It hasn't hit yet, and I'm surprised.
You know, homesickness for France. I'm still waiting on that, but so far so good. Right now I'm just grateful and happy to be settling back into a routine here in America (although let me just say, I did not miss B traveling for work all the time while we were over there - that absolutely blows).
But I am a little wistful for macarons.
I wanted to learn how to make them, because they're impossible to find, and crazy expensive when you do. I'd heard they were tricky, but what's the worst that could happen? They're just cookies; it's not like I'm constructing an atom bomb. So last week I decided to give it a go.
And what do you know, they turned out fairly well, considering it's the first time I've ever made this extremely finicky cookie. The first batch turned out a little runny - I think I overmixed the egg white mixture with the dry ingredients. The second batch did pretty well, although the first cookie sheet of the second batch did better than the second cookie sheet. I'm still not sure why. I've heard sometimes the macaron gods get angry and ruin batches, so maybe that was it.
I pulled from two different recipes I found online, this and this. There were parts I liked about both, where they were specific about different things. And you have to be very specific when making these cookies. Also, I had bought a macaron mat before we left France, but I actually didn't like it as well as I liked the parchment paper. The cookies stuck to the mat horribly, and I only salvaged one or two from that batch.
Anyway, here are some pictures of my adventure, and the recipe(s) I used. If you're brave (or crazy) enough to attempt these, let me know how it goes!
Caramel apple macarons
3 egg whites
210 grams powdered sugar
125 grams almond meal - I bought mine at Whole Foods
30 grams regular granulated sugar
1/2 - 1 teaspoon apple flavoring - I used ScrapCooking flavoring I brought back from France
Green gel food coloring of choice (do not use liquid!!)
Caramel (I used Trader Joe's Fleur de Sel caramel sauce)
Don't be afraid. Apparently macarons can sense when you're nervous. I guess they're like dogs in that way. Maybe have a glass of wine first.
Measure out ingredients using a food scale - this has to be precise. It also has to be in grams.
To start, put powdered sugar and almond flour into a food processor. Finely grind for one or two minutes.
Stop, scrape the sides and bottom of bowl, and then repeat.
Next, sieve the mixture through a sifter (I used my Mimi's old tin one), to get rid of remaining bigger bits and ensure your batter will be smooth. Some of the almond bits will refuse to go through, and that's okay. Just toss them out. It won't affect the recipe.
Take out your KitchenAid mixer and its nice, big stainless steel bowl. Put the egg whites and sugar into the bowl.
Beat this mixture for three minutes on speed 4 on your mixer.
Next, turn the speed up to 7 and beat for three more minutes.
Turn the speed up to 8 and beat for an additional three minutes.
At this point, add in the flavoring and coloring - don't add too much or it will throw the balance of liquids off.
Beat at speed 10 for one minute to thoroughly mix everything.
When you're finished, there should be a big clump of egg whites stuck inside your whisk attachment.
Just beat the whisk gently against the side of the bowl until they slide out.
The next part is the trickiest: folding in the dry ingredients.
You can add in the almond/sugar mixture to the egg whites in one whole lump or in parts. I personally did it all in one lump, and it turned out fine.
Gently, very gently, fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites. Bring the spatula in a circle around the bowl and up under the bottom of the mixture.
DO NOT OVERMIX - this deflates your egg whites and causes runny macarons (see picture #4, above).
If, like me, you're nervous and not used to using egg whites, I recommend leaving it a little undermixed. It should look like magma...shiny and smooth, but not runny; it should hold its shape decently well.
When you think it's ready, put the mixture into an icing bag or a plastic bag with the tip cut off.
Squeeze into 1-inch circles on parchment paper on a large cookie sheet.
Try to hold the icing by the bottom where you're pinching and the top where you're squeezing, not in the palm of your hand, because it heats it up and makes it runnier toward the end of the batter (although the first ones turn out fine).
Next, lift up the cookie sheet a few inches and let it drop on the counter. Repeat. This is to get any air bubbles out.
Preheat your oven to 275.
While the oven preheats, let the macarons sit for 30-60 minutes to "dry out" - when you touch the top of them lightly, they shouldn't stick to your finger.
Whenever you feel they're sufficiently dry, place the macarons in the oven for 12-16 minutes, but keep a close eye on them.
Start checking the oven after 12 minutes. The macarons should be solid on top, and the bottoms should lift up without any batter sticking to the parchment. If you're seeing batter underneath, keep baking.
Take them out and let cool completely on the cookie sheets.
Once cookies are thoroughly cool, match up sizes and fill with the salted caramel filling.
I found the caramel was a little runny, so it helped to put them right back on the cookie sheet and stick the whole thing in the refrigerator to harden up.
Keep the cookies in the fridge for 24 hours before eating (if you can wait that long!).
Enjoy - and pat yourself on the back! You just made macarons!
Nutrition: Hahahahahahaha, right. Like you actually thought I was going to calculate this. Ahahahaha no.
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