Tag Archives: French macarons

Making Macarons, part two: The ‘hey-I-think-I’ve-got-the-hand-of-this’ edition

The perfect French macaron, made by yours truly.

The perfect French macaron, made by yours truly.

See that macaron pictured in the photo right above this line? I did that.

Well, to be perfectly honest, my mom and I did that.

The second time I made macaron shells proved far more successful than the first, and I’m chalking this up to two reasons:

  • I made them with someone who made them before. Granted, my mom had only made them once, but once just so happened to be enough.
  • We had all the right tools. A food processor, a fine-holed strainer – you name it, it was there. And it made all the difference.

We followed this Martha Stewart recipe and combined it with tips my mom had transcribed from a ‘how-to’ baking session on the French treat. While both my mom and I embarked on this challenge together, there were many a few times when I took a step back and just watched. This isn’t a cake or batch of cookies. I consider macarons ‘advanced baking,’ and as such, sometimes the best way to learn is by shadowing someone who knows what they are doing.

Must-have tips when making macarons

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Making Macarons, part one: The ‘these-would-get-me-slapped-by-any-self-respecting-Parisian’ edition

French macarons, attempt #1

French macarons, attempt #1

Ok. Remember when I said I vowed I would one day become a French Macaron Connoisseur? In November I took some birthday money and bought myself this book. Upon flipping through ‘Les Petits Macarons’ in the store, I knew this purchase would be one of the better ‘fun’ buys I’ve made in a while. It seemed there were endless fillings, both of the sweet and savory variety, just waiting to be sandwiched between those delicate, colourful, little shells.

One chilly day leading up to Christmas, my cousin came over to help me make macarons for the first time. These were to be my contribution to a family Christmas get-together.  We’re Italian, so I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be seeing macarons on the dessert table. Cannoli and biscotti would be plentiful, but a French sweet? Unlikely. My platter will impress all, I thought, confidently.

Here’s the thing. I didn’t exactly plan well. And there’s no excuses, really. I had the book at my fingertips for at least a week leading up to the big baking day. But like a four-year-old with a picture book, I was too busy marveling at the photos. I was immediately caught off guard. I had four methods to choose from for the shells alone. Would I make them French-style? Swiss? Italian? All these looked pretty advanced to me. Something akin to sweet relief is what I felt when I saw my fourth option, the ‘easiest French macaron method.’ Done.

When my cousin and I got to work, I realized I didn’t have a couple must-have kitchen items. I was missing a food processor and a fine-holed strainer. All I had was a pasta strainer, and this wouldn’t work well when sifting the almond flour and icing sugar. We whisked these ingredients together along with cocoa (because we were making chocolate shells), until they looked well-mixed. And they did, but it wasn’t a fine mixture like it was supposed to be. We continued on preparing this so-called ‘easiest’ shell concoction for far longer than I’m sure it was supposed to take. But hey, we had questions.

Did we already add the sugar? No.

Confectioners sugar. Is that the coarse kind? No.

Why don’t they just say icing sugar? I’m still wondering, actually.

What on earth is a ‘soft peak’? Nota bene: When egg whites are beaten till peaks form.

We finally finished the shells and popped them in the oven. What came in the middle was next. In the spirit of Christmas, I had selected a candy cane filling. It was basically a vanilla filling featured in my book, only I had replaced the vanilla extract with peppermint and added crushed candy canes. Sounds good, right? Wrong.

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