Tuesday, October 27, 2009
It has been said many times how difficult and unpredictable it is to bake macarons. The same recipe will produce different outcome when it is baked in different country, season, weather, room temperature, and especially different ovens. Some recipes call for baking temperature of 190 C, which I would never even think of trying considering my oven gives me best result at 150-155 C. Some specify cold egg whites, room-temperature egg whites, or even egg white powder. Some use French meringue technique, others Italian or even Spanish (last update from DB Challenge). Aren't we confused enough?
Besides knowing well how your oven works, successful baking of macarons also depends on many factors, some of which we are not aware of. One can simply bake great macaron on the first try and fail on the next. Or what I experienced before - baking successfully on 3 consecutive attempts and failing on the next 4. Everything is kept the same: ingredients, macaronage technique, baking temperature, and every single detail I could remember. Then I realized I baked in hot season before and now it is raining everyfay. Humidity counts! And humidity is different from country to country.
Tedious is the word when it comes to baking macaron since it takes time to dry up the surface before proceeding into baking. On different climate and room temperature the drying time is different. It could take as short as half an hour to as long as three and a half hours. Once I baked in Hong Kong and it took only about half an hour to dry up the surface while in Thailand it takes much much longer! So when recently I read through Daring Bakers’ October Challenge’s macaron recipe that doesn’t require drying time, I jumped in full of joy!
How about Macaron with Chestnut Filling? Have been waiting to bake this...
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. Thanks to Amy S. of Baking Without Fear.
Preparation time: Not taking into account the amount of time it takes for you to bring your egg whites to room temperature, the whole baking process, including making the batter, piping and baking will probably take you about an hour to an hour and a half. How long it takes to make your filling is dependent on what you choose to make.
Actual baking time: 12 minutes total, plus a few minutes to get your oven from 200°F to 375°F.
• Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment
• Rubber spatula
• Baking sheets
• Parchment paper or nonstick liners
• Pastry bag (can be disposable)
• Plain half-inch pastry bag tip
• Sifter or sieve
• If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off
• Cooling rack
• Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets
• Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nuts (ouch!)
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.