Saturday, June 15, 2013

TIPS ON MAKING FRENCH MACAROONS



 I fell in love with French Macaroons a few years ago.  At first, I was intrigued by the many flavors and colors they came in. 

When a little French bakery opened up by me, I was thrilled to discover they had the beautiful little cookies.  I tried all of the flavors and if asked which one was my favorite, I don't think I could answer that question.  They were all wonderful.

As time went by and I tried others, I found that some didn't have as nice a flavor as others.  That is when I first wanted to learn how to make my own so I could try to find the one recipe I loved the most and have it become my standard go to recipe.

Yet, I heard they were hard to make, let alone master.  So time went by and I never tried to make them.   I was scared to spend all the time only to have them flop on me.

Then I got the email!  An email from a good friend of mine who had taught me so much about baking cakes and making gum paste flowers when I was doing cake decorating.

He asked if I wanted to come over and learn to make French Macaroon from him.  I was so excited!  I couldn't answer his email fast enough.  YES!  I wanted to learn.

Today, was the day.  I had so much fun.  I learned a lot and found out that they are not as scary to make as I thought they were.  But there are some things you must do in order to have them come out right.



There are tons of different recipes out there for French Macaroons.  Since everyone has different taste, I figured that rather then just post the recipe we used, I would let you pick your favorite recipe and use that.

I am gong to share the tips you need in order to make sure your cookies come out great.

First, you want the cookies to have the same size.  To make sure you do this, make a pattern of circles in the size you want your cookies to be. 

Put it on your cookie sheet and then place your parchment paper on top.  That way, you can see how much batter you need to pipe for each cookie.



 You will need to use almond flour.  If you are like me, you have no idea where to get this.  Most normal grocery stores won't carry it. 

You can find it in places like Bristol Farms and/or Sprouts.  If you can't find it, you can always order it on line and have it shipped to you.

Or, you if you like, you can make your own.  Just take raw almonds and grind them up in your food processor.  Just make sure you don't over process them or you will end up with almond butter.  Which wouldn't really be that bad since almond butter is wonderful.  It's just not what you are going for here.

After your almonds are ground up, you will need to sift them several times to make sure you get all skins and bigger pieces removed. 

Once this is done, you have almond flour.



 You want your batter to be very smooth so make sure to sift your almond flour and powdered sugar three times.  Yes, three times.  Don't skip.  It's not worth it.  You don't want to go through all this work only to have a lump or two in your batter.

My advice is to also weigh all your ingredients rather then using measuring cups.  This way, you will have the right amounts and every time, your cookies will come out the same.



 You are going to need to whip your eggs.  Start with room temperature eggs.  They will whip up much faster and nicer. 

If you forgot to remove your eggs and they cold, put them in a glass of warm water for a few minutes.  They will warm up much faster.



 Whip your eggs until they form stiff peaks.  OK, so this isn't the best picture but you can see the peaks are stiff and not falling over, even though they are smaller peaks.  You get the idea.  Right?



 When you fold in your whipped eggs to the flour and powdered sugar, be sure to "fold" them in and not go crazy stirring them.  You don't want to remove all the air out of your nice fluffy egg whites.

To fold, you scrape down to the bottom of the bowl, then turn the mixture over.  Keep doing that as you turn the bowl around.  Scrape and fold over.  Scrape and fold over.  Keep doing this until everything is mixed in well.



 It will then be time to pipe the filing onto the cookie sheet. 

No, you can't just plop the mixture down.  You want them to be nice circles and even in size. 

If you don't have piping bags and tips, don't worry.  You can still do this.  Just put the mixture into a zip lock baggie and cut the tip off one corner.  Not to much.  Just a little bit. 

Then you can pipe just as you would with the tips and bags.



 See the little peaks on the cookies?  Well, you don't want them there.  So take your pan and give it a few bangs down to help flatten them out.

Some recipes will have a softer, runnier batter and the peaks may just flatten out right away.  The recipe we used was a little thicker and we had peaks on most of the cookies.

Even if you don't have peaks, you will want to bang the cookie sheet a few times to help remove any unwanted air bubbles.

Don't go nuts and keep banging though.  You don't want to deflate your egg whites.  You will end up with flat cookies.

Which, by the way, if you do get flat cookies, cookies with peaks, uneven sizes or whatever, don't worry.  They still taste wonderful.  They just won't look as pretty.



 If your batter is a bit thicker, like ours was, then even after you bang the pan down, you will still have peaks on some of your cookies.

If this happens to you, just lightly wet your finger with a tiny bit of water and tap the peaks down. 

Just make sure you use a tiny bit of water.  In fact, shake it off your finger after you dip it so you don't get drips on your cookies.

If the batter sticks to your finger, you need a little more water.



