I have a macaron obsession. They are lovely little bites of sweet and even better to eat. I dream about Pistacia Vera and their signature macarons, with their cheerful colors and mouth-watering flavors like cocoa cassis and Madagascar vanilla bean, but sometimes I dream bigger. Ingredients like rose, lavender, anise, blood orange, hazelnut and white chocolate linger in the back of my mind. Oh, the possibilities!
But I was nervous. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and anyone who knows about the macaron-making process understands that even the experts can fail a batch or two. No pressure there, right? Well, Sunday was the day. In honor of Helen (of Tartelette fame), who did a workshop on her fabo macarons at The Broke Socialite's SugarComa in Atlanta over the weekend, (not even going to go into how amazingly jealous I am to have missed it!!) I tackled my very first attempt at macarons. And I didn't just do any ol' recipe, kiddies. This was Helen's own PB+J macaron recipe...I mean, if you're going to fail, make it a delicious fail, right?
Prepped all of my ingredients first. I chose a 50/50 unsalted peanut + whole almond mixture and ground them together in the processor, rather than using almond flour. This was partly due to the difficulty in finding almond flour near me and upon Helen's suggestion.
I spared you the shots on what a disaster my kitchen became (confectioner's sugar is messy!) and went right for the piped macarons. Though I went in and carefully folded and blended the dry ingredients into the egg white peaks, I know I should've backed off just a bit, perhaps over-folding just slightly. Also, my piping tip was too big (used what I had...a 1" tip.) By trays 5 & 6, I had the sizing and piping technique a bit better and those macarons turned out a much better shape and size. It wasn't critical for me on this first try, but I'll invest in another smaller piping tip (my garbage disposal ate my last one, boo.)
Though they rose more than I had anticipated, I still think a few less folding strokes early on would've produced a bit taller macaron. However, the consistency is pretty decent and they are really tasty! FYI, to compliment the peanut butter filling, I used a seedless blackberry jam, which was a great choice. The color is pretty and the taste is fresh and organic. Perhaps they aren't the prettiest things ever, but they taste really good! I forgot to sprinkle a bit of crushed peanuts on top. Next time, I'll do that to make them look a bit more finished and add a little crunch.
All in all, I'm really happy with the result. Practice will definitely improve the results. Bubs did freak a little when he ate one and that's nothing short of a victory in my book. I learned a lot, feel accomplished and had fun but more than that, I lost my fear of trying out something new. This is just the beginning, I can tell you that much. Maybe this summer it will be an attempt at a macaron ice cream sandwich à la Jeni's Ice Creams :)