Monday, January 30, 2012

Mad over macarons!

Friends, I am doing the happy dance because I attempted my first-ever batch of macarons this weekend and they turned out beautifully! I had been so intimidated at the thought of making these legendary French pastries that I'd put off even trying them. Yes, they were a little labor intensive at first, but I have to tell you I was absolutely thrilled with the results!

First things first: I found a terrific book that explained in great detail how to make them, and I highly, highly recommend you get yourself a copy of "Macaroons" with text by Angela Drake. I found mine for $3.99 at a Marshalls store back before Christmas. (I've also seen these at both Amazon.com and BN.com for $2.99-$3.20, so they're obviously on sale right now!) Now here I must address the macaron vs. macaroon issue. This book is printed by Parragon Books in the UK, and they call these treats "macaroons." In the U.S., however, we call these "macarons" to distinguish them from the more familiar coconut macaroons. Wikipedia says this about the matter: "Since the English word macaroon can also refer to the coconut macaroon, many have adopted the French spelling of macaron to distinguish the two items in the English language. However, this has caused confusion over the correct spelling. Some recipes exclude the use of macaroon to refer to this French confection while others think that they are synonymous." I am casting my vote for "macaron" and shall henceforth use it when describing these treats.

The book begins with photos of the 10 steps you need to take when making macarons. I read this chapter over several times before I started. One other challenge I found as a U.S. reader was that the recipe called for confectioners' sugar as well as "superfine" sugar. Say what? An internet search revealed that plain old granulated sugar can be pulverized very finely until it becomes "superfine" sugar. I used a (thoroughly cleaned and dried) coffee grinder to turn my granulated sugar into this light fluffy sugar. Amazing!

I thought about trying to summarize the macaron recipe here, but to be honest with you I would be doing you a disservice to shorten it, and I don't want the UK copyright police coming after me because I've copied so much of the book! So I'll just say this: if you can't find a copy of this book, search out a macaron recipe and some *thorough* step-by-step instructions on the internet. I believe this makes all the difference! When I got my little circles of batter piped onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets, here's what they looked like before baking. The question of the day was, "Will they have that famous little 'foot' that macarons have?"

Yes! See the little puffy part peering out from beneath that nice, smooth top? The puffy part is the foot.

The filling was super easy to whip up, and sandwiching the pieces together to make a macaron was a breeze. Here's my very first one. Ever! (I'm so proud, I may send out announcements.)

The book includes 30 different flavors of macarons, and now I'm ready to liven up my teatimes by trying the Chocolate, Green Tea, Pistachio, and Nutty Banana & Toffee flavors. But considering that I had really anticipated a flop with my first batch, I am simply delighted with the crunchy little tops and the silky smooth filling in these oh-so-worth-it Vanilla Macarons!

24 comments:

Frivolitea said...

Those look Fabulous!!!

Cynda P said...

Congratulations! I'm sure they were wonderful.

Marie said...

My sister, my niece and I were just talking this week end about attempting to make these "macarons". Now I have to find the book. Hopefully ours will come out as delicious looking as yours.

relevanttealeaf said...

They look scrumptious, Angela! I received a gift card from Sur la table for Christmas and I used it to sign up for a macaron class coming up on Feb. 11th. I can hardly wait. I hope mine will turn out as good as yours.

Mom Walds Place said...

Those are look exquisite! A small part of that may be due to your dish of course.

You are the second blogger I follow to try these recently, successfully. I think you may have convinced me to take a leap of faith.

The Tea Enthusiast's Scrapbook said...

Hi Angela,

BRAVO! You're my inspiration!

After having the Laduree macaron experience, I definitely felt very intimidated about making my own. I have 2 books about macarons, but couldn't find the courage to make them until today!

Your macarons look fabulous and I'm sure they taste delicious! Thank you for sharing and encouraging us to take a walk of macaron faith! :)

Blessings, Darlene

Linda J. said...

