Macarons, the sweet confection made famous by Marie Antoinette and the legendary Parisian bakery Ladurée. The delicate sandwiches of meringue and ganache (or buttercream) have since made their way here and been full embraced.
They, along with soufflés are the epitome of a pastry chef/baker’s skill. Baking good macarons isn’t easy so I’ve been one of those who enjoy others’ macarons rather than attempting to make my own. Then I decided I’d give it a try…this was after much deliberation and delay.
I recently got the miette cookbook (renowned pastry shop in San Francisco). :D For once, I’ve bought a cookbook in which the majority of the recipes I will use, starting with the macaron. Oh and the cute pattern of the page edges are such a great touch!
Macarons require just a few basic ingredients: almond powder, egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar.
The cookbook has several variations on the macarons. I chose to try the pistachio macarons. I don’t have any powdered almonds but you can put it through the processor just the same. Of course, it won’t be fine enough but miette’s macarons have that signature grainy texture so that was my excuse…
Egg white time. Cream of tartar + egg white = fluffy and white.
Fold in a third of the almond/pistachio mixture into the egg whites. Gently fold in the rest. I tried using as few strokes as possible because I figured the egg whites give the macaron their airiness and I definitely didn't want that to be compromised!
Fill a pastry bag with the mixture and pipe 1-inch rounds on a parchment paper-lined pan or Silpat / cookie sheet lined pan.
Now comes the very important part of the macaron-making process: the wait. Let the piped rounds sit for 2 hours. Why? So they can dry up and develop that little crusted lip and the bottom.
This is what they look like after the baking process. If you look carefully, you can see the signature lip or cap. YAYY! They look alright. :D
Buttercream. That’s the next step. Although the recipe says “Vanilla Buttercream”, it’s actually a recipe for Italian buttercream as heat is used to create the silky smooth and light buttercream.
Got the ingredients out.
And then a lapse in careful reading was the downfall of my first attempt at Italian buttercream. :( Yep, totally forgot about the heat part of the recipe.
It looked almost okay. I thought I was gonna get away with it!—until I added the butter.
Yeah, not so pretty anymore eh? It was dinner time at this point so I was encouraged to return to it later. Ugh, I just hate failing at a recipe because that means I’ve wasted ingredients!! Butter isn’t cheap and I wasted it here…hmph. :(
After chowing down on food, watching an episode of Iron Chef, and giving it some thought, I decided that I wasn’t in the right mindset to make a second attempt. So back to the basic vanilla buttercream it is!
This I know well: cream the butter (it’s super important that it’s at room temperature/softened) and the icing sugar until it’s light and fluffy.
I added the vanilla and since I’m making pistachio macarons, I tried adding a few drops of green food colouring to give the buttercream a sort of minty green hue.
Flip half of the macaron halves over and pipe on some buttercream.
All piped and ready to get topped.
Finish off the macarons by placing the tops on the buttercreamed halves and pressing down gently from the sides.
And there you have it! Pistachio macarons with a vanilla buttercream! :D:D
I guess I’m pretty proud of myself for finally stepping up and trying to make this confection that I’ve enjoyed so much here (ie. Patachou, Petit Thuet, Pusateri) and in France (George Larnicol <-- I'd love to try making the artery-clogging but just-so-worth-it kouignettes someday!). Mine were clearly not as delicate or light as theirs’ were, but that’s alright because practice makes perfect!
Next time, I’m definitely going to try the buttercream recipe in the book again! Inside the Miette cookbook, there is also the grapefruit variation of the macaron. That’d be interesting!
3.5 out of 5 NOMs
(this rating is for how the recipe turned out in my hands and not a rating of the recipe itself--which by the way, is a good one!)