Last Friday afternoon, all of the EYES + EDGE gals had a fun get-together to celebrate our collaborations with one another. Delia and Holly had the brilliant idea to do a little baking demo, have some drinks, and hang out to get to know one another a bit more. Since most of what we do for EYES + EDGE is online-based, through many email and text exchanges, it was nice to meet up in person for a change and have a great time together. Lauren brought ingredients to make blood orange mimosas, and Margaret Jacobsen, the beautiful, sweet and incredibly talented Portland photographer, was kind enough to document the whole process with her creative and artistic eye. Her children are the absolute cutest, also!
With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, of course my mind was onto something green, with mint, perhaps. Since a few people have dietary restrictions, something gluten-free was the best route to take. And what better baking expedition to do a demo on than homemade French macarons? So we made Mint Chocolate macarons, and they were delicious!
I started on my big macaron baking obsession at the beginning of 2012. I purchased this book and went crazy buying all kinds of equipment I thought I needed, obsessing over trial-and-error horror stories on baking blogs, and finally tackled a few recipes of my own. Fortunately, macaron baking, as it turns out, tends to be less complicated than one might think. I’ve found that the more uptight I get about measuring ingredients on a kitchen scale, sifting my almond flour, heating the sugar prior to whisking the egg whites… it just makes it all way more complicated necessary. The best macarons I’ve made that have actually turned out successfully have been the ones I haven’t stressed out too much over, AKA the less steps and the simpler it is, the better (like many other lessons in life, right?).
So if you are a big macaron lover and as fascinated by them as I am, have always wanted to learn how to make them but too intimidated to try, hopefully this little instruction/demonstration will help you a bit to get up the courage to tackle them!
I always like to start out with a few important key points, tips I feel that have helped me the most, things that I’ve learned and found out the hard way. So to make things easier for ya:
- Make sure you set out your egg whites (on average, from 3 large eggs) at least 24 hours prior to making your macarons. I like to put mine in a mason jar with a tight lid to make sure it doesn’t get contaminated. Also, I’d like to emphasize that they stay out of the refrigerator (they need to be at room temperature without any extra moisture!). And no, you won’t die from salmonella. Trust me on this.
- Whatever color you are making your macarons, dye them with gel food coloring. It’s not the typical stuff you can get at Safeway in the 4-pack, they look more like this. They have less liquid and are a higher concentration of color so a little goes a long way.
- Having high-quality, thick insulated cookie sheets = greater results. You don’t want anything thin and dinky (example). No jelly-roll pans, basically. Otherwise your macaron won’t bake through completely and may be still moist in the center.
- Just like with the “I Heart Oregon” sugar cookies, you’ll need piping bags and tips. I prefer the larger tips for piping macarons (#10-12, 1A or 2A, depending on the size of the macarons and the control you’d like to have with the tips).
- A food processor to process the almond flour and powdered sugar together so the particles are as fine as possible.
- Parchment paper.
- I love stainless steel mixing bowls as I’ve found I achieve the best results whipping up my egg whites in those, but more than likely enamel or Pyrex should work fine (I just don’t know for sure).
Ok! Let’s get started with a few photos to demonstrate.
What “macaronage” looks like–the joining of the egg whites and almond flour/sugar mixture with food coloring.
Some examples of tip sizes.
Filling up your piping bag. Having help is super helpful at this step but you can do it yourself!
Piping out the macarons. Try to make them the same size, as much as possible. This is an art in itself, I know it isn’t easy! But it gets easier over time, I promise.
What they should look like when you open up the oven! Oven temperatures will vary, so it’s best to experiment with a lower temperature than usual (unless you know your oven runs hotter or cooler). The recommended temperature was 375 degrees F, but we brought it down to 350 degrees, baked for about 8 minutes and these turned out perfect, with a shell, foot and all! And they didn’t stick to the parchment.
There are a zillion different fillings you can pipe between your macarons, but for this we went with a mint chocolate ganache. It was super easy to make! Just put ½ cup of chocolate chips in a heat-proof glass (such as a Pyrex measuring cup), and pour ⅔ cups heated cream (almost to a boil) on top, let sit for a few seconds, stir, and add 2 tablespoons butter (slightly softened). And of course about 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract.
Put this in the freezer to harden up a bit (about 30-40 minutes) as it makes it easier to spoon onto the cookies.
A few are a bit burned on the bottom, but that’s ok! They’re still soft and delicious on the inside. It also makes it a bit easier to match similar sized cookies together (once they’ve cooled) so filling them with ganache is a cinch!
Viola! All done. The only photo I wish I could have demonstrated is what “stiff peaks” looks like if you’ve never tried to achieve those with egg whites and granulated sugar before, but it took us about 10 minutes or so with a hand-held mixer to achieve the consistency we needed. You have to whip the egg whites for awhile to get all the air and moisture out. If in doubt, Google it, or refer to the “I Heart Oregon” cookies, although those are soft peaks. You’ll want something that holds up a bit more “stiff” looking than those.
\ They turned out so well! Honestly I was a bit nervous as the cold, damp weather of Portland might have affected the egg whites and outcome, but it was a beautiful sunny day and I think it was the good vibes of the entire group that made them all happen and turn out as beautifully as they did! And yes, they were absolutely delicious!
- ⅔ cup almond flour
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 3 large egg whites at room temperature, left out overnight
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
- green gel food coloring
- ½ cup semi-dark chocolate chips
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Process the almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor to ensure the powders are very fine and no lumps remain. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, begin to beat the eggs. When the egg whites start to foam, add 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar at a time (5 total). Beat until you achieve “stiff peaks”, about 5-10 minutes (not liquidy).
- Add the almond mixture to the egg whites and begin to fold with a spatula. Add in the peppermint extract and food coloring. Once the flour mixture is completely incorporated, you have begun the “macaronage”. Using your spatula, continue to fold, smearing the batter against the bowl.
- Using a piping bag with a round tip, pipe out the batter onto the baking sheets. Pipe straight down, flood the area, then pull up quickly. Try to make them uniform, but don’t worry too much about it. In the end, they will find their equal match.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (may be 25 degrees higher or lower depending on how your oven runs) but in the meantime let the macarons sit for at least 15-30 minutes to settle and let the air bubbles dissipate.
- Bake the macarons for about 8-9 minutes. The foot appeared at minute 8, but then we let the oven still cook with the door open for about 2 and then pulled them out. You don’t want them to be too brown, just enough so that they are firm and have a “foot”.
- Let the macarons cool for several minutes. They should release easily.
- To make the ganache: Pour your chocolate chips into a heat-proof measuring cup. Set aside.
- Heat your cream over medium heat, until a slight boil begins (about 3-5 minutes).
- Pour the cream on top of the chocolate, let sit for a minute, then add the butter and extract. Stir until completely smooth.
- The ganache may be a bit runny so place in the freezer for about ½ hour to achieve spreading consistency.
- Match like-sized cookies and fill with approximately 1-2 teaspoons of ganache.
- For the filling to set, place the macarons back on the baking sheet into the freezer to solidify for several minutes (at least 15-20). That’s it! You’re done! High five! As always, let me know if you have any questions!
Photos by Margaret Jacobsen & Kylie Antolini