Macarons are probably one of my favorite desserts. They're delicious.. They're both chewy and crunchy at the same time. They can come in many different flavours.. Pistachio, lavender, chocolate, salted caramel.. You name em. The list never ends! They're pretty and colourful. When I walk into a macaron store, I feel like a kid at a candy store.. Or a kid in a macaron store... >_> I just want to buy ALL the colours.. Pink, green, purple, blue,.. ALL shades.. I like pretty and colourful things! They can come in many different sizes.. As big and as tiny as you want. They're easy to eat, easy to transport, they make a great gift.. Yum, yum! What's not to like about macarons ?
Oh, I know...
They're expensive! They may be little, but they aren't cheap! Those little Oreo looking and Oreo sized things can cost up to $5 for ONE. You can pretty much get 2 boxes of Oreo cookies for a macaron (But trust me, they aren't Oreos. Though Oreos ARE good too. Mmm oreos... Ahem. I digress).
They're also expensive to make (this, I didn't know until I went to shop for the ingredients). The ingredients to make macarons are generally pretty expensive. Mostly, the one key ingredient that is hard to substitute for: almond flour, which costs almost $16 for a 453g bag. Yikes! :O
Not only that, macarons are also known to be one of the hardest desserts to make:
Like they say, the real difficultly is getting them to look nice. They are made with egg whites so it's hard to work with..To get them perfectly shaped, smooth, un cracked, perfectly sized..
I know what you may be thinking.. So why would I want to make them myself if it costs just as much with so much more effort (Because you love baking....? Har har) Actually, everything turned out to be not that bad. I'll explain in a bit.
Nonetheless, I decided I was up for the challenge. I guess initially, I also didn't know they were that expensive to make. So I thought there would be some cost savings. Also, I wanted to have green tea macarons. As I mentioned before, it's really hard to find good Asian inspired desserts in Ottawa. I had a bag of green tea matcha at my office desk that I intended to drink but never did. I was staring at for quite some time. Let's put it to good use, I thought.
Anyways, so I was off to the supermarket. That's when I found out almond flour was $15 (Say what?!).
I was just about to abort, but felt determined..
then figured maybe I could try substituting something else for the almond flour. Possibly another but or seed. Coconut flour was equally expensive. I didn't see any other seed flours.. Then I saw flaxseed flour.. 3 bucks? Quick check online said it was a possible substitute. Score! They also would go well with the matcha since matcha was sort of bitter.
And to my surprise, they actually turned out and tasted pretty good!
I decided to use red bean for the filling since Japanese desserts usually come in the green tea / red bean combo. I originally was going to mix in the red bean paste with a white chocolate ganache but I completely botched the ganache recipe (I used 3:1 cream:chocolate instead of chocolate:cream). Though it was a blessing in disguise because I tested it my dipping some of the shells in the mix and the ganache would have overpowered any green tea flavouring. Just pure red bean paste was perfect.
Without further aideau, here is the recipe:
For the ingredients, I used;
- 1 1/2 cup of icing sugar
- 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cup of flaxseed powder
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 tablespoon of green tea powder
- 1/2 of a 400g package of red bean paste
- I dash of vanilla extract (optional)
1) if you do not have macaron makers with presized circles, draw circles on your parchment paper lined on your baking pan for the size of the macaron you want so that they are all consistent. Mine were about 1 1/4 inch in diameter.
2) preheat your oven to 350 degrees
Making the macarons:
3) mix together the powdered sugar, flaxseed, and green tea powder thoroughly. Set aside.
4) beat the egg whites (with the optional vanilla extract) and granulated sugar until a stiff peak form. For mine, I beat them for 3 min on medium, 1 1/2 minute on medium high, 1 minute on high, and another minute on the highest.
5) fold in your dry ingredients slowly and carefully into the egg white mixture until it is well blended.
6) fill your pastry bag with the mixture and squeeze the mixture into your circles. Then bang the pan on your countertop (I did it about 15 times from all angles) to flatten and smooth them out.
7) stick them in the oven for about 12-14 minutes.
8) let cool and using a butter knife, spread the paste to fill you macaron.
Overall, I was quite happy with the result for the first time making them. There definitely were some ones that didn't turn out as nice and were cracked, but they still were delicious. Only comment I would say is that the red bean paste does dry out if you don't eat them right away, but they still tasted decent the next day. I will definitely try to experiment with some other flavours so stay tuned!
(And of course, Instagram always makes everything look better ;D)