The process of baking the perfect macaron has been a lengthy one for me, full of trial, error, and frustration. The macaron bug first infected me two years ago when I fell in love with photographs of gorgeous cookies I saw on Instagram and Pinterest. Yet I never reached elusive perfection, batches and batches of cracked, hollow, and just plain ugly macarons landing in the trash. Eventually, discouragement got the better of me. Sifting cups and cups of powdered sugar and almond flour together was a painful ordeal that at this point reaped little reward.
Two years later, I was ready to tackle the French macaron again. And guess what? It only took me 3 tries this time to bake the most perfect macarons I’ve ever seen. When shells emerged from the oven with beautifully shaped feet and no hollows, I grinned with satisfaction. The reward felt all the better because of the challenges I faced in this arduous macaron journey. It was validation.
Here are some of the lessons I learned in my macaron journey that I hope will be of use to you:
- Always sift the dry ingredients together in a fine mesh sieve to avoid lumps, no matter how annoying it is.
- The correct texture of the batter is when it flows off the spatula slowly in viscous ribbons, but still collects on the spatula thickly.
- Let the macarons rest after piping until the surface is no longer tacky before baking.
- Preheat the oven 25 degrees higher than the ideal baking temperature in order to account for loss in temperature from opening the oven door.
- If it’s not working out, don’t give up! Macarons are notoriously finicky.
I filled the black sesame-fragranced shells with a salty miso dulce de leche to balance out their sweetness. I made miso dulce de leche before for this ice cream, and I decided to use it here in order to complement the theme of Japanese flavors that emerged with the black sesame. It’s seriously crack. I have to hold myself back from going at it with a spoon, the sweet and the salty blending together to create addiction. Once filled, the macaron is a truly perfect bite. Lightly chewy shell folds under your teeth, giving way to the soft dulce de leche for a truly beautiful experience in in your mouth.
black sesame miso dulce de leche macarons
macaron base recipe from cake merchant
- 60 grams (about 2 large) egg whites
- 60 grams almond flour
- 15 grams black sesame seeds ground into a flour
- 90 grams powdered sugar
- 50 grams granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- pinch salt
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- black sesame seeds/sprinkles for decoration
miso dulce de leche
- 1 quart (960 g) whole milk
- 200 grams granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp red or white miso
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp baking soda dissolved in 2 tsp water
for the macaron shell
Line one/two half sheet pans with parchment paper. Prepare a piping bag with a round tip.
Sift the almond flour, ground black sesame seeds, and powdered sugar together into a large bowl. Set aside.
In the clean bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they form soft peaks. Add the salt and cream of tartar. Gradually add the granulated sugar in 3 parts while still beating. Once the granulated sugar is incorporated, bump up the speed to medium high and beat until stiff peaks are formed.
Add the vanilla extract and beat for another minute.
Put 1/3 of the meringue into the dry ingredients. Using a spatula or spoon, stir until the mixture forms a thick, homogenous mix. No need to be gentle!
Add the next 1/3 of the meringue and fold it in gently; cut down the middle of the mixture with a spatula and then swirl the spatula under the mixture, folding it over. Turn the bowl every time you fold.
Repeat with the final 1/3 of the meringue: the batter is ready when it flows slowly from the spatula in a ribbon and forms a thick coating on it. Batter falling on the surface should reincorporate in about 20 seconds. Err on the side of undermixing if you're not entirely confident.
Transfer the batter to the prepared piping bag. Pipe circles of batter about 1.5 inches by piping 90 degrees towards the surface and swirling the piping tip at the end to avoid getting a "nipple"on the macaron. Once all the macarons are piped, slam the baking sheet on a hard surface a few times to get rid of air bubbles.
Optional: scatter black sesame seeds and sprinkles over the wet surface of the macarons as decoration.
Preheat the oven to 350°F for conventional ovens or 325°F for convection ovens. While the oven is preheating, let the macarons dry until the surface is no longer tacky.
When the macarons are ready for the oven, turn the heat 25°F lower. Bake the macarons for about 12-14 minutes. Better to overbake than underbake, as crispy macarons soften once assembled.
Let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet before removing.
for the miso dulce de leche
Heat milk and sugar together in a large saucepan on medium heat. While the milk is heating, dissolve the miso paste into the milk through a fine mesh sieve. Discard the grainy bits left over.
Once the milk is simmering, take pan off the heat and stir in the dissolved baking soda. The mixture will bubble up. Return pan to heat and keep at a brisk simmer. Cook it for about an hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until the mix is a light brown color.
Keep cooking, stirring more frequently as time passes, until the dulce de leche is a copper color and has thickened to a honey consistency. Mix in the vanilla extract.
Dump the finished dulce de leche into a jar or bowl and let cool. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Pair macaron shells of similar shape and size together. Transfer 1/2 of the dulce de leche to a piping bag (save the extra dulce de leche for consuming).
Pipe about 2-3 tsp of dulce de leche onto one macaron half, then press the other shell on top. Repeat for all the macaron shells. Transfer to the fridge, and ideally let mature for 24 hours before enjoying (I won't judge if you sneak a taste before then though :)).