May 20, 2012

I Made Macarons!

Can you believe I made these macarons?!  I'm still super happy about it! :)
I have loved macarons every since I had my very first one from La Panier in Downtown Seattle's Pike Place Market.  I discovered the delicious macarons at Bakery Noveau in West Seattle not too long after.  They had a much larger selection, and I was hooked!  Minh and I used to make special trips over the bridge to West Seattle to get our Bakery Noveau macarons. ^_^ However, I noticed the bakeries started to make their $1.50 macaron smaller and smaller. :( Some days were hit and miss in freshness and taste. 

A couple months ago I decided to look up recipes online, and watched a couple Youtube videos.  It looked a little bit complicated because most of the videos were actually pastry chefs with their industrial strength mixers and ovens.  It seemed like everyone had their own recipe!  I had no idea which one to follow so I just sat on it. I got even more discouraged when I read comments about failed attempts, and how "hard" it is to make the perfect macaron.

A few days ago I saw Chef John from Food Wishes post his macaron recipe and I was so happy!  Chef John is freaking awesome at simplifying cooking and baking recipes, directions, and instructions. Plus, he has a really great sense of humor.  Minh and I really enjoyed watching his videos for his personality.  You never actually see him in the videos, but you hear his voice as he shows you step by step on how to cook and bake. I got inspired and I built up the confidence to attempt my macarons with Chef John's blog post and Youtube video recipe. :)

The most important part about making macarons is to make sure you measure out all your ingredients exactly, and to sift all of your dry ingredients apart from the granulated sugar which is used in the meringue.  From what I've read, you will fail miserably if you do not follow the directions exactly!  I had to go buy a $5 scale from Target (to measure the dry ingredients), and a new $8 baking sheet from TJ Maxx just because I was so scared from all the comments I read about failed macarons because the measurements were off. lol  Even Chef John did a few things wrong in his video recipe which he later identifies in his blog entry. This is why you should do your "homework" and research a couple other techniques on how to make them before you try.  It's all about patience, and carefully following the instructions.
The macaron template was a life saver! Be sure to slide them out, and remove them before baking!

 In this blog post I will tell you my experience gathering and making the ingredients. ;)

The recipe I followed, which can be found HERE.  Do note that Chef John did a few things wrong such as the way he piped out the batter, and how he rotated the maracrons in the oven.  Those were no no's in the making macaron making world. 

Macarons - A macaron (French spelling) or macaroon (English spelling) is a sweet meringue-based confectionery.

What tools you will need:

-Macaron template you can find and print this off online. Search for "macaron template."  Print two to fit the size of your baking sheet. Remember to remove them from under the parchment paper before you bake the macaron shells!

-Kitchen scale, you don't need a digital fancy one.

-Spatula, you will need this to fold your ingredients

-Electric mixer, if you have a KitchenAid mixer, even better!  I have yet to find my perfect one.  I keep hoping they will update the model so I can buy it already.  You will use this to make the meringue.

-Vitamix Dry Blade Container, or food processor.  You need something powerful to make finely ground dry ingredients.

-Flour Sifter, this is soooo important!  You need to get all the clumps out of your dry ingredients, it is vital to getting a perfect macaron.

-Parchment Paper, use this to line your baking sheet.

-Pastry Pouch, I used a ziplock bag which I do not recommend!

-Teaspoon, you will use this to add the granulated sugar to the egg whites.

Chocolate Macaron "Shell" Recipe:
I made 30 shells total, so that's 15 macaron "cookies sandwiches"

*100 grams powder sugar 
I made my own powder sugar from granulated sugar with the amazing Vitamix dry blade container. I saw in one recipe the chef mixing all the dry ingredients in a food processor.

*50 grams almond meal = almond flour
I made my own with sliced almonds with the Vitamix.  Almond flour is not easy to find at the local grocery store.  It doesn't have a very long shelf life, but you may be able to find it at Whole Foods.  I'm just guessing.  Making your own seems easiest to me.

*25 grams unsweetened cocoa powder 
I used Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa powder.

*These three dry ingredients go together, mixed and sifted

**2 large room temperature egg whites
They must be room temperature or else the meringue won't form. I learned the hard way when I tried to make it meringue with cold eggs.  Beating the eggs with the granulate sugar one teaspoon at a time until peaks form!  Do not over beat the egg whites and granulated sugar!

**65 grams granulated sugar
This is for the meringue, do not mix it with the other dry ingredients! I almost did that on accident.

