If you haven't been able to tell from my blog, Twitter and Instagram feeds - I love macarons. A lot. Paul likes them well enough, but I ADORE them. I even managed to talk Suzie (my sister) into giving macarons out as her wedding favours just so I could eat more macarons. LOL. It's gotten to the point where I get upset when I see people mix up the terms "macarons" and "macaroons" (which I also like, but let's be serious, they are not the same thing).
As my love affair with macarons started getting a little more "obsessive", I realized that my wallet really couldn't keep up with my appetite, so I started looking into baking my own.
As a rookie baker, I'm really nervous when recipes are complicated and generally I tend to stick to simple recipes. After reading all over the internet about how difficult and finicky macarons were to make, I was daunted. Hungry, but daunted. In the end though, my hunger for macarons won out and I started looking for recipes and baking tips.
|Macarons from Butter Avenue|
- For flavour inspiration, recipes and delicious photos, I love scrolling through Amy's Food Adventures and Sylvia's A Baked Creation blogs
- For a ton of macaron making info, I relied heavily on Eat. Live. Travel. Write and Bravetart
I jokingly refer to Mardi from Eat. Live. Travel. Write. and Stella from Bravetart as my "macaron goddess mentors" and seriously, that description does not do them justice. As I approached my first macaron attempt, I read and re-read Stella's macaron recipe and her list of tips and tricks and watched Mardi's instructional videos a million times. Both ladies are amazingly helpful and whenever I had questions, they were only a tweet away on Twitter.
Armed with all that knowledge, I attempted by first batch of macarons - a pink vanilla shell with Earl Grey buttercream. I put half the batch on parchment and the other half on a special silicon "macaron" sheet that Suzie bought me.
The macarons on the silicon sheet turned out like this:
Squeee! The shells were a touch hollow, but the Earl Grey buttercream was fantastic (thanks for the inspiration Amy!)
Second attempt: vanilla shells (no colour added) with a mint-vanilla buttercream (St. Patrick's Day was coming up so I wanted something green). Half the batch was on parchment and the other half on a Silpat (both turned out similar results).
Even better than my first attempt and there wasn't a single cracked shell! At this point, I had been told to let my macarons sit for at least a day before eating them - the flavour and texture improved dramatically. Freezing them also helped.
Attempt 3: blue vanilla shells (Stella suggests sticking with plain shells to get the knack of them before adding things like flavour/colour) - half the batch filled with nutella ganache and the other half with lemon buttercream.
As I continually experiment with how to get the best macarons from my oven (thanks to Sylvia for the tip on propping the oven door slightly ajar with a wooden spoon), I left these in a little longer than the previous attempts, especially since they didn't seem cooked after the allotted time. The result was a nice, un-hollow shell without any cracks, but they were a touch burnt, so the blue shell had a tinge of brown on them. I think they took longer to bake since I had used a whole lot of blue (powdered) food colouring. But on the plus side, my piping seems to have improved a little since my first macaron attempt!
The Nutella ganache filling was a success but the lemon buttercream was a disaster (imagine macarons filled with lemon Pledge - yuck).
Obviously, I still have A LOT to learn about baking macarons and I have a VERY long way to go before I start churning out beauties like the ones that Amy, Sylvia, Mardi and Stella share on their blogs. But, as all four of them have taught me - even funny-shaped macarons can be tasty!
I'm already looking forward to attempting batch number four and foresee a LOT more macarons in my future as I try to improve my piping skills and get taller feet on the shells.
Of course, all this baking doesn't mean that I won't stop eating professionally-made macarons as well, but in the meantime, I get to give my wallet a small break, plus I get a real sense of accomplishment every time I pull out a tray of little round macaron shells from my own oven.