Saturday, January 1, 2011

Vanilla Vanilla Macarons

In case you haven't heard, macarons are the new cupcakes.  And I'm not talking about the coconut chocolate confections known as macaroons.  Macarons are light airy French pastries that are becoming very popular in bakeries around the world.

Mike and I tried to make pistacio macarons from Nigella's How to Be a Domestic Goddess a few years ago and failed miserably.  Recently I have notieced macaron recipes popping up all over the Internet and have been wanting to give them another try.  Then my sister, lover of all things Parisian, mentioned that she wanted to make them as well.  Since she was coming here for Christmas I found a lovely little book called I heart Macarons by Hisako Ogita and bought it for her.

We decided to make our first macaron attempt a team effort since while there aren't a lot of ingredients the technique is pretty detailed and I didn't want a repeat of my earlier failure.  So, if I do say so myself they turned out quite lovely!  According to the book if the macaron doesn't have a pied or foot (pleatlike frills on the bottom of each) "the pastry cannot be called a macaron."  Okay.  And ours do!  Hah, my sister went to check on them mid-way through baking and rushed in exclaiming, "they have a foot!  They have a foot!".

Like I said, the technique that Ogita explains is very specific, down to numbering the amount of times you need to "macronanage" the batter.  And to her credit, it worked like a charm.  We used a vanilla buttercream from The Food Network that was super tasty, but halve the recipe since you really don't need much for each macaron. 

Vanilla Macarons from I Heart Macarons

2/3 cup ground almonds
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temp
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean

Make the macarons:
1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Draw 1-inch circles on the paper, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart.  This pattern will be your guide for squeezing out the macaron batter
2. In a food processor, process the almonds with the confectioners’ sugar until well blended. Sift the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl twice.  Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy. Very gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla and stir lightly.
4. Add half of the sifted almond mixture and fold it in with a spatula. Add the remaining almond mixture and mix it in a light circular motion. Press and spread out the batter against the side of the bowl. Scoop the batter from the bottom of the bowl and turn it upside down. Repeat this motion about 15 times (no more, no less). When the batter becomes nicely firm and drips slowly as you scoop it with the spatula, it is ready to be piped.
5. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Fit a pastry bag with a .4-inch plain tip (Ateco #4). Scrape the batter into the bag. Pipe out 1-inch rounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them ½ inch apart. Rap the baking sheet firmly against the counter. Dry the batter at room temperature, uncovered, for 15 minutes. The batter circles should not stick to your finger when you touch them. If they do, let them dry a little longer.
6. Stack the baking sheet with the macarons on it on another baking sheet. Place both sheets, stacked, in the oven and bake the macarons for 15-18 minutes, until slightly crisp (they will crisp more upon cooling). Cool completely on a wire rack.

Easy Vanilla Meringue Buttercream from
  • 4 large egg whites (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Place egg whites, sugar and salt in medium-sized heatproof mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk gently and constantly until egg whites are hot (about 140 degrees) and sugar is dissolved, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whip by machine until thick and cooled, about 5 minutes. Beat in butter and continue beating until buttercream is smooth and spreadable. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to 5 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature and beat smooth by machine. Beat in vanilla, a little at a time, and continue beating until buttercream is smooth, about 2 minutes longer (always flavor buttercream immediately before using it).

Assemble the macarons:
11. Scrape the buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with a .4 inch plain tip (about the same size as you used to pipe the macarons). Pipe a grape-sized dollop of buttercream onto the underside of a macaron. Gently press the underside of another macaron against the buttercream until it spreads almost to the edge. Repeat with the remaining macarons and buttercream. Store the macarons in an airtight container at cool room temperature for up to 5 days. 


1 comment:

  1. Making these was much easier than i thought it be...and so satisfying to see the final result! Delicious...far and beyond words.


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