Thursday, 5 September 2013

Mia's Update: We baked Macarons!

If you haven't realised, I'm a huge fan of macarons (french macaroons). I absolutely adores the Fleur De Sel from Canele and at one point, buys a box of 6 every week. :p 
On top of that, I'm also a huge fan of those home bakers on youtube. Just to name a few, there's yoyomax12, ochikeron, Laura Vitale and Ann Reardon
So I thought, why not bake my own macarons? And hence I did, just last weekend, with my cousin (SY) at her house. And together we form the chincai bakers. But that's not really important, let's take a look at the recipe first. :)
 
Egg whites - 140g (4 large or 5 small eggs)
Caster sugar - 70g
Icing sugar (or powdered sugar) - 230g
Ground almond (or almond meal) - 120g
Salt - 2g
Food colouring (Optional, gel or powdered preferred)
(Makes 40 large macarons or 140 mini macarons)
credits to Ann Reardon

The steps to make macaron are really few and simple, yet to get it right is not easy at all. 

First up, add your egg whites (aged/or just at room temperature is enough) into a large bowl and beat it until it's frothy. Then add in your caster sugar (you may do so in 3 additions) and beat on high speed until it turns glossy and form stiff peaks (you can flip the bowl over and nothing falls out). Add in gel/powdered food colouring according to your liking. I couldn't find any gel or powdered ones, so we added in a few drops of red liquid food colouring.
If you want to have flavoured macaron shells, add in the flavouring at this point too. We added in one drop of rose flavouring to give our shells a subtle tinge of rose taste. 
Continue to mix until the colour turns even and set it aside.


Sift the dry ingredients (icing sugar, ground almond, salt) and give it a quick mix with a fork or a whisk. SY got mad crazy with the ground almond (chanting: go through, b*tch!) because they simply will not go through the sieve. We chucked away a good amount that seemed fine enough and yet just wouldn't pass through the sieve and re-sift with new additions from the packet, a couple of times until we decided that precision is not really important. Hence, we're the chincai bakers.

Fold the sifted dry ingredients into the beaten sugar egg whites mixture. It was recommended that we do 30 to 50 folds to get the mixture to a molten state. The wet and dry ingredients should be mixed well with no lumps and be viscous enough to ribbon down nicely when picked up and dropped from the spatula yet not runny. (this is the extremely tricky part)
Some other tricks advised is to do a 'cut' down the middle of the mixture with the spatula and see if it merges back together quick enough; or to spoon a small amount onto a plate and shake the plate. The mixture should be viscous enough to spread out into a macaron shape on its own. 
Over-mix and the macarons will be flat and feet-less. Under-mix and they may crack and won't be smooth on top. 
 Scoop the mixture into a piping bag (or if you don't have one, use a plastic bag and snip off the corner) and pipe out the mixture into a circle. The size is entire up to you. You can even make some heart-shaped or hello kitty head shaped macarons!

As we did the mini ones, we ended up with 10 sheets of this. 280 macaron shells, which equals to 140 macarons! *faints*
After we're done with piping, we set them out on the tables to sit for 30 minutes (from the last sheet) before we sent our first sheet into the oven to bake at 150 degree Celsius for 20 minutes.

 That's our very first batch in the oven. We've done a bad thing here, opening the oven as they're baking. It changes the temperature drastically in the oven and makes the shells develop airy pockets. :(

To our disappointment, we noticed that our macarons are both feet-less and cracked on the surface. So did we undermixed or overmixed? No matter what, it's fully understood that macarons are really finicky and it'll take many trials and errors to find the ideal final mixed state for piping/baking.
In addition, we've forgotten that the recipe makes 40 large macarons and our mini ones will not need 150 degree C at 20 minutes. We took the cookies out when they started to brown (they should be pink!) at barely 15 minutes and found them in this burnt state.

Yeah, I know. They're not pink, they're brown. And it's because they're burnt. Obviously disappointed with ourselves, SY and I randomly picked one uglier looking one and popped it into our mouth and then simultaneously widened our eyes in surprise. They were surprisingly good! Nothing like macaron shells, which should be slightly crispy on the outside and softer on the inside, but totally crunchy inside out with a tinge of rose taste that was almost masked by the fragrant toasted taste of being almost burnt. The fact that we got the bad habit of opening the oven to look at the shells while they baked also made them develop airy pockets within, which made them tasted better as a meringue cookie. Frankly speaking, I have no idea what happened here.... We baked macaron shells and got some uniquely good meringue cookies instead.

Here's a cute picture to show you what i meant by airy pockets. It's a heart shape, aww!

And then, finally, towards our last 2 or 3 sheets (which has been standing for 2 to 2.5 hours instead of 30 minutes), we saw a miracle.
 Feets! They developed feets!

Now this is what I call macaron shells. :)


And of course, I exaggerated our success. 99% of our mini macarons actually looked more like pink dino eggs.

After this, I have 2 more to-bake items on my list:
1. Salted Caramel Macarons (I gotta find out on dulce de leche first)
2. Mickey Mouse Cupcakes

Stay around to find out if I ever succeed! :)

Till then,
Mia

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