Sunday, February 23, 2020

How to Make and Photograph Macarons

It's winter which has me stuck inside, so I've been experimenting with
making and photographing French Macarons!

These delicate cookie gems with the crispy shell, and melt-in-your-mouth 
interior are notoriously pesky to make.

There are a zillion recipes and tutorials online, 
and I tried many of them...
and I failed at many of them!

Check out this dismal failure:

These were supposed to be a lovely shade of lilac, but they failed to 
rise, develop feet and they turned brown, yet raw inside!  

I was not to be defeated, so I finally mixed and tweaked several recipes
and this one came out right every time!

Jill's Macarons


2 egg whites at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla or other extract flavor  (Try filling your tsp. 3/4 full of vanilla and fill the rest of the tsp.                                                                 with almond extract! So yummy!)
A few drops of color gel to your liking

Dry ingredients:

1 cup Anthony's Premium Blanched Almond Flour (I got this from Amazon)
1 cup confectioner's sugar

I put all meringue ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl and beat on high until the meringue formed stiff peaks.  If you can turn the bowl upside down and the meringue stays's ready!

Fold in the dry ingredients and keep folding for about 30 strokes.  You want the mixture to flow like lava from the spatula.

Place mixture into a 16-inch piping bag with a Wilton 1A piping tip.  Pipe straight down and lift.  These silicone macaron template mats work  GREAT!  Or you can pipe onto parchment paper.

After piping, lift the cookie pan about 6 inches off the counter
and let it fall 3 to 5 times.  
This will release air bubbles that can cause the cookies to crack
or leave craters.

Touch up any stray air bubbles or bumps with a toothpick.

Set piped cookies aside for 20-30 minutes to develop a skin on top.
This is what will create the feet in the oven.

Bake at 315-degrees for 10-13 minutes

I leave mine on the cookie sheet until they cool completely.

Pipe on your favorite buttercream frosting, jam, ganache or try other fillings 
for your macaron shells.

After all my experimenting and perfecting this recipe
that worked for me,
I finally made PRETTY lilac-colored macarons!

I wanted that color because I found this pretty tea cup at a thrift store.

The very next day after my lilac macaron success,
I bought some neon color gels and tried teal!

I played with piping tips for the buttercream frosting.

As a photographer, I was first attracted to macarons because I wanted
to photograph their pastel loveliness!

Here are a few tips for Photographing baked goods:

Gather a variety of matching plates, cups, flowers, and any other props
you would like to include in your macaron photos.

I like to shoot on my kitchen table with my big picture window behind the scene.

Window light from behind or from the side is beautiful,
just don't shoot with the subject in direct, harsh sunlight.

The trick is to create depth with your  set-up!

See how I staggered my props depth-wise? 

Taller bunnies are in far back, shorter props 
staggered in depth behind the main subject...the macarons!

I use my Canon 50mm lens
and set it for a wide aperture.  (Start with f.2.2)

This staggered set up allows the props to blur into 
beautiful art in the background!

For some extra bokeh sparkle in the background,
place Christmas lights or fairy lights around the
props in the far background!

Look how pretty the lights twinkle in the photos!

I tried making heart-shaped macarons, but I used
an artificial sweetner so my husband could eat them.

They didn't rise or develop feet!

But, I still photographed them...
just didn't show the lack-of feet!

Try making these beautiful cookies in a variety of pastels,
 perfect for Easter!

Macarons may give you a challenge, but
 give them a try and enjoy 
photographing your creations! 

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