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Posts Tagged ‘macarons’

Hello folks! So sorry for the unexpected hiatus.

I was in Europe for a week during the first week of September. It took me awhile to get back into the groove of things, and I have been baking. Unfortunately, I didn’t think that any of the recipes I’ve tried so far are even worth sharing.  Hm..I think I’m in a bit of a baking slump. Don’t worry though, I’ve been researching recipes this week and I have a few that I might want to try….so stay tuned.

Since I don’t have any baking adventures to share with you, I thought I would share some pictures from my trip to Paris. I actually got to visit the shops of Pierre Hermes, Sadaharu Aoki, and Jacquines Genin.

I think a lot of people get tricked by the Hollywood image of Paris, where it’s the city of love, the smell of freshly baked croissants follows wherever you go, and all the other cliches. But in reality, Paris is pretty much New York City without all the skyscrapers. G almost got his wallet pick-pocketed and an Australian guy we met at the Louvre shared the story of his friend who got pepper sprayed in the eyes, then robbed. YIKES!

Funnily enough, the first macaron I had in Paris was at McDonalds…


..And they actually taste decent…

The first pastry stop was at Laduree, I only went in to look and did not purchase anything..


I couldn’t take any pictures of their famous macarons because photography is actually not allowed inside the store. What a shame, the store was decorated nicely. This store was inside the Louvre.

After the Louvre, we went to the Ponte Des Arts bridge where there are a ton of  “love” locks adorned on the bridge

G got us a lock for 5 euros. We signed it, locked it onto the bridge, and threw 2 of the 3 keys in the river (that’s what you’re supposed to do). Now I don’t remember where the 3rd key is!

Next stop was the chocolate shop of Jacques Genin…



As the French would say……Ohhh La La….


Afternoon tea… house pastry (back left) and 5 different flavors of cream puffs (front). It was chocolate overload…..but SO. YUMMY.

The next day, we visited Pierre Hermes to purchase some macarons.

The amazing looking pastries….but I’m here for the macarons..must resist!



Come to mama!!!


The goodies..such pretty boxes..even the bag was pretty.

Then it’s off to Sadaharu Aoki.

Macaron tree. Cute..


We got the citron tart. The lemon definitely punches you in the face.  Really hard.

Strawberry and pistachio

Chocolate…this was my favorite one. Look at all the pretty layers..

Overall the trip was fun, though a bit tiring. We also went to the usual touristy places like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.

The Eiffel Tower at sunset…it sparkles every hour on the hour.


View from the top of the Eiffel Tower


The Louvre at night…

I went to a specialty baking shop and bought some passionfruit extract and chocolate..


They had such a huge selection of everything..I could’ve stayed there for hours..
There was also a bakeware shop near by and again, I was in heaven.

Funky texture baking pans…haven’t seen these in the states yet.


Silicone baking mats….another endless selection


Chocolate mold trays…they were really heavy!

I totally would’ve walked out with a bunch of goods but all of their bakeware were most definitely on the pricey side!

Here are some more miscellaneous pictures…

G insisted we eat snails (another French cliche..)….I washed it down with A LOT of white wine.


Everyone wanting a picture of Mona Lisa…

And this is where my petite-ness comes into use….I managed to squeezed my tiny self to the front and take a picture

Outside the Louvre

A thrift shop I stumbled upon….Totally. Awesome.

Not sure if anyone is familiar with the movie Amelie, I personally have not watched it, but this is the cafe where Amelie worked in the movie..

Inside…

Lastly, this is the apartment where Vincent Van Gogh lived as a starving artist.

It was nice to sight see and visit all the famous pastry shops…everyone should visit Paris at least once in their lifetime!

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You probably can’t tell from my blog, but I’m not too fond of macarons. The overall taste is just a bit sweet for me and it’s really hard for the filling to shine sometimes when it’s not something “in-your-face” like chocolate.

