I suppose the 7 P’s can be applicable to just about anything. Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance–yeah this relates well to macaron making. I promised that I would post step-by-step instructions on making macarons when I make my very first batch. But I would be failing terribly as a newbie blogger if I didn’t post what planning and preparations are needed before you can can actually make these high maintenance confection.
AGED EGG WHITES: Not an option, required.
According to the Chef, aged egg whites are crucial in the making of macarons. Macarons and excess moisture=BAD. Egg whites should be separated two days prior and left out to age. When I first heard this I felt sick to my stomach. I mean I put everything in the fridge! It must be my innate reaction from growing up in Hawaii. Going spoil da food if you leave um out! But it will be baked so I am getting over my aversion to the bacteria/salmonella fright. However in warmer/humid climates, age egg whites for a day. The weather in the Bay Area has been moderate so I am going for the full two days!
SCALE: Somewhat optional, highly recommended.
When making macarons the ingredients are measured in grams. This can certainly be translated into volume, but for optimal success follow recipes using weight.
ALMOND FLOUR: definitely required, no ifs, ands, or buts!
The “mass” or the equivalent of dough for the macaron is made primarily of almond flour. Some recipes will indicate that you can make your own “almond flour” by throwing some blanched almonds into a food processor. For newbie macaron makers, it is easier to purchase almond flour. It is quite costly at a whopping $10 for a 1 lb bag. The other gal in our macaron making class (the one I referred to in my previous post as the East Bay fanatical macaron maker) mentioned that she found it the cheapest at Whole Foods! I mean nothing is cheap at “take my WHOLE paycheck” food grocery store. But she said she bought a bag for $7.99. I’ll check it out the next time I am looking to blow my paycheck. Below is the exact brand that was used in the class. Like I said it was $10 at Raley’s.
SUGAR: Again not optional, required.
Powdered sugar is used in the mass and will need to be sifted. Baker’s sugar is used when making the French Meringue. Baker’s sugar is not as coarse as regular sugar and is more fine, which will dissolve better in the meringue. Later down in my post, I will explain the two techniques for the meringue in macarons.
MISC. TOOLS: required, but use whatever you have on hand.
You will need a good sturdy spoon to mix the mass initially with some egg whites, a good stiff mixing spatula for folding in the eggs whites, and either a Wilton plain tip #12 (which is what I have) or an Ateco tip #803.
SILPAT: Okay this is optional, but really really really nice to have Ai Love it!
You can pipe the macaron shells on some parchment paper or on Silpat. I don’t know what it is about Silpat, but it’s magic magic magic! I am not sure what it is made of (besides magic), but anything you bake on this will come out perfectly.
HAND MIXER WITH WHISK ATTACHMENT: Optional, but very convenient when making smaller batches.
This was my one splurge today. I went out and bought a very nice hand mixer. It was on sale at Macy’s and I got an additional 10% off, and . . . okay I think I have convinced myself enough and not feeling too guilty about going out and buying this. I mean it is a dicer and an immersion mixer and . . . I guess I am still feeling a tad bit guilty. Anyhoo, for making small batches this little tool will be your friend.
Besides the above preparations, there is thought planning. I mean real thought planning. What kind of macaron to make! The flavors are endless, BUT before deviating from a recipe, master the basic recipe first. This is probably going to be my one downfall. Ai love to take a recipe and make it my own. It will take a lot for me to not adapt this recipe. Maybe I will channel the 7 P’s, and then I will be forced to follow the basic recipe. Yes, I am going to see this one through step-by-step exactly as what the recipe calls for down to the last gram!
So lastly let me explain meringue type. Macarons can be made with French Meringue, which is what I will be posting soon, and Italian Meringue, which is a more advanced technique. It calls for heating some sugar with water and then adding that syrup into the meringue. I am interested in trying this other type since I have heard that the meringue will be more stable, but for now I am going to stick with what the Chef taught us. Because I refuse to have piss poor performance!