Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bouchon Bakery Macarons

Remember when we had coffee and I told you not to make macarons? Yea, I still stand by that -- that doesn't mean they don't photograph well though. 

Macarons are by far probably one of the most difficult pastries to master. Seriously. When folks go through culinary school, specifically the baking portion (if they choose to do so), macarons can make or break ya. What do I mean? They could make you hate your life. 

With that being said, why did I wake up one day wanting to make them? Because I saw it as a challenge. And because they are delicious. And pretty.

Nevermind that I haven't had a minute of professional culinary guidance. 

Nevermind that they are one of the most difficult pastry items to master. 

And nevermind that they're so delicate, handling them could make a grown man cry. 

I did my research. Kinda. I watched lots of videos. Scoured many hundreds of recipes, blogs, and pins. What did I decide on? Thomas Keller's macaron recipe. I figured if his 2 inch goodies (get your mind out of the gutter - I know what you're thinking) could draw people from all over and make him boo-koos of dollars -- he must be doing something right. That and the fact that he has a list of accolades the length of The Great Wall of China. He's not just a baker either.

Cue The Bouchon Bakery Cookbook. This book is the real deal. Even if you don't buy it to make macarons, the other recipes will surely lure you in.

I figure if I share the ingredients, you could at least decide if it's something you want to actually do and can go from there. Just go ahead and buy a dozen eggs. You'll need lots and lots and lots of eggs. And a stand mixer. I'm not saying this can't be done without a standout mixer. I am saying that your life would be hell on earth without it. Just keeping it real. And if you want a valuable tip - make your buttercream at night and make your macarons the next day. You'll be less stressed and will probably enjoy everything more if you do it that way :)

This is one of, if not my favorite picture that I've ever taken. And it's of eggs. Such a weirdo I am. #yodatalk

Thomas Keller's Basic Buttercream 

What You'll Need

  • Egg Whites - 1/4 C + 1 tbsp.
  • Granulated Sugar - 3/4 C and 2 tbsp. + 2 & 1/4 tsp. and 3tbsp. + 1tsp.
  • Water - 3 tbsp. + 1 tsp.
  • Unsalted Butter - 8 ounces, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, at room temperature
    • The book offers various methods for flavoring. I chose to add just a few drops of oils and Wilton coloring to my buttercream to make a couple different flavors/colors. The pink is a strawberry (artificial strawberry will never be my favorite, but I was under a time crunch), the purple was just plain vanilla, the cream colored one was coconut, and the brown one was chocolate-hazelnut with a little cocoa powder for color.

Thomas Keller's Vanilla Macarons

What You'll Need

  • Almond Flour/Meal - 1 & 3/4 C + 2 & 1/2 tbsp. 
  • Powdered Sugar - 1 & 3/4 C + 1 tbsp. + 2 tsp.
  • Egg Whites - 1/4 C + 1 & 1/2 tbsp. and 1/4 C + 2 tbsp.
  • 1 Vanilla Bean, split lengthwise
  • Granulated Sugar - 1 C + 3 tbsp. + a pinch for the egg whites
  • Water - 2/3 C

I chose to share the ingredients and not the actual how-to for several reasons:

  • It would take me forever to type it all up.
  • I'm not sure what copyright cat is sitting behind their computer waiting for me to over-share.
  • The cookbook is worth every cent. You could use it as a conversation piece/coffee-table book if anything.

If you get the book and do decide to make them, let me know how they turn out! I went into this with every expectation of failing every step of the way. A little more than half of my macarons didn't turn out, but I still had some totally edible product. No one complained that they were horrible either!

Usually I would attempt to figure out what went wrong and maybe try it again. That will not be happening with these. I repeat, I will not be attempting these again haha. If anything, I'll have them shipped in from Thomas Keller himself. At least I know I tried.


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