So why do I keep making them,  you ask? Because it’s a challenge for me, and I loooove to be challenged. I have yet to try the Swiss and Italian method of making macarons (I will when I stop being indecisive about which candy thermometer to buy), but my current challenge right now is to step out of the box when it comes to macaron fillings. The usual suspects for macarons are chocolate, caramel, or buttercream. Well, I found those fillings to be quite boring, hence the creation of my lemon meringue macarons. I liked them so much that I started to think about what other kind of macaron fillings I could make. Coincidentally, my coworker had given me a whole bunch of peaches from her tree, so I thought, why not make a peaches and cream macaron?!

………….And that I did………………..

The peach and cream flavors were certainly there, but just a bit overshadowed by the macaron shells. The problem is that you can’t put too much filling since it’ll just squirt out when you sandwich the macaron, so it’s hard to get enough in there to balance out the flavors of the shells. Maybe next time I will attempt to make a gigantic macaron sandwich so I can put more filling…..Hm…..interesting idea….

Anyways, I sprinkled some freeze dried strawberries on top, hoping they wouldn’t turn so brown but more of a dark peach color, but as you can see from the pictures, they did turn a bit too brown. It’s okay though, still adds some contrast of color to the macaron.

The recipe for the macaron shells is the same as my lemon meringue macarons. The only difference is I added a few drops of peach food coloring. I highly suggest reading that post if you’ve never made macarons before, or are new to it.

Vanilla Bourbon Cream

1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (you can substitute for vanilla extract)
A splash of bourbon

In electric or stand mixer, whip the cream, and add the vanilla, sugar, and bourbon as it begins to thicken. Continue to whip until soft peaks form, about 4 to 5 minutes. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

For the peaches, I used thinly sliced pieces of fresh peaches.

If you want to sprinkle something on top of the macaron shells like I did, do it right after you pipe the shell onto your baking sheet.

Refrigerate the macarons in airtight container right after assembly, and remember that macarons taste better after they’ve aged for at least a day in the fridge!

What other flavors should I attempt next?

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Hello all! Greetings from Tahoe. Currently there for the weekend for a mini vacation. Not much to do here except take pictures of the scenery!

Anyways, for those who read my last post, I posted a picture of what this post would be. For those who have no idea what it is – it’s macarons! Lemon meringue macarons to be exact.

I don’t particularly like to make macarons. It ususally requires so much powdered sugar that the shells always end up so sweet. I tried to offset it this time by using a lemon filling to balance the sweetness – it turned out pretty well. My best batch of macarons yet.

For those who aren’t familiar with making macarons – it is such a finicky process that requires zero room for error! When I first started making them it took 4 complete failures for me to get it right. So don’t be discouraged if yours don’t turn out well!

I will be posting a few links to sites that I used when I first started making macarons – one is a troubleshooting guide. I’m not going to spend too much time explaining how the process goes here, so please read the sites if you’re new to making macarons! Trust me. It helps ALOOOTTT.

Almond meal made from bagged blanched almonds. I find that it’s cheaper to just buy a bag for around 2 bucks and ground your own using a blender/food processor. One whole bag of almonds from Trader Joe’s allowed me to make 3 batches of around 20 macarons!

Combine almond meal with powdered sugar and mix well. Some people like to sift everything again but I just use a whisk to combine everything.

Whip meringue into firm peaks, not stiff peaks. If you want to make colored macarons,you can add it as you’re folding in the almond/sugar mixture, or you can add it when the meringue is about to reach firm peaks. Gel food coloring is best for this as it won’t alter the texture of the meringue. Here I added 2 drops of yellow food coloring.

This is the mixture after I’ve folded in the almond/sugar mixture. Sorry I didn’t take more pictures to show you. But it usually takes me around 20 folds to get the right consistency. The consistency should be lava like, where it creates a ribbon that disappears into the batter in about 10 seconds. I know that’s a crappy description, but I really feel that you won’t know how the right consistency is until you’ve made them a few times.

Piping the macarons on a silpat. I still need to work out piping! It gets all crooked and un-uniform in size as I pipe. Hah. I always do a test pipe on a plate or paper towel to practice – as you can see in the photo above – there’s a blob of macaron batter on a piece of paper towel..

Piped and resting – macaron shells need to rest at room temperature for 30-45 minutes so the top can dry, which creates the smooth top when baked!

