted young "stagiares" or interns).

Interestingly, one eGullet reader who actually worked for The Great Man remembers that he uses almond flour and 10x sugar tpt (in equal amounts), but his reprinted recipes call for much more sugar than almond flour, almost 2 to 1.

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Marcona almonds may be available only at gunpoint from a small Mafia-operated orchard in southern Naples.

Sorry, they are actually from Spain and available on the web. But I still prefer commercially ground almond flour.

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400 g beaten egg whites

1 g powdered egg white

A ratio of 1 to 400?

Why not just murmer the word "powdered" very quietly over straight egg whites, like whispering "vermouth" over the gin to make an extra-dry martini.

But I'm very grateful for Herme's recipe --- thank you! Some one else suggested a ratio of about 10% powdered, which sounds more effective. I'm not sure that one part in 400 of anything would make much difference, except for a soupcon of cyanic acid in bitter almond flavoring added to the flour. But his formula for combining new and "old" egg whites sounds exactly right.

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Can someone please translate this for me !!! I am not sure what this means.

Elie,

This is my amateur interpretation of Louisa's instruction plus my own comments and observations. Hmmm...I guess this is just a long-winded way to say that if what I write is incorrect, it's my own fault. :laugh:

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line three 11 by 17 pans with parchment paper. Whisk together the icing sugar and ground almonds in a large mixing bowl.

2. Bring the egg whites to room temperature in a bain marie. Whisk at high speed until foamy. Gradually whisk in granulated sugar to glossy firm peak but not yet dry.

3. Add gel food colouring to egg whites. Gently fold almond mixture into egg whites using a rubber spatula. Don't be alarm when the egg whites deflate. When thoroughly mixed, the mixture should be glossy and thick but fluid. I think the "liquid magma" description is perfect (this description really helps me to judge the correct consistency).

4. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain round tip. Holding the piping bag perpendicular to the pan, pipe mixture into 3.5cm rounds in staggering rows. Each round should be approximately 0.75cm in height. The recipe usually yields 66 rounds of this size. The mixture will spread a little. Leave to dry at room temperature for approximately 45 to 60 minutes until the top of the round forms a skin and is dry to touch.

5. Bake for 16 minutes in the middle of the oven. After the first 10 minutes, the macarons should rise a little so that they begin to form a frilly edge around the bottom of the cookie. The frilly edge is called the foot of the macaron. If the cookie turns golden, that means the oven is too hot.

6. Cool on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. If the cookie is stuck on the parchment paper, put the pan of cookies into the freezer for 15 minutes (I couldn't convince myself to try the cold water under parchment method). Gently peel the parchment away from the cookie and cool completely. To make a more decadent macaron, sandwich a small dab of filling between two cookies and store in an airtight container at room temperature for one day. I find that aging the macarons for one day results in a more pleasing texture.

As with any recipes, there are many variations. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. Your feedback would be much appreciated.

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I use commercial almond flour pretty much exclusively.

Tim

Tim, do you have a Herme-type recipe using commercial almond flour ? The ones I have seen here are for whole almonds and sugar.

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Thank you so much for clarifying what I wrote! I think I'd copied that straight from my Cordon Bleu notes - with a warning that it was written in my own shorthand - I never expected anyone to make macaroons directly from that mumbo-jumbo - much less such GORGEOUS ones. ComeUndone, yours are STUNNING.

More translation - plaques are baking sheets - mounting is just whisking whites to peaks - sealing is a fast thorough whisking to finish off the whites OR when piping just finishing the piping off to the side so there's no little point of batter on top.

I am NOT a patissiere - I ONLY started pastry here in Paris - so sometimes I don't know some words in English - or just think of them better in French.

A few more things I've learned about making macarons - at the Plaza/Ducasse we used TANT POUR TANT - the common commercial mix of equal parts powdered almonds and powdered sugar. Weigh the tant pour tant just over the weight needed for the recipe. Use a scraper and run it through a tami/drum sieve - it WILL be slow and tiring. Do this on to a large surface of parchment paper. Work in batches. Pour off the finished product onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Then dry overnight in VERY low oven - lowest setting. Weigh out again for the recipe.

And for piping - start by piping the MIDDLE row across. Then pipe the next row down - staggered across. Once done to the bottom of the sheet - turn the sheet around and pipe the other half. This way you NEVER PIPE OVER your product.

The cold water works - BUT you must work fast. I'm glad to hear the freezer method works well - something we could not do in a commercial kitchen.

Again, I STRONGLY suggest using an unsweetened filling. My FAVOURITE is a chocolate macaron pastry with a VERY bitter chocolate ganache filling.

At the Plaza/Ducasse, when we did our big Friday night cleanings, it was a macaron free for all. We could DISCRETELY eat as many of the unused macarons as we wanted. I'd position myself strategically by the pastry kitchen's door. I THINK my record was six macarons in the mouth at one time - hey they COMPRESS - but this is our SECRET.

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Weigh the tant pour tant just over the weight needed for the recipe...run it through a tami/drum sieve - it WILL be slow and tiring. Do this on to a large surface of parchment paper. Pour off the finished product onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Then dry overnight in VERY low oven - lowest setting. Weigh out again for the recipe.

And I thought using a commercial t/p/t mix would be easier! Does everybody have to go through this procedure? I thought the commercial almond flours were supposed to be dryer (having been pressed) without having to heat them all night in an oven!

Has any professional baker had good luck with an Amurrican almond flour without going through this time-consuming and complicated routine? A commercial almond flour ground in an expensive mill should produce a much more consistent product; dryer and more uniform. Or am I just dreaming?

The steps you mentioned would seem to be more suitable for a home-made flour mixture. Commercial mixtures are supposed to save work and provide consistency, right?

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You don't HAVE to do this - and it's not even that you SHOULD - but it was just one extra step that we did at the Plaza. Tant pour tant right out of the bag is fine - as is mixing your own powdered sugar/almonds. I'm VERY dubious though about grinding the nuts yourself.

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Tant pour tant right out of the bag is fine. I'm VERY dubious though about grinding the nuts yourself.

Me too. The mill of the Gods grinds slow but exceeding small. So let the Gods do it (they have more time and a better mill) and after them, the commercial flour manufacturers.

But while we prefer commercial almond flour, and the sifting we can live with, drying batches of it all night in an oven is right out ! There would be additional time and expense and insurance and some one would have to be there all night to watch the oven. Not for us. Pas ce soir, Josephine.

Any skilled pc's on eG who use it (and sift it) WITHOUT oven drying?

Interesting idea, though. All knowledge is useful. More grist for the mill...

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