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delights

Macarons – The delicate French invention.

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What puzzles me is that pastry shops like Pierre Herme can't possibly leave out egg whites all night yet they get perfectly domed macarons every time. 

Well, why not?

I wonder what would happen if you added some powdered whites to fresh whites? Maybe that would have the same effect as leaving the whites out by increasing the solids/liquid ratio? Time for another experiment!


Edited by Patrick S (log)

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I think ideally you want the highest dry dry ingredient/whites ratio possible, to give the stiffest batter possible.

I was wrong. The higher dry ingredient/whites ratio doesnt give a stiffer batter. In fact, more whites gave a stiffer batter. I tried the recipe with 4 instead of 3 whites, and the result was so stiff the macaroons had peaks on them where I piped them - like ladyfinger batter. They kept their piped shapes too well. And, they did not form any foot at all when I baked them, though they sat for 30+ minutes. Using the same recipe I used last time, I'm thinking maybe 115-120 grams of so of whites is probably optimum.


Edited by Patrick S (log)

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I've recently discovered chocolate macaroons too, had some delicious ones from Whole Foods. The new Bon Appetit, February's, has a recipe that looks easy, using coconut, it's just egg whites, salt, sugar, vanilla, coconut, and chocolate.

I've never had macaroons made with almonds instead of coconut, do they have a completely different taste? Will have to try them.

:) Pam

I'd really be curious to know which Whole Foods you got them at. As far as I know, no one in the new england area is making them, until these hit the pastry case......

chocmacs.jpg


Edited by McDuff (log)

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I'm not taking credit for Pierre's formula, no. But I have made these in the past and didn't care for them, and with some of the tips I read here I got them to come out the way I wanted. I have them all costed out and made a triple batch, got 60 rounds, so that makes 30 cookies. I figure it's something we'll sell out of the pastry case rather than bagging them up. The store's big boss liked the first samples so much he bought the ones I put together for some pictures. We have what we call a pastry summit on tuesday and I'm going to finish off the rest of them and bring them along with the paperwork. I'm also bringing a passionfruit curd tart with creme chantilly and raspberries.

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After viewing all the great pics and discussion about these macaroons, I decided to try my hand at them as I have always wanted to make some, and I had some almond flour on hand, looking for a good use for it. So I used jgarner's recipe for the chocolate macaroons, and I think they turned out pretty well. I left the whites out in the morning and made them around 8 oclock, so they didn't set out all night. My batter was pretty thick, but I used a rather small tip on the pastry bag and made rounds from a spiral motion instead of one smooth dollop, so they aren't quite as smooth topped and domed as the poster's were, but they still tasted great, and I think they look pretty darn good for a first attempt. Thanks for all the great tips, pics and recipe!

Here they are:

gallery_19186_728_351274.jpg

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Thanks Patrick. I must say though, that mine have a way to go to compare to the smooth domes on your's and some of the other pics on here. It seemed that my batter may have been a little on the thick side, and didn't "flow like magma" as one poster said. Also, the texture may be a little off as it seems my commercial almond flour (from assouline and ting) is a little granier than I would like. I caught some of the biggest bits in a seive and ground them back down in a coffee grinder, but some of the other bits remained. You say that more egg whites produce a thicker batter, to get the smoothest domes, does the batter just flow from the pastry bag and spread slightly before drying, or do you pipe out rounds? I allowed mine to sit for 45 minutes, but my eggs only had about a 9 hour rest, compared to the 24 of the others'. I will definitely be doing more experimenting with these this weekend.

-Adam

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You say that more egg whites produce a thicker batter, to get the smoothest domes, does the batter just flow from the pastry bag and spread slightly before drying, or do you pipe out rounds? 

The former -the batter should be just liquid enough to form discs just under its own weight. You shouldnt have to move the bag while you pipe, if that what you're asking. Once you pipe, it should settle only very slightly.

To get rid of some of the bigger almond lumps, of course you can sieve, but you can also use a processor. Even when I start with almond meal rather than blanched slivered almonds, I grind everything together in the food processor for several minutes.

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I tried macaroons again tonight. Much better than the failures last week. Still having a problem with "wrinkly" tops. Not the perfect domes I'm shooting for. What changed since last time? Two things:

- Egg whites whipped stiffer.

- Almond meal sifted and any big pieces were thrown out.

Here are some photos of tonight's baking adventure. Any suggestions on how to get rid of the wrinkles?

Thanks!

Grainy bits of almond meal... ready for the trashcan

gallery_26333_732_81454.jpg

Stiffly beat-up egg whites... ready for folding

gallery_26333_732_5700.jpg

Wrinkly topped macaroon... still tasty but not quite perfect. :angry:

gallery_26333_732_29122.jpg

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Looking good, Gary. I see that you have 'feet' now. I don't know what causes the wrinkles though. I get them whenever I used the Herme recipe.

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I used this one:

(4.5 oz. almond meal, 1 oz. lt. brown sugar, 6.5 oz confectioners' sugar, 1/3 oz. dutch-process cocoa, 3 egg whites -- all but 1 1/4 oz. of the confectioners' sugar with the almonds, the rest with the whites,

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After comparing my first batch of macarons with those smooth domes posted by some others in the thread, I revised my technique and came up with a much better finished cookie. (also thanks to some advice from Partrick and others)

I ran all my preground almonds through the coffee/spice grinder along with the powdered sugar, and I realized that my first attempt was much too coarse using just preground almond "flour." I didn't want to wait till tomorrow to make these again, so I didn't let the eggs sit out. My batter was much smoother and flowed much better; it settled into disks instead of remaining in peaks. I could see how it would benefit from the "old whites" though.

