Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vegan Macarons v. 1.0

Here it is kiddies. I busted my ass for 2 months, at least 15 batches a week, sometimes more. It's a fairly customizable recipe, I have really only scratched the surface on the flavor possibilities. The colors I had a little fun with but I forgot to take pictures. I'll get to it, honest.

Fortunately, I am about to move to a new place (Los Angeles is the set I claim, and where I lounge is my stomping grounds), with an older oven. Oh, no! Old is bad! Old is cheap, ugly and stupid, and will never love you. Wrong! I have had some older ovens that were much more consistent than these new fangled doodads. Time will tell, but I am a pro, and I make it work like Gerald LeVert. OK, I listened to a lot of hiphop in the 90's and it's all seeping out.

Anyway, enjoy!

copyright Andrew Kurth (please credit me in repostings and printings, my ego demands it)

Ingredients:

- 4 grams Versawhip 600K (K is for Kosher for all of my chosen friends)
- 100 g water
- 1/4-1/2 t xanthan gum
- 1 T tapioca or corn starch (i used tapioca)

- 130 g almond flour
- 220 g vegan powdered sugar
- 30 g vegan granulated sugar (whiz it in a blender or coffee grinder for finer texture)
- 1 t powdered vanilla (other flavors are fine, i have yet to try them)
- powdered food coloring

Instructions:

1) combine versawhip and water (allowing versawhip to dissolve is optional, but helpful).

2) sift together almond flour and powdered sugar. there may be a lot of coarser bits of almond you need to ditch, so use your judgment if you want to replace the lost amount. if you have a food processor, great. just toss the almond/sugar mix in and, y'know, process for a minute or two.

3) begin whipping versawhip mixture with hand blender, preferably with whisk beaters, on low speed.

4) increase speed to medium-low, until the mixture is foamy.

5) right around soft peaks times, gradually add the 1 T of starch, then whip until you regain the soft peaks. your meringue may goop up at first, but stay the course.

6) gradually add vanilla and the 30 g of granulated sugar, as well as the xanthan. add whatever colors you want now, or after you transfer to the stand mixer. oh yeah, if you have a stand mixer, this is the time to mount up and transfer to the mixer. it helps, but you can still use your hand mixer.

7) whip this at medium to medium high speed until firm peaks are formed. you want the mixture to be glossy, firm, but not particularly dry. versawhip is supposedly impossible to overbeat, but i try not to tempt fate.

if you're unsure about where to stop, stop. then check the meringue by pulling the beater out. if the foam makes a bird's beak-shaped cone that is slightly bendy but mainly firm, you should be good. this is one area that everyone has to learn for themselves.

8) this is another part to learn for yourself: the mixing of dry with meringue, aka macaronnage. versawhip's foam holding abilities kinda make this easier than the egg-based counterpart. but it's a matter of practice and experience. i add the dry 1/3 at a time, then i use a silicon spatula to mix clockwise, and down-to-up. by that, i mean the dry mix tends to sink to the bottom and hide, so you need to gently pull up from the bottom as you fold.

the ideal end result should be thick, but also flow-y, kinda like molasses or a thick cake batter. all of the recipes say "flows like magma" but that is not a serviceable baking analogy. i doubt any french baker has seen magma first hand.

9) now we are going to scoop the meringue mixture, aka macaronner, into our pastry bag. i use a 16" bag with a #12 wilton round tip. i think around 1 cm round is good. if you have a pitcher, or any sturdy cylindrical container, place the pastry bag in that, and fold the edges over. might want to do this ahead of time, as part of you mise en place.

10) pipe your macaronner onto baking parchment-lined cookie sheets, about an inch wide or however many centimeters that is.

http://www.onlineconversion.com/cooking_volume.htm

how big your shells are is a matter for you to decide. keep them small, at least til you get a feel for your oven...

11) you need to let your shells dry, for at least an hour but not much more than two. i let mine dry for 2 hours. the longer they dry, the firmer the top shell is, and the less likely they are to crack in the oven. the dry tops also facilitate the formation of feet, as the expansion is thus limited to upward (hopefully). you definitely should be able to run a (clean) finger across the surface without your finger sticking at all.

12) preheat your oven while the shells are drying. the temps are another subjective issue: some ovens bake macarons perfectly at 330F, others ruin them at the same temp. god forbid there was some kind of standard put in place for oven construction and temp regulation, other than "don't let it blow up and kill people". thanks a lot oven manufacturers. an infrared laser thermometer is a great idea, as most ovens have absurd temp variances and hotspots. i guess the accepted range is 270-350F, for 12-20 minutes, reverse respectively. whomever uses 350F is nuts. but it's been in recipes, so there you are.

i bake my macarons for 15-17 minutes at 275F. that is my oven. higher temps should require shorter times to bake, but you're gonna have to experiment on this one. at first, you will likely be watching your oven like a hawk, or similar predatory bird. watching the feet form is pretty rewarding. basically, you want them to bake for as long as possible WITHOUT browning them, as this helps the interior set.

13) remove your macarons whenever the oven and you decide they are done. let them cool in the pan for just a few minutes, then move the whole sheets of parchment to a cooling rack. when cool, you should be able to remove the macs with the greatest of ease. if not, whoops!

14) pipe whatever filling you have prepared, whether it's ganache, earth balance icing, or whatever non-drippy filling you want. they key is to keep the filling dry, as excess moisture will dissolve your macarons that you worked hard to make. a simple ganache with chocolate chips and boiling cashew cream is a great start. make sure you let that ganache mature for a day before you make your macs.

15) carefully store your macarons in an airtight container, in the fridge. the cookie part gets stale FAST! they should keep for a few days, maybe a week. if longer than that, freeze them.

a few notes:

- liquid food colorings and flavorings have alcohol or glycerin in them, and are thus useless to us. alcohol monkeys with the versawhip, and glycerin is animal bones! powdered colors and flavors are your new best macaron friend.

- you may want to dry out your almond meal if you ground it yrself. put it in a warm oven, 250-300F max, for like, 10-20 minutes. i usually roll the bones and hope the starch in the sugar absorbs the moisture. i like to prep my stuff a day in advance, otherwise it can all get overwhelming.

- some ovens (like mine) have strong bottom heat. by that, i mean their heat source is from the bottom, and that can play hell with your macs. i double or triple stack the cookie sheets to abate this. i am testing the airbake insulated sheets i just got, so i will let you know.

- finally, it took me 2+ months to get this recipe, and a LOT of hard work. and a SUPER LOT of failures. likewise, count on failing a lot. versawhip can be tough to work with, as its' strengths can also be weaknesses. it's cool, just relax, practice makes perfect. i've heard of the sweetest people in the world flipping out and cursing like Pazazu from the Exorcist, all over a cookie! supposedly macarons are the holy grail of vegan baking. insert your favorite holy grail story or movie reference here. if you are lucky (and annoying) enough to get this right and right away, good for you. just keep it to yourself, okay? some of us had to work for success.

if you have troubles, post them here, i MAY be able to help. but definitely check out Miss Not-So-Humble Pie's macaron troubleshooting page:

http://notsohumblepie.blogspot.com/2010/08/macaron-troubleshooting-new-recipe.html

this page has been open in my browser for 3 months straight. she knows her stuff, and most of the info pertains to vegan macarons, too. ignore the egg parts, if squeamish.

15 comments:

  1. Can't wait to try this, was following to old PPK thread for ages! Well done :)

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  2. My first attempt!

    http://gracelola.blogspot.com/

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  3. What can I substitute Versawhip with that may be avail in supermarkets?

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  4. Thank you SO MUCH for reading my blog! Eh, unfortunately there are very few egg white substitutes that can hold air bubbles, much less that can attain meringue like texture. None of them are available at any grocery store of which I know, in Chicago or Los Angeles. You pretty much have to order versawhip from the above links, or get carrageenan or Irish moss and start from scratch. There might be macaron potential in the vegan meringue mixes you can get online, but I've not tried them. Macarons are a total labor of love, so veganizing doubly so. Afraid you are gonna have to pony up, and wait for the ingredients to arrive. Good luck!

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  5. I was afraid of this. Thank you Andrew for your hardwork. I am glad I was able to remember your blog site. Looked everywhere for a vegan receipe. If they turn out even half as good as they're suppose to be...kudos to you!

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  6. so, my first attempt was close, but too stiff. Do you think this is because I have over beaten my soy egg whites? or should I adjust the recipe? I'm curious where you got your ratios from, because they are quite precise.

    also, have you since tried making flavored macarons? I am futzing around with raspberry and pommegranate powders.

    have you considered the italian meringue technique? or is french technique necessary because there is no "egg white" to bind the flour/

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  7. also, I really appreciate what you've done here. it's an incredibly exciting door that you've opened.

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  8. hi chickpea and olive! thank you very much for the compliment! i didn't open the door, there are a few others, i just walked through and then told everyone else about it without charging money ;)

    ok, if it's too stiff maybe try like a little bit more water. i'm in LA and wherever you are may be more or less humid. that's an educated guess. i don't think you over-beat, as that is one of the primary advantages to using versawhip: their literature says you can't over-beat them.

    i got my ratios the hard way, batch after batch of failures. i wasn't kidding i made many macarons every day for 3 months. my ratios are LA proven, and of course french patisserie has to be fickle upon fickle, so maybe some experimenting is in order.

    to those ends, your flavor powders should work well if you are beating them into the meringue. that's how i would do it, to ensure the most thorough blending. i never got around to flavored macarons, other than chocolate.

    i tried the italian technique, it was more work and much less consistent. i was out for success, so i stuck with french.

    thank you again! let me know how it turns out!

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  9. I'm excited to try this out ... and India Tree makes vegetable glycerin based colorings I've used for other recipes with versawhip that didn't cause issue. Try them out :)

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. ha! well gosh, thanks! i take it from the delay between your posts, you had some level of success?

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  12. I loved reading your trials and tribulations on the way to a great vegan macaron.. Now can you please just come bake some for me?

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  13. To me Angel food cake is the holy grail of vegan cooking and all of my attempts have been total failure. Maybe you can figure that one out next? Please.....

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  14. Hello! I was curious if your macaron batter became a somewhat gummy consistency ... Almost like a dough? Mine are setting out to dry right now ... But just wonder what your batter was like? Thanks!

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