The symbol pi radiates sleek, sophisticated beauty. For this instructable I have decided to make a pi shaped French macaron. Why? Because macarons themselves are just like pi: simple yet elegant. They are both characterized by their smooth top shells and dainty feet (which not by coincidence foot is “pied” in French). However, anyone who has tried to make macarons (myself included) has probably found them to be complex, fickle, and often times completely irrational. After months of trial and error in creating the perfect macaron, here I hope to provide instruction on creating a perfect pi macaron.
Step 1: Ingredients and Materials
Espresso Macaron Shell
2 x-large egg whites at room temperature
2.5 tbs granulated white sugar
1 cup scant almond flour (do not pack into measuring cups, level by shaking)
2/3 cup confectioner's/powdered sugar (again do not pack into measuring cups. level by shaking)
1.5 tbs instant espresso powder
Espresso Buttercream filling
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
0.5 oz unsweetened chocolate melted
1/2 tbs instant espresso
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tbs milk
Luster dust for decoration (can find in a cake supply/decorating shop)
two pastry bags/ziplock bags
electric mixer with whisk and flat beater attachment
Step 2: Prep Pans
On back side of parchment paper, outline mirror images of pi with a pencil/pen so that lines can be seen when parchment paper is reversed. Line baking sheet with the prepared parchment.
Step 3: Sift Dry Ingredients
Sift 1 cup almond flour, 2/3 cup confectioners sugar, and 1.5Tbs instant espresso powder into a bowl. Set aside
Step 4: Make Meringue
Beat egg whites with whisk attachment on low speed (#4 setting on kitchen aid mixer) until frothy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add 2.5 Tbs granulated sugar while mixing. Increase to high speed (#6 setting on kitchen aid mixer) and beat until stiff peaks form, about 5-6 minutes. Egg whites should remain in whisk when stiff.
*Contrary to many blogs I've read, I have found aging egg whites to be unnecessary. But do bring them to room temperature before use. I let them sit out for at least an hour before I start.
Step 5: Fold in Dry Ingredients
Fold in dry ingredients with a rubber spatula, a quarter at a time by making circular motions around the bowl, scraping batter off the sides with each turn. It usually takes 8-10 turns of the spatula to incorporate with each addition.
Step 6: Continue Folding
Continue folding the batter until it has the consistency of magma, about 30-40 turns of the spatula. A good way to test this is to allow some of the batter to fall on itself. It should ooze smooth within 10 seconds. If the batter retains shape, give it a few more turns of the spatula.
Step 7: Pipetting the Filling
Transfer batter to pastry bag (I just use a ziplock bag. To make filling the bag less messy, I put the bag inside a large mug, fold down the sides, and pour straight into the mug.
Use a half inch tip or cut a half inch hole off the corner of the bag and pipet out batter onto parchment paper, filling the outline. Batter will spread slightly. Pipe out additional 2 inch round macarons with remaining batter.
Step 8: Drying Macarons
Immediately pick up the baking sheet and tap the baking sheet on the countertop. (it should be several pretty hard taps). You should see tiny air bubbles pop at the top of the macarons. If you don't see any, tap a bit harder.
Preheat the oven to 325F. Then allow the macarons to sit and form a shell on top of the oven (the oven will release some heat as it preheats to help dry the macarons). The macarons are properly dried when you can touch the tops of the macarons and have no batter stick to your finger. You should be able to push down slightly and the macaron will retain its shape. If this does not happen, your macaron will not form a smooth shell and will not have feet.
The drying step is crucial!! Depending on the weather and how well the meringue was made, you will have to dry the shells longer or shorter. This takes anywhere from 15min to an hour.
Step 9: Bake!
Reduce temperature to 300F and put macarons in oven. Bake for 8 minutes. Open door to release some heat. By this point, the macarons should have risen and you should see feet. Turn sheet around if your oven is uneven. Reduce heat to 275F and bake for another 8 minutes. This step allows the interior of the macaron to cook.
If the macarons crack, the temperature was too high.
Step 10: Admire Macaron Shells As They Cool
Remove from oven and allow to cool. Meanwhile make the buttercream filling...
Step 11: Preparing the Buttercream Filling
Now that you have proper cookies, the buttercream part is always tasty and easy! (how can you go wrong with sugar and butter and no baking step...?)
Using the flat beater, beat 8Tbs butter on high until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add 0.5 oz melted chocolate (melt in double boiler) and 1/2 tbs instant espresso powder and 1/2 tsp vanilla.
Add 1.5 cups confectioners sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Beat well and scrape sides and bottom of bowl with each addition.
Add 1 Tbs milk and beat until light and fluffy.
Step 12: Fill Macarons
Transfer buttercream into pastry bag/ziplock bag. Invert the backwards pi cookie onto a plate. Peel away parchment paper.
Using a 1 inch tip and pipet buttercream filling onto the pi.
Step 13: Assemble Pi
Peel parchment away from top cookie. The meringue may be fragile so take care when handling. Especially if it's a large pi. Press gently on top of buttercream. Ta-da!
Step 14: Make It Look Pretty!
Using a paintbrush and luster dust, paint the digits of pi on the pi cookie to make it shimmer of pi goodness. Or paint digits on the additional macarons. Have fun!
Step 15: Share With Your Friends at Your Annual Pi-themed Pi Day Party!
Make pi jokes, play pi games, and eat lots of pi.