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Apple Pie of My Eye – Daring Bakers Challenge October 2009

by Simon on October 28, 2009

Macarons

Macarons. Those delicate, and often mispronounced French pastries are a delight to the senses. Attractive round form, initially crisp texture that soon melts away to nothingness, not to mention the cornucopia of flavours limited only by ones imagination. So, it was with great delight that I found that my very first Daring Bakers Challenge would be these sublime treats.

However, that initial delight soon dissipated to disappointment, despair and occasional delirium.

This month’s challenge was hosted by LAmonkeygirl from Baking Without Fear , using a macaron recipe from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern. The requirement for this months challenge was to make the macaron shells from the recipe provided. Flavouring of the macaron shells (if at all) and fillings were entirely up to the individual. Though I was originally going to go with a decadent cookie dough filling, I decided to go with an apple pie flavoured one instead.

Yes, apple pie! Ever since I had my first apple pie flavoured gelato, I’ve loved the concept of apple pie flavoured confections.

The ingredients list below shows that the macaron shells, the foundation of any good macaron pastry, only consists of 4 ingredients, with two of them being sugar. However, don’t let that fool you. After eight batches of macarons, and a couple of recipes later, I had managed to make only a single successful batch of macarons as pictured at the beginning of the post.

More on that later. Let’s get into the recipe as per the Daring Bakers Challenge.

Macarons

Ingredients

Macaron mise en place

The mise en place for the macaron shells only consists of four ingredients:

  • 225g of Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar, sifted
  • 190 g of Almond meal, sifted
  • 25g Granulated sugar
  • Egg whites from five eggs (at room temperature)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.

The key I found here was to ensure that the almond meal was dry and didn’t have the tendency to clump. If the almond meal is somewhat damp, lay out the almond meal on a large tray to air dry.

Stiff Peaks

  • Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

The above image indicates what stiff peaks should look like i.e. standing up without the tip drooping.

Macaron batter

  • Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.

A number of references that I’d picked up on the Internet indicates that the batter should have a magma-like consistency i.e. a thick, viscous consistency. Getting this consistency right is probably one of the more critical stages that will determine whether you end up with proper macarons or sad, but otherwise tasty failures. More on magma-like consistency below.

  • Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch (1cm) tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.

Macarons piped

  • Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).

This is where the consistency of the batter really stands out. When piping the macaron rounds, odds are that you’ll leave little peaks as you pull the piping bag away. With the magma-like consistency, these little peaks “melt” away and incorporate themselves into the rest of the mound, leaving a nice circular disk, as pictured above. If the batter is too think, these peaks will tend to remain and when baked, will leave the macaron looking like a Hershey’s Kiss.

Macaron feet

  • Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
  • Cool on a rack before filling.

If everything works out, the macaron should look something like the above image. The characteristic “feet” of the macaron shell, the textured base below the smooth shell of the rest of the macaron, is the sign of a successful macaron. Of the eight batches of macarons, this one came from the only successful batch made.

The recipe used for this batch was not the one supplied by the host of this month’s DB challenge but one I’d obtained from the Serious Eats website (recipe link here). However, even this batch had its issues.

Some of the macarons ended up with a slightly cratered shell, not unlike the surface of the moon. How to deal with this issue so that all the shells end up with a smooth consistency is something I’ve yet to learn. Having gone through eight batches and end up with only one successful batch, I’m somewhat over the making of macaron shells for a while.

Apple Pie Filling

Now, having dealt with the shells, there is the matter of the apple pie filling to be addressed.

Unfortunately, with no recipes as a guide (couldn’t find any such recipe on the Internet), my general habit as an instinctive cook i.e. guided by my senses and add as I go rather than follow and note empirical measurements, and having only made one successful batch of macarons to fill, I unfortunately cannot offer a precise recipe for the filling. However, I can give general guidelines, which I’ll list below.

The apple pie filling is essentially the combination of a basic cookie dough recipe (plain flour, butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract) along with an apple and cinnamon syrup.

