October 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge: French Macarons

Oy.

I was excited to try this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge, French Macarons. But to make a long story short, mine turned out terrible (say that in a French accent!)

I know I did a bunch of things wrong: I didn’t grind my almonds fine enough, I didn’t carefully measure my proportions when I split everything by half (by eye) in order to make two flavors, I used a too-high setting to aerate the egg whites, and I overmixed the batter. You can see the many symptoms of my mistakes in this one picture–huge bubbles, chunks of flour, and spread-out dough that required some manual separation:

The batter spread a ton :(

The final product LOOKED terrible:
French macaron fail

But it turned out well–the chocolate-flavored cookies and the cinnamon-flavored cookies both turned out TASTING great and with a quick little dark chocolate ganache they were not bad at all!

I think I’ll try another version of these sometime, probably from Audax, whose detailed baking instructions are great and I’d imagine very helpful. It’s through his posts about other people’s problems with this challenge that I figured out what went wrong for me.

Aw, shucks. Here’s the recipe in case you want to try it yourself!

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.

Ingredients
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)

Directions:

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 before filling.

Yield: 10 dozen.

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