When I started out with the TSNEM challenge I had a big list of crafts to try but I diverted from that a little this month and tried out baking macarons.
I love macarons, in fact I even have an entire Pinterest board CALLED I Love Macarons (you can check out all the much prettier macarons than I made there…) I started looking at all the different macaron recipes and I got very, very overwhelmed and became convinced you would need magical powers to make a macaron at home. I was seeing such varying information, especially about the egg whites. Some recipes said to separate them and let them sit 24 hours, some said 2 weeks!
I took to Twitter and Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World offered to email me her macaron recipe which was much easier than others I had seen. It didn’t require any magical powers and you didn’t need to separate the egg whites ahead of time.
Wendi’s recipe uses meringue powder to help stabilize the egg whites. I kept checking Target and the grocery store before a friend told me you need to go to a place that sells cake supplies like Michael’s or Jo-Ann Fabrics. I ended up getting a can at Jo-Ann’s with a 40% off coupon but I did see that you can also get it on Amazon – Wilton Meringue Powder, 8 oz Can*
The night I planned on making the macarons I looked at the recipe and realized some of the measurements were in ounces and I don’t have a kitchen scale. First I attempted to Google conversions in hopes that I could just use cups instead, but alas it didn’t nicely convert. So I made a 9pm trip to Target to pick one up. I got this one, Taylor 3842 Digital Food Scale* and I thought it was pretty nice but I don’t really have much experience with scales!
Wendi’s recipe was pretty straight forward and everything went pretty well. I got this mat in a macaron kit from Target that they had with their Christmas stuff, when it went on clearance for 70% off I picked the kit up for $4. It came with a macaron mix which I didn’t intend to use, but the mat with the circle shapes was pretty handy.
When they came out of the oven I was really excited because they looked really legitimate. I didn’t use food coloring so they were pretty boring looking, but they looked like macarons! However, things went a little downhill from here.
Either I didn’t bake them long enough or I didn’t let them cool long enough because I had a really hard time getting them off the sheet. You can see all the little bits that got left behind, they didn’t slide off easily at all. And because I had such a hard time getting them off, the tops got all cracked and distorted too.
I made a recipe for a buttercreme macaron filling and it was awful, it just tasted like butter. Thankfully I tried one before I filled the entire batch. I tossed the buttercreme away and just used some Trader Joe’s lemon curd and Cookie Butter & Cocoa spreads instead. Not as fancy as something homemade, but extremely delicious.
They definitely aren’t Pinterest quality macarons, but they did taste really good which is really all that’s important! And in the end, they weren’t nearly as scary as I expected and I am determined to try them again and master them!
Wendi told me I could share her recipe with you, so here goes!
4.5 oz. almond flour
5.5 oz. confectioner’s sugar
whites of 3 large eggs
1/2 t. meringue powder
1/4 c. granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Blend the almond flour and confectioner’s sugar in a food processor for about 15 seconds. Even fine almond flour should be ground up a bit more this way.
Whip the egg whites until frothy. (Not stiff – just frothy. It only takes a few seconds.) While the whisk is still going (I use my stand mixer) add in the granulated sugar and meringue powder. I also like to add the food color now. Continue whipping until the whites hold medium to stiff peaks. The peaks should flop over.
Sift the almond flour/confectioner’s sugar blend over the egg whites. It’s really important to sift this in – otherwise you’ll get lumps. Fold it all together. You don’t have to be too prissy here – you actually want to deflate the egg whites a bit. But not too much! You want it to be soft enough that when you pipe it onto the cookie sheet it will settle a little bit – not be too stiff. But you don’t want it runny either. This is actually the hardest part and it might take a couple of tries to get a feel for the texture you want. But even if it’s too stiff or too runny – your cookies will still taste good. They just won’t look as good. (I can attest to this!)
Put the mixture into a pastry bag with a big round tip on it. Pipe half dollar rounds onto a prepared sheet pan.
Bang the pan on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles.
Let the macarons sit in a dry place for 20-30 minutes, until they get a skin on the surface and no longer feel sticky.
Bake them for 2 minutes, then open the oven door for about 30-60 seconds to release the steam. Close it up again and bake for another 15-20 minutes, rotating once. It can be hard to tell when they’re done because they’re not supposed to brown at all. But if you grab the top of a cookie and wiggle it a little bit – it should not move. If it feels like you can slide the top of the cookie separate from the bottom of it, they’re not done yet.
Let them cool completely on the sheet before you remove them.
Make macaron sandwiches with your favorite filling.
Have you tried baking macarons? Any tips or tricks that you’ve found to make them foolproof?
See what other bloggers tried for TSNEM this month:
- Stephanie at Swoodson Says tried gelatin printing
- Vicky at Vicky Myers Creations tried papier-mache & machine embroidery
- Kelly at Just Another Project tried photo to wood transfers
- Melissa at Rebel and Malice tried paper piecing
- Kristy at Simply This Life tried calligraphy
- Rebecca at Hugs Are Fun tried baking macaroons
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