Friday, April 29, 2011

Macarons and my French Baking Class

As I told y'all my husband and I went to Europe last month, while in Paris I talked him into taking a French Macaron Class. It was amazing, we went through the company La Cuisine, which is located right near Notre Dame and the classes are in French or English! Next time we are back in Paris, I absolutely plan to take another class here.


I had been wanting to make French macarons since I first spotted them on Tartelette, but was of course intimidated by the precise measurements and perfection that the little cookie called for. After taking this class, I feel like a pro already and my first batch at home came out amazing, all thanks to the wonderful tips from the class!

In the class we made chocolate and pistachio macarons, each have their own cookie recipe and garnish recipe. At home, I made a plain cookie with a chocolate ganache center.


So first off I want to share the recipe, then I'll go over all the tips needed throughout the recipe to make that perfect French macaron!

French Macarons

Cookies:
300 grams ground almonds or almond flour, sifted
300 grams confectioners' sugar, sifted
110 grams egg whites, few days old and room temperature
food coloring
300 grams granulated sugar
75 grams water
110 grams egg whites, few days old and room temperature

Ganache:
150 grams heavy whipping cream
150 grams bittersweet chocolate (64% cocoa), chopped
53 grams butter, cubed and at room temperature

Preheat oven to 330 degrees F (between 160 and 170 degrees C). Line a few baking sheets with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the sifted ground almonds and confectioners sugar. Add in 110 grams of egg whites and food coloring, mixture will be paste-like, set aside. In a large mixing bowl, fitted with the whisk attachment pour the remaining 110 grams of egg whites, do not mix yet, but set aside. In a medium saucepan combine water and granulated sugar over medium heat. You will want to bring the sugar-water mixture to boiling, but when the mixture reaches 110 degrees C, start whisking the eggs whites you set aside earlier. Once the mixture reaches 118 degrees C slowly pour the mixture into the bowl of whisking egg whites, do not stop whisking during this time. Continue whisking the meringue till the mixture is no longer hot, about 50 degrees C, and forms a shiny white stiff peak. Begin folding a small amount of the meringue mixture into the almond-sugar mixture set aside previously. Blend only until all white streaks have disappeared. Pour the mixture into a large pastry bag fitted with a 10mm tip, I used a Wilton 1A tip.

Using the filled pastry bag, form 3 cm diameter circles ( a little larger than an inch) on the prepared pans. Do not make too large, as the mixture will spread. Once each pan is filled with cookies, let rest for at least 30 minutes prior to baking. Bake each tray for 12-15 minutes, rotating in the oven half way through if baking multiple trays at a time. The cookies will be done if you touch the top of the cookie and it gentles wiggles. Let cookies cool completely on sheet and remove, cookies will come off easily if they have been cooked long enough.

For the ganache, in a medium bowl pour chopped chocolate and set aside. Bring the whipping cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once whipping cream is boiling, in a small amount pour over chopped chocolate. After each addition, whisk the chocolate starting in the center of the bowl until completely incorporated. Once all whipping cream is incorporated into the mixture, add in the chopped butter and whisk till smooth. Let ganache cool and pour into pastry bag fitted with a 10mm tip. Set bag aside or chill until the ganache is workable.

Pair cookies based on size and squeeze a good amount of ganache onto one cookie. Gently press cookies together till ganache moves to the edge of the cookie, do not twist.

For the food coloring addition, you can use either dry or liquid. I used 10 drops of red liquid food coloring to obtain this pastel pink color. You do not want to use more than one tablespoon of coloring total.

An absolute must to make this cookie, is a food scale. There is no way around getting the precise measurements without it.

Sifting is key, you want to make sure and sift the confectioners' sugar AND the almond flour. Our instructor told us that some double or triple sift their sugar.

The egg whites can go either way, extremely fresh (like you live on a farm) or a few days old. As most of you probably don't live on a farm, crack your eggs a few days in advance and chill the egg whites together. When you are ready to make your macarons, bring the egg whites to room temperature before using. It is estimated that a large egg white is equal to 30 grams. So for 220 grams of egg whites, I separated eight eggs earlier in the week, which was a good estimate as I only had a little leftover after measuring. Think that's a lot of yolks to waste? Nope, I used the yolks to make a custard!

In this recipe you prepare what is called an Italian meringue, made by boiling sugar water and whipping it into egg whites. Although this cookie is french, the Italian meringue is preferred over the French version, simply whisking sugar into egg whites, as it can often leave a grainy sugar taste in the cookie.