**These two ingredients go together

I sifted the powder sugar, almond flour, and cocoa powder literally twice over because I did not want any clumps.  The "secret" to the perfect macaron shell (without any cracks on the surface) is to sift the most fine powder before you fold them in with the meringue.  You fold half the dry ingredients into the meringue at a time. Do not over fold!  Macarons are not hard to make, but it is time consuming.  You must be patience to make this correction.

Once you have folded in the dry ingredients, you move the batter into a pastry piping bag.  I didn't have piping bag so I used a freezer size ziplock bag and snipped one of the corners.  I do not recommend using a ziplock bag the way I did it because it made it a little bit harder to get perfect circles.  I asked my baking assistant Minh to print off some macaron templates off the internet for me. I placed the template under my parchment paper, and squeezed out my batter to fill the circles the best I could.  It was so hard to get them perfect with the freezer bag because I snipped the corner on an angle so it batter did not come out as easily as it could have if I had a pastry bag. I do have very fine hand-eye coordination and motor skills which I believe really helped me in making this dessert (hey, I was born this way.)  If you're a naturally clumsy person like Minh and Vannie, ask for help. lol (hey, they were born that way.) Bake for 12 minutes at 350F. Let cool completely before you touch!

Minh says he realized I'm like a Chef Ramsey in the kitchen when it comes to baking.  I barely ever bake so it's a side of me even I have never seen before!  I guess I just want everything to be perfect, which it should be when it comes to baking.  Maybe I have found my calling outside of jewelry making!

Ganache - a filling for pastries made from chocolate and cream.
Chocolate Ganache (the filling) Recipe:

1/3 cup hot heavy cream
I bought a carton of heavy whipping cream

4 oz dark chocolate chopped
I bought Lindt Swiss dark chocolate.

Pinch of salt
I used Trader Joe's pink salt because I didn't have any sea salt on hand, but next time I will use sea salt.

You mix the hot heavy cream with the chocolate, and salt to make the ganache.  The recipe said to let it cool before filling the cooled cookies.  I found refrigerating the ganache made it a lot easier to work with later.
Dark Chocolate Macarons brought to you by DSK Steph!

The edge of the cookie is is called the feet.  I think the goal is to get as big of feet on your cookie as possible. lol  They taste so so amazing!  The sweet shell is slightly crunch, and the inside is moist and chewy.  I used to think how do they do that?!  But now I know! : ) Who knew ground almond flour was a key ingredient in macarons?

I will try a different flavor next!  I want to be able to gift my friends and family with these fun little desserts soon!

Watch Chef John's Video Recipe for guidance, and good luck!  
I feel such a great sense of accomplishment and self improvement after conquering the macaron.  I can't wait to share them with my family and friends!  Thank you Chef John from Food Wishes, and thank you Youtube for teaching me how to be a better baker. :)

Random Fact: My dog Timmy still growls at his own reflection in the fireplace. lol


  1. these look amazing steph! i've been wanting to macarons for awhile but haven't been able to.. i can't wait to try this! :)

  2. Steph! 1. I love the fact that there is a food blog post from you and 2. OMG...I am going to have to try these out tonight. Chef John had me laughing, he's great & entertaining. Thanks for the share :)

  3. Oh my! Those look yummy :D

  4. wow, you did a great job Steph!! they look so nice, esp on your first try.

  5. Making macarons is on my bucket list :) inhavent made them yet because I, too, was scared about how precise you have to be about measurements and following instructions. I do love Nouveau -- best bakery in Seattle probably. Panier macarons used to be good, but they went downhill lately. Last time I had them, them were stale and crumbled/fell apart with every bite. Time to learn to make my own :)

  6. Fantastic post, I have a baking mat too which I used for my recent Macaron blog post!

    Thanks for sharing :-)

  7. @Reggi I do hope you try to make them! I'm attempting Strawberry next! :D I'm actually going to make some today to bring to my bf's parents house. :D

    @Post Beauty Blog Chef John is seriously AMAZING. He makes cooking so easy and fun. I hope you try out his recipe!

    @Rubiiee They tasted pretty good! I never made a chocolate ganache before that day!

    @ShinyPrettyThings Thank you!! I was so proud of myself. :) I'm trying again today, and will be hitting up Trader Joe's for some more almonds to ground almond flour. :D

    @Tanya I'm glad someone understand how upsetting it is to buy a $1.50 blah tasting macaron when you're used to buying $1.50 amazing macarons! You should definitely try out Chef John's recipe. :) I just checked out your macaron mat, that is too cool! I'll have to look for one of those. :) Reading your blog right now!

  8. OH WOW!! that is SERIOUSLY impressive.. yours look so nommy too!! i want to reach into my computer and eat them hahah!

    i do have essie's turqs and caicos and i LOVE it!!!


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