Ahhhhhh macarons. These pretty little pastries are flaky, delicate, crunchy and soft, all at the same time. Not to mention the endless flavor combinations. I loooove them all, especially the fruity ones! Although they are simple in appearance, I’ve always been too intimated to attempt making them at home. So as our belated Valentine’s date, I signed the hubby and I up for this baking class to get over that fear, but mostly to go home with a batch of my very own. (Ok, so this was obviously my idea. The hubs tried to talk his way out of attending at least a hundred times).
In class we learned about what it means when macarons start to brown, the importance of cooking at the right temperature; and the consequences of over mixing batter. These are all familar words in my baking vernacular. I consider burning stuff to a crispy char my specialty, in fact. It’s my signature style. Ha!
We heated sugar, whipped egg whites into a fluffy meringue and practiced piping purple batter (due to food coloring + a few drops of lavender gel) into silver dollar-sized circles atop parchment paper.
We waited and waited, for what felt like an eternity (it was really only 15 minutes) for our cookies to bake and develop “feet” (the crumbly looking part under the smooth cookie shell). Then we melted chocolate chips with a bit of cream into a rich ganache filling.
We came home with more macarons than I anticipated, and ended up gifting some to friends and family who were more than willing to take them off our hands. #WinWin
There are a few things I learned about macarons last weekend:
// Making them is truly a labor of love; there is so much work that goes into producing a batch of cookies. Mixing, folding, boiling, timing, waiting, cooling and meticulously piping. I understand now why they retail for $3 each in stores.
// There are different ways to make macarons: French, Italian and Swiss, which you can read about here.
In class we used the Italian method; this requires the sugar to be boiled into a hot syrup, which is then poured into the meringue. Also, Italian meringue macarons typically result in a higher probability of cookies with “feet”, meaning less disappointment, waste and frustration. If you want to bake these at home, I suggest trying this recipe.
Or if you’re like me and need a live demonstration and prefer a classroom setting, here are links to a few upcoming macaron classes offered in San Francisco // New York // Chicago. You won’t be disappointed!