Valentine’s week I attempted the Bouchon Bakery macarons, twice. I didn’t get them quite right and not because of the recipe. It is a solid one and I plan to use it in the future but I need to experiment with placement in the oven so they bake properly. In this post I go into detail on the process. The filling is a raspberry buttercream that I made by flavoring a French buttercream with seedless raspberry jam.
Macarons are gluten free because the base is almond flour which is simply ground blanched almonds. How is almond meal different? The almonds are not blanched so there are bits of the skin which don’t affect the flavor but visually the macarons will have specks and the texture may be a bit grainy. I used almond meal from Trader Joe’s which is really inexpensive, about $4/lb vs $10 for almond flour. It is not the best for macarons because it’s not fine enough even after I ground it in a food processor. When strained there is too much of the skin left. For any other recipe, I always use this almond meal and it is fine.
Batch No. 1 consisted of three trays like this. Complete disaster. I’ve actually never gotten cracks on the top before. So I concluded 2 things from this:
1) Oven temperature was too high- Using a standard oven I preheated to 400 and lowered to 325 just before putting the macarons in. I thought maybe because my oven was old it didn’t lower in temperature quickly enough so they cracked.
2) Macarons did not sit out to form a skin prior to baking
Batch No. 2 I let all three trays rest at room temperature for an hour to form a skin and waited 5 minutes after lowering the temperature to 325 before putting them in the oven. 25% cracked.
The thing is, I shouldn’t need to let them sit at all. For the batter, you make a cooked meringue by cooking a sugar syrup and adding it to whipped egg whites. This makes for a drier, more stable batter. The consistency is really stiff so more mixing is required to loosen it to the right stage before piping onto the sheet. Second, once they’ve been piped they can go right in the oven.
Final conclusions: I talked to some other macaron testers and found that there is a certain spot in the oven that is best for the macarons. I’ve heard it is on the top rack whereas I’ve always used the middle. I think for Batch No. 3 I will try each tray on a different rack to see what happens.
I wanted the raspberry buttercream to have a strong flavor so I used approximately 1/2 cup of seedless jam.
x o x o
Since it was Valentine’s Day week I played around with some food coloring diluted with vodka and painted onto the assembled macarons. I’ll need a new way for painting because when the macarons were defrosted, the coloring smudged. Freezing the macarons is important though as the shell absorbs the filling and softens.
Read the Project recap on the Macarons
Bake with us!