For our fourth wedding anniversary, I promised my wife I'd make her something. On our honeymoon in Paris, we ate nothing but macarons, so I thought I'd give them a go. I was a bit frightened by their notoriety for fickleness, but once I bought up all the ingredients, I was locked in.
I used this YouTube video as my main guide:
No good reason. The chick's voice was just too hot to pass up. Also, she has some very helpful troubleshooting tips. But seriously, watch the video in private and enjoy.
The first few batches were disaster. The biggest problem was that I kept over-mixing the batter. The macaron lady says 50 folds. But I kept finding that my batter would go from dry and crunchy to watery and soupy within 10 or 12 folds. The batter needs to be right in the middle: smooth and oozy, but more viscous and less liquid. I realized that I must not be beating the egg whites stiff enough to begin with. She says 10 minutes of beating, but in our KitchenAid at max speed, it really needs more like 15-16 minutes. After I tried beating the egg whites longer, I found that the folding-in of the almond meal and sugar went much more gradual and I could control the pace better.
After that, it's all easy as pie. You just pipe the batter onto parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes at 300 degrees. Once the folding of the batter was nailed, I could pump out batch after batch with near perfect consistency. No pancake macarons. No cracked macarons. No stuck macarons. They all looked perfect, like they would in a decent patisserie, including the "feet" (the rough bottom edge of each macaron top).
However, there was a further hang-up. For flavors, I picked red bean and black sesame. To do the red bean, I chose to flavor the filling (a butter cream). For the black sesame, I chose to flavor the macaroon tops themselves (to be combined with vanilla butter cream filling). The latter did not come out as consistently. By adding ground black sesame seeds to the batter, I must have sufficiently messed up the mix such that it didn't bake right. Inexplicably, half the black sesame macarons came out fine, while the others looked good but were crunchy inside instead of pillowy. I will need to experiment with this. Maybe the solution is to reduce the amount of almond meal to compensate for the added black sesame.
For the butter cream, I used this recipe: http://www.yumsugar.com/Basic-French-Macaron-Recipe-21651110
No good reason again. Just looked simple.
Anyway, I'm fairly happy with my efforts and think the next time around will go much smoother now that I know what to look out for. I want to try both flavors again, but am considering others. Suggestions?