The Daring Bakers October Challenge: Macarons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers' challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming's The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

The moment I read the challenge I knew I was screwed. I had tried making meringue a hundred times before and always failed - my speciality was overbeating ... And now I was supposed to make macarons. All the additional information provided made my head spinning round. Making macarons seemed to be a science more complicated than doing maths. At first I was optimistic and started blue-eyed into this adventure. My first batter was a mess and the mounds kept leaking and merging into each other. In addition they burned (have a look at the black ones in the right corner). Second try, similar outcome. I got flat soft cookies (middle).
[A bunch of macawrongs]

I have to confess I cheated at the end - after two whole batches of macawrongs I was really desperate - I wanted to succeed and not to surrender! The recipe for Almost Foolproof Macarons was promising (it uses the Italian method where you use sugar syrup to stabilize the meringue) and I tried one last time. The meringue this time looked like this:

Finally stiff peaks!

After starring the first minutes into the oven I saw them rise ... and rise ... some cracks into the shells ... calm down, there are just a few ... they look really close to what they are supposed to look ... I even can see some 'feet'! Not to mention I was happy. Ok, the first tray wasn't baked quite right and the macarons turned out to be to soft (the left ones in the first picture), but the rest was fine. Crispy and pretty. Maybe I'll try again later with more ideas and flavour combinations, but for now I'm glad the simple thing worked.

This one looks perfect ...

Lemon Macarons
Ingredients (yields about two dozen filled macarons):
  • Confectioners' (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
  • Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
  • Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
  • Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)
For the lemon curd filling:
(adapted from Canelle et Vanille)
  • 1 egg + 4 egg yolks
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 90 grams sugar
  • 140 grams lemon juice
  • 1 sheet of gelatin
  • 140 grams butter, cut into small cubes
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners' sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don't overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It's easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack.
8. For the filling, mix sugar, zest and lemon juice in a small pot and bring slowly to a boil, mix constantly. It should start to thicken. Meanwhile have the gelatin softening in cold water. Squeeze out excess water and when the curd has thickened, add the gelatin to the bowl. Strain the curd through a sieve into a bowl. Add the butter to the curd, one piece at a time by using a submersion blender. Let cool in the refrigerator for at least four hours. Fill into a pastry bag and start assembling your macarons ...


There is just one last question: What am I going to do with the ten remaining egg yolks ???

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