Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Macaroons--Daring Bakers Challenge October 2009

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I think most people like cookies, right? But there is something a little more sophisticated about a macaroon, at least in my opinion. They seem to require a little more effort and sometimes a little more time. From my understanding, macaroons are supposed to be "flour-less" by nature, and so they are generally made with a nut meal or nut flour rather than wheat flour. Sometimes that involves grinding. (I have another macaroon recipe involving grinding the nuts that I will have to post sometime).

These macaroons have very few ingredients, but we were also required to make a filling. No complaints here. This was a great challenge that, though labor intensive, was not too time consuming or exhausting, nor did it leave my kitchen in shambles (actually, it was already in shambles to begin with, so the mess created didn't really detract from the one already existing).

Equipment required:
• Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment
• Rubber spatula
• Baking sheets
• Parchment paper or nonstick liners
• Pastry bag (can be disposable)
• Plain half-inch pastry bag tip
• Sifter or sieve
• If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off
• Oven
• Cooling rack
• Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets
• Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nuts (ouch!)

Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)


1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper). (Sare's note: if you allow the batter to dry on the sheets for about 30 minutes, it creates a "foot" at the base of the cookie....looks really pretty, and unfortunately, I forgot to do that).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Yield: 10 dozen. Ami's note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons. Sare's note: I have absolutely no idea how many cookies this made because I kept eating them while waiting for the others that were baking.

Though they wouldn't win a beauty competition, I thought my cookies were pretty tasty

Sare's "Mocha-la-tella" Filling

I wanted to come up with a clever name. We don't drink coffee around here, and never have, but for some reason with this pregnancy I really enjoy that smell (even though non-pregnant Sare thinks it smells like dirt...maybe because the coffee grounds were put in the compost when I was growing up). So I found a "non-coffee" natural beverage that is similar, and very enjoyable when mixed with ovaltine and sugar, called Pero. I decided to use that as part of the filling. And Nutella...ahhhh nutella. I basically just used what I had.

3/4 Cup Nutella

2 TBSP Pero (or if you prefer, instant coffee granules)

4 TBSP milk

Mix until smooth. If slightly runny, allow to cool in the fridge. Spread a small amount in the middle a cookie within 1/2 cm of the edge, then sandwich with another cookie (the chocolate will go to the edge).

Sare's notes:

The original instructions to this challenge also mentioned avoiding too much food coloring if you choose to go that route. I didn't use any, but it said no more than 3 drops of color because it will add too much moisture.

I do not own a baking mat or cooling racks (ooooh nooooo!) but that did not seem to be my doom in that case. It all worked out, though I am sure it would have been that much better had I owned this equipment. The cookies were a little more challenging to remove from the baking sheets (even though I used non-stick spray, which may have been a no-no).

If you happen to turn off your oven on the final batch, and forget that there are cookies in there, for, oh, let's say about 20 minutes. Do not fear. Though they will be a slight bit on the crunchy side, they will still be tasty....so I hear.

Overall, I should probably try to do this again because my cookies came out flat, though still soft and enjoyable, and they didn't have "the foot" at the base of each one, like in the example. As mentioned above, I forgot to do the 30 minutes "drying time." So, I didn't dry my cookies, didn't have a silicone mat, or cooling racks. Someday...


  1. Awesome! You did great right out of the gate- these things are HARD to make right.

    I didn't even know about the Daring Baker's Challenge but I've been making Macarons all month! It's a new baking thing for me too so I've been trying to get the techinques all down. The ingredients are simple, the actual making of them is not. I do the "Italian Method" beacause it's supposed to be more consistent.

    I am just making the shells now then freezing them until I need them around Christmas. I'll fill them with various fillings just before giving them out in December.

    Today I made: Praline Pecan, Wassail (with ground dried apple, lemon zest and orange zest), and Sugar Plum (with ground dried plums and sprinkled with sugar crystals on top). I have pictures of the Praline ones on my blog.

    I'm so happy to have someone to share "Macaron Madness" with! None of my friends or family quite 'get' it!

  2. Yeah for yummy food and yummy food blogs. All your stuff looks delish.
    Sorry that I've fallen off the face of the commenting Earth. Life got easier with Bloglines but my commenting pretty much stopped. Anyway- appreciate you filling out my little questionaire. Hope you are well!