Category Archives: Macarons

PB&J Macarons v2

I’m trying to move my blog so excuse my lack of posts! Will let you know when the website is finally up and running. Probably won’t be for a few weeks though because I’ve been consumed with making new goodies! This past Wednesday I made three kinds of macarons, baked Ciabatta bread and made Chocolate and Chestnut Mousse Verrines all in one day. It was exhausting but also ridiculously fun.

Almost a whole year ago I made peanut macaron shells for the first time. If you remember from this post, I had a lot of trouble filling them. Finally, about 11 months later, I decided to give the filling another shot. Instead of just straight peanut butter and jelly (which I thought was a little too heavy for these delicate things), I decided to try to make a peanut butter buttercream (try to say that five times fast!) and then swirl in raspberry jam.

Peanut Butter Jelly Buttercream

It worked beautifully! It looked like I added enough jam (there’s a lot of red in the picture) but once I piped them onto the shells it seemed to have mixed more and the color wasn’t as distinct. But here they are anyway:

Peanut Butter and Jelly Macarons

Use any buttercream recipe, omit the vanilla (no need for that fancy, expensive stuff) and add a generous amount of peanut butter (smooth or chunky are both fine. I used/prefer chunky!). Using the paddle on a stand-mixer, mix the butter and peanut butter first, then mix in powdered sugar and whip until satisfied with consistency. Most recipes are going to use unsalted butter but I think either unsalted or salted is fine. Some recipes will call for a splash of milk or cream, but I did without it. Remove from stand-mixer and spoon in a few scoops of favorite jelly (I used raspberry). Fold into the buttercream mixture until pretty. Avoid overmixing if you like the marble-effect. I personally think the peanut butter part of a PB&J sandwich outweighs the jam in terms of awesomeness so I was more on the conservative side with the jelly.

Assemble by piping the buttercream onto one shell, then carefully sandwich with the other shell. Don’t press too hard otherwise the shells will crack. Then take a million pictures and, finally, consume asap.

S’more Macarons

Hello again! Excuse my hiatus. I was honestly too exhausted after my baguette challenge to continue any kind of baking, including making macarons. Baking bread is incredibly difficult. It looks easy, sounds easy and has an easy recipe, but man is it exhausting. But that’s a different story for a different time.

This post is about my friend Stephanie. My friend Stephanie loves macarons. She also loves s’mores. She now loves s’more macarons (I hope?)!

I’m surprised there aren’t too many recipes/sites on this delicious little treat yet. I thought the concept was fairly simple. I’d make the shells graham-cracker-flavored and fill with marshmallows and melted chocolate. To put a more personal touch, I decided to make the marshmellows from scratch instead of using store-bought ones.  And luckily for me, I have easy access to a lot, lot of chocolate icing – which is better than boring melted chocolate :)

For the shells, I added about 25-30 g of crushed graham crackers  to the mixture – the finer the grind, the better. I made a little extra to sprinkle on the tops of the shells, scared that the shells wouldn’t have enough color.

The marshmallows take overnight to set so I had to make them a day before. I’ve used a couple recipes, and the final product doesn’t come out too differently. If you plan to make these though, have patience and know that it’s going to be very, very sticky! Once they set overnight in the fridge, and you tumble the pieces through powder sugar, they are more manageable.

I used a circular cookie cutter to cut the marshmallow the size of my piped shells. Meanwhile, I put a bowl of chocolate frosting over some warm water to thin in a bit and make it easier to use.

Then, assembly!

But like I said, this is a post about my friend Stephanie. She loves macarons, and she loves s’mores. I know they were like a million days late, but I hope she liked them anyway!

Everyone strives for perfection, but there's something very beautiful about imperfection.

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Macaron Mastering

Whoops, it’s been a while since my last post :( Well it hasn’t helped that I’ve been staying at work late (like right now… its almost 12AM). Although I do happen to be baking for a good few hours each time I stay late. Over the weekend and again today I attempted to perfect my baguettes. I also had a little time to sneak in my favorites — macarons!

Interesting thought though: the other day I was chatting with a friend who asked me why I was so obsessed with them. He said that he’s had them and didn’t find them to be all that interesting. And you know what? I agree. Macarons aren’t that interesting… to EAT. I find them to always be too sweet, no matter how much I trim the sugar content by. And they are so expensive. If I didn’t have this obsession with making them, I don’t think I would ever buy macarons in my life. Ha, though I am guilty of over-charging for them myself :(

Anyway, the point is I’m not obsessed with eating macarons, I’m simply obsessed about making macarons. I’m not sure if I can put this clearly into words but I guess it’s striving to achieve something that many others cannot. I mean this could apply to a lot of things in life, to a lot of people. That’s like saying not everyone can be a doctor (true story), but I think the fact that it’s something so small, something so trivial , that’s why it’s attracting to me. And not everyone has the patience for this. How many failed batches of macarons have I made so far? A lot. But how many batches of good ones have I made? Quite a few, too. Maybe I feel like this because normally I don’t have the patience for this kind of crap. That by now, I’d be so far from the line that the line would be a dot to me!

