17 Jul 2015

My Macaron Journey: Attempt 3 & 4

Here's another instalment of my journey to making perfect French macarons. I had forgotten to photograph Attempt #3 but I will still talk about my experience. 

Attempt #3 yielded underbaked macarons. I was a disappointed in them and I felt that there were quite a few variables that went wrong during the baking process. The temperature was very low that day and there was a lot of moisture in the air, which meant that the macarons took longer to dry. In hindsight, I should have left them drying for longer to ensure stable and consistent feet. The oven temperature was much too low and I baked them for 15 minutes, which meant that the macarons stuck to the silicone mat/baking paper even though they were completely cool. I also think that I had removed a lot of the air in the batter while mixing in the food colouring, which contributed to rather thin macarons. I managed to salvage enough macarons to give to my best friend and my dad, the rest of the undercooked shells went to Kieran who gladly ate them. The texture of the macarons had improved immensely (compared to Attempt #2) and the sizes were consistent. 

I was doubtful of Attempt #4 at first because the macarons in that batch came out dry and crunchy. Thinking that I had over baked them (even though I was 85% sure I had the right temperature and time), I did a bit of research and it turns out macaron shells can seem dry and crunchy upon baking, but the texture develops into that which we know and love, the slightly crunchy outer shell and the chewy insides, once the macarons are assembled with their filling and are matured in the fridge in an airtight container for 24-48 hours. I went the extra mile and ground the almond meal a little bit more in the food processor and sifted the almond meal/icing sugar mixture 3 times before incorporating into the egg whites. I also made sure not to overmix the batter when adding in the food colouring. 

In this batch I finished the rest of the salted caramel filling (brown macarons) and made more pistachio ones (green), but I also made a lemon macaron to cater to my brother's tastes. Not being too much of a fan of lemon macarons (lemon meringue, yes! lemon macarons, eh…) I decided to make it a bit interesting and turn it into a Limoncello macaron instead. I did a basic buttercream (butter, icing sugar) and added 2 tablespoons of Limoncello, which was brought back all the way from Italy from my parents' recent trip, and 1 tablespoon of actual lemon juice. The result was a tangy buttercream that warmed you up with the alcohol of the Limoncello and that I could definitely get on board with!

So after being a little bit disheartened by the crunchy macaron shells, I decided to just assemble the macarons, stick them in the fridge, and see what happens. 24 hours later I removed the macarons from the fridge, let them return to room temperature, and what resulted were deliciously soft and chewy macarons that were slightly dense in the middle. It worked!! I left returned them to the fridge and 3 days later, the macarons were even softer and more delicious. I definitely think I got it right this time! 

The macarons in this batch were on the small side and that was just because I was being a bit strange with my piping (as you can see with the increasing size of the brown macarons). One more batch and I think I could start delivering these babies to family for them to try out! 

One thing I do need to work on is the salted caramel filling which tends to just ooze out of the macarons. I will definitely be keeping this flavour, along with the chocolate Kahlua and the Limoncello, in my flavour arsenal. I really wasn't a fan of the pistachio (a bit tasteless if you ask me) so I will replace that with almond, possibly. I will keep you updated on my Macaron Journey well after I've perfected the shells, so keep a look out for them in the future!

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