If any of you know what an authentic macaron really looks like, then I'm sure you're wondering what in the heck happened to mine. These cookies were actually what I was most excited about making for my 12 day Christmas series, but to my dismay, these are what I ended up with. I did give it my best shot though, twice actually. And though I would normally not post something so disappointing, I had to post something for day number 9. They actually tasted pretty good, they just didn't have that crisp, crunchy, airy, ethereal texture that the outside meringue cookie is supposed to have.
I honestly don't know where I went wrong. I followed the recipe to a "tee", and even paid special attention to François Payard's (pastry genius) words of wisdom for steps to success: making a smooth macaronade (the powdered sugar and almond flour base), a fluffy meringue, being attentive during baking, and having plenty of filling. Alas, my first attempt at making macarons was less than perfect, which if you know me at all, you would know that anything besides perfection is not often accepted. But what am I to do? That's the beauty about cooking though I guess; there is always room to grow. So consider this one recipe not yet accomplished, because one day, sooner or later, I'll get it right. Trust me. But in the mean time, I'm accepting any helpful tips or hints anyone could pass my way. At least the pictures are pretty.
Recipe Courtesy of Food and Wine Magazine, December 2009
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds, available in supermarkets)
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 or 3 drops red food coloring
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
1. Preheat the oven to 400° and position racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large, wide bowl, using a large rubber spatula or a handheld electric mixer, mix the confectioners' sugar and the almond flour with 1 of the egg whites until evenly moistened.
3. In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar with the water and bring to a boil; using a moistened pastry brush, wash down any crystals on the side of the pan. Cook over high heat until the syrup reaches 240° on a candy thermometer.
4. In another large bowl, using clean, dry beaters, beat the remaining 2 egg whites at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer at high speed, carefully drizzle the hot sugar syrup over the whites and beat until firm and glossy. Beat in the food coloring until the meringue is bright pink.
5. Stir one-fourth of the meringue into the almond mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining meringue. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/2-inch tip; pipe onto the prepared baking sheets in 1 1/2-inch mounds, 1 inch apart. Tap the sheets and let dry for 15 minutes.
6. Transfer the meringues to the oven and immediately turn off the heat. Bake the meringues for 5 minutes. Turn the oven on to 400° again and bake the meringues for 8 minutes, until they are puffed and the tops are firm and glossy. Transfer the baking sheets to racks and let cool completely. Peel the meringues off of the parchment paper.
7. Spoon the jam into a small pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch tip. Alternatively, use a resealable sturdy plastic bag and snip off a corner. Pipe the preserves onto the flat sides of half of the meringues. Top with the remaining meringues and serve.
Makes 20 macarons