Or maybe it’s just me trying to control something that under normal circumstances is so diffuclt to control. Gee, I wonder what that’s like, not being able to control something you want. I’m pretty sure it’s something we call life.

PB&J Macarons

I have outdone myself! :D

I had a few hours to kill before picking up Jon at the airport so I decided I would bake him macarons. He’s never had mine before so I had a hard time picking which ones to make… Raspberry with Mascapone cheese filling? My favorite Black Sesame ones? Or be ambitious and try mixing my nuts for the first time and make Peanut Macarons?

I thought Peanut Macarons sound a little funny and even a bit funky, but I found them on Tartelette’s website and let’s face it, I love a challenge. So there I was, grinding peanuts and almonds together in my food processor. About 95 minutes later, I was staring wide-eyed at these beautiful things:

The flavor is a-mazing. I’m not a HUGE fan of peanuts, but the blend here of peanuts and almonds and sugar is perfect. It’s not overwelming but the peanut taste is definitely there. And look at those feet! I was careful this time to bake them just the right amount of time (14 minutes for me) so I wouldn’t lose them. I’m so glad I had that sweet epiphany (see last post).

Now, to my problem. I didn’t know what to fill them with! Of course peanut butter and jelly came to mind, but here I am two days later wondering if I liked the combo. It was good in the way that PB&J sandwiches are good, you know? Comforting and familiar. But was it I-took-a-bite-and-it-changed-my-world good? I’m not sure…

I considered salted caramel, but let’s be honest, I’m too lazy for that. Jon suggested something to do with bananas, which I thought was a good idea, until I considered any realistic options. What goes well with Peanuts? Perhaps you can tell me.

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Green Tea Macarons

Baking soothes me. So does writing in this blog.

Yesterday I was ambitious and made FOUR batches of macarons at once. The only part that failed was when I added the green tea powder (I forgot to multiply by four :( ) and while baking. At least I had a really sweet epiphany, and that’s the reason these darn things are collapsing. Of course it correlates with baking time. Seems so obvious (you probably knew!) I don’t know why I was so puzzled. Clearly they are underbaked, that’s why they collapse. If it wasn’t still wet inside the cookie, instead dry, then clearly it wouldn’t collapse. Just wouldn’t be possible! It hit me on the side of the head right after I took them (all FOUR BATCHES) out of the oven, and boom, there they’re feet went. All of them. Goodness, they were so beautiful in the oven too :(

Oh well. Another sweet epiphany I had was the use of cream of tartar was not helping me. In the last couple of batches I’ve been adding a pinch of cream of tartar to my egg whites because it’s supposed to help them be less fickle. Since I’ve been having such a hard time lately making decent macarons, I decided to go sans-tartar and although I’m not completely sure the problem was the tartar to begin with, the cookies are better today than they were last week.

Since I am quite math-challenged and forgot to multiply my green tea powder by four, the cookies didn’t turn out green at all. Quite sad because they are quite ugly :(

Yucky color

And tip: don’t use even slightly salted butter for buttercream. I thought it would help balance out the sweetness (I was trying to be resourceful!) but god, it was awful. I chucked the whole thing. You’re better off adding a little bit of your own salt and even some lemon juice.

Green Tea with mango buttercream

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Espresso Macarons

I’m not sure if my expectations have suddently become increasingly higher… or I am getting worse and worse at making macarons :( I’m sad to say that it’s probably the latter, but I have no idea why!

My batches this week have only yielded a handful of decent shells; the others I chuck in the garbage out of frustration. If the shells don’t crack, then they are hollow, or they won’t peel away from the parchment paper. I think the last two are correlated… because all the ones I have trouble peeling away are hollow inside. And now I’m beginning to wonder is it because I bake them for too long or not enough? Because actually I have up-ed the baking time from 10 minutes to about 13 minutes… but 13 minutes doesn’t seem too long because the cookie is still a little damp inside (yaknow, the ones that fall apart on me!).

Another big problem I am having is that the cookies are producing beautiful feet in the oven. But the second I take them out of the oven, they are collapsing! I literally watch them fall down. This is super frustrating :(

BUT at least I am getting this flavor down. Espresso was a little tricky because I wanted to use it in liquid form, but was scared to mess up the properties of the batter. I used a trick that I learned from Jen’s Use Real Butter, in which you whisk the liquid to the sugar first, then let it dry. I didn’t want to push my limits so I only used about 1t of espresso. The end result was quite nice! The espresso flavor wasn’t very strong in the shell itself, but just enough there to make you think, Hmm, what is that? When I couple it with my mocha almond ganache, I’ll be honest and say it was glorious.

