Apr 17, 2013

Mini Macarons

I fell in love with these delicate treats in Madrid's Mercado de San Miguel, they quickly if not instantly became a favorite. I made excuses and tricked my friends into going with me so I could get my little pieces of heaven. Since then, I've been trying to recreate them, the first times were tragic, they are most definitely not a piece of cake. But with countless trials and errors, a million tutorial videos, numerous baking blogs and two books. I can now say I've conquered one of my biggest baking goals: french macarons.


Macarons are intimidating. Even if their base ingredients are only four, you have to get these four ingredients perfectly. Any variation, as small as it is, will ruin your batch, so don't be so hard on yourself if the first ones are not Instagram-worthy. You'll get there. (I'm still to get there, mine are nowhere near perfect yet.) But do as I did, prepare yourself, do some research, watch as many as Youtube videos as you can, so you get the sense of what the batter should look like, how they stir and mix.. you get my point. The first time I made them I was nervous, for they are not a cheap treat. If I ruined it, I would have felted it more that if I ruined a batch of say.. brownies. That first time, I took the time to peel, roast and grind almonds to make my own almond flour, thinking I couldn't find it here in Tegucigalpa. But I asked around and found a couple of places where you can get it! I was lucky the first time I made them for they were not half bad, for me they were c'est magnifique!


Now, let's talk about these macarons. I chose chocolate because its my Father's favorite and he is my main "customer", and the coffee buttercream filling was my Mom's request. I also made them mini, since they kept complaining they're too sweet (as if "too sweet" is a thing), but they're the ones I bake for, so I'm open to their suggestions. And actually, mini macarons look super cute!



For 26 chocolate mini macarons you'll need:
3/4 cup almond flour
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp powered cocoa
2 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tbsp cream of tartar 

For the coffee buttercream filling:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup ground coffee
3-1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp milk

Directions:
  • Mix together the almond flour, powdered sugar and cocoa in the food processor for about 30 seconds, you need the ingredients to combine and to any big chunks of almond disappear.
  • Take out the mixture and sift it, if any pieces remain on the sieve throw them back in the food processor and process again. Sift again, if some pieces still remain (brats).. throw them into the mix anyways.
  • Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper, really make sure they're evenly covered. (you don't want your macarons to dry forming oddly shapes).
  • Using an electric mixer and a large bowl. Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until snow-like then gradually add the granulated sugar until a satin shaving-cream texture is achieved. You're meringue should be thick enough so that firm peaks form, if not continue mixing until they do.
  • Now, incorporate the dry ingredients gradually, folding them in with the help of a rubber spatula. Use both a folding motion and a pressing motion, don't treat the mixture so delicately. What you're trying to achieve is to deflate the egg whites. It will take you about 40 strokes to do so, the consistency you want your batter to have now is lava-like.
  • Introduce the batter into a piping bag using a circle tip, I used one that's shy of a centimeter. Now pipe the batter onto the parchment paper, creating small circles, for these mini ones the circles I piped where about 1.5 cm in diameter and 52 of them. Don't pipe them so close to each other nor the borders of the cookie sheet since the batter tends to run a bit. 
  • When you're done with your pipping, slam the cookie sheet hard against the counter once or twice to release any air bubbles trapped in the batter.
  • Let the macarons sit out on the counter, at room temperature for 30 minutes prior baking. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
  • Bake your macarons for about 18 minutes, or until you can peel the parchment paper cleanly away from the macarons. If you can't pick one completely because the center is still gooey they need to go back into the oven.
  • Wait until the macarons have cooled completely on the cookie sheets to removed them, using your hands or a metal spatula.
  • While your macarons are cooling, using an electric mixer beat the butter until soft and creamy, add the ground coffee and beat until well combined.
  • Add the vanilla extract, salt and milk. Beat until everything is creamy and all the ingredients mashed up completely.
  • Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fit with a small round tip, pipe circles onto the flat part of your macarons forming sandwiches with a pair.
  • Now sit back and enjoy your beautiful and delicious mini macarons!

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