Macarons, Macarons, Macarons and a Potluck
For the last week, I did nothing but bake macarons. I had three I was determined to make: lemon, raspberry, and chocolate. The raspberry macs were probably my best... I have the measurements memorized at this point and I effortlessly produced two sheets of pretty pink macarons. Then I went for the chocolate in the exact same manner, I swear, and half of them came out crumbly.
When I went for the lemon, nearly all of them were cracked in the oven. I couldn't possibly serve those! I debated just stopping right there, but I'm so glad I gave myself four days to work on them. The next day my resolve returned and I bravely attempted another batch of the lemon. I accidentally made them slightly bigger than the rest but at least they rose and didn't crack, success!
I'm really proud of myself with this latest set of macarons. Never have I attempted such a large batch, and I've definitely never laid them all out in a pretty box before. I'm genuinely surprised at how well they came out, and how well-received they were! The box was finished much quicker than I ever expected.
I've been comfortable with my macaron baking skills for a while now but after this experience I'm much more confident as well. Usually I start making them only a day or so before they're due, but starting four to five days earlier was the best idea. I took my inspiration from the Trader Joe's macarons... they're frozen and yet they still taste delicious! With macarons, it's best to consume them about 12 hours after they've been sandwiched together, to give time for the filling to meld with the shells. I made these and immediately froze them (we're in the middle of a heat wave!) for two days, and let them thaw on the car ride over, which yielded the ideal consistency when served!
Why was I going so crazy baking macarons? For the food bloggers' potluck of course! So a couple months ago there was a nationwide food bloggers' bake sale that I participated in for the second time. Luckily, my salted caramel popcorn macarons sold out pretty quickly, and I was thrilled. Not to mention, I got to meet a blogger whose blog I had read quite frequently (CupcakeProject), Stef! It's so strange meeting bloggers after reading about their lives online... it feels a bit like you know them but I guess you never really know them until you properly meet in person... in that case, I'm glad Stef turned out to be really sweet!
She and her husband arranged a food bloggers' potluck for this weekend I'd been looking forward to it since the evite. My first thought was, I finally get to make more foodie friends in the St Louis area! And my second was, the food is going to be so good! Admittedly, there was a nervous thought floating in there that I'm kinda shy about making new friends... it takes a while for me to warm up and get comfortable around new people. Luckily, Joe came with me for that little extra push I needed (and also to stuff his face).
I have to admit, I was not expecting to stay the entire time but I didn't even notice the time fly. Everyone was so sweet and friendly, and talking about food is pretty much my favorite pastime. It was so awesome to be able to chat fervently about food techniques and recipes and get to know fellow foodies. I was also drooling over Stef's kitchen, with an island and a huge walk-in pantry!
I met so many great people, like IronStef (best blog name!) and Lucy from The Sweet Touch, Iga from Delish Dish, Katie from Katie's Feast, Alanna from AVeggie Venture, Stacy from EveryLittleThing among many others. I also greatly enjoyed the intense conversation with Tony from TonylovesFood about strawberry balsamic ice cream and how to make it. He brought it to the potluck and it was fantastic. I am now inspired to try a strawberry balsamic macaron!
Other dishes at the potluck included tequila-spiked gooey butter cake, root beer pulled pork, a savory spinach/cheese/tomato tart, corn pudding, cucumber soup, edamame hummus, and many others.
I truly did not have a single bad dish that day. Everything was just so good and I'm really hoping everyone posts recipes, as they should!
As for the macarons, here are my recipes for each... I attempted a different variation from my regular recipe and I think they turned out pretty tasty!
Lemon and Raspberry and Chocolate Macarons
Adapted from NotSoHumblePie
- 100g egg whites (about 3 eggs but weighing would be ideal!)
- 35g granulated sugar
- 120g almond meal/flour (or very finely ground almonds) - sifted
- 200g powdered sugar - sifted
- gel food coloring (yellow for the lemon, pink for the raspberry)
*For chocolate, add in 2 tablespoons of your best cocoa powder into the almond mixture*
Combine the almond flour and the powdered sugar in a bowl, set aside.
Beat the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl with an electric beater, on low.
Add in the granulated sugar and continue beating.
Slowly turn the beater on high (after about a minute on each speed).
Stop when the whites are glossy and stiff and don't move in the bowl.
Add in the almond flour mixture in small amounts and use a flexible spatula to incorporate it into the batter.
Use the spatula to methodically scrape around the sides of the bowl, moving it into the center.
Add some more flour mixture and fold again.
Constantly scrape the spatula from the sides to the middle until the batter becomes one.
Repeat until all the flour mixture is incorporated and there are no streaks in the bowl.
The batter should be of lava consistency... if you drop some batter back into the bowl or a plate, it should spread and shouldn't leave a peak.
(I really like this video on making macaron batter, check it out!)
Use a piping bag with a round tip and fill with the batter.
Hold the bag perpendicular to the sheet.
Pipe out 1/2 inch mounds of batter onto a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper, leaving space for them to spread.
*I sprinkled vanilla sea salt on tops of each chocolate macaron shell*
Leave out for about 30 minutes or until the shells look dried on top.
Bake at 285 degrees, for 20 minutes (rotate the pan at 10 minutes).
*I had the most success with using a wooden spoon as a wedge in between the oven door to prevent the macarons from cracking, so you may want to try that!*
Let the pan cool completely before attempting to remove the macarons and fill.
Use your best raspberry jam (or any flavor of jam) for your raspberry macarons, and any simple chocolate ganache for the chocolate ones. Here's my favorite chocolate ganache filling recipe:
- 4 oz chocolate
- 3 oz cream
Adapted from Miette Cookbook
*I used about a quarter of this frosting as the filling for these macarons. I simply added lemon curd to it until it tasted lemon-y enough for my liking! I would recommend making the entire recipe for the buttercream because it freezes well and can adapt to any recipe. Also, after all these macarons I had about 9 egg yolks sitting around anyway.
7 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 sticks butter at room temperature
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water.
Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and place over high heat.
Stir to dissolve the sugar.
Cook till it reaches 238 degrees F, and then turn it off.
Place the egg yolks in a bowl and beat on medium speed... they should get frothy and light.
Pour a little of the sugar syrup into the yolks, into the side of the bowl so it doesn't splash.
Pour in a little more and beat until all the syrup is mixed in.
Raise the speed to high and beat until the yolks thicken and turn light yellow.
Continue until the mixture cools to room temperature.
Add in the butter one tablespoon at a time while constantly beating.
When all the butter is added, whisk on high speed for 30 seconds until smooth and thick.
Separated about a quarter of the frosting into a bowl at this point, and put the rest in a zippered bag or air-tight container that can be stored in the freezer.To thaw, leave in the fridge overnight, not on the countertop.
I added about 4 tablespoons of lemon curd to the frosting, beating well after each addition and tasting. I settled on about 6 tablespoons, but the amount can be adjusted according to your preference.
This past weekend was truly wonderful, and reminded me once again why I love food so much. It really does bring people and cultures together, and contributes to great memories of family and friend gatherings.
So this was my Sunday... and I have yet to blog about the ribs and hummingbird cupcakes Joe and I made on the same weekend!