Since I was disappointed I couldn’t get more espresso flavor in the shell, the next day I tried espresso grinds and incorporated it like I would with matcha or black sesame powder. While the end product was bursting with espresso flavor, it was super grainy from the espresso beans. It was actually pretty gross, so I won’t be trying that again!

You can see the espresso grinds here

Oh well. Next week’s flavor… I think I’ll give Green Tea another shot.

Dark Almond Ganache, Black Sesame Buttercream

My pairings turned out pretty well yesterday so I wanted to share with you :) For my chocolate macarons, I filled them with Dark Almond Ganache. Here’s the recipe I used:

Dark Almond Ganache, adapted from Use Real Butter:

6.5oz dark chocolate
1.5oz milk chocolate
3/4 C manufacturing cream
2 T unsalted butter
1.5t almond extract

First heat the cream to a boil, then pour over chocolate. Leave it alone until the chocolate becomes soft, then whisk in butter until smooth. Stir almond extract in until incorporated.

I wanted more of a almond flavor so I up-ed the almond extract from 1t in the original recipe to 1.5t in mine. The almond flavor was then quite strong, which I personally liked, but also slightly bitter. Next time I’ll decrease it to 1.25t and probably use more milk chocolate.

Now for the Black Sesame shells… I still had left over buttercream so I decided why not? I added 1.5T of black sesame powder to my buttercream and viola, it was amazing! The black sesame powder does WONDERS (I bought mine at Marina, $2.99 a bag!). I especially like that it already comes slightly salty, so it didn’t make the buttercream overwelming at all. YUMMSSS

I also love my new Nikon. The photos turned out beautifully.  YAyyyys :)

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Chocolate and Sesame Macaron

Head’s kinda spinning from my experiments today… Let’s see if I can just type through it. Hopefully I will start making sense somewhere before the end of this post.

I made two batches of Chocolate Macarons a couple days ago. I made them seperately to see if I could get consistent results, and in that regard, I did pretty well since they BOTH failed. Cracks in every single shell and I can’t tell you why.

Well, after today’s experiments, I have a hunch. Two days ago I used four-days old egg whites. I read online that actually the older the better, and that some people find five-days old ones to the best. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. Either way I apparently don’t know how to use them to their fullest potential and thus, those two batches were garbage to me.

At the end of that day, I seperated 6 egg whites to use this afternoon for a chocolate replacement batch. This morning, though, I was eager to use my newly purchased black sesame powder. I knew I was taking a gamble because I didn’t have any more aged egg whites, but what the hell. I seperated 3 more eggs and left them uncovered at room temperature.

 

For egg whites that were only aged about 5 hours, the sesame ones turned out very well, much better than I expected. The feet on them aren’t as distinct as I’d like them to be, but there’s some of it. They did get FILLED too, which I love! Sometimes I have hallowness in my cookies and it makes me sad :( But these are filled and yummy. The only complaint I have with this batch was that they too also browned! Seems like this is a big problem for me… Next time I’ll have to remember to decrease the baking time.

The chocolate batch looked great in the oven (my favorite part is watching them rise in the oven). They began to rise more than I have ever seen, and I thought to myself, YAY I did something right today! Quite sadly though they collapsed immediately after taking them out of the oven. What’s that about, I don’t know. I’ll have to do some googling tonight.

While my sesame ones were slightly over-baked, the chocolate ones were slightly under-baked. From what I’ve seen so far too, some of them are hollow. But maybe the baking time correlates with the hallow shells? Gotta look into that too.

So they might not be perfect, they might not even be sellable, but at least my stomach is happy! Black sesame is already going to be one of my all time favorites. Although I’m not sure how to fill them… I’d love to have the tang yuan filling but that would run right out of the sandwich. Oh well, I bet I will spend the rest of my (sleepless) night wondering about this exact predictament.

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Strawberry Macarons (from fattyChat)

So scratch what I said about my last batch being pretty successful. I think my eyes were just glossed over because of all the hard work I put into a poopy batch. Call them macaron-goggles if you will. Because on second look (the next day), I almost chucked all of them into the garbage. Not because they weren’t edible (because they were and still are), just not sell-able. It looks like my friends will be helping me eat this weekend :)

Since Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and we all will be sick of everything red or pink after Sunday, I decided to bake two batches of just strawberry to compensate for the bad batches. Since I still couldn’t get the coloring right, I up-ed the strawberry powder another 1/2 T to 1.5 T and trimmed the baking time. I usually bake them for 12-15 minutes at 300F. This time I only baked them for about 10 min at 290F, which I think really helped, although it did leave my cookies a little more under-baked the usual. But that doesn’t really bother me. I prefer my cookies to be a little under-baked, much more so than over-baked.