Method

  • Add around 1 cup of fresh apple juice along with a stick of cinnamon to a saucepan and reduce on a low heat until it reaches a thin syrup consistency. No sugar is added at all as there will be plenty of sugar in the cookie dough.
  • Once the apple juice has been reduced, around a shot or two of apple schnapps was added to the syrup to bring back some of the lost aromatic apple characteristics during the reduction process.
  • Reduce for a few more minutes to allow it to return to a syrupy consistency and burn off some of the alcohol.
  • Remove from the heat, remove cinnamon stick and allow the syrup to cool.

The syrup should be somewhat acidic, which I found cuts through some of the richness of the cookie dough batter.

To finish the apple pie filling:

  • Prepare a basic cookie dough as per your favourite recipe.
  • Incorporate the cooled syrup to the cookie dough until the consistency resembles a ganache or pastry cream.
  • Either pipe or spoon the filling onto a macaron shell and sandwich together with another shell.

Ensure that there is enough filling so that when it’s sandwiched, that the filling spills out of the edge of the shell. By running a clean finger around the edge of macaron, the excess filling can be cleaned up, leaving a clean looking finish as pictured in the previous image.

Thanks to LAmonkey for this month’s challenge. Though my love for macarons has now become a love/hate relationship (love to eat them/hate to make them), I’ll likely give them another go in the future. Not only to get consistent, successful results (or any successful result for that matter), but also to try out other interesting fillings I have in mind :)

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

wic October 28, 2009 at 4:54 am

love the pictures. your macaroons look delicious.

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Lauren October 28, 2009 at 7:37 am

Wonderful macs! Apple pie filling sounds perfect =D.

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Steph October 28, 2009 at 8:43 am

Holy cow Simon, EIGHT BATCHES? You poor thing. I would have been driven insane by that many. Your final result looks awesome though! And apple pie filling? Yum! Did you check out tartelette’s recipe? Everyone seems to find that very reliable, I’m planning to try it next time, there was definitely something iffy about the challenge recipe!

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betty October 28, 2009 at 9:16 am

8 batches? wow. im glad i joined db AFTER the 1st of Oct :)

i loved reading everyones entry on macarons, but i don’t think i’ll attempt…. as much as i would love too.. i just dont know now. it will probably take me so many tries

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billy@ATFT October 28, 2009 at 10:10 am

8 batches! by the time u spent all the money making them, you could have buy a whole dozen of it from zumbo! But impressed with ur determination, those apple one looks good!

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Leona October 28, 2009 at 10:16 am

hey simon!

ive been waiting for this entry to be posted after reading about your macaron tweets. Heard this DB recipe took a couple of stuff-ups to finally get a batch going.

Glad you succeeded as I knew you could do it and the good thing is they look brilliant!!

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shaz October 28, 2009 at 11:06 am

Oh my! Apple pie! AND cookie dough if I read the method correctly…unreal. Welcome to the Daring Bakers :) and way to go for sticking to it.

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shez October 28, 2009 at 11:18 am

Oh! I didn’t realise you’d joined bakers as well as cooks. Well done (and much impressed-ness for the commitment!) I tend to get giant brain freezes when it comes to picking a filling for macaron – this one with the cookie dough base sounds an absolute treat, and would mirror that gritty, spicy, appley flavour of pie (OH PIE!) so well.

Well done :) And looking forward to seeing all of your future challenges!

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jo October 28, 2009 at 11:30 am

I can only imagine how frustrating it was for you … but heh you didn’t give up. And finally you succeeded. Now that’s being Daring. Congratulations and well done!

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Ellie October 28, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Congrats! 8 is the lucky number yay! Love your apple pie filling.

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penny aka jeroxie October 28, 2009 at 12:43 pm

well done on the attempt. so few ingredients but so hard to make it perfect. And I did enjoy your tweets ;)

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Cheap Ethnic Eatz October 28, 2009 at 1:57 pm

I can’t beleive you went for 8 tries,kuddos to you. After one I need to rest my bruised baker ego before I try again
;-) Great filling idea

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Nutmeg Nanny October 28, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Apple pie and macarons…awesome! I bet they tasted amazing…yum:)

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Audax Artifex October 28, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Super effort eight batches. But at least you GOT there. Wonderful result. Beautiful photos. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

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anna October 28, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Yaaayy apple pie macarons! Do want.

