Wednesday, March 13, 2013

French Macarons with Nutella Buttercream Filling

I have been wanting to try a macaron for a very long time.  I see them in beautiful styled party photos online.  I've read other blogger's triumphs and frustrations and I have to say, I was intimidated.  I like things to work the first time and by all info gathered across the web, it looked like it would take several attempts to get it right.  I probably would have put it off longer, but a friend posted a photo of macarons to my FB timeline and asked if I could make them.  Ever wanted to try to make them yourself?  I'm going to show you what worked for me on my very first attempt.

After looking at recipes and reviews, I was even more confused.  The recipes really vary across the board.  Certain recipes work for some, but not for others.  Some say you have to age the egg whites for days, others say you can use fresh.  Some say you can only use powdered food coloring, others say you can use gel but not liquid and some even say you can use liquid.
 I decided to go with a Martha Stewart recipe.  Mostly because it wasn't measured in grams.
Macaron Recipe:
1 1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup ground almonds
6 Tablespoons fresh egg whites
Pinch of Salt
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
You can blanch your own almonds.  Don't know what that means?  Place almonds in a bowl and pour boiling water over the almonds until they are covered.  Let the almonds sit for 1 minute and then drain the water.  Rinse the almonds with cold water and drain again.  Pat the almonds dry and the skins slide right off.  Then you would slice and grind the almonds as finely as possible for this recipe.  While at the grocery store, I spied Almond Meal/Flour with all of the gluten-free flours and turned the bag over to the ingredients and it said "blanched almonds".  Nothing else.  Figured I could definitely use it and skip blanching my own almonds.
 Sift the ground almonds and confectioners' sugar... 
...and then whisk the two together to combine.  
At this point, I took the time to prep my baking sheets with parchment paper and decorator bag with a large round tip 3/8" or #4.  My largest tip is a #2.  Sometimes you've gotta make due with what you have and it worked well enough.
In a mixing bowl, combine the 6T of egg whites.  Again, this is a real disparity among recipes.  Some said to bring to room temperature while others said to age for several days loosely covered.  My future sister-in-law suggested 3 whole days- which bumped my weekend macaron making to a weekday after work.  You'll see the images get darker as the sun goes down.
 Add a pinch of salt:
 Whip the eggs on medium until eggs are foamy:
 Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat on high until it forms a glossy peak.
Fold in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula.  Several recipes and reviews suggested folding in half of the mixture and then folding in the second half of the mixture. I went with halves and it worked well for me.
Powdered vs. gel vs. liquid food coloring.  I don't know where to buy powdered, so I used gel.  If you'd like to add color, add it now- keeping in mind that the less you fold the mixture, the better.
 Place mixture into a piping bag.  I use the aid of a plastic cup to hold the bag open for me.  Piping was trickier than expected.  I watched a video about holding the tip at a 45degree angle and pulling away so you don't leave a peak.  I left a sideways peak on most of them.  You can then dab your finger with water and pat down any peaks.  Don't let the water drip on the cookie.
After piping the 1" circles spaced 2" apart, grab both sides of the baking sheet and tap the flat sheet on the counter.  This will flatten the mixture a bit and help remove air bubbles.  Leave the baking sheets to set...here's where I read 15 minutes, up to an hour across several recipes.  You want the mixture to form a skin.  It seemed the cookies set after about 22 minutes and then I gave them another 8 minutes for good measure.  Ignore those globby shamrock looking ones on the pink tray- thought I'd try it for St. Patrick's Day.  They turned out okay, but none of them matched up to form a complete cookie.
Baking times and temps- that's another large range discrepancy.  This recipe calls for 350F with a wooden spoon in the door to prop the oven door slightly and baking 15min.  From reading around, I found that you want to lower the oven temp when the macarons go in and to also release steam.  You probably know your own oven.  I bake at high altitude which bakes things faster, so I made the call to preheat to 325F and then lower to 300F when they entered the oven.  I baked for 8minutes and then rotated the baking sheet (allowing steam to escape, as well).
I watched them like a hawk and removed the green baking sheet after another 6 minutes.  I didn't want them to burn as many of the reviews remarked.  They probably could have used another minute, so I added a minute to the second sheet.  The pink baking sheet set up for 45 minutes and then baked 8 minutes, turn, 7 minutes.  The feet (the base of the macaron) really formed within the last few minutes of baking, so don't freak out if you don't see them form right away.  I was thrilled when I picked up one of the macaron halves, split it in half, and it was perfect- not hallow as I was afraid.  Yes! 
For the filling, I found a Nutella Buttercream recipe that I can't seem to find now, but it is:
3/4 cup of butter
1/2 cup of Nutella
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup of confectioners' sugar
 Cream the butter, Nutella and pinch of salt until smooth:
 Sift the confectioners' sugar into the bowl:
 Mix on high until light and fluffy:
Match up sizes/shapes of macarons.  The macarons should easily peel away from the parchment after cooled.  Fill a decorator bag with the filling and pipe a circle of filling- leaving a space around the edges so when you press the two halves together, the filling has room to spread.
 Press the two halves together and stop when the filling comes to the edge.
 Just like that!
I fretted over this entire process- which recipe to follow, steps, temps, time, etc.  It really wasn't as complicated as I had built up in my head.
 The recipe I used yielded 14 complete cookies.
 There are so many different recipes out there and the fillings seem to be of endless variety.  I love that you can make them any pretty color your little heart desires.
 Find something that intimidates you and do it.  Whether it is handstands in yoga or a new recipe, you'll never know if you can do it until you try it.
Next is figuring out the requested pistachio filling and where to buy or how to make the pistachio paste.  For more Easter treat ideas, click here.

