Delectable Arts

appreciating the tastier things in life


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Silicone Baking Mats FTW!

I bought my first silicone baking mat a while ago, and I LOVE IT!

Initially, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to “invest” in one, but now I have no regrets whatsoever. (As a matter of fact, I’ve purchased a second one since then.) Thus far, I’ve only tried baking french macarons with my fancy-dancy silicone baking mat. I find that the mat really evens out the distribution of the heat in the oven such that each macaron turns out consistently, and you don’t get the lopsided macarons that sometimes occurs when you use parchment paper. However, I do find that I need to leave the macarons in the oven for a few minutes longer, which isn’t a big problem as long as they come out looking perfect. So, here’s my breakdown of the pros and cons of baking with a silicone baking mat:

Pros

  • Even distribution of heat which allows for consistency.
  • They’re reusable, which means they’re eco-friendly.

Cons

  • The baking mats can be quite pricey depending on where you buy them from. I recommend checking on eBay – some silicone baking mats that I’ve seen on eBay even have circular imprints on them so you know how much batter to pipe.
  • You need to leave your baking in the oven for a few minutes longer, but that’s really not a huge setback.

Have you tried using a silicone baking mat? What did you think of it?


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Macaron Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Hollows

As I continue to master the macaron, something strange (and terribly annoying) started happening – I started getting hollow macarons! <Insert sad face here>

I don’t know what exactly changed. It could be that the weather fluctuates so much in my city which causes rapid changes in humidity (which affects baking, or so I’m told). When I first started baking french macarons, they were just right. My macarons were full and chewy on the inside, and crisp on the outside.

But then, one day, I started getting hollow macarons. The large pocket of air inside each macaron made my macarons very fragile. My poor hollow macarons lacked the full, chewy goodness that macarons are supposed to have.

I researched this problem and found out that I’m apparently not the only person who has encountered this annoying issue. Many bloggers have documented this issue and have found their own ways of troubleshooting it. I’ve tried some of their troubleshooting tips, and after four attempts, found a way to deal with the hollow macaron fiasco that was occurring in my kitchen.

Here are the things that I started doing differently:

  • Use a stainless steel bowl to whisk the egg whites and sugar, instead of using a plastic bowl. Plastic bowls are porous, thus they don’t allow the meringue to reach its full volume.
  • Add just a pinch of cream of tartar to the egg whites before whisking. This will stabilize the meringue.
  • Cut down on the whisking time. Instead of whisking the egg whites and sugar for a total of 5 minutes, I cut the time down to 3 minutes, thus whisking in less air into the meringue.
  • Lower the oven temperature to 275°F and bake the macarons for an extra 2 minutes. If the macarons become too hot too quickly, the top will puff up quickly, but the bottom part doesn’t rise to produce the perfect feet that you want.


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Pistachio White Chocolate Icing

This icing is to die for! I just want to eat all of it by myself.

(This recipe makes enough icing for 3 cupcakes or for a batch of french macarons.)

Ingredients

  •  1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter (room temperature)
  • 2 heaped tbsp white chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground pistachios

Directions

  1. Cream butter and icing sugar in a small bowl.
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips.
  3. Add the melted chocolate to the butter and sugar and mix well.
  4. Add the milk to the mixture and mix well.
  5. Fold in the pistachios.

~

If you find that the icing is still really thick, add another 1/2 tsp of milk.


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Pineapple Coconut Macarons

Whoever originally came up with the pineapple-coconut pairing is a freakin’ genius. I’m usually not a huge fan of coconut, but I love coconut when it’s paired with pineapple or banana. 

This time, I decided to try making tiny one-bite macarons. With this recipe, you can make lots of tiny macarons so you’ll need three large baking sheets. I piped very small rounds of macaron batter that are about the size of a quarter. They’re so cute when they’re tiny! They’re also less messy to eat too.