I am very impressed, Angela!! These look like you are an experienced expert at making macarons.

amherstrose said...

Oh, they are fabulous!!! I am doing the dance of joy for you. Congratulations, Angela, you are now among the legion of brave pasty chefs who have attempted and triumphed making the Holy Grail of confections!! I salute you.
I have been making them for about two years now and was inspired by my trip to Laduree in London a few years ago. Once you eat these, you are hooked. Try rose flavored ones the next time. They are divine.

Also Superfine sugar is also called caster sugar and can be found online and at cake and confectionary equipment stores. You can use a food processor to grind granulated sugar if you don't have another type of grinder. If the humidity is high, it can be difficult to get "feet" on your macarons. I usually make them during the Winter months.
Kudos to you for making these fabulous treats.

Deberah Williams said...

Wow! I am SO impressed. I have seen them and thought it would be fun to try them, but now I want to make them, too! Great job. They look JUST like the ones on the cookbook cover and the ones on MarthaStewart.com. You go girl!

Rosemary said...

Wow, Angela! You may have inspired me to give it a go!

Antiques And Teacups said...

Beautiful! I have had them in England with tea several times, but have never seen them here in the US tea rooms I have visited but had some at the Victoria, BC Tea Festival last yera. I have never attempted them. You brave girl! I have a tea ingredient recipe I plan to share soon. Well done!!!
Ruth

Jenny said...

I've never tasted these & I am intimidated by the recipes I've seen for them. I may have to look for the book & take the plunge!

parTea lady said...

Wow, your macarons look wonderful and I bet they taste as good as they look. What a great treat to add to your baking repertoire.

I knew I should have bought that book when I saw it at Marshalls a while ago. :-)

belinda in sc said...

Well Done,you!! Will look for the book as I love macarons but thought they were impossible to make at home.
My fav flavors are rasberry and salted caramel.

Beth Rang said...

Bravo to you! Those have always seemed to intimidating to me so I leave it to the pros. Yours look beautiful.

Denise :) said...

Oh my, what fun! A sweet treat, to be sure! :)

Johanna said...

Hi Sweetie,
however you will call them, I just love them. Yours look absolutley gorgeous, fluffy, crunchy, tasty and I wouldn't even mind, if they had no foot. But they are perfect! Thank you for the good explanation how to make them. I will look at Amazon for this book and then I can bake them by myself. Whenever I want them and this will be often. You made me laughing with the anouncement, but hey, you can really be proud of yourself. Hurray for the perfect macarons.
Best greetings, Johanna

Bernideen said...

Great job Angela!!!!

High Heeled Life said...

Found my way over via Antiques And Teacups.. and I'm so happy I did .. you have an absolute gorgeous blog and your post on my fav macaron .. is bring me back to my visits to Paris!! Thanks for sharing this great book.. I will look for it...xo HHL

Marilyn said...

Congratulations! Love that they even had the little feet with your first baking. The last picture is so pretty with the pink dish too. I love photographing "macarons". Yes, that is how I will spell it too.

jemilyea said...

Congratulations! They look perfect.

Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest said...

Oh congrats!!

I too have never made them for fear and intimidation!

My eldest daughter "tackled and mastered" them last year, and I am so proud - of your BOTH!

One of these days I should try. Maybe.

Or just beg her to make more.

I am SO GLAD yours turned out - sometimes one tries, fails and never tries again.

They are truly the most girlie of foods for a tea party! Enjoy!

Joy said...

I had never seen "macaron" spelled like that so appreciated your explanation - then at lunch yesterday I was reading a magazine (Family Circle, I think) and saw a picture that looked strangely familiar, it was Chocolate Macarons! I can scan the page and email it to you if you'd like to see it.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, Angela - your 'macaroons' look so delicious! Love the cover of that book too. And, least we forget, your serving tray sets them off beautifully. Once again, I am impressed! Joanie