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mademoiselle délicieuse October 28, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Eight batches?! Hooray for your perseverance and success!

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Alpineberry Mary October 28, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Eight batches – you are double daring! At least you ended with some that look just perfect.

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sabiilaa October 28, 2009 at 6:42 pm

wow! 8 batches! great effort and your final result looks awesome though! love the filling! the white marks are swirl from the untinted batter and the filling is cream cheese. Thank you for the comments and dropping by.

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Simone (junglefrog) October 28, 2009 at 7:10 pm

Wow, 8 batches of macarons!! and I complain because mine failed… :) Haha… i didn’t have time to do any more batches unfortunately and the four attempts I have made so far are not as successful as I like! But thanks for the links to the serious eats recipe. We’ll see how that one goes!

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dollydoesdesserts October 28, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Oh wows apple pie filling between macarons’ are really the first I’ve heard of. I’m sure they tasted great!! :)

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Barabara Bakes October 29, 2009 at 12:04 am

I’m so impressed that you made eight batches! I’m so glad your apple pie ones gave you feet! Great job on this challenge!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking October 29, 2009 at 6:47 am

YUM, apple pie flavored macarons! Amazing idea :D

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Celeste October 29, 2009 at 8:44 am

Your macs look delicious!!! Well done!!!

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Jenni October 29, 2009 at 9:21 am

Great job on the challenge! Your macarons look fantastic. And apple pie! How yummy and fall!

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Kate @ Savour Fare October 29, 2009 at 9:41 am

Apple pie was my original flavor idea but I was going to put apples and cinnamon into the shells, which didn’t work so well. I still want to try with some freeze dried apples, and this filling looks fantastic!

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Marcellina October 29, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Wow, what a revelation! Cookie dough filling! I’ve made cookie dough icecream before (my daughter’s favourite) but filling? She is going to love this! You are very creative! Congratulations!

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Trissa October 29, 2009 at 7:04 pm

8 batches is not bad – it took me almost four years to get the macs I was happy with! anyway, you did a great job – I especially loved the apple pie filling.

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Trissa October 29, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Oh by the way, I didn’t even try to use the Gramercy Tavern recipe.

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Helen (Grab Your Fork) October 29, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Eight batches = ate batches. Not altogether a bad thing! Congrats on the herculean effort. Nice feet. Size 8? lol

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Olga October 30, 2009 at 1:49 am

Yours look so great! And what a creative filling idea.

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TeenieCakes October 30, 2009 at 12:33 pm

OH YUM! Apple pie filling! Your macaron is a picture of perfection (the filling just looks delish)! Thanks for the tip on the consistency of the piped macaron – I noticed this too on my second attempt.

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Corry October 31, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Hi Simon,

Your macarons look fantastic. I admire your tenacity – eight batches is fantastic. Now you are on top of it and won’t look back (Yep!, you will be a bit macaroned out for a while but keep going – it only gets better).

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I’ve been making macarons since I did a class in August (at ‘Savour’ – a professional Patisserie School in Melbourne) and I haven’t looked back. I’ve had a lot of macawrongs to begin with but am now really on top of them.

I have put up some tips,tricks, info and photos on my blog about macs and ‘macaronner’ technique (both from what i’ve read on the web and also from my own notes from class). No doubt though, after 8 batches you’re really on top of them also.

Cheers.

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Karen November 1, 2009 at 1:35 am

Ack! I just realised I wasn’t getting any of your posts/feed and I was wondering why you haven’t posted in ages!

LOL silly me :(

Anyway, 8 batches?! I applaude your steely determination! For what it’s worth, your singularly successful batch looks ansolutely incredible! No doubt it’s up from here on out… once you get over the macaron coma…

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Simon November 1, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Hi wic! Thanks! :)

Hi Lauren! Thanks! Well, maybe not perfect but certainly interesting :)

Hi Steph! I was close to sanity’s edge. I didn’t find out about Tartlette’s until I was done with the good batch.

