Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Let's make macarons

First of all, I think something needs to be said about my long absence from this blog. I guess I just lost the motivation to write. Surprisingly, two days of school generated such copious amounts of notes to be typed up that it usually takes me two or three days to put them all in order. After that, who has the will to type anything else!

So what brought me out of “retirement”? Macarons! Yes, ever since I had my first taste of real Parisian macarons at Laduree, I have been obsessed. But it’s not easy to find macarons of the perfect texture. Since they’ve become somewhat of a trend in Tokyo recently, you can’t walk through a depa-chika (department store basement food section) without coming fact to face with a couple of macaron showcases. Some are pretty good, but some are downright horrible. The perfect macaron, in my humble opinion, should have a crunchy and dry surface with a slightly moist center. When you bite into one, the surface should crackle and crumble, before collapsing into the marzipan filling. At any rate, that’s the golden macaron standard I adhere to.

As much as I love macarons, however, I never tried to make it myself, because I know they are extremely temperamental little fellows and will not just puff up perfectly for just anybody. This fact changed, however, when I had to make them at Le Cordon Bleu. The three batches I made in class, although not perfect, were good enough to give me the confidence to try more. My bubbles were soon busted though as the first two home-baked batches cracked and spread out like a flat disc and had the texture of sticky gum. The key thing missing, I figured, was the powerful Electrolux oven we used in school. But how do I find a way to circumvent that? Time for some research. I hit the bookstores and read every recipe I could find on macarons, got some ideas and hit the kitchen again. The third and fourth batches turned out better but it wasn’t until the fifth batch that I was finally somewhat satisfied with the results.

Without further ado, I present to you a working recipe that I will probably continue to tweak further every time I make it, until perfection is finally achieved.

Basic macaron recipe:
60g almond powder
110g confectioner’s sugar
50g egg white
3g dry egg white
15g granule sugar

1. Sift together confectioner’s sugar and almond powder
2. Place egg white in a large bowl and break up the thick parts with whisk
3. Add dry egg white and beat with whisk (dry egg white absorbs moisture from egg white and makes meringue firm)
4. Add the granule sugar in two portions and beat into soft peaked meringue
5. Add half of the sifted sugar and almond powder into bowl, fold with spatula gently. If adding food dye, add with the first addition of dry ingredients.
6. Add the other half and fold (this is called macoronage). Stop mixing when batter becomes shiny. Do not over-mix.
7. Immediately fill pastry bag fitted with 11mm round tip and pipe onto baking sheet lined with silpat into rounds.
8. Leave macarons out to dry for about 30minutes, until it doesn’t stick to your finger when touched. Preheat oven to 350C.
9. When surface of macarons are sufficiently dry, place inside the oven to bake. After about five minutes, the “ruffled skirt” should develop around the bottom edge of each macaron. Rotate the baking sheet 180 degrees, and bake for another five to 7 minutes.
10. Check to see if macarons are done by grabbing the top of one macaron and try to shake it. It’s done if the top barely slides against the “ruffled skirt”. If it’s not done, extend baking time by two minutes intervals and checking after each extension.
11. Move silpat to a cooling rack. After macarons have cooled to touch, remove them from silpat and place upside down on rack. Place inside fridge to cool.
12. Sandwich with desired filling when macarons are cooled, and store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature.
Macarons taste the best the next day, after they’ve had a chance to dry out further.

1. The first step to successful macarons is the consistency of the meringue. If using stand-mixer, watch carefully and not let the meringue get too stiff, or it will become hard to incorporate the dry ingredients, which will lead to over-mixing.
2. It takes practice to know when to stop “macoronage”. If batter is over-mixed, macarons will have a very smooth and shiny surface but will not rise in the oven. If not mixed enough, surface will crack while baking. Within the acceptable range, you can adjust the degree of macaronage to achieve the right balance between smooth surface and airy texture.
3. If you have a good convection oven with circulating hot air, you may be able to reduce oven temperature to 150C/300F, as long as macarons are baked in about 12 minutes. If macarons don’t rise within the first five minutes, increase oven temperature.
4. If you have to take the macarons out of the oven before they are completely baked because they have started to brown, you may dry them out by leaving them in the fridge uncovered, bottom side up.
5. If on the other hand, you’ve over-baked them and the bottom is too dry, leave in the freezer so they soak up moisture (make sure there’s no smell in your freezer).

Final word of caution:
This recipe is developed to suit my big old GE gas oven, with the room humidity between 55-65% and room temperature around 22C. It will almost certainly need adjustment to suit your oven and climate. If it doesn’t work the first time, don’t give up! Remember, fifth time was the charm for me.


Hsin said...

Girlfriend, YOU'RE BACK!!!! Yipee. I haven't come by in ages and just decided to click on my link to your blog today. Telepathic, I tell you.

The macarons look lovely. Makes me miss all that leftovers I used to benefit from. *grin*

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Yay! btw, where are you now? HK? Chicago? I promise I'll catch up on your blog too. I've been so lazy.

