Friday, January 22, 2010

Lemon Mascarpone Macarons



Macarons! Woo!

After almost 2 weeks of fiddling with recipes and methods, I've finally settled on something that works consistently for me.

I made dozens of batches, adjusting the temperatures, the pans and liners. I've had my oven's convection on and the convection off. I tried using my cavernous gas oven vs. my standard electric oven. I've used fresh eggs and I've used egg whites aged at room temperature for 24, 48 and 72 hours. I've used the sucre cuit method and french meringue.

I made a lot of cookies and some really, really big messes.

Macarons couldn't be simpler when it comes to ingredients, but they are maddening to execute well. They are frustrating little cookie divas.

Finally though, after hours of baking I've got the techniques down. I've developed a very familiar relationship with my ingredients and more importantly, my ovens (you should see the burns I am sporting this week). It has paid off though, with several batches of gorgeous macarons. Ones with lovely feet, good bodies and nice non sticky bottoms (I suppose out of context that would sound a little weird).



I had success with both the french meringue method and the sucre cuit, Italian meringue method. And while I love the delicate texture and the tall profile of the french meringue macaron, I absolutely adore the smooth perfect shells obtained with the sucre cuit method. So, I've decided to use the cooked sugar method for my first completed (filled) batch of macarons.

I used La Cuisine de Mercotte's Italian meringue recipe as my starting point when I began experimenting two weeks ago. I've made some adjustments to correct some of my early awkward feet issues. This recipe does work beautifully, near perfect macarons save a few issues I had with my feet (likely due to my execution or perhaps my old pans were not perfectly level). So I began experimented with the recipe's ratios and came up with my own.

Syrup & Tang gives his formula in a scalable ratio and I thought that was rather handy so I'm going to use it here to illustrate the differences. (Also, I highly recommend Syrup & Tang for anyone looking to troubleshoot their macarons)

Scaleable Macaron Ratios:
Almond meal : Confectioners Sugar : Egg White : Sugar

1.50:1.50:1.0:1.85 La Cuisine de Mercotte

1.25:1.25:1.0:1.54 Not so Humble Pie

1.35:1.35:1.0:1.35 Syrup & Tang

A little confusing? Don't worry, I'll post the recipe below.



Not So Humble Macarons (Italian Meringue Method)
150 grams almond meal
150 grams confectioners sugar
120 grams egg whites (room temperature)
185 grams granulated sugar
50 grams water
gel food coloring

You will need 2-3 baking sheets for these (4-6 if you use stacked pans), depending on how closely you pipe them.

I had the most success with good quality aluminum pans. In fact, I went out and bought 6 new half sheet pans just to improve the results of my macarons. I really needed to upgrade and this was the perfect excuse to do so (I'm very happy I did). I double layered the pans, to help insulate the bottoms and I found it worked great. I also used silicon baking mats (though parchment works just as well).

Prep a large pastry bag with a #11 Ateco tip (or a similar medium sized round tip, little under 1cm) and pre-heat your oven to 320-325 degrees (you have an oven thermometer, right?).

You will need a candy thermometer for this method, as it will require bringing the sugar syrup to a precise temperature.

Also, I should note I didn't age the eggs for this batch, though after all my testing, I feel it does give a slight edge to do so.

Weigh out your confectioners sugar and almond meal and give them a whirl for a minute, pulsing in a food processor. Some people sift them together, but I find that the food processor works best. (A few sites also suggested toasting the almond meal in a warm oven to enhance the flavors and help dry it out, but I didn't feel like this gave better results.)

Pour the almond/sugar mixture into a bowl and set aside.

Weigh out 60 grams of egg whites into the bowl of your stand mixer (make sure the whites are yolk free and your mixer's bowl and whisk attachment are very clean and free of any traces of oil). Also measure out 35 grams of granulated sugar into a small bowl and set it near the mixer.

Weigh out another 60 grams of egg whites into a small bowl and set aside.