Hi betty! You know, I felt that when I joined after the vol au vents/puff pastry challenge. We’ll see how we go for next month’s event.

Hi billy! Yeah, certainly not cheap and Zumbo’s would have been far better. However, I would have had to settle for not having apple pie flavour :)

Hi Leona! Thanks! If it wasn’t a couple of stuff-ups during the challenge it was many months or years of experience that had gotten people over the line.

Surprisingly I think one or two people had gotten it right first go without any prior experience.

Hi shaz! Thanks! Well, I’d started off with the idea of cookie dough as a filling, with the apple pie one in the back of my mind. Worked out that the apple pie needed the cookie dough as a base and tasted better as well :)

Hi shez! Yeah, I don’t know if I’m being a sucker for punishment for attempting both. Time will tell :)

Hi jo! Thanks! Now I’ve achieved Daring, all I need to do now is work on this Baker thing :P

Hi Ellie! To borrow the title of a TV show, I think Eight is Enough. Any more than that and I’m sure I would have settled for second best :)

Hi penny! I’m always surprised how often having so few ingredients, it often takes something else e.g. care & attention to detail by producers or in this case, technique, to turn the dish/meal into something special. It’s quite special too when you can pull it off :)

Hi Cheap Ethnic Eats! Thanks! Believe me, my ego wasn’t the only one to suffer a bruise. Don’t think my wallet will forgive me :)

Hi Nutmeg Nanny! Thanks :) I wouldn’t go so far as amazing but they were nice.

Hi Audax Artifex! Thanks dude! :)

Hi anna! Follow the instructions in the post and, with a little luck, you can have too! hehe :)

Hi mademoiselle délicieuse! Thanks! :)

Hi Alpineberry Mary! Thanks! :)

Hi sabiilaa! Thanks, and thanks for the info regarding your macarons :)

Hi Simone! You’re welcome!

Hi dollydoesdesserts! Same here. Wish that there were more of them around! :)

Hi Barabara Bakes! Thankfully, since I only made the filling after the successful batch, there wasn’t a lot of filling wastage. Shame I can’t say the same about the macaron shells…

Hi Julie! Thanks!

Hi Celeste! Thanks!

Hi Jenni! Thanks! I don’t know about the fall but it was certainly yummy!

Hi Kate! I had a similar idea i.e. flavouring the shells. However, considering the failure rate of my test batches, I figured I’d keep it simple.

I might revisit this idea when making macaron shells becomes second nature.

Hi Marcellina! Thanks, much appreciated! :)

Hi Trissa! Yeah, when you put it that way, 8 batches doesn’t sound like all that much when compared to 4 years.

Hi Helen! Thankfully, family and friends were there to help out. Without them, I don’t know if I would have made it through all those jokes- erm, I mean batches! All those batches :P

Hi Olga! Thanks :)

Hi TeenieCakes! Thanks! Glad my post could be of some help :)

Hi Corry! Nice! Thanks for letting me know about your tips. Will have to reference them the next time I make macarons :)

Hi Karen! Thanks! It’s worth plenty considering it’s coming from the Baroness of Baking :)

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Linda@eatshowandtell November 2, 2009 at 12:51 pm

YAY!! welcome to the DBC.. congratulations on achieving such a great result for your first challenge.

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yas @ hungry.digital.elf. November 5, 2009 at 7:02 am

oh my! Your first go with macaroon and turned out to be this good? Looking very goooooood.

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John (Eat4Fun) November 14, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Thanks for commenting on my macaron challenge… The macarons were definitely a challenge, I did about 4 batches before I gave up on the challenge recipe and used Tartelette’s. Us Daring Baker’s must have that “never give up” attitude! Cheers.

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Jenn/CinnamonQuill November 24, 2009 at 1:47 am

These are ultra impressive! I’ve been looking for an apple pie inspired macaron and now I’ve found it. I’ve yet to actually make macarons, but I’m garnering my courage.

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