Sunday, July 8, 2012

vanilla bean macarons filled with nutella ganache

Although macarons have been all over the internet for a good while, I had never tried to make them before now. Mainly because I was afraid: Every second blog post about these french cookies seem to revolve around the fact that they are very finicky and difficult to make successfully. But between reading posts on Bravetart and eat.live.travel.write, I decided to give it a go.


They require very little ingredients : egg  whites, sugar, salt, vanilla, powdered sugar and almonds. Basically, the egg whites, sugar, salt and vanilla are whipped until very stiff. Then, the twice-sifted powdered sugar and almonds are incorporated. The mixture is piped in circles, and baked. And if all goes well, the mixture rises up instead of spreading out, and bakes perfectly, without cracking. 

The most tedious part for me was the process of pulverizing the almonds and powdered sugar in the food processor to be able to sift the mixture. And I was even using ground almonds! But it was a slow process of pushing the mixture through the sieve, then putting the bigger chunks of almonds back in the food processor so that they could be sifted with the powdered sugar.

The stand mixer makes it easy to whip up the egg whites, and the directions in the recipe are very clear. I thought that the folding of the almond mixture in the egg whites went pretty well, but I might have over mixed my first batch a tiny bit, and undermixed the next.

In order to get cookies that are mostly the same size, I traced 1.5 inch circles on the back of the parchment paper lining my baking trays. Even at that, I got macarons of all sizes. I guess I still need to practice my piping skills!

After letting them rest/set/dry for half an hour, I baked my first batch on a rimmed cookie sheet. Most of them cracked, and some of them came out pretty much perfect! The second batch baked on an identical rimmed cookie sheet gave me the same results, but the last bit of the batter, I baked on a rim less cookie sheet, and none of the cookies cracked. So I guess that's the secret, for baking macarons in my oven. Also, I found that if the parchment paper is not quite flat, it affects the "feet" of the cookies. So I now know not to use wavy parchment paper.


Vanilla bean macaron recipe (French meringue)
Recipe slighly adapted from: Mardi Michels, adapted from Stella Parks (bravetart.com)

115g ground almonds
230g icing sugar
144g egg whites, covered in plastic wrap and left at room temperature for a few hours.
72g granulated sugar
pinch of salt

seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
Prepare a 14” piping bag with a plain tip, twist the bag at the tip to keep the mixture from leaking out and place inside a tall glass to facilitate filling the bag.
Combine almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor, pulsing about 10 times for a few seconds, until all ingredients thoroughly incorporated.
Sift dry ingredients twice using a fine sieve and pressing the mixture through with your hands and set aside.
Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites, salt, sugar and vanilla seeds at a low speed (Kitchen Aid speed four) for 2 minutes, medium speed (Kitchen Aid six) for 2 minutes and a high speed (Kitchen Aid eight) for 2 minutes. The egg whites will be very stiff at this point.
Mix for one more minute at the highest speed (Kitchen Aid ten).
Add the dry ingredients to the egg whites.
Fold the mixture, pressing it against the sides of the bowl to deflate the mixture. Fold about 40 times (counting single strokes), stopping every couple of strokes after 25 to check the consistency. It should be lava-like, flowing in ribbons off the spatula.
Transfer half the mixture to the piping bag, sealing the open end with a twist and holding firmly with the hand that will not be actively piping.
Pipe four tiny dots of mixture under the corners of the parchment paper to make sure it stays put.
Pipe your macarons in a 1.5 inch circles.
Rap the tray 3-4 times on a hard surface. You’ll see air bubbles coming to the surface of the unbaked shells.
Fill the bag with the rest of the mixture and pipe and rap the second tray.
Preheat the oven to 300˚F.
Rest the trays of macaron shells for 30 minutes before baking.
Place one tray of macarons on an empty baking tray and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 16 minutes at 300˚F, turning the tray from back to front halfway through.
Remove from oven and let the tray sit for a few minutes.
Remove the parchment from the tray and allow to sit on a cool surface for at least 30 minutes, then remove macaron shells to a cooling rack.
Store in an airtight container overnight.
Pair up like shells to facilitate the filling process.
Once completely cool, fill with ganache or cream filling of your choice.
Best enjoyed 24 hours after filling.



For the filling, I used a mixture of chocolate chips, melted with nutella and heavy cream, the same filling used in my nutella s'mores bars. So yummy!

Nutella Ganache

1/2 cup Nutella
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons heavy cream (or half and half)

Combine the Nutella, chocolate chips, and heavy cream in a large microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high at 15 second intervals until the chocolate chips have melted, for about 45 seconds total. Whisk the mixture until it is smooth and shiny. If necessary, add a few extra drops of cream if the mixture seems too thick.


Now the only problem is, I've never had a macaron before making my own, so I have nothing to compare them to. Mine a crispy, but I was under the impression that they should be chewy? I might have waited too long to fill them too. I baked them, let them cool on racks overnight, then stored them in an airtight container, filled them on day 3, then stored them in the fridge. I might have done something wrong in there somewhere... Back into the kitchen to try again!

4 comments:

  1. Was it crispy through and through or just the outside and chewy on the inside? Because that's how it's supposed to turn out.

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  2. a bit chewy, but not enough i don't think... baked them too long maybe?

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  3. I am totally impressed! My first (and only) attempt was a disaster! These look incredible.

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  4. They look gorgeous - well done! It took me 3 attempts to get macarons right and I am happy I achieved them and probably won't bake them again :)

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