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My reaction to June’s Monthly Miettes challenge was a combination of elation and fear. Buckle up ladies and gentlemen…we’re making macarons! I knew the day would eventually come when our group would have to tackle these trendy treats, but I thought creator Aimée White of Food: Je t’Aimée would hold off until later. Much later. But here we all are, mere months into this fun project and Aimée has thrown down the pastry gauntlet. Gotta say I applaud her decision!
While I enjoy consuming macarons, previous to this challenge I’ve never attempted to make them from scratch. What can I say? Renowned for being virtually impossible to get right due to their finicky temperaments, I have purposely avoided these sweet delights. The challenge is that so many things are out of your control, the affects of which can be fatal to these delicate pastries. Some of the more common causes of failure include humidity, oven temperature, and the quality of egg whites.
Not to be confused with coconut macaroons, macrons are a meringue-based pastry made from egg whites, icing sugar and ground almonds. While these confectionary treats have been around for centuries, macrons as they are known today are credited to famed pastry shop chain Ladurée.
The key to a perfect macaron is the little lip (technically called a ‘pied’ or foot) that rims each one, the tops smooth and shiny, texture chewy and meltingly light. As for fillings, traditionally macarons are sandwiched with buttercream, ganache or jam.
A variety of macaron flavours are included in the book, but I opted to make the original Parisian variety with a simple buttercream filling. Rather than using pre-ground almond meal, the recipe calls for grinding your own almonds to ensure better control over their consistency. As for the signature pied, according to the folks at Miette the trick is to let your cookies rest at room temperature for two hours.
I gotta admit that I fully anticipated failing miserably with this recipe test. After all, it was my first attempt and I know pastry chefs who have spent years trying to conquer the macaron. So imagine my surprise when I pulled the cookies out of the oven and found them to be…well…perfect!
Check out my little beauties!
The texture was the perfect balance of crispy and chewy, the buttercream was divine, and I cannot wait to make them again and experiment with different flavours.