Tuesday, February 21, 2012

French Macarons - Almost

French (Parisian, specifically) macarons have been on my “must master” list for over a year now.  Part of this obsession stems from the fact that I’ve never tried them and I really, really want to.  That’s not likely to happen unless I make a trip to St. Louis though.  I’ve certainly not seen any here in Southern Illinois. 

My first attempt using a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated was less than stellar, resulting in me becoming foolishly intimidated by a pastry.  While researching macarons earlier this month, I came across a recipe from The Novice Chef for Fruity Pebble macarons.  How could I be intimidated by something that contained Fruity Pebbles?  So I decided to try them – using Cocoa Pebbles instead (since there would be a lot of left over cereal to eat). 

Before going any further, I have to point out that macarons are not macaroons.  Macaroons (the chewy coconut cookies) can be made pretty much any time you feel like making them.  Macarons are apparently quite temperamental and very sensitive to humidity.  This is why my dry ingredients sat on the kitchen counter measured out and ready to go since February 2.  That day was a perfectly beautiful day with less than 50% humidity that practically screamed, “MAKE MACARONS!”  But after getting the dry ingredients prepared, my head started screaming, “STOP MAKING MACARONS!”  The migraine came full steam ahead and the macarons had to be postponed.  And postponed.  And postponed. 

Until yesterday.  It was finally a day without excessive humidity that I didn’t have other things that had to be done.  It was time.  I was feeling confident. 

My egg whites whipped into lovely peaks. 

I managed to get the dry ingredients folded in without deflating the meringue too much. 

I let them sit for an hour before baking to form perfect crusts. 

But then came the baking.  And then it fell apart.

According to Jessica’s recipe, the macarons were to bake at 290°F for 18 to 20 minutes or until they easily peeled off the parchment or silicon mat.  For me, it was more like 27 minutes (in one minute intervals!) before they came off the silicon without leaving their little bottoms behind.  I bumped up the oven temp to 310°F for the second sheet.  That probably would have worked out great if I would have remembered to set the timer.  Oops.  That batch ended up way too crunchy to use for macarons.  I filled the first batch with raspberry buttercream.  The second batch . . . well . . . I decided not to waste perfectly good buttercream on significantly imperfect cookies.
While these are definitely not perfect macarons, I think I'm getting closer.  I’m not at all unhappy for a second attempt.  Feeling more confident now, I’ll likely return to the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for my third attempt though.  Whenever that may be.


  1. That up close picture is just beautiful. I'm glad you stuck with it and tried again. They look beautiful even if you're not fully satisfied with them. And the raspberry filling--yum!

    1. Thanks, Katie. I realized after spending DAYS researching macarons that I crossed the line between tenacity and obsession, but I'm hoping it will pay off in the end!


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