The final product not only had a better texture but the overall flavor seemed even better on the palate and the chewy interior contrasted much better with the crispy exterior, because of the smoother consistency. I should be getting some tahitian vanilla beans from the saffron site mentioned in another thread tomorrow and will be trying some more classic macarons with buttercream soon, I'm hooked!

gallery_19186_728_384544.jpg

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Ajl92 - thanks for posting your pictures and what you did to correct the problem. I just tried my first batch tonight using jgarner's recipe as well and mine look just like your first picture. It's amazing what a difference the grinding made! Did you pipe them the same way or get a larger tip?


Edited by CanadianBakin' (log)

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Ajl92 - thanks for posting your pictures and what you did to correct the problem. I just tried my first batch tonight using jgarner's recipe as well and mine look just like your first picture. It's amazing what a difference the grinding made! Did you pipe them the same way or get a larger tip?

Yeah, the grinding defintely made a huge difference. And as for the tip, the first time I had a small round tip (approx. 1/4 in) this time I just used a plain bag, the opening was about a half inch on the bag without the tip and it worked fine with the more flowing batter. It was a lot faster and easier to pipe, as well.

-Adam

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In my quest for macaron perfection I'd like to clarify a few of the finer points... seeing as I've only seen photos from the famous places like Laudree and Fauchon.

- How large are they? I made my about 2" in diameter. Should they be 3"?

- How thick is the ganache layer? Mine is quite thin... about 1/8". Should it be thicker?

- How do you get the pastel colors in the non-chocolate version? Food color?

I've got leftover chocolate ganache so I'll be making chocolate macarons next. After that I was thinking about strawberry or pistachio. Any tips on the proper fillings (with recipes)?

Thanks,

Gary

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Well, last night marks my first two attempts at making macaroons.. I want you to know I have been following your posts and this has been a very enjoyable thread. The first attempt was almond paste.. I beat the eggs to super stiff peaks and still got really flat looking cookie things.. So i tossed that batch.

The next attempt i used ground almonds. Then i tried to cheat a little and added some cream of tarter to the egg whites and granulated sugar. Again i got a flat cookie.. Always using three egg whites..

So now i have decided on Patrick's advice to use 3 1/2 egg whites more to the four side.. They have been sitting out since last night and I will let them sit till this evening or tomorrow night.. Actually cant do them friday, I will be going away for the weekend.. Should i let them sit till sunday night? Also, I think it would be better in a pastry bag? The one book i have calls for a nozzle with a one inch diameter. Any thoughts?


Edited by Daniel (log)

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Can anybody report on the shelf life of macaron's? I know that they freeze well, but how long will they survive if they are covered at room temperature? I've eaten Larry Burdick's macarons (Luxembourgers) many times; they are fantastic when fresh, but are leaning towards stale about a third of the time.

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Melange,

How do Marcona blanched almonds differ from the "regular" blanched almonds I see at my regular grocery store? I've got a Whole Foods in the area but hesitate to blow a lot of cash on an ingredient that doesn't make a difference in the end product.

Patricia,

How thick were the fillings of the great macarons? The cherry one sounds like preserves. The chocolate is buttercream. How about the pistachio? Was it buttercream as well?

Thanks,

Gary

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Marcona almonds are slightly sweeter than other almonds and have a softer texture; this (presumably) translates to a more tender macaron. I think that freshness is key no matter what type you are using, as the flavor and texture of almonds degrades significantly in a short period of time. I can never find fresh almonds at my local "regular" grocers, but you may not run into the same problem in MI.

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I've used Trader Joe's Almond Meal the last few batches. It's pre-ground so I hoped it would save me a step in the process... although I've found that I still need to sift it to get out the big chunks. I've also wondered about the freshness issue.

Maybe I'll just suck it up and go back to grinding almonds (with powdered sugar) in the food processor.

I assume the almonds are fresh. How do you tell? Is there an almond season? Does the blanching process somehow keep them fresher longer? Am I obsessing over this detail too much?

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Patricia,

How thick were the fillings of the great macarons?  The cherry one sounds like preserves.  The chocolate is buttercream.  How about the pistachio?  Was it buttercream as well?

Thanks,

Gary

just thick enough; spreadable but not runny at all.

The cherry was thick but not gummy, perhaps a jam reduction of sorts.

The chocolate was not buttercream, but rather ganache.

The pistachio was buttercream.

Patricia

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About the thickness, was it 1/4 inch more or less?

What's the difference between ganache and buttercream? Is it the chocolate/cream ratio?


Edited by Gary (log)

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Ajl92, thank you so much for your tip about grinding the almonds! I made my first macaroons using the recipe in Pierre Herme's chocolate book and they looked almost exactly like your first picture. I was so shocked that they had turned out at all, it is so unlike any other cookie batter. When you grind the almonds with the confectioner's sugar, is there any risk of overgrinding? I don't want to accidentally overgrind and end up with almond butter.

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Forgive me if someone has already posted this link (I just don't have time to search through the whole thread), but I just came across it and knew there would be many interested parties hanging out here.

Macarons tour in Tokyo

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When you grind the almonds with the confectioner's sugar, is there any risk of overgrinding? I don't want to accidentally overgrind and end up with almond butter.

Plunk,

I used a small coffee grinder and did it, I would say, in probly 10 batches with the powdered sugar. I would say that you would run a greater risk of making paste grinding a larger batch in a food processor because it would take much longer for every little bit to get ground fine enough and the heat of the machine would be a lot greater. Also, I prefer the coffee grinder method better because of the overall fineness you can get from it. Just listen to the grinder and when you stop hearing bits of almonds tap against the lid or sides, stop. A couple times I ground a little too long and there were "chunks" of almond and powdered sugar that stuck to the sides, but I just knocked them out and ran everything through a seive anyways.

-Adam

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