Remember when I shared the video that was going to be used for a bake-along in the Great British Bake Off Fan page? Well, that happened this past weekend. I did not know exactly what to expect, but I can tell you this was one of the most rewarding experiences ever for me! Many, many bakers took the challenge of baking French macarons, most doing it for the first time, and I kept following their pictures and questions as they did it. I know macarons are finicky, I have bakes that turn into epic disasters, but everybody seemed to have fun and made some pretty awesome-looking macs! Of course, seeing so many macarons popping on my screen, made me itchy to bake some. I wanted them to be colorful, fun, with a happy aura, because happy is how I still feel about the bake-along. Thank you to all who participated, thank you Caroline and Christine for making it happen… I am still in awe.
HAPPY SWIRLS TONKA MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)
For the shells:
200g Icing/powdered sugar (1 ⅔ cups)
115 g Ground Almonds/Almond Meal (1 + scant ¼ cup)
115 g egg whites at room temperature (approx. 4 eggs)
1/8 tsp of cream of tartar (optional)
100 g granulated sugar (½ cup)
¼ tsp vanilla paste or extract
pink, blue, and yellow gel food color
Line 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment/baking paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered/icing sugar and ground almonds/almond meal in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 12 pulses. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl or to a sheet of parchment/baking paper. Set aside.
Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.
Slowly rain in the granulated sugar in five additions, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme (marshmallow fluff). Add the vanilla. Whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.
Fold in the ground almond/almond meal mixture in two increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. When the mixture is starting to get incorporated but still looks a bit rough, divide in three equal amounts in small bowls (eyeballing is fine). Add color to each bowl and proceed to finalize the macaronage with the color mixed in. With such a small portion, they get to the smooth stage quickly, so be careful, the moment you can do a figure 8 as you pour the batter from the spatula, stop folding it.
Put the mixtures in three different small piping bags. Prepare a large piping bag with a large round piping tip (WILTON 1A) and place the three smaller bags inside after cutting them open. Pipe shells, I like to count numbers in my head and use the same count for each shell so they end up similar in size.
I pipe inside the circles to about 1 ¾ inches/4.5cm but you can go to 1 ½ inches (3.8cm) & the macarons will spread & fill the circle while drying.
Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter/worktop. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. In a dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.
While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F (150 C/130C Fan oven/Gas Mark 2). Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide or move (independently of the ‘feet’ when you gently twist the top), then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. Check one or two. If they move when gently touched, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes until they don’t move when touched. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. The macarons should release without sticking.
Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and add a good amount of filling to the bottom of one of them. Place the other on top and squeeze gently to take the filling all the way to the edge. Store in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.
for the filling: use the tonka bean whipped ganache as described in this post.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: I am still debating whether I like the additional decoration of the silver “splash.” Sometimes less is more, right? But I wanted to take them into the “galaxy environment. Basically you mix pearl dust powder with alcohol, and use a brush or a toothbrush to flicker little spots on the shells, after they are cold. Keep in mind that it is going to be messy, so I advise you cover your working surface with some plastic wrap and then space the shells a bit to work on each one independently.
I think that the splashing effect is better with a solid color or maybe with two colors only. Still, it was fun to do it. The tonka bean ganache was hanging around in the fridge since my last adventure with it (remember the bonbons?) so I just used it all up for this little project.
One more thing to keep in mind if you mix three colors. In my tutorial video I tell you to keep the piping bag vertical and just pipe the shells without moving it. Well, if you want to get a more swirled effect with the colors, you should VERY GENTLY make a circular movement with the tip as you pipe. Be gentle, it is a very subtle movement. You can do that for some shells, pipe vertically for others, pretty soon you’ll realize how to get the effect you like.
Macarons are just so much fun! Everybody agrees….
If you did the bake-along and for some reason your macs did not turn out the way you wanted, don’t be discouraged. They are finicky creatures and often small details can make them fail. Just try to do another batch as soon as possible, while you have all the boo-boos fresh in your mind. Send me an email if you need help at sallybr2008 at gmail dot com.
Before I leave you, I would like to share a photo of macarons made by Amanda, who participated of the bake-along. The reason I picked her photo when there were so many wonderful ones made in the group? She failed at her first attempt, they did not turn out good. She went back next day, after going over the video and the recipe again, and made these babies, that would make Pierre Herme’ proud.
They are delicate, perfectly shaped, elegant, with perfectly piped filling. I swear she made me do a Super Extended Version of the Very Happy Dance.
Again, thank you to all who participated, I had no idea it would be so exciting to be the hostess of a bake-along. I might have to come up with another tutorial at some point. Just let me make one thing clear. Gingerbread sculptures are OUT of the question!
ONE YEAR AGO: Chocolate Tartlets with Honey-Caramel Filling
TWO YEAR AGO: Zucchini Soup with Tahini
THREE YEARS AGO: Black Sesame Macarons
FOUR YEARS AGO: Fine Tuning Thomas Keller
FIVE YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Tortillas
SIX YEARS AGO: Majestic Sedona, Take Two
SEVEN YEARS AGO: Secret Ingredient Turkey Meatballs
EIGHT YEARS AGO: Swedish Meatballs and Egg Noodles
NINE YEARS AGO: Italian Easter Pie
TEN YEARS AGO: Black Olive Bialy