Straight out of the oven. My favorite part of making macarons is when I peek into the oven 7 minutes into baking – to see that they’ve risen and the feet have formed. So exciting!


Toasting the meringue. Yum.

Finished product. So pretty!

KITCHEN NOTES: VERY IMPORTANT! The secret to macarons is to age them in the refrigerator for at least a day. The reason behind this is because, when the shells first come out of their oven. They’re chewy. You could bake them for a shorter amount of time to avoid the chewiness but it’s too risky to do since it’s very easy to underbake them. Once you underbake them, the egg whites inside the shell won’t rise – resulting in hallow macarons. So definitely err on the side of overbaking them! The logic behind the aging is because the moisture from the macaron filling will seep through the macaron shells – leaving it very moist, resulting in a soft macaron. So the point is, macarons straight out of the oven aren’t the best time to eat them; definitely fill it up with your desired filling, refrigerate for 24 hours, then bring to room temperature again before serving!

After much rambling, here’s the recipe:

Macaron shells, taken directly from Not So Humble

Makes around 50 cookies

5g dehydrated egg white powder
28g granulated sugar
225g confectioners (powdered) sugar
125g almond meal
100g aged egg whites

1. Combine almond meal and powdered sugar in a bowl. Whisk well.
2. In a stand mixer, beat egg whites until frothy.
3. Add egg white powder and granulated sugar and beat until firm peaks form. Add desired gel food color if necessary.
4. Fold a third of the almond/powdered sugar mixture into the egg whites. Fold a for about 10 times
5. Add the rest of the almond mixture and fold another 10 times. Until mixture becomes lava-like and creates a ribbon.
6. Pipe mixture onto baking sheet and let rest 30-45 minutes, until the top feels dry when you touch it.
7. Bake in a 300 degree F oven for 13-14 minutes.
8. Let cool before removing from baking sheet
9. Fill with desired filling and refrigerator for 24 hours. Or eat as many as you’d like.

Ah. Another very important thing about macarons!! You must age your egg whites at least 24 hours before using. I don’t know the science behind it, but something about evaporation that makes for a stable meringue.

There’s also been debate as to whether store bought pasteurized egg whites that come in a carton works when making macarons. Most of the sites I’ve read says it doesn’t work – but I tried it at least 3 times – and it worked very nicely! Up to you whether you want to experiment. I didn’t use the pasteurized whites this time as I didn’t have any on hand.

Lemon curd:

I used store bought lemon curd for this as it was too tedious to make along with the macaron shells AND the meringue topping.

Meringue filling:

2 egg whites
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Simmer 1 cup of water in pot.
2. In a heat proof bowl, combine egg whites and sugar.
3. Place bowl over pot of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
4. Continue whisking egg whites and sugar until all the sugar has dissolved. You can test this by drizzling a bit of the mixture onto your finger and rub it between your fingers to feel if there are any more sugar granules. The whole process should only take 5-6 minutes.
5. After all the sugar has dissolved, transfer mixture into stand mixer bowl.
6. With the whisk attachment, whisk on low speed, then gradually increase the speed and beat until stiff peaks form, and the bowl is cool to the touch, About 7-10 minutes.
7. Transfer to piping bag and pipe onto macaron shells.
8. Torch frosting with kitchen torch (optional)

There you go folks. How can something with so little ingredients be so temperamental?! This definitely requires ALOT of patience and attention to detail when making! Here’s some websites that will be helpful to read before making macarons:

Not So Humble Troubleshooting Guide
Bravetart
David Lebovitz Macaron Guide
Bakerella Makes Macarons

Definitely read Not So Humble’s guide. She goes into such great detail on the anatomy of macarons, and her troubleshooting guide is SO helpful.

One last note, the macarons I made were French macarons. It’s just different in the way it’s made. Swiss and Italian macarons require a candy thermometer to make, which I don’t have, that’s why I use French. I’ve read that Italian method is the best for making macarons, but I can’t say since I’ve never tried.

Here’s another sneak peek of the upcoming post…..you’re a genius if you can guess what it is 🙂

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