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BEND THE RULES: OMBRE MACAROONS


Creative people are inspired by everything around them. They pull in all of their experiences and create something new that pushes the idea forward.

Inspired by the collaboration that HP is doing for the x360, which features various artists from around the world (make sure to check out the video!) I partnered with my friend Kelly from A Side of Sweet on a special project. HP is showing how photographers, graphic artists, typographic artists all come together to create something amazing. We wanted to create something amazing and conquer something on our baking bucket list: the macaron. We didn't want to just make macarons but bend the rules by making it our own. I love working with other bloggers because they help open your eyes to ideas that you may have not thought of before. Plus two creative minds are better than one!

I met Kelly a year or so ago through the blogging world. It's a small tight-knit group in San Francisco. Not only is she a blogger but she is also a doctor. I don't know how she does both but I am constantly inspired by her recipes and DIYs. I was so excited to partner with her to make macarons and spend out Saturday goofing off in the kitchen.

For a baker, mastering the French macaron (one "o" for the French kind) is sort of a right of passage. I don't even come close to being a French pastry chef but making these made be feel a little closer. Kelly and I came up with the idea to try something a little unconventional and paint the macaroons to make they like little pieces of artwork. We both did very different designs so make sure to check out Kelly's blog for splatter paint macaroons.

First off, a few tips for making macarons:

- Enlist a friend to do it with you (it's a long process and you need a buddy!)
- Make sure to purchase high-quality ingredients, they make all of the difference in this deceptively simple recipe
- Get ready for some laughs and frustration (there is a reason these things have a reputation)
- Perhaps take a class before you try or take a class to perfect your art


The original recipe came from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook (one of my favorite places to stop and get macarons) and we found via Annie’s Eats. We’ve made a few notes to her original recipe below.

Ingredients:
212 grams almond flour
212 grams confectioners’ sugar
82 and 90 grams egg whites, divided
236 grams granulated sugar, plus a pinch
158 grams water

Note: This recipe calls for a scale. Since the batter is very delicate, it’s important to measure everything precisely. It is easier to have precise measurements with a scale.

Step No. 1

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F and place a rack in the middle of the oven.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  We traced out small circles about the size of a 50 cent piece on the paper. This will help make more uniform circles.

Step No. 2

In a large bowl, combine the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar.  Whisk together to blend and break up any clumps. To ensure it’s extra lump free, sift mixture through a medium mesh sieve.

Step No. 3

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in 82 grams of the egg whites.  Blend the egg whites into the dry ingredients until evenly mixed.  The mixture will look very much like paste.





Step No. 4

Then combine the sugar and water for the syrup in a small saucepan over medium-high heat with a candy thermometer clipped to the side. Continuously stir to avoid burning the mixture. 

Step No. 5

When the temperature is around 200˚ F, combine the 90 gram portion of egg whites with a pinch of sugar.  Begin whipping on medium-low speed.  Continue whipping the whites on medium speed until they form soft peaks.  If soft peaks happen before the syrup reaches 248˚ F temperature, reduce the speed to low to keep the whites moving.

Step No. 6

Once the syrup reaches 248˚ F, immediately remove it from the heat.  A note: we had to wait for ages to get the syrup to exactly 248˚ F. Be patient! It will get there. Increase the mixer speed to medium and pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow drizzle until fully incorporated.  




Step No. 7

Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip the meringue until stiff, glossy peaks form.  You want the end of the dollop to stick straight up.




Step No. 8

Add one third of the meringue mixture to the bowl with the almond mixture.  Fold in gently until the mixture is smooth.  A bit at a time, gently fold in the remaining meringue until the batter is smooth and runs in thick ribbons off of the spatula.  You may not need all of the meringue, so add it gradually.  We did use all of the meringue and still were struggling a bit to get ribbons but they came eventually.



Step No. 9

Add the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip with about a ½-inch opening.  Hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet about ½-inch above the surface of the pan.  Steadily pipe rounds about 1¼- to 1½-inches in diameter into the circles you traced.  



Step No. 10

I did quite a bit of research and it said to hit the sheets on the counter 4-5 times in order to reduce bubbles. This creates quite a lot of noise but it is worth it not to have holes in your macarons. Then set the sheets aside for about 20 mins until a film begins to form around the outside.

Step No. 11

Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325˚ F.  Bake for 9-12 minutes, until the tops are smooth and set and “feet” have formed around the bottom.  

A note on the feet. Ah the infamous feet. If you squint you can see them on our macarons. They are very challenging to get. I read a few articles and there are a myriad of reasons why you cant get feet: your batter is too dry, too wet, didn’t allow them to rest enough, the oven was too hot, too cold etc. So my advice is to be grateful for the feet you do get and keep on trying.

Step No. 12

Let the shells cool just briefly on the baking sheet, maybe 5 minutes or so, and then peel away from the parchment.  They should come away easily using your hands and fully intact.  Transfer to a cooling rack.  

Step No. 13


Once shells are cooled, fill them with your favorite filling. We used caramel, raspberry and blackberry buttercream. Click the links for the recipes.

A note on painting. We mixed gel food colors with vodka (don't worry, you don't taste it) to get a watercolor effect. Using a food-dedicated brush, gently paint one side and then use less and less as you get to the other edge. It will take you a few times to get it down but you might have a few not perfect macaroons to try on. 







This post was sponsored by HP. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.

Oh and thanks for Kelly for the photos and for being a fun kitchen buddy! We did it, we actually made macarons!


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