Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy National Macaron Day!

Today is National Macaron Day and bakeries across the country are celebrating by handing out macarons for a donation to a worthy cause.

Here in Portland, Oregon, a dozen bakeries are participating to raise funds for Meals on Wheels.

The annual celebration is always on March 20, the first day of Spring, and was first organized in New York City in 2010 by chef Francois Payard, owner of FP Patisserie, Francois Payard Bakery and Payard Patisserie & Bistro.

Macarons are growing to be so popular that I would encourage National Macaron Day to also be a time for home bakers to consider making the sweet treats themselves. They are so satifying to create and not difficult once you learn the technique and the flavor/color combinations are limited only by your imagination.

To help get you started here are a few tips:

TIP 1: MEASURE CAREFULLY. Use a scale to precisely measure out all of your ingredients. Have all the ingredients ready before you start making the macarons.
TIP 2: SIFT. After measuring, sift together your ground almonds and the powdered sugar.
TIP 3: HAVE YOUR PANS AND YOUR PIPING BAGS READY. Before starting, also have four sheetpans ready that are lined with good quality parchment paper.  Also have your piping bags ready. When you are ready to fill the bags, use a glass to help steady them and put a rubber band or twist tie on the back of the bags. You don't want your precious macaron batter escaping out the back while you pipe.

 TIP 4: START SMALL. When you start making macarons you'll have better results if you start out small. When you clip your piping bag, don't make the hole too large because the batter will be hard to control. Just clip a bit off the piping bag and take your time to pipe 1.5- inch rounds.

And finally, here is some flavor inspiration courtesy of my sweet niece Maya who loves macarons so much that whenever I make them I like to pass on a few packages for her to share with her friends at school. Two years ago, when she was in the sixth grade, she made me this adorable and useful list that I am definitely keeping forever.

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