In the past few months I had tried raspberry macarons (fail), chocolate macarons (huge fail), and vanilla again (turned out mediocre). What was I doing wrong? If you've made macarons before, you know that the slightest little thing can ruin the entire pastry. My discovery this weekend? Don't use carton egg whites. I had some pastureized egg whites that I had tried to whip up the night before for some frozen lemon souffles (more on that later), I cranked my kitchen aid and they simply woudln't get past soft peaks. I had plans to make macarons the next day and had some leftover egg whites from making lemon curd so I used those instead. I could immediately see the difference when I piped them. Another thing I did differently was go by weight rather than measurement.
I used a coffee buttercream from my favorite UK blog The Art of Being Perfect (go check out her blog for some of the most creative macarons I have ever seen!), and they turned out quite delectrable. Yay me! ;)
from I Love Macarons
2 teaspoons instant coffee, finely ground
2/3 cup (3 ounces/85 grams) almond powder
1 1/2 cups (5.25 ounces/150 grams) powdered sugar
3 large (90 grams) egg whites, at room temp
5 tablespoons/65 grams granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
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 instant coffee and 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. Once the almond mixture is just combined, 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. Note: this is the temp recommended by the cookbook I Heart Macarons, but as I mentioned some of my macarons had hollow tops. Xiaolu from the blog 6Bittersweets suggested I might try a lower temp, around 300 next time.
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 at least 15 minutes, I did 30 minutes though. 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.
For the Coffee Buttercream:
100g butter, softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1tbsp instant coffee
2 tbsp hot water
Cream the butter and add half the powdered sugar. Mix well. Dissolve the coffee granules in the hot water and cool before adding to the butter mixture along with the vanilla extract, mix to combine. Add the remainder of the sugar until you reach your desired consistency (you may need more or less).
Fill a piping bag, pipe buttercream onto half of your macaron shells and sandwich them together with a plain shell.