We had a club executive meeting before the semester began and realized two things:
- Total club assets = $6 (Canadian, so even worse than you think)
- Apart from our exec team, we have no continuing members
The solution? Well, to #1 at least: a bake sale ASAP.I figured that I had better practice…or rather, figure out whether macarons would be feasible for me to attempt for the bake sale. Last time I made macarons, I based it off of Lili’s Italian meringue method. This time I was hoping to make the quicker French meringue method work for me. I used Philip’s French meringue macaron page as a guide–it is fabulously comprehensive and replete with troubleshooters and tips.
There are, in particular, two clever recommendations from Philip’s page that I think can be carried to any macaron methodology or recipe that you prefer. First, work with ratios, basing the mass of your ingredients on the mass of your egg whites. It is so much easier, and I enjoy the flexibility. Second, grind together and sieve the almonds and powdered sugar in a large batch ahead of time, thus having enough for a few batches of macarons. This whole grinding and sifting thing is quite frankly why I really never make macarons, because it is so very tedious. Now that I have a plastic tub of preground nuts and sugar in the cupboard, I’m already thinking about future batches.The macarons are based on Mont Blanc, a cake with plenty of chestnut and cream. I whisked a bit of chestnut flour into the shells–I think the taste was barely perceptible when the shells were eaten on their own, and unnoticeable with the filling. It may have slightly, slightly tinted the shells and provided some darker speckles, but for the most part it was inconsequential.
The filling was very quick and easy–a ring of sweetened chestnut puree and some whipped cream in the centre.The smaller macarons didn’t have enough room for the whipped cream, and so were just filled with chestnut puree. I valiantly tried to skip passing the chestnut puree through a sieve, but couldn’t even pipe one macaron without clogging the piping tip, so unfortunately a second round of sieving is required for these macarons. So, I do think macarons will work for the bake sale (they will probably be a flavour more marketable than chestnut though). I’ll need to improve my piping though–I sort of gave up trying to pipe them all the same size, and so you can see quite the variety. I put together a template for next time to try slipping under the parchment.
I also think I may have beat my egg whites a bit too much–closer to firm peaks than soft (I occasionally need to be reminded that more voluminous is not always better–this is a helpful visual guide for egg whites). I think this might have been the cause of the air bubbles I had in the shells–they were quite noticeable right after the shells had been piped. That being said, while some bubbles expanded with baking to create the odd errant bump (they’re quite noticeable in the overhead photo above), it didn’t turn out as bad as I feared–for the most part the shells looked relatively presentable.
And a question: what other baked goods are good for bake sales? (In the first place, are macarons a good idea?) I think the important criteria are: nothing immediately perishable, easy to transport and sell individually. Now that I think about it, might be nice if they were quick and easy to make as well…mont blanc macarons
108 g powdered sugar
108 g ground almond
87 g egg white (2 and a bit)
87 g granulated sugar
8 g chestnut flour
For a more fleshed out procedure and helpful tips, see the guide linked above.
Line a couple baking pans with parchment paper.
Combine the powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor and process–we want the almonds to be quite fine. Sift through a fine sieve into a large bowl.
Whip the egg whites until frothy, then add the sugar and continue to beat until they form soft peaks when the whisk is lifted up. Use a rubber spatula to transfer the egg whites to the dry ingredients. Fold together in a figure-8 manner using a rubber spatula. Continue folding until the batter becomes looser and shinier, and ribbons of batter will sink into the surface within 30 seconds.
Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a decently sized plain tip, and pipe the macarons. Allow to sit and dry until they form a slight skin–the macaron shells will not be sticky when you touch them.
While the shells dry, preheat the oven to 300F.
Bake the shells for 13-16 minutes, turning the trays at 6 minutes. Check the macarons if they are done by lightly trying to lift them. The macarons should hold together. Allow to cool before removing from the parchment paper.
Pair each macaron with one of a similar size.
250 g chestnut puree
50 g butter
40 g granulated sugar
spiced rum, to taste (a few capfuls or so)
100 mL heavy cream, whipped
Press the chestnut puree through a fine sieve. Beat with the butter, sugar and rum. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a Mont Blanc multi tip. Pipe a ring of chestnut puree around the edge of one macaron shell in each pair, going around each shell twice (to build up a nice amount of chestnut puree). Dollop a small amount of whipped cream in the centre. You can gently cave in the top macaron shell to accommodate any excess whipped cream before placing it on top of the filling. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
Due to the moisture of the whipped cream, by the second night the macarons became a bit too soft, but still held together. By the third night, they were mush!