Macarons are a big deal for most people who bake. They’re notoriously finicky, although sometimes I think their difficulty is overblown. There are many factors that can ruin the macaron shells. They need to be baked to just the right temperature. Most macaron-making tutorials say that the egg whites need to be aged overnight in the refrigerator. There are a multitude of opinions about using a food processor vs. not and whole almonds vs. almond meal. It the weather is too humid, watch out. Oh, and if the whites aren’t properly whipped, you won’t end up with that holy grail of macaron making, the feet.
I prepared for making my first batch of macarons by cramming as much information into my head as possible, as if I were taking an important test. I read online tutorials, blog posts, magazine articles, cookbooks, and whatever else I could get my hands on. I aged my whites overnight. I searched high and low for whole blanched almonds, with no luck (they’re strangely difficult to find in stores), and went with Bob’s Red Mill almond meal instead. I mostly followed the advice of Joanne Chang in the linked recipe, and even watched the video online to master the piping technique.
Everything went smoothly. I used a strainer to get a smooth almond and sugar mixture. My egg whites whipped up nicely. I decided to use Silpat instead of parchment because everything I read said that the shells will turn out more even on Silpat. I even used the macaron template from The Daily Palette under my Silpat so I’d have evenly spaced and sized macaroons (very helpful, actually).
The first few shells I piped out were a little shaky, but I quickly got the hang of it and was happy with how they looked. Then I let them sit out to dry until they were no longer tacky. The article says 30 minutes. I heeded Anna‘s helpful advice to let them sit out even longer, until the tops were completely dry (I’m glad I did – at 30 minutes they were still pretty sticky).
The shells baked up beautifully. I got the all-important foot formation and was pleased that they turned out so well on my first try (maybe a little bumpy on top). Until I let them cool and began to try to remove them from the sheet pans. They stuck. The innards of every shell stuck to the Silpat as I tried to carefully remove them. It was painful, like ripping out the guts of every beautiful macaron one after the other.
The good news is that the remains of the macaron shells tasted wonderful and had a really nice texture. But I’m pretty sure I didn’t cook them long enough, which is why they stuck. So… on to round two. The lemon curd filling went into a jar and I gave it to Assana to enjoy instead.