Guest Post: Baking Perfection

I’m sorry I have been so off the radar with commenting lately (it is usually my procrastination) but this exam period, I have dedicated myself to cramming for two tests in the next two days, and a giant bowl of popcorn with ‘Under the Dome’ 😛

So close to freedom yet so far…

But instead of lamenting over my upcoming demise, I would like to share with you guys an amazing as blogger who has the baking skills of a king. Ok, maybe not a king because kings usually didn’t cook but um… how about the baking skills of the Muffin Man who lives on Drury Lane? 

Cos if this guy made gingerbread men, they would definitely come to life with all that flavour! Anyways, enjoy his fabulous (as you have already seen) macarons! I am salivating sitting here!

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Hey there! I’m DJ, I’m the slightly crazy, baking obsessed guy behind the baking blog Baking Perfection. I can’t believe I’m doing a guest post on gobakeyourself! I was set up to do I guest post about a year ago or so but due to some issues I was forced to bail last minute. I’m super grateful that CCU is giving me the opportunity to redeem myself! Now, on to the food…

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My wife and I recently had a baby girl so needless to say we have been pretty busy. My blog has been on the back burner as I figure out how to be a parent which is NOT very easy. Coming into this guest post, I knew that I had to bake something awesome.

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Though time consuming, French macarons are my absolute favorite thing to make. They also tend to be a bit tough to master. I get a fair amount of questions about macarons, so I wanted to create a post to help you get through it. It will take some time to master these, but once you do, you will most likely achieve celebrity chef status among all of your friends. I like to get down to the food, so I hope you enjoy this recipe and I really hope you give these a try, you’ll totally be happy you did!

Vanilla Bean French Macarons

Makes 56 small filled macarons (1.5 inches)
Shells adapted from Macarons by Cecile Cannone

Ingredients

Macaron Shells:

  • 2 3/4 cups – almond flour (I like unblanched but most use blanched)
  • 2 3/4 cups – powdered sugar
  • 1 cup – egg whites (from 7-8 eggs) at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup – superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and scraped

Vanilla Bean Buttercream:

  • 1 1/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and scraped
  • 1 1/4 cup – powdered sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon – vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon – heavy cream

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 (160 degrees C) and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Blend the almond flour with the powdered sugar in the food processor to make mixture as fine as possible (or sift together, discarding any large crumbs and adding a bit more almond flour and powdered sugar as needed to compensate). Sift the mixture through a strainer until it’s as fine as you can get it. This keeps crumbs from forming on the macaron tops as they bake.
  3. With the wire whip attachment on the electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt and the powdered egg whites (if you’re using), starting slowly and then increasing speed as the whites start to rise. Add the granulated sugar and the vanilla bean scraping. Beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks and your meringue is firm and shiny.
  4. Fold the egg whites into the almond meal mixture, using a rubber spatula. Now hit the spatula against the rim of the bowl until the batter falls in a wide ribbon when you raise the spatula. When you can’t see any crumbs of almond flour and the mixture is shiny and flowing you’re done mixing.
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  5.  Fit your pastry bag with a number 806 round tip or equivalent. Pipe the batter into even circles. I like to pipe mine about 1 3/4 inch diameter but you can make them bigger or smaller if you’d like. Be sure to leave about 1 inch of space between macarons so they will not touch each other while they bake. (If the peak that forms on the top of the macaron doesn’t disappear after piping, it means the batter could have been beaten a little more. To eliminate the peaks, tap the baking sheet on the tabletop, making sure to hold the parchment paper in place with your thumbs).
  6. Let the piped macarons rest for 15 minutes before baking.
  7. Bake for 14 minutes. After the first 5 minutes, open the oven door briefly to let the steam out. Don’t forget to do this, it’s very important to get the excess moisture out of your oven.
  8. Let the macarons cool completely on the pan before taking them off the parchment paper. Press the bottom of a cooled baked macaron shell with your finger; it should be soft. If it’s hard, reduce the baking time for the rest of your macarons from 14 minutes to 13 minutes.
  9. For the buttercream, beat butter until fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and the vanilla bean scrapings and beat until fully combined.

