Introduction: Mini Macarons
Making mini, doll sized macarons is a lot of fun...well if you consider baking one of the hardest, most challenging cookies in the world and then making it miniature, but never fear, I'll step you through the process.
Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients
Macarons are made of very simple ingredients, the toughest part is the actual construction of them.
You will need Almond flour or almond meal, which is basically pulverized almonds, Trader Joe's has the best price, or you can grind your own in a food processor, in that case, use blanched almonds for a more pure look, Trader Joe's almond meal makes pretty speckled cookies.
Either granulated or superfine/caster sugar
Egg Whites, from a carton is fine, no need to mess around with aged egg whites
Cream of Tartar
Optional, Food safe gel dye
IMPORTANT, use a scale. I tried it with volume measurements several times and the only time it worked I just got lucky. Go ahead and buy a scale, they're like 4 bucks at Target, you don't need a fancy digital one, an analog one will work just fine.
Step 2: Weigh Ingredients
Weigh out your caster/granulated sugar first, this works best as a half batch if you make this for the first time, as if these cookies sit around too long while you are waiting for other trays to bake, you can get some weird results.
Weigh out 15 grams of granulated sugar.
In a bowl weigh out 50 grams of egg whites.
Pour the egg whites into the mixer and put in a dash of cream of tartar, I like to measure it using the lid. Dump in the caster sugar. Start the whisk out slowly and then increase the speed as it starts to get foamy until you're at 10 on your mixer.
While this is beating up, go to the next step as you need to work quickly and simultaneously.
Step 3: Weigh Out Powdered Sugar and Almonds
Weigh out roughly 112.5 grams of powdered sugar (the whole recipe uses 225 so I just divided in two). It's ok if you're off by a gram or two, but if you were to use volume your ratios can be wayyyyyy off.
Sift this into a bowl
Weigh out rougly 62.5 (half of 125 g) of almond meal, sift this into the bowl.
Using a wooden spoon stir these together until well mixed, or you can optionall sift the two together into another bowl, but I find this makes too many bowls for me to clean so I use the spoon method.
Make sure you're keeping an eye on your egg whites during this time.
Step 4: Back to the Egg Whites
They should be frothing up into what looks like whipped cream. If you want to add dye, add it in stages as if you add too much all at once you can end up with un mixed blobs of dye which looks not so good.
You can add dye with a toothpick or a clean skewer. As you can see I added it 3 times to get it as dark as I wanted...note perfect macarons don't brown, but mine always brown a smidge, so add a little more dye or the browning will in this case turn your blue macs greenish, and sickly. I also make sure to scrape the bowl with a spatula. You want the meringue to form peaks, and glisten, and look like a "bird's beak" when you lift up your whisk. However if your mixer is like mine, some of the unmixed egg white can hang out just below the surface of your glistening, birds beak mixture, so make sure to scrape and check to see there's no clear egg white left below your beautiful meringue.
Step 5: Mixing It Together
Dump all of the almond/powdered sugar mixture (also known as tant pour tant/tpt) into your egg whites.
Using a scraping and smoothing manuever, scrape the side of the bowl and then smooth that down into the egg whites, incorporating the tpt into the meringue. Be careful not to overdo this step, or you will break all of the bubbles and get flat puddles, but also be careful not to underdo it. This takes practice and experience, I probably made about 3-5 batches before I figured out what caused me so much grief and still count in my head. You can probably incorporate everything in between 15 and 25 scrape/smooth manuevers, anything over 25 and you're probably making puddles. At some point you can drop a blob of your mixture back into the bowl, if it sits there unmoved, then you haven't mixed enough, and if it melts in within about 30 seconds you're good, and if your mixture is more of a runny batter, you've gone too far.
Step 6: Get Ready to Pipe
Put a #12 Wilton tip on a ziplock bag as seen below. Remember to add a chip clip or something to keep the batter from leaking out of the tip, I forgot that step and had to add it later. The easiest way to scrape the mixture into the bag is to fold the bag over a glass, then scrape the batter in and seal up the bag.
Step 7: Piping
For regular macs on parchment paper, use this template, it's a great one:
If you use a silpat mat, you'll just have to wing it. That's what I do, now that I have silicone baking sheets and half sheet pans. I got them at the costco business center. If you're lucky enough to have one of them near you and plan to do a lot of baking, I reccomend these. If you're just going to try this once or twice, I recommend using parchment with that template beneath the parchment. Note, you need to remove the template prior to baking if you use it.
Pipe out a bunch of regular macs. When you get towards the ends, make some mini macs, by just dotting small amounts the size of the tip out. I don't make an entire batch of mini macs b/c they're just for fun, but this way you can get a few little ones as doll props, while still making human sized snacks.
Give the tray a couple of whacks on the counter to knock any bubbles out (or you can painstakinlgy pop them with a toothpick). Let these rest for about 30 minutes before popping them into the oven. You can theoretically put them in right away and hope, but this is so much work, and I've noticed I get more weird wrinkly ones when I don't allow them to rest properly.
While they're resting, preheat the oven to 290 degrees for silpat or 270 for parchment. I have to note that every oven is different so you just have to monkey around with this part. I'm still perfecting it myself.
I got the thermometer at the costco business center too, this is how I discovered my oven can often be off by 20 degrees...rather frustrating...trust your thermometer, not your oven!
Step 8: Bake Them
This is where I'm still struggling, I start them out at 290 with double trays on the top rack (which is about at the middle and then at the 24 minute mark I remove that 2nd tray, slide the tray onto the bottom rack and let them bake a little more to harden up the bottoms but not brown the top so much (I know, so much work but these little cookies are worth it). If you're successful around 12 minutes you'll see "feet" which are the little bubbly bits on the side. That's a huge accomplishment...Dance and celebrate in the kitchen, you'll have achieved a macaron milestone. For some reason my mini macs always come out fine, but it's the regular ones that can have trouble...they often wrinkle or cave in, this is what I'm fine tuning, but for the mini version, we're all good :)
Step 9: Let Cool
Very important, let them cool thoroughly before peeling the mat or parchment off of the cookies, or they will fall apart.
Peel the mat from the cookie, not the other way around.
Step 10: Fill and Enjoy the Macarons
You can fill your macarons with any filling, jam, ganache, frosting, I chose to melt down 4 oz of a cookies and cream flavored chocolate and I mixed it with 4 oz of cream cheese and then threw in some powdered sugar to stiffen it up. If you want you can make a ganache of equal parts melted chocolate and heavy cream.
Fill a plastic sandwich sized ziplock with the filling and snip off one corner, then pipe some filling onto one cookie and top with a similar sized cookie.
When you're done, enjoy the big ones and let your dolls enjoy the small ones!