Weigh out 150 grams of the granulated sugar into a small sauce pan. Add 50 grams of water to the sugar, attach your candy thermometer and place it over medium heat.

(Note: Even in my smallest sauce pan this mixture is only about 1/2 an inch deep, which was/is difficult for my candy thermometer to read accurately (we're talking -50°F!). I had to gently wash the sugar syrup up a little higher (about the 1" mark) on the thermometer using a spoon to get an accurate reading. So, keep that in mind if you have a similar cheap candy thermometer)

Okay, now you're ready to rock and roll.

When the sugar hits 190°F, start beating the egg whites in your mixer on medium low speed until foamy, while keeping a close eye on the sugar syrup. No need to stir the syrup, just let it come to a boil over medium heat (you're aiming for 230°F). Once the eggs are foamy, slowly add the 35g of sugar and beat to soft peaks on medium speed.

When your sugar mixture hits 230°F pull it off the heat, increase the speed of your mixer to medium high, and slowly pour in the syrup. You want to let the mixture trickle down the side of the bowl, so doesn't splatter and get tossed onto the sides of the bowl. You want the sugar in your meringue, not a candy coated bowl.

Now you can relax, the hard part is over. Allow the mixer to beat the meringue for about 5-8 minutes until cool.

While waiting for your meringue to cool, combine the remaining 60g of egg whites with the sugar/almond mixture and mix until well combined. Add any food coloring you wish to use now, aim for a little darker than your goal as it will lighten considerably when the meringue is added.

Once the meringue is ready, add it to the almond/sugar mixture and quickly fold it together. You should fold until it is just barely uniform, using as few strokes as possible. It is very, very important you don't over mix as the batter will thin considerably with each stroke of the spatula. Your batter is perfect when you lift your spatula and a thick ribbon slowly cascades off, back into the bowl. Though I tend to err on the plop/thick ribbon side of things. If that makes any sense... which I'm sure it doesn't.

Now you're ready to fill your piping bag. If the mixture is just right, it will ooze from the tip slowly under its own weight. (If it oozes out quickly, something went horribly wrong and you'll need to start over.)

Pipe 3cm macarons onto your baking sheets, spacing them a few centimeters apart.

Once you complete a full pan, knock it on the counter gently, to bring up any bubbles and quickly pop them with toothpick.

Allow the macarons to rest like this for 15 minutes. (They can sit longer if you want to bake one or two sheets at a time, but will develop slightly thicker shells)

Bake at 320-325°F for 14 minutes.

Almost looks easy, doesn't it...

Once done, remove from the pans using the silicone baking mat and allow to cool completely (about an hour) before attempting to remove them from the mat. If you're having trouble even after an hour, pop the sheet into the freezer for about 5 minutes and they should pop off easily.

Now they are ready to fill.



For these, I wanted something a creamy and tart to help offset the sweetness of the shells. I'm in love with this mixture of lemon zest, mascarpone and lemon curd. It is a perfect silky and brightly flavored accompaniment to these little cookies.



Not So Humble Mascarpone Lemon Filling:
275 grams marscapone cheese (chilled)
150-200 grams lemon curd (I used the recipe found: here )
zest of one medium lemon

Mix the ingredients together until smooth; adding more lemon curd to intensify the lemon flavor. Fill a piping bag with the mixture and use to sandwich your macarons.

To store, keep the shells chilled in an air tight container. Bring the macarons to room temperature and then fill before serving.

Enjoy!

The very last bite of the very last macaron.
Matured for 2 days and oh so good.


I love taking photos of these cookies... is it obvious?

47 comments:

  1. Wow, thank you so much for this recipe. I tried macarons when I visited Paris years ago and miss the macarons dreadfully.

    One question though, what do you mean by "pluck" the macarons with a toothpick?

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  2. Pop the bubbles with the toothpick.

    I'll change that to prevent any further confusion.

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  3. Oh! What I wouldn't give for a plate of those! Yummy!

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  4. Wow, they're perfect! This is a challenge I still have to tackle in my life... sigh.

