Sunday, May 3, 2015

8th Grade Great Macaron Throwdown

Happy Garçons Paris 2015

Tomorrow is the big day.  Our Macaron Throwdown.  Two of the young ladies in my B period class have organized a macaron competition.  It is strictly voluntary participation.  I think ten of us are competing.  Well, I am not really competing.  Everyone in the class will sample the macarons and vote for the best one.  There will also be a contest for figuring out flavors.  The girlies are putting it together and they will tally up all of the votes.  I will supply the prizes.

Many of my students love to bake.  We sample goodies all the time.  I love that they want to learn to cook and that they want to try French recipes.  They can earn some extra credit points doing this. They put together presentations on the school iPads of their efforts and show them to their classmates.  We then get to sample.  Some of them put me to shame.

Especially this weekend.  I HAVE made macarons before, several times, en fait.  Lemon, chocolate, vanilla.  I have photos to prove it.

This weekend, however, was one of epic flops.  Not once, but twice.

Attempt #1 (making Italian meringue)--

Batter too runny, but I baked them anyway just to see... I was expecting a miracle, peut-être?  Well, I didn't get one.  There was sticky, gooey macaron batter everywhere.  I finally got it all cleaned up (or so I thought until the next morning) and went to bed, after setting the alarm to get up at 6:00 am to run to Harris Teeter to get more eggs.

Attempt #2 (French meringue this time)

They looked great on the baking sheet.  I was certain success was mine.  Until I opened the oven door and saw that they had cracked, had gaping holes, the insides had spread out, etc.  I used cold egg whites.  Bad decision.

I decided to give it one last try.  I set out the egg whites to come to room temperature (they are supposed to "age" but the threshold for time wasn't going to allow for that this time).  The Ex-Ex and I headed to have lunch with his parents in Washington, NC.  While riding along, I realized that I did not want to try lemon ones again.  No more lime zest.  Sick of yellow.  And I found out that one of the girlies is bringing in lemon macaron.  I took that as a sign to try something new.

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again." -- Thomas H. Palmer
"Never, never, never give up."  --Winston Churchill
"After all, tomorrow is another day."  Scarlett O'Hara

I googled macarons and found a recipe for coffee ones.  Filled with Nutella.  A winning combination if I've even heard of one.  So, I dragged Mildred the Mixer out one last time, weighed and measured all the ingredients, fitted the pastry bag with the nozzle once again, and ripped off some parchment paper.

Voilà!  Success.  "Third time's the charm." (I tried to find the origins of this one but ran out of patience.  Sorry.)

Coffee Macarons with Nutella Filling
from Allie at

Makes about 36 macarons (I came out with 24- probably because I piped them larger)


120 grams almond flour
200 grams powdered sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso granules
100 grams egg whites (about 3 large), room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of kosher salt
30 grams granulated sugar
Nutella spread (about 1/3 cup)


  1. Measure the almond flour, powdered sugar, and espresso powder into the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse the mixture to a fine powder, and sift.  Re-process any large bits that remain, and sift again.  Discard any large bits that still remain.
  2. Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on medium speed until frothy.  Slowly add the granulated sugar (about a teaspoon at a time), while continuing to whip.  Once all the sugar has been incorporated, turn the speed up to high and whip until the meringue look glossy and holds stiff peaks.
  3. Dump all the almond flour mixture into the meringue at once.  Fold together until the batter falls from the spoon in one long, continuous ribbon.
  4. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip, and pipe rounds about 1-inch in diameter onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  Slam the baking sheet on the counter to force out any large air bubbles, and allow to dry for 30-45 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325˚F and bake for 15-16 minutes.  (I baked mine for 14 minutes.) Cool completely on the baking sheet, then peel off and sandwich with Nutella.
My little hints and confessions:
I also used the for advice. 
I have a small scale that measures in grams.  It is more accurate than cup measures and I am glad I use it.
I made a template for my macaron-piping by tracing the bottom of a spice container onto parchment paper with a Sharpie.  I then placed another sheet of parchment on top of the template and piped, saving my template for the next time (after I've recovered from this weekend).
I am lazy.  I did not sift as much as I should have.  By round 3, I didn't sift at all.  Shame on me.  I was just worn out.  I did use the food processor to eliminate some of the little lumps, though.
After filling the macarons, put them in the freezer.  This will help bring out the flavors and meld them.  Take them out an hour or so before serving, though, and let them come to room temperature.  If you don't have room in the freezer, put them in the refrigerator.

Bonne chance, bon courage and bon appétit to all macaron makers out there.  They are worth the effort.  Merci to Pierre Hermé and his fabulous little cookies for inspiration.  Je t'aime, Pierre!