Monday, May 10, 2010

and finally. . . macarons!

Mom and sister enjoying their first macaron.

Finals ended last week, and it feels great to be somewhat less busy. I turned in a 20 page paper about genetic biases in viral genomes after having to remake all the data about 4 times. I presented my sequence data for lab group #2, whose PI was impressed enough to offer to pay for my summer school in Wood's Hole. I discussed my new research ideas with both advisors, and got optimistic responses. Life is treating me pretty good.

My first attempt at macs

In other news, I got my first road bike. It seems like everyone in Boulder has one, and I was feeling a little left out when my friends would go out for long rides. I've been riding as much as possible, and Saturday, a friend took me up to Jamestown, which is about 32 miles round-trip with 3000 ft. vertical rise. It took about 3.5 hours, and I was so pooped afterwords, but so excited to have experienced the next level of biking. And I got a bike jersey at Savers for $5 that matches my bike and my helmet. Might as well look good too.

I've been meaning to make macarons for several months, and have always been a little too imtimidated to get started. While in Paris with the fam, we experienced Laduree. And while it wasn't exactly life-changing, it was pretty amazing. This weekend, I was feeling pumped to be done with finals and slightly whimsical after watching Where the Wild Things Are. And the number of egg whites being stored in my freezer was bordering on ridiculous.

I bought a cake decorating set especially for my mac experience, and it included coloring pastes. The blackberries were on sale this week, and I was particularly taken by Laduree's berry versions, so I dyed the macs purple and put blackberries in the buttercream.
Not quite round. . .

I can't say the experience went as well as I'd hoped. The frosting refused to emulsify after I added the blackberries. I only have one baking sheet with one silpat, so I baked the others on tin-foil. The non-greased tin foil: bad idea. Or good idea, since they stuck miserably, and we got to eat them straight off the foil. The ones on the baking sheet were pretty burned after 20 minutes, so I'll reduce the cooking time next time. And I dropped my pastry bag tip in the garbage disposal and mangled it.

But they are still lovely and delicious. I'll take it for a first shot.

Blackberry Macarons
adapted from New Best Recipes International

  • 1 3/4 cup almond flour (or finely ground blanched almonds)
  • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 egg whites
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 3 tsp granulated sugar
  1. Combine almond flour, powdered sugar, and salt in food processor and blend until smooth and combined.
  2. Whisk egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and whisk to medium-hard peaks.
  3. Fold 1/4 of the powder mixture into egg whites. (This is where I added coloring, but I would probably add it to the solid mixture in the form of dyed sugar granules, because I think I ended up over-folding to get the color incorporated.) Fold in remaining flour/sugar mixture.
  4. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe small rounds onto parchment paper, silpat, or lightly greased tin foil. Let sit for 1.5 hours to dry.
  5. Heat oven to 325. Bake macarons, one sheet at a time, for 18 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely, and match up like-sized pieces. Sandwich some buttercream between cookies. I used a half-batch of Jen's recipe from userealbutter but with blackberries instead of strawberries. Eat or refrigerate.

Mine. Definitely something to be desired.
And its not just photography skills.


  1. Ali - I thought I'd pass this link to you: another macaron first-timer. I think yours look more exciting though!

  2. Did I tell you that one of the first places I went to when I arrived in Kampala was a French Bakery, with MACAROONS??? And that two days before, in New York, out at lunch, the little deli was selling them too?? I was macaroooned!