For those of you that don’t know, my [Jenn’s] birthday was recently! Sarah and I like to set some time aside to celebrate our birthdays together each year. So, three years ago, when Sarah asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday BFF celebration, I suggested we take a crack at making macarons together! We had recently fallen in love with the delicate, chewy, beautiful, incredibly photogenic, French desserts. We knew from the first stages of our research that they would not be the easiest things to make, but we set out on the adventure together! The results were delicious, but not that pretty. 😀 😀 We’re not sure if you know this, but macarons are hard-work! Since that first try at making them, we’ve taken to scoping bakeries and craft shows looking for them instead. Locally, we’ve tried them from The Sweet Praxis, Sugar & Co., & @saltedsyracuse!
Since our first try at making them, we’ve been pretty happy leaving it to the professional bakers and just being macaron taste-testers & critics. That’s until last week when Sarah asked me what kind of BFF adventure I’d like to have to celebrate my birthday. I figured it was time to try again, and baking is a great BFF activity for us (we love to get crafty in the DIY kind of way and… food!). She was so totally, emphatically down for the challenge!
We decided to make strawberry colada and a matcha chocolate macarons. We used the same recipe for both sets of macarons.
For the matcha ones, we added Sarah’s stash of matcha green tea to the almond flour and confectionary sugar. We added coconut extract into the mix for the strawberry colada macs. We then prepared a simple chocolate ganache for the filling. The first time we tried to make them, we also did two different flavors, so no big deal, right!? I was a little nervous, but we made our grocery list, scanned our kitchens for what we had on hand, and came together to shop for the rest of what we needed. Before heading back to Sarah’s kitchen, we stopped at Michael’s to check out what they had for baking decorations. So many choices! We settled on some Wilton Edible Accent Pink hearts for the strawberry colada macs and a Sweet Sugarbelle Edible Rose Gold dust for the matcha macs. ‘Tis the season for some pink, hearts, and sweets!!
Sarah and I make a pretty awesome team if I do say so myself. We’ve had 8+ years of practice, after all! So getting down to work with the recipes was easy – we quickly and naturally divided our tasks and got to it. We recommend if you ever try to make macarons, to purchase a more efficient sifter to sift the almond flour and confectionary sugar together. We did not have one. We did not have an easy time of sifting the almond flour. We laughed through it though, and I managed to sift everything before my hands fell off (need those to hold my camera, thanks!). If you checked out the links to the recipe above or know a little about macarons, they entail making a French meringue batter. Meringue can be finicky to make, so we made sure to follow the advice of wiping down with vinegar the baking tools that would come in contact with the egg whites to a T. We achieved lovely meringue with stiff peaks! Another tool we found that is essential to this process is Silpat mats with guiding circles on them. Sarah made the piping look easy (after I made a mess having a go at it, myself!), but it’s definitely something that requires practice (when are we making them again, Sarah?! Hehe).
After resting the macarons for 40 minutes, we put them in the oven and eagerly awaited our results. We were happy to see through the oven window that they were growing their signature “feet,” we noticed they weren’t quite getting a “crown” – but boy were those shells smooth! That sifting was so worth it. Our batch three years ago was bumpy because we totally ignored the sifting step. Oops! While they cooled, I researched reasons why they did not “crown” – puff up – as much as they should have. It seems that the shell batter was over-mixed. See, once the meringue is made, the dry ingredients must be incorporated into it. It’s one of the many tricky processes in this bake. There’s a fine line between under and over-stirred. Thank goodness that this mistake doesn’t affect the taste! I have been thinking about what I can do differently during this step next time. If any of our readers have any tips on macarons, we’d love to hear about them!
Of course, Sarah took photos during our adventure!! I’m super happy that we took more photos this time than last time. I look forward to trying our hand at more macs in the future, fully documented with photographs, too! Check out some snaps from our baking BFF adventure.