As I’ve gotten more and more comfortable with baking, I’ve begun finding a lot of pleasure in taking on more intimidating projects. One that has always felt like a bit of a pipe dream for me was learning how to make a French macaron from scratch. I’ve read horror stories of how intricate the recipes are, how frustratingly simple things like humidity can affect the overall outcome, and how people have sworn off the project altogether after so many failed attempts.
Yesterday on my day off I woke up at 7 am with what felt like boundless energy and a real craving to get my hands dirty in the kitchen. So I tried my hand at the French Macaron, and here’s what happened.
I find that if I pre-assemble my ingredients, things typically go a lot smoother. So I started there after researching the typical ingredients and ratios that make up a macaron. The recipe I most modeled my work after had each ingredient weighted in grams so I whipped out my food scale. Apparently it’s time to change the batteries, because it kept turning off after about 30 seconds. Not a great start, but I was able to get pretty close to the suggested weights of each ingredient. In the future I hope to actually be able to slowly and accurately measure everything. One can dream.
Assembling the batter was complicated, but not unpleasant. It involved 3 main steps: Combining the dry ingredients and part of the egg whites into a paste, simultaneously heating sugar water to 248 degrees and whipping egg whites into soft peaks, and then combining all bowls to make the batter. It all went off without a hitch, and the batter tasted and looked so good that I thought to myself “Holy shit! I’m actually doing it!!!”
I really wanted to make a festive summer macaron, and nothing’s more summer-y than watermelon. I separated the batter in two bowls, added a drop of pink and green food coloring, and then added the colored batter to piping bags to pipe even little circles. Next came the hard part, which was baking and finding the right method of doing so! Because those babies can crack, fall in on themselves, and pretty much look a hot mess real easy. I tested a couple of factors, including pan color, lining material, oven placement, and cooking time. For me, the combo that yielded the best results was a lighter sheet, with a silicon baking liner, on the top rack, for 9 minutes, at 325 degrees. In the picture above you can see the note cards where I wrote each factor (nerdy). You can also see some of the cookies that weren’t so lucky…those were baked on the darkest cooking sheet I own :(.
Then came creating the buttercream filling. I found it from Martha Stewart and didn’t love it. Too “buttery”. But it worked for my first go! I piped it on and sandwiched alternating cookie colors together for a watermelon effect. Lastly, I took some black food dye and a brand new paintbrush and carefully painted the seeds on. I think they came out looking so cute!!! And they tasted fine! Definitely had the right texture of macarons…but again, the filling felt like I was eating straight butter. So we’ll make some modifications to that in the future. 🙂
So let this be a lesson to ya! No feat is too big. I genuinely believed I wouldn’t have a single macaron to make of my work! You just need patience, preparation, and a “screw it we’ll do it live!” attitude (a.k.a minimal fear of making mistakes). Don’t you love it when lessons in the kitchen ring true of life in general?!