 Now you have all your cookies piped out.  But don't put them in the oven yet.  You need to let them sit out a bit to dry out a little.

Depending on the weather and humidity, you will leave them sitting for about 30 to 60 minutes.

You will know they are ready for the oven when you can touch the cookies and they don't stick to your finger.



 It's time bake them.  Follow your recipe for the time. 

While they bake, open the oven door twice to let any steam out. 

Once your cookies are baked, remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheet.  You don't want to let your cookies to continue to bake on the hot pan.

Don't remove cookies from parchment paper until cool though.




See how the bottom of the cookie has a different texture then the rest of the cookie?  Well, that is what you are looking for. 

This means your cookies were mixed properly and you allowed them to dry the correct time before you cooked them.

If your cookies come out flat without the different texture on the bottom, you over mixed your batter. 

If they come out lumpy on top, you under mixed your batter.

If they are cracked on top, you didn't remove all the air by banging properly and they are over cooked.


Once you have your cookies baked and they have cooled, they will lift right off the parchment paper by lifting them up.  Don't bother with a spatula.  You don't want to crack your cookies.

Just lift the cookies up with your hands.  If they stick a tiny bit, just bend the parchment paper away from the cookies.

If they don't come off the parchment paper super easy then your cookies are not fully baked.

It's then time to fill your cookies.  This is where you can have a lot of fun with fillings.  You can use, jams, curds, flavored butter cream, chocolate or any type of filling you want.

We used flavor butter cream.  We made, Key Lime, Peach and Passion Fruit as well as two different types of chocolate ganache.

They were all so good.


To fill your cookies, just take one, turn it upside down.  Pipe in your filling then put another cookie on top.

That's it!  It's now time to enjoy all that hard work by biting into a little bit of Heaven.


It's fun to make these different colors.  You can make them with a tiny bit of color (we actually used yellow in our batter) or you can make them as bright and deep in color as you like.

You will need to use more color then you think you will.  When we colored our batter it was pretty bright yellow but once all mixed up and baked you could hardly tell there was any color to them.

Use paste or powder colors.  Don't use water based ones.  Like the kind you find at most grocery stores.  They will add to much moisture to your batter and cause your batter to be to runny and your cookies will come out flat.


So have fun with your cookies.  Make them bigger in size or tiny bite size.  Mix up the colors.  Try different flavors.  Add real bits of fruit or nuts to your filling.

The choices are endless.

But, do try your hand at these yummy cookies.  If you have never had one you will be in for a treat.  They are a little crunchy outside but the middle of the cookie is a softer texture.  Then the filling gives a burst of flavor. 

One thing I must warn you about though...they addicting.  It's hard to stop at just one...or two...or three.

6 comments:

racheld said...

Oh, my GOODNESS, Girl!! You DO beat all!

I've contemplated and longed and sorta planned to make these someday, and I think with your directions, I could just get in the kitchen and mix them up this minute.

You tell it just as if you would with us standing in your kitchen---every step, plain and clear, and just exactly what I need to know. I even think there's probably still a bag of almond flour around here somewhere, from an almond-orange flourless cake for a GF friend back in the Winter.

The tiny sliver that I tried was sublime, but since she doesn't have such wonderful desserts very often, we sent the rest home with her.

It's always fun to drop in on your creating and adventures!

rachel

racheld said...

Oh, my GOODNESS, Girl!! You DO beat all!

I've contemplated and longed and sorta planned to make these someday, and I think with your directions, I could just get in the kitchen and mix them up this minute.

You tell it just as if you would with us standing in your kitchen---every step, plain and clear, and just exactly what I need to know. I even think there's probably still a bag of almond flour around here somewhere, from an almond-orange flourless cake for a GF friend back in the Winter.

The tiny sliver that I tried was sublime, but since she doesn't have such wonderful desserts very often, we sent the rest home with her.

It's always fun to drop in on your creating and adventures!

rachel

Donna said...

Wow - you are an amazing baker! I've seen these offered for sale before, but have never tried one. I don't think I would ever try making them myself because I have no willpower and would probably eat all of them! But if I'm ever in a bakery that sells them, I am definitely going to try one! Yours look SOOO yummy!!! Hope you are enjoying your summer!!!... DonnA

Attic Clutter said...

Hi Joann
you certainly know how to do things the right way
whew
very nice
thanks for the baking lesson..
Patty

Jean Tuthill said...

I love anything almond...so I need to try these. Thanks for all the tips, I hope mine come out as good looking as yours did. They certainly look delicious. Yum!

Jean Tuthill said...

I love anything almond...so I need to try these. Thanks for all the tips, I hope mine come out as good looking as yours did. They certainly look delicious. Yum!