Not my macarons...Pierre Herme's (the holy grail of petit fours)
I made my first macarons over the weekend. Well, my first attempt at macarons. They weren't perfect, but were nonetheless gobbled up completely by J and his sisters.
It all started with a craving for custard. As a result of that venture, I had five orphan egg whites with nowhere to go. It usually takes me hours, even days, to work out what to do with leftover egg bits. This time was different. I just knew I wanted to make macarons. Not macaroons. Macarons. Yes, those angelic pastel pillows of meringue squished together with oozing butter-cream or ganache. Those famously elusive shells perched ever so precariously on those fluffy feet.
Having decided to make macarons, I Googled. After much investigation, I decided to start with the French meringue approach, using almost the exact recipe found on Serious Eats (I added a bit of vanilla when folding meringue into the amond/sugar mix, or if you want to be fancy, tant pour tant).
I whipped. I folded (perhaps a bit much). I piped. 20 minutes later, my first tray of macarons were in the oven. A further five minutes later had me prancing around J gleefully proclaiming "They have feet! They have feet!" In the end, the macarons were ok. They didn't rise quite as much as I would have hoped, but they did have a crisp shell and the cutest little feet. Unfortunately they also had a bit of an air pocket between the shell and the body of the macarons, and due to insane stickiness, many of them left their insides behind on the tray (a condition colourfully chronicled at Syrup and Tang). I think this was due to slight over-beating and the thin-ness of the trays I used. Still, they disappeared quickly.
I still had some egg whites left over the next day, and decided to try again with the Italian meringue method, having heard that it was more reliable. I used the recipe from Syrup and Tang and again added some vanilla while folding.
I don't have a sugar thermometer, so I used the cold water test. Again, I whipped, and folded, and piped. 5 minuted after inserting into the oven I was wailing at J "No feet! They don't have feet!"
This time my macaron troubles were reversed. They dried out nicely, didn't brown too much, and didn't stick at all. But, no feet! And no shell. While J and his sister both affirmed their deliciousness, I was not consoled. No feet! I think I actually under-mixed, having over-beaten my batter the day before.
So there you have it. My first (imperfect) macarons. They will be better next week.