The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
I have long been intimidated by the French macaron, so I was excited to see this was the October challenge because I finally had that extra push I needed to overcome my fears. I am sad to report that after baking along with the Daring Bakers for over a year and half now, I failed my first challenge. Despite my efforts, I could not get those characteristic "feet" at the bottom of my macarons.
I made a full batch but baked the first half using the oven drying method described in the recipe. This is supposed to dry the egg whites out to help them grow the "feet." I was sorely disappointed when I pulled my macarons out of the oven and they did not have any feet. So with the second half batch I let the macarons air dry on the counter for one hour and then did the additional oven drying method. Alas, this still did not produce the desired effect :( According to David Lebovitz, a "perfect macaron needs to be folded just-so. One extra fold, and it's all over. Not enough, and you won't get that little foot." Some bakers note that you'll know when the batter is just right because it will flow like "magma." Honestly, I am still not sure what I did wrong... and I would have persisted until I was successful but I am 38 weeks pregnant now and did not have the time nor the energy to make another batch.
The good news was that despite their lack of feet, these macarons were delicious! I made gingerbread macarons inspired by Tartelette and filled my macarons with chocolate ganache. The gingerbread flavor was very subtle (but just right in my opinion) because I used 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves in the below recipe whereas Tartelette's recipe uses the same amount for just 3 egg whites.
Thanks Ami, for hosting this month's challenge. You finally gave me the push I needed to try my hand at macarons... I am only sad to report that I was unsuccessful. But I am proud to say that at least I tried and that's what being a Daring Baker is all about, right? I promise to try again in the future. Make sure you check out the Daring Bakers' Blogroll to see how everyone else enjoyed these classic French sweets.
from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.
Yield: 10 dozen. Ami's note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons.