Sur La Table: Happy Birthday Macarons Lessons

This past Saturday was my 28th birthday. This year I wanted to do something different (and fun!). Something out of the ordinary for me. I decided to take a baking class at Sur La Table! My friends, Rose Marie and Charissa took the class together. Can I just say, it was the  B E S T  D A Y ever! I had so much fun, I think everyone should take this class. I learned so much about baking macarons; one of my favorite cookies ever! It is a must. The class was only $69 and was money well spent. Our head chef was Vanessa, she was great and taught us so many tricks. If you would like to find out what kind of cooking classes your nearby Sur La Table has, click here.

The class had 16 people, of which we split up in groups of 2, to make 1 flavor macaron cookie and 1 filling. I got to make Sesame Macarons (it sounds strange, but it tastes great! I can't wait to make them again! hehe). 

Here are the recipes:

♥  Sesame Macarons  ♥

Yield: 35 Sandwich Cookies

7 ounces powdered sugar, divided
4 ounces almond flour or meal (it is best to use a digital scale to do all measurements)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, ground fine
2 tablespoon sesame seeds, whole
4 large (4 ounces) egg whites, room temperature -- (no shells or yolks!)
Pinch of cream of tartar (very important)
3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare parchment paper macaron templates. Line baking sheets with Silpat silicone mats and top with parchment paper templates. (We used a template with a circle of 1.25" diameter. --- But I found these online! I want it!)

Pulse on third of the powdered sugar and all the almond flour in a food processor / blender until a fine powder.  Add ground sesame seeds. Sift mixture 2 times. Sift remaining powdered sugar 2 times. Combine almond flour mixture, remaining powdered sugar and whole sesame seeds. Set aside. (We used a Tamis to sift the almond meal/flour and powdered sugar and sifted 3 times).

In the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar on a medium speed until foamy. Gradually add granulated sugar. Once all sugar is incorporated, scrape down sides of bowl and increase speed to high, whisking until stiff firm glossy peaks form.

To complete the macaronnage step, sift the almond flour mixture one-third at a time over egg white and fold using a large spatula until mixture is smooth and shiny. (This is where you add food coloring, is you wish, use the good stuff, not the food coloring from the grocery store.)  Once all the almond flour mixture is incorporated, check for the correct consistency - the batter should be nicely firm and drip slowly from the spatula. (When you mix the cookie batter, you have to release some of the air in it - sounds funny, I know - You can do this by smearing the batter on the inside rim of the container. Do this until the cookie batter 'flows like a volcano')

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip (#12) and pipe 1 1/3inch rounds on parchment-lined baking sheets. Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15-30 minutes. Check for slight crust to form - macarons should not stick to finger when lightly touched. (The cookie should feel like it has a thin 'shell'.)

Stack the baking sheet with the macarons on top of an empty  baking sheet. Bake one sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 to 15 mins. If macarons are still soft inside, lower oven to 300 degrees, cover with aluminum foil and bake for a few more minutes.

Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.


♥  White Chocolate Ganache 

Yield: 3/4 cup

1/2 cup heavy cream
10 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped (we used white chocolate chips)
3/4 ouncc (1 1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

In a small saucepan, heat cream over medium-high heat to a simmer. Place white chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and pour the hot cream over to the chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute. (A simmer means that the cream had steam and small bubbles on the edge of the pan, it is not a boil.)

Slowly stir chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula to combine. Add butter and whisk mixture until smooth. Let cool, stirring every 10 minutes. Once the ganache cools, pipe between two macarons. (If the chocolate isn't melting, you can melt the chocolate [in a heat safe bowl] over the gas flame stove on a low heat setting.)

These recipes are courtesy of Sur La Table