For all you macaron connoisseurs out there, I apologize in advance. I realize that my macarons have much work to be done to the recipe to make them "look" more like the traditional macaron, but I can promise that they taste much like the french tradition. I have always been scared to make this pastry because you grind the nuts yourself, and if anyone has ever done this before, you know that there is a fine line between almond flour and almond paste. So in my quest to try and not make nut paste, I did not grind mine into as fine as flour as I would have wanted. The taste was amazing though. As all macrons should be, these ones are crispy and crunchy on the outside, and moist and gooey on the inside; combined with chocolate or vanilla buttercream and you have created heaven in your mouth.
I am usually not a chocolate fan, but I must say that I enjoyed the almond macron with the combination of chocolate buttercream rather then vanilla. After making these I realize all the flavor combinations you can do and I cannot wait to try out different combos! If you have ever been intimidated by macrons because there is buzz that is is either a hit or miss, I would say try it. After realizing that I didn't grind the almonds enough and that my consistency seemed to be too soft, I was positive that they were not going to work out and create that little edge around the bottom, but lone behold they most definitely worked out. I would say that mine are a smidge too large for my own liking. I used a 1 1/2 inch bottle cap to draw my for my template but I think a 1 inch bottle cap would make a much more traditional macaron.
Today happens to be the 1 year anniversary of Sweetened With Honey, so that is why I decided to celebrate with the challenge of making macarons since it has been on my list. Looking back on my first post of the Chocolate Harvest Roll I chuckle just a little bit. The ganache is all over the place, the roll looks more like an oval, and the photographs are just hilarious. I love having a blog about baking because it is a constant reminder that in cooking and in baking, you only get better in time. The more you try means the more you learn. I hope that this blog has helped you guys realize that it is not about always succeeding in your baking. I have failed so many times in my baking and every single time I realize what I could do better next time to make it a success. For example, next time I make macarons I will be grinding the almonds much much more =) The great thing about baking is that most of the time, even if it does not look pretty, it still tastes amazing. I have had two great additions to this blog in this past year; my new blog banner and my amazing husband who photographs for this blog. I always say that you eat with your eyes, and it is so difficult to imagine what the outcome of a dessert is going to look like if you can barely make out the picture. So I am so appreciative of him and the time he puts into creating pictures that hopefully help all of you imagine what yours will look like. I am so blessed to be able to share my creations with you and I hope the next year brings some fun, amazing recipes for all to try.
And as always, if anyone has something that they really want to bake but can't find a recipe online, or if anyone has any suggestions, I would love to make something that you guys want to see on the blog!
This recipe is from the Miette bakery in San Francisco.
yields 18 sandwich cookies
for the cookie:
1 1/2 cups whole almonds, with skins
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
3 large egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a 1 inch bottle cap as a template, draw 1 inch circles in rows on the paper, about 1 inch apart. You should have about 18 circles on each sheet.
Place half of the almond in a food processor. Pulse about 5 times until almonds are coarsely chopped. Add half of the powdered sugar and pulse until made into a fine powder. Pour the mixture into a separate bowl and repeat the process with the remaining almonds and powdered sugar. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment (or a hand mixer) combine the egg white and cream of tartar and whisk on high until very stiff peaks form, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold about one-third of the almond mixture into the egg whites. Fold in the remaining mixture in two more additions, just until the ingredients are completely combined. At this point comes the test, spoon a dollop of the meringue onto a plate and with the tip of the spoon gently make a peak at the top of the dollop; if the peak holds then it is not ready, place dollop back into mixture and continue to fold the mixture into each other. It will be ready when the dollop you spoon onto the plate create a smooth dollop with no peak at the top. The peak should fall and 'melt' into the dollop.
Fit a pastry bag with a medium round tip and fill the bag with meringue. (You can also use a freezer ziplock bag if you don't have a pastry bag, just fill then cut a 1/2 inch opening in one of the corners) Using the template as your guide, pipe one inch circles, 1/2 inch high onto the baking sheets. Set the baking sheets in a protected area and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours. This allow the macarons to develop their distinct crust and a base on the bottom.
Preheat the oven to 325º F.
Bake the macarons until set but not browned, 10-12 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool completely on the pans. When they are cool, use your fingers to carefully lift half of the cookies from the parchment paper and turn them upside down.
for the buttercream:
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or a hand held mixer), cream the butter until fluffy and lightened in color. Gradually add the powdered sugar, milk, salt, and vanilla extract. The consistency should be thick enough to form a stiff peak when a spoon is dipped into it. If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar, if it is too thick add a small dash of milk.
**You could add ANY buttercream, cream, or ganache to these cookies. You could even add jam. This is just a quick 7 minute frosting if you don't have a lot of time. If you want the chocolate version, add 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder while creaming the butter**
Using the back of a spoon, place about a nickel size dollop on the cookies that are turned upside down. Top with the remaining cookies, be careful not to smash it down or the frosting will come out of the sides of the cookie.
Store in a air tight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.