Buttercream + Assembly

  1. Slowly add the powdered sugar in two additions to prevent making a huge mess in your kitchen.
  2. Add the cream and turn the mixer to medium high and beat for about 4 minutes until nice, fluffy and smooth.
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  3. Once the macaron shells are cooled, pipe a small amount of buttercream on to the middle of one shell. Very gently twist another shell on top of the buttercream.
  4. Store the filled macarons in the refrigerator. The buttercream will harden so let the macarons sit out for 15-20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Tips:

  • Almond meal or almond flour is just finely ground almonds. You can buy it blanched and unblanched. When almonds are blanched, it means that the outer skin has been removed. I like unblanched almond meal because I like the look of the little specks of the skin in the finished macarons.
  • If you “age’ your egg whites in the refrigerator for one day in advance, it will help a little of the moisture evaporate, giving you a better chance of success. If you don’t have time to do this don’t worry, just add about 5 minutes to the resting time before baking and that will help.
  • If you live in a very humid area, add 2 teaspoons of powdered egg whites to your fresh egg whites to help stabilize.
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  • It’s harder than you think to make consistent circles with the batter. I made myself a template to put under the parchment so I know that all of my shells will be exactly the same. My template has fifteen 1 3/4 inch diameter circles. Once you pipe the shells onto the parchment, you just pull out the template to pipe the next batch.
  • Remember, these are very temperamental things to make, if your first batch or even second batch doesn’t come out quite so pretty don’t worry, you WILL get the hang of it and make perfect macarons. Practice makes perfect!

Baking Perfection… it’s an apt name right for a blogger who can make macarons that look like this no? Thanks so much DJ for helping me out with my exams, I totally owe you!

If you want to see loads more amazing recipes (which I have to catch up on drooling over), be sure to head on over to Baking Perfection now! 😀

Au revoir mes cheris (and for once, my nonsensical french tidbits make sense with the recipe!)

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40 Comments

  1. Tammy says:

    Wow these look amazing!! 😀
    I have a weakness for macarons I must admit though I have yet to actually make them myself. They are just so dainty and beautiful looking. I feel like it may be something out of league, but they actually sound pretty easy to make. Will be trying.
    You certainly redeemed yourself. Congrats on being a new parent and job well done on your guest post.
    Uru, I hope you are well and I cannot wait for your return. xo lovely~~

  2. mjskit says:

    Very nice to meet you DJ and congratulation on that cute little girl!!! I’ve never made macaroons primarily because they are so time consuming, so I’m always amazed when I see perfection like this. I know they taste even better than they look and they look amazing!!!

  3. helene dsouza says:

    Hi DJ, it’s nice to meet you. Congrats to the baby girl, she is a beauty. =)
    I just peeked over your blog and I can see a great amount of marvelous baked recipes, you seem quite daring. 😉

  4. kitchenriffs says:

    Macarons can be tough to make! Temperamental, as you say. Really like the idea of the template so one’s piping will be perfect! Great guest post — thanks so much.

  5. shenANNAgans says:

    WOWZA…. Absolutely amazing. I’ve never made Macarons before, they always seem like such a technical dessert. These look awesome tho, I shall concur my fears and have a crack at making some these holidays. Gorgeous pic of your little poppet with the pumpkins too. 🙂 Thanks CCU for intro-ing all these amazing bloggers. It’s great!

  6. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef says:

    What a cute family AND you get to eat those macarons. I haven’t made them for a while and it’s about time I get back in the kitchen and have a go. 🙂

  7. G’day! Love your little pumpkin too and having made macarons before…congrats! Yours looks delicious too! Choc Chip Uru…am sure you will look forward when exams are done and can look back on this part of your life and laugh! Cheers! Joanne

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