When I told Sam (who hails from Paris, the land of pastries) that I had a goal of baking macarons he was deeply impressed. These little meringue-based biscuits are notoriously difficult to make, not because they're complicated (only four ingredients!) but because there are so many things you can do wrong.
This evening, I made my third batch (with Sam's help), and I think they finally came out right. They have lovely puffy little feet, the bottoms aren't too dark, and the tops are smooth. There are a few little peaks on the tops, which is a result of the batter being so thick that it hardened into a skin before the piped circles smoothed out. This is unfortunate, but a thicker batter is so much easier to pipe into uniform circles, I almost don't care.
I followed the recipe on Bakerella all three times, with variable results. Lessons have been learned.
Macaron Best Practices (by Liz)
- Misread the recipe and set your conventional oven to the convection oven temperature. They won't cook in the time the recipe says.
- Put the baking sheets too close to the heat source. Burnt sugar is stinky, and tastes gross.
- Line the baking trays with parchment paper, for the love of God! There's nothing worse than scraping perfect macarons off a baking clay with a metal spatula. It was macaron carnage.
- Use your own ground almonds rather than almond flour, and sift the flour/sugar mixture. It makes a difference
- Taste-test liberally. You want to make sure your friends and family are getting something yummy. Seriously, do you call N=1 a decent sample size?
- Photograph the cookies. They're so pretty.