23 comments :

  1. wow they look great!! they are on my list to make too (hope mine look half as nice as yours!!)

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  2. Really great job for your first attempt!

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  3. I'm so glad you shared this because I hate measuring in grams even though I'm from Australia and we use metric! Thank you!

    If you have a minute to spare I'd be thrilled if you could link up this yummy post to my weekly Say G'day party! It has just started.

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

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  4. PS I've also got a Pinning Bloggers Masterlist page on my blog you might be interested in joining!

    Natasha

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  5. Those are beautiful! I admire all of the effort you put into those cookies! That oven temp thing sounds tricky, but it looks like you "hacked" it successfully!

    Tara
    www.suburble.com

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  6. Well done! Macarons are super tricky and this was a fantastic first try! Hope you can stop by the enchanted oven.
    xo,
    Lisa

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  7. Newest follower here! I found you through the blog hop. You have a super cute blog, I can't wait to read more. You can find me at meandmr.com

    -Melanie @meandmr.com

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  8. These are very pretty and looks yummy. I too love baking macaron. Thank you for sharing. And I am pinning them. I am your newest follower.

    http://www.curiositaellya.blogspot.com/

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  9. They are so sweet and pretty! I love the Nutella filling too. I will be trying these soon!

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  10. Congratulations, they look beautiful!

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  11. Congratulations on your macaron success! I had exactly the same experience my first time around, all the fretting and then they turned out fine. Yours look perfectly delicious!

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  12. I featured this at my blog today-I just love this recipe!

    Thanks for linking up to Say G'Day Saturday!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

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  13. Yumm!! Can't wait to try, Macarons are my fave!! I saw a bakery that makes Lavender Macarons and Rose Macarons, any thoughts on how to get to create those?

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    1. Amy- I assume you'd use lavender or rose extract. My friend makes lavender cake. I'd love to try it but I'm allergic to lavender! You can buy the baking extracts online.

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  14. oh, these are so cute. Is the eating worth all the headaches?

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    1. Good question. Once I stressed over all of the headaches and tweaking of recipes and methods, it all came together pretty easy. I could have whipped up a second batch in far less time. I would say it is similar to the first time you make your own pie crust or bread dough- not sure how it will turn out. They taste good. The texture is chewy and they are a light treat. I'll definitely make them again.

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  15. Absolutely gorgeous! I too live in a higher altitude and have been struggling with making these. I live at about 5700 ft. Could you give any helpful hints on your success at high altitude? Thanks so much!

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  16. DeeDee, The only high altitude adjustment I made was the baking time and temperature. Because things bake faster at high altitude, I adjusted the temperature down and baking time down from the recipes I researched.

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  17. Tried baking this today and it was a SUCCESS! yuminess overload! seeing the finish product makes me feel giddy inside! will definitely bake some more! thanks for your recipe, TWO THUMBS UP!!

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  18. tried baking this today and it was a SUCCESS!! seeing the finish product made me feel giddy inside! will definitely bake some more! thank you for sharing your recipe, TWO THUMBS UP!!

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  19. Maybe you could use pistachio pudding powder to make some sort of buttercream?

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