2014 Christmas macarons

How did I let December go by without even one post? What a slacker. 🙁

This is a bit of a delayed post because I’ve been ill, and then working a lot, and then there was a flurry of activities around visiting the in-laws for Christmas for a couple of days.

So… macarons. I’ve fallen out with Stella‘s macaron recipe. After a bazillion attempts to recreate my success from two years ago with the recipe, I’ve decided to take a look elsewhere for another recipe to try. I felt traitorous because Stella’s recipe had resulted in some fantastic macarons in the past for me (Strawberries and Cream, Apple and Cinnamon, Pistachio and White Chocolate), but my results are so inconsistent. It could be my technique is always inconsistent, but I had way too many macaron failures this month (cracked, lopsided, etc) when all I wanted to make was plain basic macaron shells, it was getting depressing. I was tearing my hair out in frustration. I just needed a break.

I had also ran out of eggs and had to purchase 2 dozens more.

The recipe I’ve decided to try this time is Helene’s (of Tartelette) basic recipe. I’m sticking to my guns with the French method because I cannot be bothered with making the sugar syrup for the Italian meringue. And also, macarons are French biscuits and I’m picky that way even though I know the Italian method is more forgiving.

I followed Helene’s ingredients, but Stella’s instructions.

And what do you know?

Came out absolutely, stonkingly perfect*. Even, little feet and all and absolutely no cracks. The feet are a bit frilly, but I think this is due to my silicon-coated baking paper (I can’t seem to find normal baking paper anymore!).

I could not believe my eyes.

I could not believe it so much, I did it again around 5 times, following the exact same recipe, using different colours to track my batches. But it worked**!

2014 Christmas Macarons
2014 Christmas Macarons

So now that I have macarons of different colours coming out of my ears, it’s time to share. The flavours are winter and Christmas-themed.

  • Brown – Gingerbread shells with French vanilla buttercream.
  • Green – Toffee apple buttercream.
  • Pink – Port buttercream with winter spices.
  • (Off)White – White chocolate ganache with cranberries.
  • Orange – Dark chocolate ganache with orange zest.

These are packed into personalised holders and distributed to my work colleagues, the unfortunate test subjects for many of my bakes. The winner appear to be Port & Winter Spices and the least favourite is the White Chocolate & Cranberry. I’ve relied on everyone else giving their opinions on these because I didn’t have the chance to eat them myself as I was still recovering from a poorly throat.

I may have to plan next year’s flavours a bit more thoroughly.

* Don’t mind the grainy tops of some of them – I resorted to using Tesco’s ground almonds when I ran out of my normal almond flour supply (Internet-sourced) from my obsessive baking, and it appears Tesco’s ground almonds are just not ground very finely. How not finely you ask? About 50% of it won’t pass through my nylon sieve. I had to pass them through the food processor… and even then it’s not finely ground enough. I will have to revisit this issue to get the smooth top.

** The only time it did not come out perfect was when I tried to flavour the macaron shells by incorporating a small amount of ground up freeze-dried fruit – this batch never made it into the oven because I could feel at the macaronage stage that the mixture was too dry and heavy. I didn’t have that problem with Stella’s recipe, so that got me thinking. I compared the two recipes.

Stella’s have a good amount more egg whites in it, so her recipe has more liquid, and less so of the almond flour and icing sugar. This was probably why incorporating a very dry ingredient like freeze-dried fruit did not suck all the liquid out of the mix, and I had more success doing flavoured shells using Stella’s recipe compared to plain shells. Whereas Helene’s recipe had lesser amount of liquid and higher proportions of almond flour and icing sugar, and when I added more dry ingredients, the mixture felt like I was mixing cement.

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