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  5. Ah those look absolutely stunningly fabulous! I'm in love with the color too - so soft, so sophisticated! The mixture of lemon zest, mascarpone and lemon curd sounds so good to me too. Bravo!! :)

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  6. These look amazing, but knowing how long it took you to perfect them o in my heart of hearts I know my new high quality aluminium pans would be thrown through a windown before I managed to make any myself....

    .....which means I have to come to your house. I'm on my way to Heathrow

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  7. I haz spelling and grammar fail

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  8. I certainly would say you have mastered the macaron. They are positively beautiful!

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  9. Yay Congratulations on finally finding that perfect recipe. It was truly a labor of love :)

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  10. They look nice in your hand I'm sure tastes good health is

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  11. My son said "Those look good. I want. They look like a burger made of candy.

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  12. Wow, all your trial and error really paid off! Your macacrons look perfect and so delicious. Great flavor combo as well. Thanks for going into such detail about the method; most recipes seem to assume you know what to do! Now we can all have macaron success too :)

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  13. I wanted to add: I just finished the chocolate mousse you posted couple of days ago and---

    Oh. My. God. It is HEAVEN. I don't even want to bring it to the dinner party I made it for tonight. And I'm not even a chocolate fan. Thank you!

    Next time I think I will try infusing it with Lavender water, I love chocolate and Lavender together.

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  14. So I love macarons and I had no idea that you even knew what they were - let alone could recreate them in the Humble kitchen. I should have known better. You know, I pay about 2 Euros each for these (which equals about 1 MILLION US dollars) at a fancy shop in an airport on the other side of the world from you. I pretend that I am bringing them home to share - then I eat every one of them before I even get on the plane. If I promise to be good when I come to town will you make some for me? If you say no, may I remain you of a certain painful birth that I had say about 30 years ago?

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  15. T.

    I'm so happy you enjoyed the mousse!

    Mmmm. Lavender scented mousse sounds so divine.

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  16. Breathtaking photo... recipe looks amazing too!

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  17. I gave these a try today. It all looked beautiful, I made them pink and was quite excited to see the results. However, after baking them, they had earth shattering cracks! Any idea how to fix?

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  18. I'm not very experienced with troubleshooting macarons. In fact, I've never dealt with cracked macarons (yet). My troubles always centered around cookies with slightly lopsided feet.

    I'm going to refer to the much more experienced macaron maker Syrup & Tang regarding the cracking:

    "Cracking: a few minutes after going into the oven, some macarons batters will develop fissures. In my experience this is the result of (1) overmixing, or (2) rushing the piped batter straight into the oven." (http://www.syrupandtang.com/200712/la-macaronicite-2-basic-technique-and-simple-macaron-recipe/)

    I wish I could offer my own advice, but if I've learned anything from baking these cookies is that it takes a lot of trial and error, both with the batter and getting a feel for your oven.

    I thoroughly recommend reading all of Syrup & Tang's detailed guides to macaron baking.

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    Replies
    1. What was your solution to lopsided feet? Also I found that as the batter sits results vary greatly. Meaning my first batch was the best since I don't have as many baking sheets I had to take turns so the results were different. The one set that sat out for 30 mins - the shells got so hard the cracked.

      As I write this I noticed that lopsided feet was an issue with parchment but not silicone, so could be a pan issue. Pans were moving as I removed them.
      Thanks for the recipe.

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  19. Very pretty as always. I'm sure your food tastes wonderful-mine does too! But who can make things look quite like that? I'm envious. Cam

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  20. P.S. I had a very pretty looking and a very tasty creme brulee today and it made me think of you and your blog! :)

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  21. These are beautiful macarons - absolutely perfect.

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  22. great combination...and perfect pictures

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  23. They are stunning and very impressive. I'm too scared to try to make them though! lol

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  24. These look so good! Thank you for posting the recipe! I'm curious what kind of food coloring you used for your macarons? The blue is gorgeous!

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  25. Thanks Amie!