The color turned out much better, though not great. I wish they were a deeper red, like Helen’s Red Berry Macarons, but the problem is I hate to use artificial colors. Well, no that’s not it: I’ve never used artificial colors and I don’t intend on ever doing so. Makes making macrons pretty freakin’ difficult. Thus, I think this is the best I will ever achieve, color-wise.
 
Another tip that I realized is helpful: Get a rubber SPOON spatula. The straight spatulas don’t offer much help when you are folding the meringue into the almond powder, which means you have to stir more, which means you will most likely over-stir, which means you won’t get any feet on your cookies!

To be honest, I’m having a lot of difficulty pairing the macarons with good fillings :( Half of it is laziness but the other half is pure lack of creativity. Today I just opted to fill them with vanilla buttercream because it was easy. My main problem is I don’t want to have to worry about keeping the filling cold. I’d like to have something that can withstand room temperature. So far I have only come across buttercream and ganaches as options. Buttercreams tend to be too sweet for me (maybe I just don’t have a sweet tooth? Nah, that doesn’t seem probable), and ganaches are too overpowering in flavor that it takes away from the almond taste! Ah, problems, problems, problems.
An interesting though though… For my tester cookie I decided to mimic something I found on Jen’s website, Use Real Butter. I put a fresh raspberry in the filling, so when you bite into it you find a surprise!

I decided not to do it with the other cookies because they are strawberry shells, and I thought strawberry and raspberry would be soo much. BUT when I bite into the fruit, it brought out a great tartness that contrasted with the sugar of the buttercream. It was quite yums! But better save this idea for raspberry shells.
 
At least I’m having fun for the time being. I know that once I HAVE to make these macarons (for the store) instead of just seeing if I feel up to it or not, it will no longer have a great appeal. Well, I hope this isn’t the case but it certainly was with my Cheesecake-filled Pumpkin Cupcakes that I made for Thanksgiving. I guess I’ll worry about that when the time comes. Next challenge: Black Sesame Macarons! They look/sound amazing.
 
I hate flash, but proof that they are pink! :)
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Macaron – new flavors! (from fattyChat)

Didn’t get to bake yesterday but I made up for it today! Made three batches of macarons today, all with their own flavors, and had time to squeeze in a huge batch of vanilla buttercream and trial two of the lemon meringue tarlets.

Pretty happy with the results but they could’ve been better. Actually I initially thought today was going to be a complete disaster because my batter was a little more runnier than usual. That, and I couldn’t find my tools! In the end, I still couldn’t find the proper piping tips, which resulted in my cookies being all kinds of shapes and sizes :(
I recently purchased a huge (and suuuper expenisve) jar of strawberry powder so I started with that today. As I previously mentioned, the raspberry color didn’t turn out so well last time so I up-ed it to 1Tb. today, which resulted in a very nice pink color. Unfortunately, the same thing ended up happening! They began to brown in the oven, despite me lowering the temperature a tad. I even tried blanching the raw almonds last time thinking it was the brown casing but to no avail. At least I was on the money with the batters being more runny today. It results in little to no feet at all on my strawberry batch :( I stirred/whipped it one too many times. But they smell good? I’m not too worried since I have friends coming home this weekend that will most likely eat these anyway.

Some browning occured on my green tea batch but it’s still green to some extent. Looks more muddy green in thepicture, but you get the idea. I first only put in 2t. of green tea powder but I wanted a richer color so I added another t. I’m not so sure it was a good choice. Next time I’ll stick with just 2t. But the flavor is great! Really tastes like green tea.

Because I still had a good amount of egg whites left, I decided at last minute to bake a batch of chocolate ones. To be honest, I’ve read a lot of disappointing stories regarding chocolate macarons so I expected failure, and therefore didn’t really care too much about this batch. It turns out NOT caring is the key! This batch turned out PERFECT. Look at the feet on these bad boys!

Couple tips that are working out for me:
– run the almonds and powdered sugar through a sieve
– combine the dry ingredients to the meringue in two installments
I’m thinking I’ll fill the green tea ones with a mango buttercream… weird combo but super asian, no?; the strawberries ones with a strawberry buttercream (to give more color); and the chocolate ones with NUTELLA! If I’m too lazy to get Nutella though I might settle with some left over mocha ganache I have.
Probably won’t have time this weekend to bake any more until Monday but leave comments with flavors I should try :)
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