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Ingredients:

Macaron shells

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds
  • 4 tsp shredded coconut
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar

Filling

  • 2 1/2 tsp crushed canned pineapple (drained)
  • 2 tsp finely shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 icing sugar

Directions:

Macaron shells

  1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, process ground almonds, shredded coconut, and icing sugar for about a minute. Scrape along the inside of the food processor in between to ensure that there aren’t any large clumps and that the ingredients are mixed well.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift the almond mixture.
  4. In a small bowl (be sure to use a bowl that’s not too shallow), whisk the egg whites with a handmixer on medium-low speed for about a minute until light and fluffy.
  5. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whisk the egg whites until medium-stiff for about 2 minutes. (If you turn the bowl upside-down, the egg whites don’t slide out.)
  6. Gradually add granulated sugar to the egg whites while continuing to whisk on medium-high speed for another 2 minutes to achieve medium-stiff peaks.
  7. Gradually fold the egg mixture into the almond mixture, adding only about 1/3 of the egg mixture at a time.
  8. Transfer the batter into a piping bag. (Or if you’re frugal like me, you can use a medium sandwich bag instead and just cut a tiny corner of the bag to pipe.)
  9. Pipe batter onto baking sheets. (If you’re making bite-sized macarons, pipe very small rounds that are about the size of a quarter and at least 1/2 inch apart.
  10. Preheat oven to 325°F. Let the batter sit at room temperature for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  11. Turn the oven down to 300°F and put the baking sheets into the oven for 7 minutes.
  12. Rotate the baking sheets and bake for 8 minutes.
  13. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and allow the macaron shells to cool.


Filling

  1. In a small bowl, cream the icing sugar and butter. (I use a single whisk attachment on my handmixer and whisk on low speed.)
  2. Whisk in shredded coconut.
  3. Whisk in crushed pineapple.

~
Fill your macarons, and you’re done!


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Lemon Macarons

Ahh… The refreshing tart taste of lemon! I made a large batch of lemon macarons for family and friends, and everyone loved them. Compared to the strawberry matcha macarons recipe that I’ve already shared, this lemon macaron recipe is a little less intimidating for the beginner macaron baker.

First of all, I love anything citrus. I think I’ll eventually change up this recipe to become a Citrus Blend Macaron recipe, with hints of grapefruit, lime, and orange. But for now, let’s just go with a simple lemon macaron recipe. Lemon is a very powerful fruit so you won’t need a lot of it for this recipe.

Ingredients:

Macaron shells

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • lemon zest from one large lemon
  • 3 to 4 drops yellow food coloring

Lemon icing

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tsp lemon juice


Directions:

Macaron shells

  1. Line two medium baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, process ground almonds and icing sugar for about a minute. Scrape along the inside of the food processor in between to ensure that there aren’t any large clumps and that the two ingredients are mixed well.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift the almond mixture.
  4. In a small bowl (be sure to use a bowl that’s not too shallow), whisk the egg whites with a handmixer on medium-low speed for about a minute until light and fluffy.
  5. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whisk the egg whites until medium-stiff for about 2 minutes. (If you turn the bowl upside-down, the egg whites don’t slide out.)
  6. Gradually add granulated sugar to the egg whites while continuing to whisk on medium-high speed for another 2 minutes.
  7. Gradually fold the egg mixture into the almond mixture, adding only about 1/3 of the egg mixture at a time.
  8. Add lemon zest and fold.
  9. Add yellow food coloring and fold again. (I use liquid food coloring, but most people recommend gel or powder-based food coloring. You should use whatever you’re comfortable with.)
  10. Transfer the batter into a piping bag. (Or if you’re frugal like me, you can use a medium sandwich bag instead and just cut a tiny corner of the bag to pipe.)
  11. Pipe batter onto baking sheets. Try to pipe small rounds that are just under 1 inch wide and at least 1/2 inch apart.
  12. Preheat oven to 325°F. Let the batter sit at room temperature for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  13. Turn the oven down to 300°F and put the baking sheets into the oven for 7 minutes.
  14. Rotate the baking sheets and bake for 8 minutes.
  15. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and allow the macaron shells to cool.


Lemon icing 
(adapted from here)

  1. In a small bowl, cream the icing sugar and butter. (I use a single whisk attachment on my handmixer and whisk on low speed.)
  2. Whisk in vanilla extract.
  3. Whisk in lemon juice.

~

Sandwich just a small dab of icing between two macaron shells – you can pipe the filling or just gently spread the filling with a spatula.

little bags of macaron goodness

little bags of macaron goodness

Enjoy!


