A girl sits at a small cafe in paris, nursing a cafe au lait, paired with a plate of beautiful creations.
A baguette, all chewy crust and plush, fluffy crumb.
A croissant, so flakey that it practically explodes in shards of pastry on contact.
A rainbow array of macarons. Pistachio and espresso and lavender, oh my!
I’ve never been this girl, but it is on my bucket list to be this girl. In the meantime I’ve been attempting to be a local version of this girl with my own creations. It’s been working out okay, but my baguettes aren’t quite as crusty, my croissants not quite as flakey, and I’ve been afraid of making macarons for a long time. Afraid of the many ways you could mess them up.
These pale in comparison to anything actually Parisian, but I’m supremely proud of them as a first try.
I did my homework before I made them and absorbed all the tips and information I could find.
Age your egg whites. This reduces the moisture in the eggs, resulting in a better texture. You can either age them for 1-2 days at room temperature, or around 5 days in the fridge, always pre-separated in an air-tight container.
Weigh all your ingredients instead of using volumetric measures. Ratios are very important in macarons and powdered sugar in particular can measure drastically different depending on if you spoon it into a volumetric measure, scoop and sweep, sift, etc, etc. Also, almonds measure completely differently depending on how small or big the pieces are. So scales. Get one. Use it. They’re pretty sweet.
Be patient and whip your whites to fully to stiff, glossy peaks, but also watch carefully for it to reach that point. There’s such a thing as over-whipping egg-whites. It makes them dry and less smooth. As shown in the above picture, I forgot to add my gel colouring until after I had reached stiff peaks and decided to keep going because pink macarons are pretty. You can probably tell, they are less glossy than ideal.
After piping out your adorable little macaron discs, let them sit for 30 minutes to an hour. This helps to create their wonderful, delicate shell, and also makes it more likely for them to develop “feet”, the bubbly ring that (hopefully) develops around the bottom of your macarons during baking.
See? Feet! I was super excited to peer into my oven and see them developing.
Don’t go TOO sweet on the filling. Macaron cookies are mostly sugar and when you put sugar in sugar you get a fabulous sugar coma. When I found Tartlette’s Raspberry Mascarpone take on macarons it seemed perfect to me, putting two tart, but very dessert friendly things, in a macaron.
Also, with all the macaron stress, the filling looked easy and I needed easy. Mascarpone whisked with raspberry preserves. The end. Short and sweet. Like a macaron!
So all in all, a success? My goodness, yes, for a first time, certainly, but there’s definitely room for improvement. You can see in the picture above that I may have baked the first batch for a touch too long as it started to brown.
Make sure to let your oven sit a little and reheat between batches of macarons. You don’t want to overcrowd an oven with lots of batches of macarons because the excess moisture that comes out as they bake can soften all the shells. This may make you eager to get things in the oven quicker so you can be done and so the shells don’t sit out too too long, but stop. Pause. Let that oven regain heat. The temperature in there is so low to begin with that it actually cools considerably every time you open the oven door.
I learned this the hard way when my first batch seemed slightly overdone at 17 minutes, and the second looked done at 17 minutes, but were still gooey on the inside and had to go back in.
Sad stuff right there.
It’s okay though, because I made recognizable french macarons on my first try and I’m super proud of myself.
Now excuse me while I go do a jig in my kitchen.
For the third time.
Raspberry Mascarpone Macarons
Recipe (and many of the tips!) from Tartlette
- 90 gr egg whites (use eggs whites that have been preferably left 3-5 days in the fridge)
- 25 gr granulated sugar
- 200 gr powdered sugar
- 110 gr almonds (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like)
- 1 tablespoon cherry pink powdered food coloring (I used red gel food colouring. If you do as well, add it right before you begin adding the sugar.)
- 4 oz mascarpone, room temperature
- 2-3 tablespoon good quality raspberry preserves
- Shells: In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry.
- Place the powdered sugar and almonds and powdered color in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280F.
- When ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.
- Filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and preserves together until well incorporated. Fill a small piping bag with a large plain tip (Ateco #809) with it and pipe in the center of each shell. Let the shell mature at least 24 hours in the fridge so all the flavors have the chance to meld together.