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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

i made macarons!

Lately I've been experiencing some intense nostalgia for our trip to Paris last summer.  On days when scrolling through Pinterest photos just doesn't cut it, I stop by our local bakery and pick up a few macarons.  The melt in your mouth taste is almost enough to transport me back to the last morning in Paris we spent by Victor Hugo's house.  Almost.  

I had never tried making macarons myself because I was too intimidated, but when I saw the new Macaron 101 e-course on A Beautiful Mess, I threw caution to the wind and purchased the course ($8) and all the needed supplies (about $30).  

I'm only going to go through the highlights of baking macarons here since the process is so complicated and others can explain it much better than I can.  A Beautiful Mess has also done a quick tutorial you can see here, but if you're really serious about making these delicious cookies, I recommend splurging on the e-course.  Seeing the video and all the trouble shooting tips was really helpful. 

Before I could start baking, I needed almond flour, a piping bag, powdered food coloring, and a kitchen scale (I had the sugar, eggs, and kitchen aid mixer).  I purchased everything through Amazon except the almond flour which I found at our local co-op.  

There were a lot of firsts I experienced baking these macarons - first time whipping egg whites, first time piping cookies, first time using powdered food coloring.  I was pleased to discover all of these things were way easier than I had anticipated! 

One of the most important things when baking macarons is paying attention to moisture and humidity.  No liquid is added to macaron batter (hence the powdered food coloring), and before going into the oven, the macarons have to rest and dry out.  The humidity wasn't very high the day I made these, so I just needed to let the macarons rest about 15 minutes before baking. 

Pulling these macarons out of the oven and seeing no cracks and nice "legs" pretty much made my day.  I was fully expecting a disaster with my first batch!  I think the only reason they came out so well is because I followed those e-course directions so closely.  I usually cut corners when I bake, and if I had done that with macarons I don't think they would have turned out.  This is really a cookie that requires precision and attention to detail  - not something I enjoy, but I'll definitely do it for a macaron :) 

I added some buttercream icing as a filling and let most of the macarons sit overnight.  You're supposed to let the filling soak into the "shells" before eating them, but I had to try at least one of them!  It cracked and melted just perfectly, and oh man...my tastebuds and heart were very happy. 

The total process for fifteen cookies took me about 2.5 hours including baking and cooling time.  So I can now fully appreciate these cookies costing $1 each at the store.  This is definitely not something I'll be doing every weekend, but I hope to make them for special gatherings or celebrations.  Or for those times when I just really need a taste of Paris. 

This was my first attempt at macarons, and I was so shocked/happy/amazed that they turned out practically perfectly.  I followed the Macaron 101 e-course directions to the letter, and I highly recommend the tutorial.  You can purchase it for $8 from A Beautiful Mess.

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