This was my first time making macarons by myself and I have concluded that it's a little bit bogus to pay $2-$4 for one of these buggers.
More than anything, they just require patience and time.
The first time I had macarons was a few years ago when one of my aunts brought them to Thanksgiving. I tried one and it was deliciously chocolatey (the flavor was chocolate with chocolate ganache). I liked them but proceeded to forget about them for a while. Then, I studied abroad in the U.K. where we spent the last week of the trip in London. Everyone kept raving about going to Ladurée to get macarons so I jumped on that bandwagon, too. I got three but mainly, my impression was intense sweetness. And when I got home, I again proceeded to forget about them for several months.
Until Jackie, of the lovely calligraphy and hyper Corgis, started talking about them non-stop for weeks on end. This recipe is hers using some of the Twinings tea I brought back to share with her all the way from London. And I still have some, too (it was a box of 100 tea bags). I don't normally like to drink earl grey tea so I'm not sure what my logic was when I got some. Probably because it is distinctly British and probably because of Captain Picard. But, it complements these macarons and the chocolate ganache in a way that makes them seem both extremely proper but also rather indulgent.
The intense tea flavor comes from the actual tea leaves. Yup, you're eating them in the cookies and it also makes them smell quite nice.
There are a lot of macaron tips, tricks and troubleshooting methods out there. These are some things that I learned from Jackie:
- To get stiff egg whites, allow them to foam first before adding the sugar. Then, add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form.
- Once you start folding the dry ingredients in the the egg whites, you're looking for the consistency of molten lava / the inside of a lava cake.
- After piping the macaronage (the batter), allow them to dry up to 1.5 hours (depending on the level of humidity) or until a thin skin forms on top. You should be able to touch the top without sticking your finger to it.
- A trick to filling up the piping bag is to place it in a tall glass and pull the sides over the lip of the glass. Quickly fill the piping bag and then, fold the sides up.
And from my solo macaron making experience I found that:
- Parchment paper sticks less than a Silpat.
- The macaron shells that I baked longer also tended to stick less.
- Piping the filling isn't necessary, especially if you're lazy and don't want to fill up another piping bag.
- The messed up ones taste just as good as the pretty ones
So next time, I need to figure out how to make the shells stick less, how to get consistently smooth tops and how prevent hollow shells.
Also, if aged egg whites really make a difference.
Basically this means a lot more macarons in the near future, right?
They may be nubby but at least they have feet!
Earl Grey Macarons with Chocolate Ganache
Yields: approximately 2 dozen macarons // Active Time: 1 - 1.5 hours // Inactive Time: 1 - 2 hours