Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My continued Macaron fails and semi-triumphs


It's been a while!
Brian and I just moved into our new place and needless to say things are messy (still) and kinda hectic.

Ever since moving into my new house baking and cooking has been a regular thing. I LOVE our new kitchen and plan to use it like crazy.

One of the things I used to bake ever since a few years (omg, it's already been years..) ago are MACARONs. It's been so long and overdue for me to write about my fails and wins with these guys.

Macarons are tricky.
I am no photography pro so pleas excuse these extremely amateur and quite awful shots.

Since I've moved, I have seriously tried well over a dozen batches (sometimes 2 tries a day) and it's been failure after failure... until today.

I present to you-- 3 batches of macs.  My obsession has been taken over by the scientific side of me and I have started documenting the macaron process for last 5 batches I've attempted.

These macs were from 3 batches, 3 days.
From here on forth, they shall be called purple, white and pink.


Close-up of purple.
Notice the large (very high) and bubbly feet.  These have been resting a few days so they are getting quite soft during the photo session and the tops are starting to sink in a the bottom. 

Very "domed" on top.  Feet formed, perfect size but almost concaves in a bit??  Decided to make mini ones this time around. 

If I may say so myself, these look pretty good.  Good feet, doesn't like.. spill out and smooth, beautiful shell that's not too fragile.

Purple - Fragile ish tops, VERY fricken hollow. Before leaving them to mature with the filling these guys were very hard, and shells would shatter when I bit into them.  It was like eating a puff of air. In addition, the insides were pooled at the bottom and were terribly chewy :\

Purple - Tops came right off with a gentle tug.  Huge hollow between overly chewy top and gummy bottom.

White - This attempt much better.  Shape was good, feet good, texture, BETTER. The innards filled up more of the macaron space, but still left a hollow.  I could still (with some effort) lift the shell from the bottom. This time, shells were a lot stronger. 

White - me lifting shell.

Almost perfect. Beautiful texture, slight hollows, probably a TAD undercooked!

Oops, squeezed this one a bit too hard and the bottom shell cracked. Great feet profile though!

Another innard shot. I love it. Still small hollows but really almost perfect.

My recent 3 batches, stacked together :)

Macaron graveyard!

Here's my successful recipe to make the PINK batch --
PLEASE NOTE: Everyone's oven behaves differently.  What works for me in my kitchen may not work for you in yours. You may have a bunch of fail batches before you discover what's right for you. (sorry).  I suggest investing in an oven thermometer to find out how accurate your oven is.  

1. 2 large egg whites -- I left the egg whites on the counter at room temperature for 24 hrs before using them, I honestly can't say if this makes a huge difference
2. 3/4 Cup ground almonds - I used THIS
3. 3.5 Tablespoons granulated sugar
4. 2/3 Cup powdered sugar

-- This recipe makes approx. 2 trays of mac shells.

I do no recommend whipping egg whites by hand, unless if you have extremely strong forearms.  I use my handy Kitchenaid.

- Sift together powerdered sugar and ground almost, set aside
- Whip egg whites on medium (kitchenaid 4) until frothy, gradually add granulated sugar, increase speed a little ( to kitchenaid 8) and continue to whip.  Sugar will become incorporated at this point.  Beat to stiff peaks, and meringue will have a shaving cream like consistency and clump in the whisk but NOT be clumpy or appear to break apart.  Do not overbeat.
- Incorporate the sifted sugar/almond meal mixture into the egg whites with a rubber spatula.  Do this by adding 1/3 of the dry ingredients at a time, mixing gently until all incorporated.  To create an even consistency, I use what I call a "scratch" and "fold" technique.  I would kinda scratch the surface of the mixture, then bring my spatula under the mixture and bring the mix up onto itself.  I will create a video of this later if this technique is consistent.  You don't need to be too gently, knocking some air out is good.
- Continue folding mixture until mixture is still a bit thick and lava like.  When you pick up the batter with your rubber spatula, it should drop back down in very thick ribbons.  Mixture should be shiny and NOT runny.  If mixture is runny, you may have overfolded.  Take your time, evaluate one fold at a time.  This will take practice and getting a feel for the right texture.  
- Dump batter into a piping bag, I use a size 12 tip, some prefer size 11 or even a bit larger (1/4 - 1/2 inch) and pipe circles of your size choice.  Mixture spreads a bit, so please leave at least 1 inch inbetween macs.
- When done piping 1 tray, bang it on the counter a few times to release large air bubble. Rotate and bang some more.
- Allow tray to rest at least 15 min before baking
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 13-17 min. Check them each minute after 13.  They're done with you try to gently grab a shell and the top and feet are secured together.

Hope that helps, and best of luck to anyone who tries it out.  Would love to hear your macaron stories!!
If you have any questions, please ask and I'll try my best to answer!

In addition, please check out these lovely new bracelets in our shop:
CLICK the photo to visit the listing!!

As well as a new statement ring:


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New Sale of Rings & Balms!

Just a quickie note--

There is NEW SALE up on our ShopLately storefront! Click HERE to shop our latest collection of little rings, earrings and some of your favorite lip balms!

Here's a quick peak:

Hope everyone is doing well! The weather here is becoming nicer and nicer-- I'm looking forward to bringing my workout outside in preparation for our July Tough Mudder!