I started baking on a whim. I threw together some cake mix cookies before work because I had been non-committal about attending a coworker’s baby shower on my lunch. I was new to the team and didn’t know her, so I couldn’t genuinely celebrate with them. (I could now.) Actually, I remember that someone asked if I was okay.
Surprisingly, everyone loved the cookies. I ended up making them again by request and gaining the confidence to try other things and ultimately took on the the fabled macaron.
Macarons look fancy, which signifies the level of skill they demand. There are hundreds of articles, videos, and blog posts about making them because they are that intimidating. Many bakers don’t even want to try.
Because of this, I think the macaron is the perfect metaphor for life. We want the macaron, we admire the macaron, but we are intimidated by the macaron. Many of us feel the same way about our dreams.
Making macarons has taught me that the most important part of reaching a goal or attaining a dream is the journey to get there. Winning a race doesn’t begin on race day. Starting a business doesn’t begin on the day of the grand opening. Not only because of the value it adds, but the journey is the substance of the goal.
The Process of Perfection
I made macarons for the first time May of 2017. They looked great on my first try. My baker friend was impressed. They were hollow though, which is a common issue. I didn’t try again until I quit my job summer 2018, and a friend asked if I could make them. Of course I said yes even though I barely remembered how I did it the first time.
I used the leftover almond flour and powdered sugar I had mixed up the year prior. It was a mess. Undeterred, I went out for more ingredients the next day. The macarons were perfect.
In the two months since that first batch, I have made about 12 batches of macarons and probably failed three or four. But the eight that came out correctly were beautiful and made me look incredibly talented.
I can’t help but to correlate the process of perfecting the macaron to pursing something new. Each successful attempt represents several unsuccessful ones, because creating something is a process.
Each time I make a batch I learn more about the process. I know that overmixing is going to make the shells spread. I eventually bought a macaron printed silicone mat so I could make the sizes consistent. I know I need to bake them at 320 instead of 325 and on a lower rack so they don’t brown too much.
Much like attempting a diet or something, even if you fail, you learn more about doing it in the process.
And if you keep going you will EVENTUALLY lose weight. Ask me how I know.
There is value in the process. For anything we do, we have to learn how to do it. Reading articles and watching videos are great, but you really can’t learn the process until you do it.
Just like there are many ways to start a business, lose weight, pay off debt, clean your house, there are several ways to make macarons. So far I have only tried the French Method, although the Italian Method seems more stable.. (It has more steps.)
That said, here is a recipe for Pumpkin Spiced Latte Macarons. Perfect for fall. Perfect for white girls.
Please read through all the directions before getting started.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Macarons
Perfectly spiced shells filled with a pumpkin-coffee buttercream.
- 60 g egg whites 2 large eggs
- 78 g almond flour I prefer blanched.
- 78 g powdered sugar
- 54 g granulated sugar
- 1 tsp pumpkin spice See notes to make your own.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Buttercream
- 1 stick softened unsalted butter 1/2 cup
- 2.5 c powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
- 2 tsp instant coffee
- 1 tsp water
- 1 tsp pumpkin spice Optional if pumpkin puree did not come with it.
Age egg whites in advance. Place egg whites in a dish, free of water or oil, cover with plastic wrap and poke holes (5 or 6). Place in fridge for the day or until the next day (up to 2 days). You can skip this step, but it will result in more time for step eight, which is okay. Do not use liquid egg whites; use eggs. Bring to room temperature before using.
Combine almond flour, powdered sugar and pumpkin spice. You may use a food processor to combine and sift to remove large pieces. Or you may sift ingredients together two or three times.
Beat egg whites on medium high to high. Be sure bowl is free of water or oil. Once frothy, add cream of tartar or lemon juice. Once beater begins to leave trails in whites, slowly add sugar. (If you were using GEL color, this is when you could add it.) Beat on high until stiff.
Once the whites collect inside the beater head, stop mixer and pull out beater. Whites should form a peak that stands but gently falls over on itself; should stay inside bowl when held upside down.
Add in 1/3 of almond/sugar mixture. With spatula, gently incorporate just enough that there aren’t dry clumps then fold in remaining mixture until dry ingredients are not visible.
Remove air by folding and spreading mixture on the side of the bowl and constantly check consistency. VIDEO For instance, using the flat side of the spatula, pull all batter to the side of the bowl nearest to you using a few strokes. Next, scrape spatula inside the bowl a couple times to move batter back into the center of the bowl. Repeat. This is a critical step. Please watch the video or search macaronage. Over mixing will result in runny batter. Under mixing will result in cracks, but no pressure… Batter is ready when it flows off the spatula in a ribbon, with no breaks, and disappears in about 10 seconds.
Scoop mixture into piping bag and pipe onto baking sheet. VIDEO Sheet should be lined with parchment paper, not wax, or with a silicone mat. Greasing a cookie sheet will not work. Pipe a little smaller than you want the shells to be because the batter will spread.
To pipe: hold tip in the center of the circle and about a half inch from the pan. Without moving from that spot, gently squeeze batter to nearly fill the circle (shells will spread slightly or more depending on how mixed the batter is). To finish, stop squeezing and either raise straight up, or make a swirl motion. If you have a point you may smooth it with a little water after the next step.
Remove air bubbles by tapping the pan on the counter on all four sides and pop visible bubbles. This is not a gentle tap, but also not a slam. Drop the pan a couple times, then turn the pan and tap the far side parallel to you and rotate through all 4 sides. It is 2-4 forceful strikes, turning the baking sheet each time. Use a toothpick to pop visible air bubbles. This will make the shells appear more even.
Rest shells until they are no longer sticky to the touch and dull. Aged egg whites will dry faster. Otherwise, this process can take 30 minutes to over an hour depending on the humidity in the environment. Turning on the oven hood will help. If your baking sheet is warped, slide parchment paper or silicone mat onto level surface for the rest period. Preheat oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit.
When shells are ready, place on middle rack and bake for 13-15 minutes. Knowing what time works best will take practice. Undercooked shells will stick to the pan and be gummy. Overcooked shells will be hard but will soften over time. Err on the side of overcooking! However, you do need to beware of browning.
To Fill: Match up similar sized shells. Pipe icing in the center of the shell. Sandwich with another shell. Macarons will be crunchy if you eat them right after baking. It is best to allow them to mature at least four or five hours, but preferably overnight before serving. This allows moisture from the frosting to absorb into the shell making it chewy instead of crunchy. Store in refrigerator.
Pumpkin Latte Buttercream
Using paddle attachment, beat butter on high for one minute.
Reduce speed to medium to minimize splatter. Add powdered sugar slowly, ½ cup at a time. Occasionally stop mixer and scrape sides and bottom with spatula.
With mixer on medium, add vanilla extract.
The remaining ingredients can be added to taste. Mix instant coffee and water in a separate dish. Starting with half amounts listed, add coffee, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin spice to buttercream.
Beat on high for 2-3 minutes.
Tools: mixer with beater attachment (stand or hand), food scale, spatula, piping bag or similar, baking sheet, parchment paper or silicone mat.
For best results, use actual measurements rather than eyeballing or using teaspoon/tablespoon silverware.
Chances are your first batch will not turn out so well! Once you make them, check out Indulge with Mimi’s Troubleshooting Guide to see what you may be able to modify for your next batch.
I had a friend who is not at all a baker go through this recipe. Her results were not ideal, but the cookies still tasted good, and we know what her weaknesses are for her next batch.