If you live in a humid location, as I do in Houston, you can remove a small amount of water from the sugar water mixture. I removed one tablespoon prior to boiling.

For the ganache, you want to use a heavy cream that is at least 30% milk fat, the higher the better. When pouring the simmering heavy cream into chopped bittersweet chocolate, you want to use a fast whisking motion in the center of bowl. As you pour more heavy cream in, continue stirring in the center of the bowl, slowly working your way out and scrapping the sides of the bowl. This motion of stirring in the center of the bowl gives your ganache that beautiful shine.


Here is a picture of two cookies, the one of the right was baked on a silicone mat, while the left cookie was baked on parchment paper. The cookies taste the exact same, but if you want to make it easy to get the cookies off the pan and if you are a slight perfectionist... then use a silicone mat!

Also, if you haven't checked out Baking and Cooking, A Tale of Two Loves I will be participating in her online Bake Sale on May 2nd benefiting the American Cancer Society, so go make a bid!

71 comments:

  1. Debbie, your macarons turned out fantastic! What a beautiful color and flavor. You did a great job on this complicated little cookie and you should be so proud! Thanks for sharing and stopping by my blog. :) Have a great weekend!

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  2. A French macaroon class?! You are one lucky girl. These look incredible!

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  3. I've never tried macaroons, but I always find them very very pretty and yours are gorgeous, what lovely pink colour!!

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  4. Beautiful! I've been wanting to make these too, as I'm fascinated by them. (that, and they taste wonderful) :)

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  5. Wow! These are impressive looking and so delicious! They look perfect for a brunch or an elegant "High Tea". I am now an official follower.

    Thank you for sharing :)

    Holly

    Visit me @ www.simplequintessentialcuisine.com

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  6. These turned out beautifully! And what an amazing experience, being able to learn how to make them in Paris. It makes them even more special. One of these days I'll get up the nerve to try & make them. Thanks for sharing all your tips!

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  7. Your Macarons are just perfect! I am so lealous that you got to take a class in PARIS!!! Gahhhh! Seriously though - yours are truly beautiful! ♥

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  8. Wow, your macarons look amazing. Sounds like you had a wonderful time in Paris.

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  9. Wow. They look perfect and I am a perfectionist. Thanks for the tips!

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  10. Oh my heavens! Absolutely beautifully delicious looking!

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  11. Okay Debbie I am in awe, I made some and they were way too sweet and just plain ugly. You have convinced me to try again, I've used the Italian method before with icing. Good way to spend your time abroad.
    -Gina-

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  12. delicious macaroons looks beautifully pink

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  13. These came out beautifully! I heard macarons can be a little tricky to make, and yours look perfect.

    I'll have to try these myself. :)

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  14. Yours macaroons look so pretty and perfect!

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  15. Great macarons!!!! i love the tips you included, they look amazing! :) I'm glad ive been able to visit your blog again. For some reason ive not been able to visit it, it said there was malware (?). ANYWAY!!! Great job they look gorgeous!!!

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  16. The shell of these macarons look flawless. Bravo!
    Some people have a hard time to get a nice smooth shell like yours and I'm surprised you got a nice result while "missing" a step which others find important. One uses a pastry scrapper to press down a dozen time the batter prior to pipping out, in order to release trapped air. Some people may find this step useful.

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  17. Wow, you're cookies came out great! Love the color :) I should look into taking a baking class, if only I thought of it when I was in Paris!

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  18. I'm such a sucker for macarons and these look heavenly. I haven't made them yet using the Italian meringue method but with your tips, I'm looking forward to bringing Paris to my kitchen.

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  19. Beautiful macarons, I enjoyed reading the recipe and all your tips on making these lovely French cookies. How fun to take a pastry class in Paris, I'm putting that on my dream to-do list:-)

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  20. Hi thanks for sharing. When I was in Paris, I never thought of attending a baking class. The next I am there, I will sure look out for it. Your macarons are great and they turn out perfect everytime? I do not have that consistency. Well, I will keep going baking those delicate cookies...

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  21. Those macarons look absolutely PERFECT! I've never made before, but I can't wait to try..thanks so much for sharing! :)

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  22. What a great opportunity to take a macaron class in Paris! Your finished product here looks absolutely stellar!

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  23. That is amazing that you got to learn how to make macarons in France! These look terrific!

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  24. Absolutely beautiful. What an amazing experience!

