I’ve been making all kinds of excuses for the past year or so, trying to justify why I hadn’t yet attempted that most tempestuous & persnickety of French confections, the macaron. First I wasn’t confident in my egg white whipping skillz. Then I didn’t have enough baking sheets. Then I didn’t know how to handle the pastry bag situation. But slowly, I overcame each of those minor obstacles and had to come to terms with the fact that I was just plain scurred!

See, I’ve been spoiled… I’ve had moderate success with most of the culinary experiments I’ve attempted in the past year (with the exception of those lavender-infused brigadeiros and that first S’mores Pie, but I totally redeemed myself the second time around). In short, I haven’t met with real failure in the kitchen yet. But, you never learn if you don’t try right?

So I got down to it the other night for my mini dinner party…

Started out by obsessively drawing 2-inch circles on my parchment-lined baking sheets to act as a guide.

Then I measured out my ingredients… 1 1/4 cup almond meal… In hindsight, my almond meal was probably a little coarse for macarons, so I’ll try grinding my own almonds next time!

Sifted the almond meal into a bowl to remove any clumps.

Sifted 1 2/3 cup powdered sugar…

And then sifted the two together (can you tell I like sifting?)…

Then I took 3 egg whites, aged at room temperature for about a day and a half…

And beat them to a soft peak before adding in 1/4 cup white sugar along with 1/4 tsp cream of tartar.

Sidenote: I’ve never used cream of tartar to stabilize whipped egg whites before, mostly because it’s a little spendy and I don’t think I’d use it for anything else. But after this experience (and the absolutely GLORIOUS whipped egg whites that ensued), I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

I, Lauriebot, believe in cream of tartar.

Then I folded my gorgeous egg whites into the almond meal & powdered sugar mixture. My recipe warns about the dangers of over-mixing, and even though I thought I was erring on the side of caution, I may have over-mixed these bad boys because a few of the baked shells ended up cracking on top and sticking to the parchment. Live and let learn, I guess!

After I’d finished folding, I piped little circles of dough onto my prepared baking sheets. I got about 36 little cookies out of the deal.

While my macarons were baking (only took about 12 minutes), I prepared the fillings. I planned on eating most of them as plain halves to be served alongside my pots de creme, but I wanted to make a couple filled macarons too, just to try it out! I decided on two flavors, a white chocolate ganache and a raspberry preserves ganache.

Started out with about 1/4 – 1/3 cup heavy cream.

Brought it to a boil…

Measured out a few teaspoons of raspberry preserves…

And a few teaspoons of white chocolate chips…

Divided the boiling cream between the chocolate and the preserves and stirred each one vigorously until they were each fully incorporated and melty!

Raspberry ganache…

White chocolate ganache…

Then I set them both aside to cool and thicken. I really thought the white chocolate ganache would be the winner, but it was just okay. The raspberry ganache totally stole the show!

By this point, was macaron shells were done and it was time for the moment of truth. The timer went off, I hesitantly opened the oven door and pulled out the trays…

And they were actually kind of pretty! Yay!

I’d say about 60% of them came out pretty well; they were a little chewy and not as puffed as I’d like, but they were still pretty tasty! The other 40% either cracked or were so stuck to the parchment that when I tried to pry them off, their innards totally came out. So I’ve got a little practicing to do, but I’m confident that with a few more tries I can make beautiful little macarons too!

Scooped a little ganache onto a few of the shells and topped them with a similarly shaped shell. Drawing guidelines totally helped me out; if there’s one thing my macarons had going for them, it’s that they were totally uniform!

Served the rest of the shells plain with the Chocolate Whiskey Pots de Creme (the recipe for which will be in my next post)!

Recipe adapted from all over, but mostly Tartelette & Syrup and Tang

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