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Baking French Macarons: Is it necessary to age the egg whites? (Macaron Wars: Episode I – The Aged Egg Whites)

As I continue my quest to become a macaron master, I came across many recipes that instruct you to age the egg whites prior to whisking them. What that means is you separate the yolks from the whites, put the whites back into the fridge (covered or uncovered), and then leave them for at least 24 hours. Then, you take the egg whites out and let them sit on the kitchen counter until they reach room temperature before you use them. They say that this process of aging the egg whites is to ensure that your macaron shells develop “feet” when you bake them. Macaron feet are the risen part of the macaron, as shown below.

macaron feet

macaron feet

I’ve tried this process of aging the egg whites, and it did not work out for me at all. It could be due to a number of factors, such as the temperature in my fridge, the oven I’m using, or the way I whisk the eggs. Whatever the reason might be, when I tried aging the egg whites, my macaron shells ended up looking like this:

epic fail

epic fail

MONSTROUS FEET! ZOMGS! I give myself an E for Effort (or E for Epic fail).

Yeah, that’s not the look I’m going for…

Maybe the egg white aging process works for some people, but I ended up with hideous-looking macaron feet. On the other hand, my macarons look just fine when I simply take the eggs out of the fridge, separate the yolks from the whites, and use the whites immediately.

Have you tried aging your egg whites? How did your macarons turn out?


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Strawberry Matcha (Green Tea) Macarons

Happy Valentine’s day! Today, I’m sharing my strawberry matcha (green tea) macaron recipe. The matcha flavor offsets some of the sweetness of the macaron shells, and when combined with just a hint of strawberry flavor in the filling, these macarons are so perfect. This is definitely my favorite macaron recipe so far. What’s your favorite?

If you’re new to making macarons, please also read my previous post for some tips and tricks.

Here’s what you’ll need to make strawberry matcha macarons:

(This recipes makes about 56 macaron shells; that’s 28 filled macarons)

Macaron shells:

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds
  • 3 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg whites (room temperature)
  • 2 tsp matcha powder
  • 3 drops green food coloring

Filling:

  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tsp strawberries (roasted and mashed)

Directions:

Macaron shells

  1. Line two medium baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, process ground almonds and icing sugar for about a minute. Scrape along the inside of the food processor in between to ensure that there aren’t any large clumps and that the two ingredients are mixed well. (Special thanks to my friend, Goodies & Kitsch, for generously giving me her food processor. While you’re here, you should go check out her awesome blog.)
  3. In a medium bowl, sift the almond mixture.
  4. In a small bowl (be sure to use a bowl that’s not too shallow), whisk the egg whites with a handmixer on medium-low speed for about a minute until light and fluffy.
  5. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whisk the egg whites until medium-stiff for about 2 minutes. (If you turn the bowl upside-down, the egg whites don’t slide out.)
  6. Gradually add granulated sugar to the egg whites while continuing to whisk on medium-high speed for another 2 minutes.
  7. Gradually fold the egg mixture into the almond mixture, adding only about 1/3 of the egg mixture at a time.
  8. Add matcha powder and fold.
  9. Add green food coloring and fold again. (I use liquid food coloring, but most people recommend gel or powder-based food coloring. You should use whatever you’re comfortable with.)
  10. Transfer the batter into a piping bag. (Or if you’re frugal like me, you can use a medium sandwich bag instead and just cut a tiny corner of the bag to pipe.)
  11. Pipe batter onto baking sheets. Try to pipe small rounds that are just under 1 inch wide and at least 1/2 inch apart.
  12. Preheat oven to 325°F. Let the batter sit at room temperature for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  13. Turn the oven down to 300°F and put the baking sheets into the oven for 7 minutes.
  14. Rotate the baking sheets and bake for 8 minutes.
  15. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and allow the macaron shells to cool.


Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Rinse 2 large or 3 medium strawberries, hulled and cut into halves.
  3. In a small oven-safe glass pan, bake strawberries for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Let the strawberries cool before draining the strawberry syrup. (NOTE: You can save and refrigerate the strawberry syrup to use later on pancakes or cheesecake.)
  5. Mash the strawberries and drain the excess syrup. You only need about 2 1/2 tsp of mashed strawberries.
  6. In a small bowl, cream the icing sugar and butter. (I use a single whisk attachment on my handmixer and whisk on low speed.)
  7. Whisk in vanilla extract.
  8. Whisk in strawberries.

~
Sandwich just a small dab of filling between two macaron shells – you can pipe the filling or just gently spread the filling with a spatula.

Are you tired yet? 🙂 Yes, that was quite a bit of work, but just look at this:

strawberry matcha macaron

strawberry matcha macaron

Trust me, it tastes just as good as it looks.

Try this recipe and let me know how it goes for you. 🙂