I tell you, if you were in Tokyo you'd have tasted all my test batches including these =o)

Anonymous said...

Hi, nice macarons and blend of colours? what flavour are they? I find it's always quite tricky to some quite of flavour to the batter.

Chubby Hubby said...

Well, it's about time you've started posting again! We've missed you. And what a post. Leave it to you to bounce back with macarons. Yum!

Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. I must, must one day work up the courage to try making them as well.


Unknown said...

Celine, they are chocolate, orange, and pistachio. Except for the chocolate, the macarons are not flavored, just food coloring. The flavor comes from the filling.

Aun, I can say the same thing about your photo blog! Macarons are tricky. Even my teacher says it just doesn't work for him some days. but what a sense of reward when they do come out nice =o)

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn

This is the first time I have visited your blog and what a lovely one it is.
I recently posted about the macaroons from Laduree - they are certainly the best that I have ever eaten and they have just opened an outlet for them in London at Harrods. Lucky me!

Now I can try making them myself- thanks

Unknown said...

Hi Gastrochick, thanks for visiting. I just looked at your blog and I really like the graphis and the chick is soooo cute!

How lucky for you that laduree is in London now! Well, at least that's one more place for me to buy it too, if I'm in London =oD

Anonymous said...

You are a good macaron theorist and practitioner!! And... they look very yummy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn,

I have always enjoyed your reviews and pictures on AllRecipes. I followed your link from there, to here. I read that one of your favorite movies is, "Life is Beautiful." This is also one of my favorite movies. I just wanted to thank you for your reviews and recipes! Thanks, Kelly

Anonymous said...

hi lynn, i read that u're studying in Le Cordon Bleu in Japan.. i think i should be enrolling to the one in sydney this july.. i wanna ask, how's it in le cordon bleu ??

Anonymous said...

Lynn, hope you can carry on both the school and blogging. You must be a super patissier by now, the macarons look great!

Anonymous said...

HI Lynn, I just found your blog!!! I write about cuisine at LCB! I love your photos and posts. Are you still in school right now?!?!

(Ms. Glaze

Anonymous said...

Hi, I would like to know what is dry eggs white? And do you know what different between study in France and Japan at Le Cordon Bleu?

Anonymous said...

Your Macaroons look amazing. I can't wait to try making them. Any chance you will post the recipe(s) for the filling?

Anonymous said...

thanks you so much for the recipe. I've been wanting to make these for quite a while. I appreciate your detailed instructions.

Unknown said...

Thanks everyone! Now that I will have a new kitchen with a new oven, I'll have to start the experimenting all over again =o( When I do, I'll post again with recipe of fillings too.

Anonymous said...

Your macaroons look delicious, thanks for the gorgeous photograph. I look forward to seeing more of your creations when you get settled in and are able to experiment!

sooishi said...

Your macarons are so cute!
Bravo :)

I'm in a home made macaron session too, you can see them in my blog :)

A bientôt!

cin said...

Macarons sound so temperamental, I'm not sure that I will ever have the courage to try making them.

Fuzzy said...

Lynn, What is a "Silpat", some type of circle to keep the macaron in place to rise? I will try this recipe as a goal in my life to obtain. These cookies are something I always wanted to master. I wonder what temp adujustments needed for a convection oven? Or should I even use that setting? I have never visited this WEB site and I love to cook. This was a nice find. I don't know where to go to find a response to my question here.....

Fuzzy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Fuzzy, a silpat is a silicone baking sheet. It's a brand name but you can find other brands of the same stuff. They usuall cost about $20 to $25 for a half-sheet size. I think convection oven should be fine, in fact might even be better. good luck with the macarons!

Anonymous said...

Lynn, thanks for the recipe! I love how your macaroons look! Will have to try making them myself b/c the ones I bought from Georgetown tasted awful! Have a wonderful weekend! :)

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a lot! » » »

Karen said...

Thanks Lynn for sharing the recipe! I have bookmarked it and will definitely try it when I get a good mixer and a new oven! The macarons look fabulous!!

Sophia said...

Beautiful colors!!! They sure entice me to try experimenting with different colors and flavors.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for these instructions. I was remembering some beautiful macarons from Laduree. It was a couple of years ago, but I've often thought of them. I had not hoped to come close to imitating them. With your help, 2 of 3 batches I've made so far have been extremely respectable. Even Laduree wouldn't find too much fault. Thank you, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn, I'm so glad I "discovered" your blog. Very kind of you to share the recipe and I really hope to have the courage to try making the macarons one day.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the recipe.
I'll definitely try it one of these days. Just a question where can I get almond powder?


Simonne said...

Hi ,
I wanted to try this macaroon
can i know how much is 3g of egg white powder ? 1/2 tsp?


Unknown said...

It's about 1 tsp, but it's best to weigh it on a scale. Good luck!