Sunday, January 11, 2015

Vanilla Sprinkle French Macarons

I should have been a housewife

This post has been a long time coming. I've been wanting to write it forever but couldn't muster up the energy and courage to do it. These cookies are not easy to perfect. If you are a perfectionist like me when it comes to baking, they will give you headaches and make you want to cry. That said, if you can accept that you will have delicious cookies that may not look perfect every single time you make them, they are definitely a cookie you should try. 

I first started making macarons last fall after paying $2.97 for a single cookie. I knew I was decent at baking and figured I could figure out how to make them. I read, I researched, I googled and youtubed, and after all of that I found out they were difficult but not impossible to make. My entire first batch exploded save for two lone shells. I sought out different recipes, some called for all the ingredients to be weighed, others using measuring cups. The frustrating part was that I had success and failures with both. There would be weeks when my shells came out right and others where I couldn't make a single cookie, even when using the same recipe. I felt so overwhelmed that I was almost ready to quit making them when I found the right recipe just at the right time.

Knock on wood, each time I've made this recipe I've had pretty little feet and smooth tops on every shell. It doesn't call for weighing ingredients but as long as your consistent with your measuring methods, it shouldn't be a problem.

So here's the recipe I've been using, no scale required.

Vanilla French Macarons- total recipe time 1-2 days *
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar**
1 cup almond flour**
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

* Completed cookies take 1 day to mature and be perfect to eat, overbaked shells take 2 days
* *Fluff with a spoon before delicately scooping out and placing in measuring cups making sure to level off with the flat edge of a butter knife

Vanilla Buttercream:
1 stick of butter, softened
1 1/4 cup powder sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp milk

Additional things you will need: 3 baking sheets, parchment paper, 12" piping bag, 1/2" piping tip, decorative sprinkles

1.  Combine powdered sugar and almond flour. Sift and discard any pieces too large to pass through sieve (approximately 1-2 TBSP). Set aside.

2. Combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and pinch of salt in the metal bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (a clean, metal bowl is necessary for producing a nice meringue, it keeps the egg whites cool and gives them more volume). Beat the egg whites on speed 6 until frothy (a minute or two). Bump up the speed to 8 and slowly add granulated sugar. Whip until a firm meringue forms an additional 5 minutes (approximately 8 minutes from turning the mixer on). The meringue should clump together on the interior of the whisk attachment as shown below.

I should have been a housewife

3. Add the almond-powder sugar mixture to the meringue and begin folding together by swiping along the bottom edge of the bowl with a flexible spatula and pressing back down firmly on center of the path that was drawn in the batter. Add the vanilla extract. 

The motion of the folding will be like drawing a letter 'p' using the edge of the bowl for the straight part of the letter and folding back over on itself for the loop of the p. Mix until batter flows like lava off the edge of the spatula in a ribbon-like fashion (takes approximately 1-2 minutes depending on how hard you are deflating the batter). The whole purpose of the folding the batter is to deflate it and get rid of the air, so no need to be gentle.

I should have been a housewife


I should have been a housewife

4. Fit a 12" piping bag with a 1/2" round piping tip and twist the tip-end to prevent batter from leaking out. Place bag tip first into a large drinking glass and fold bag over edge of the cup to make for easy batter transfer. 

I should have been a housewife
Piping bag fitted with tip before I twisted the tip to close it off

5. Pipe quarter size circles onto a parchment lined baking sheet (if the first couple of piped shells have peaks that do not flatten out, the batter is not mixed enough. Squeeze batter back into bowl and fold a few more times until consistency is right and pipe again). Slam baking sheet on the counter top to release any air bubbles to prevent shells from exploding. Add any decorative sprinkles to half of the shells now and allow to rest for 30 minutes or until tops are no longer tacky to the touch (can take up to an hour depending on humidity). Preheat oven to 290 F.


I should have been a housewife


I should have been a housewife

6. Place a second baking sheet underneath the first tray of macaron shells and bake for 22 minutes. Repeat with other sheets of shells. During the first 4-6 minutes the foot of the macaron will begin to form, this is the most nerve wracking part. You can check for doneness by trying to remove a shell from the parchment paper. If it comes away clean, they're done. It's better to over bake then under bake macarons, as the latter can't be fixed later. Allow shells to cool on baking sheets.

I should have been a housewife


7. While shells are cooling mix together the butter, powder sugar, milk, and vanilla extract for the buttercream icing.

8. After shells have cooled, remove from parchment paper and match up like sized shells, sprinkles for the top and plain shells for the bottom. Pipe a quarter size swirl of buttercream on one of the paired shells and top with its match.


I should have been a housewife


I should have been a housewife

9. Place macarons in an airtight container and allow to mature for 1-2 days. It's horrible to wait, I know, but the buttercream softens the shell and everything melds together during this time. It's especially necessary if the shells are over baked, as the buttercream will take away the bite of a overly crisp shell.

Here are two great websites for macaron troubleshooting that really helped me out when I started baking them. They use different recipes with different ingredients but are really great sources if you run into a problem.



Give it a try and let me know how it goes! Enjoy!

I should have been a housewife

I should have been a housewife

Click here for some pictures of my past macaron projects

Be sure to follow me on instagram @rocky092 for more macaron, cookie, and baking posts