    Unless I specify otherwise in the recipe (like the red velvet cake) I always use Americolor gel food colorings.

    The blue macarons were colored with a mixture of royal blue and violet.

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  26. Thanks for the tips!!! A must try....although I'll have to buy additional sheet pans!

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  27. They are absolutly perfect !! bravo

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  28. These look fabulous and I want to try them, but can I ask how many egg whites is 120grams? I've never heard of them being measured in grams before :)

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  29. I've just discovered the Queen of Macaroons! Compliments, I love your blog, and after this detailed instruction about how to make macaroons I have no excuses, I must to give a try. I'll keep on reading you. :)

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  30. oh your macarons are amazing!

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  31. These are gorgeous. I must try them. Love your blog.. you do some beautiful work :) Emanuela(thefoodiegoddess.com)

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  32. just wanted to let you know i tried your macaron recipe here and made raspberry macarons.. they turned out amazing! it was my 2nd attempt after a major macaron massacre on my first try.. I've been reading your other macaron blogs and you are simply amazing! and very inspiring.. i'm going to be baking more macarons for xmas!

    sylvia @sephieskitchen.blogspot.com

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  33. they look amazing!!! so perfect ^^ i was wondering.. what kind of oven and oven setting did you end up using?

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  34. Gorgeous! I have to make these with my homemade Mascarpone Cheese! Thanks for Sharing such a Fantastic Recipe!

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  35. Just took my breath away. Got here from Nics, and have to say these are drop dead gorgeous. Had a question? Do smaller batches work well with the Italian method?

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  36. So excited to find your blog. Tried these out last night with so-so results. Off to the kitchen to see if I can get there. Your photos are superb. I think they might be the best macarons I have seen!

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  37. I love you soooo much for the recipe & most of all - inspires me ! I thought I was the only one facing 'failed' attempts! I get mine came out from the oven gorgeously on my 5th attempt!

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  38. Thanks so much for this recipe! I've made it several times now, with perfect results (I even used fresh cold egg whites last night, after breaking the glass that my day old room temp egg whites were in!). LOVE your scientific approach to these finicky cookies.

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  39. Hello Mrs. H, your macs look absolutely devine!! Hope you can help me with my completely hollow hollow macs. I am using 100% liquid egg whites, and aging them. However am not able to get the right firmness to the meringue. Have you ever had success with using liquid egg whites instead?

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  40. Great post! I've been following your macaron 101 posts too - so helpful ^^ (thank you!!!)

    I just made the lemon mascarpone filling for some lavender macarons I made. Absolutely heavenly. Not oversweet, super lemony. I'm thinking of making your lime tart, but with lemon curd.

    Your blog is my now go-to blog for desserts <3

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  41. hey there!
    These are the most perfect macarons.....they look most scrumtious. I have two questions, what do you mean by half sheet pans?!? I am sorry, I am from England, and I have never heared of them?? :( also, how do you weight your egg whites please? thank you soo much!!xxxx

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  42. I made the macaroons (first time failed, 2nd time worked!!) but the filling seems too runny to hold macaroons together. What have I done wrong do you think?

    Wonderful blog by the way, I'm in awe of your baking skills!!

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  43. I'd like to make these for my daughter's wedding. Is it possible to make them ahead and freeze them?

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  44. I'm not Ms. Humble,
    But last year I made 3 kind of macaron and froze them so I could bring them to a charity event on a saturday, I'm guessing it took me 3 weekends to bake enough and I froze them until the night before, then I moved them to the fridge the day of, by the time I went to the event and they were served they had sat at room temp for at least 5 hours and they were still good. The only caution is is make extra as frozen macarons can shatter if dropped or say your husband puts something else on top of then in the freezer... (i had stored them in ziplocks sure to freezer space.)

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  45. Hi babe, I have made Lemon Mascarpone Macarons that with lemon curd. The problem I have for mine is that the mascarpone and lemon juice are softer than ganache so after some time, it softens the shells and make them crush quite easily. wonder if you have that problem with yours as well.

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