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  25. A little French bakery just opened in my town called "Frog's Organic Bakery". The owners are straight from Paris - it's! The owner gaves us some free macarons after our meal and I was stunned! I had never had a macaron like this before - it wasn't the usual "sugar and coconut bomb" I know as macaroons.

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  26. I'm so jealous about your cooking class in Paris! Thanks for a great lesson in macaron making!

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  27. Beautiful macarons! Macarons are on my baking bucket list, and I have the itch to make them soon! Thanks for all of your tips that you are willing to share from your special Parisian class!! Lucky you!

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  28. The pink Macaron look amazing, i want to make them for my friend she's a breast cancer survivor and loves everything that's pink, they look delicious.

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  29. Beautiful french macarons! I wish I could take a cooking class in Paris....that must have been amazing!

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  30. These are so pretty! What a wonderful experience and memory to have of Paris!! I am officially a follower!

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  31. YAY!! I'm so glad you were able to take this class and that you've now become a macaron master :) A friend of mine has been making macarons lately and has had some trouble getting consistent results. I am going to forward this post to her :)

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  32. What an awesome post. I have always been intimidated by macarons as well and love that you were able to take a class to give them a test run! Looks like you are a pro!

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  33. Wow I can't believe how beautiful your Macarons turned out and thank you so much for sharing all the great "insider" tips. Excellent job!

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  34. Hi, I just attempted to make these macarons based on your recipe and after I combined the dry mixture with the Italian meringue, there wasn't adequate wetness to offset the 600 grams of dry mixture. Are you sure you posted the correct proportions? It's not even a little paste-like. It's completely dry and crumbly.

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  35. @Jenny: The 600 grams of combined almonds and confectioners sugar should be mixed with the first set of egg whites and food coloring to get a "paste-like" texture...then the Italian meringue is mixed in. I hope everything works out, please email me if you have more questions!

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  36. Your macs turned out so beautiful! I luv the way the texture looks and perfect pied/feet. I'm going to try your method and recipe you've shared. Beautifully done! =)

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  37. Debbi I made these and they came out perfectly, thanks for sharing, i mentioned your recipe today.
    -Gina-

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  38. Hi Debbie

    These pink macarons look pretty spectacular. Thanks for the invite at foodbuzz :)

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  39. Can I ask you something? How much did you mix the batter before piping? I usually go for the 30 second magma rule but am intrigued as it looks like you didn't from your raw batter and they still turned out amazing!! x

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  40. @Holly B: You are right, in the final mixing of the batter, I add in the meringue mixture in small amounts (3-4 additions) and only mix till combined, you shouldn't have any streaking in the final batter. Thanks so much and let me know how yours turn out!

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  41. Wow. Your pictures are amazing and I would liek to eat all your macarons :P

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  42. ah what kinda of food coloring did u use? As in powdered or liquid?

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  43. Hi there, I also lived in Houston and tried to make macaroons. After the 4th time of failed macaroons, I still don't know what is wrong. My macaroons turned out flat. I grind my own almonds, do you think that's the problem? I haven't looked really hard to find almond flour, where can I find it in Houston? Also, when I was leaving them to rest it wouldn't dry out like it should. When I touch it, it's still sticky. An hour would go by and it would stick to my finger. Any advice? Thanks

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  44. btaout: The only places I know to buy almond flour is at Central Market and Whole Foods in Midtown and if you are concerned with letting the macarons sit too long, they don't have to be completely dried out. If you want you can cut a little of the water you add to make the Italian meringue. Good luck on your next batch!

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  45. Thanks! I'll make a trip to Central Market and try again!

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  46. Tried these this afternoon while I had some time at home- they are just resting but will be in the oven soon! So far so good!! Fingers crossed they will turn out as nice as yours did!

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  47. Hi, can I half the recipe?

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  48. this is a great recipe! Fussy lil cookies these are.

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  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  50. These look absolutely perfect. I've tried macarons before using the french method, didn't look like yours at all but tasted great and now I've gotten the mac-bug again after having some recently and want to try out your recipe though was just wondering approximately how many macarons will this make?

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  51. Hi! I'm Anjo from Munchcraft, and I just wanted to let you know that I posted a picture and link of your macaron as part of my eatpraylove series. Because your macarons are awesome and deserve lots of love. And eating. Hope it's okay? If not, let me know and I'll take it down ASAP. Thanks! :D :D :D

    http://munchcraft.anjosblogzine.com/2013/02/eatpraylove-day-2.html

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  54. Didn't turn out right, they didn't harden and didn't rise in the oven. They were more like marshmallows lol. :(

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