Wednesday, November 04, 2009

MAC ATTACK 2... the game is on!


Welcome to Jamie and Deeba’s virtual Mac Kitchen where French Macarons are the order of the day. Some of you remember our first Mac Challenge
with the round up here

We had so much fun and stirred up so much excitement that twitter was all abuzz! More and more food bloggers wanted in, either to try their hand, perfect their skills or to simply play along.

So we, Deeba and Jamie, decided to create a separate space where it all could happen. And we are ready to inaugurate our special Mac Kitchen and name the first date.

We've chosen a recipe from Helen's beautiful blog Tartlette for this challenge. This is a sample recipe, the simplest and clearest of mac recipes, but feel free to use your own. The violet sugar is entirely optional. You can go plain or use any flavour you fancy.

Violet Macarons With Violet And Vanilla Bean Buttercream Recipe:
recipe from Helen @ Tartlette
Makes between 30 to 40 macarons

For the macarons shells:
90 gr egg whites (about 3)
30 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds
2 tablespoons crushed violet sugar or candied violet petals

For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like lava or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes.

Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Sprinkle with the crushed sugar or violet petals. Preheat the oven to 280F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size.

Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don't let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer. To fill: pipe or spoon about 1 big tablespoon of butterceam in the center of one shell and top with another one.

Violet and Vanilla Buttercream:
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon violet sugar +1 tablespoon water (or 2 tablespoons violet liqueur)
1 vanilla bean, split open and seeded

Put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. Divided the buttercream in two portions.

For the violet buttercream: microwave the violet sugar and water for 30 to 45 seconds. Let cool completely before folding it into the buttercream. If using liqueur, just fold it in the buttercream.

For the vanilla buttercream: add the seeds from the vanilla bean to the buttercream and fold with a spatula until fully incorporated. If not using right away, refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 1 month.

Just make your macs, keep us up to date on your progress, ask questions if you have problems or share your feet via twitter @lifesafeast and @vindee and then post your macs on your own blog by 10th December 2009 with a mention of this challenge, linking back to the Mactweets blog.

The round up of all macs will be put up here on the 15th December 2009.


Follow us and all the Mac Attack Buzz on Twitter @lifesafeast and @vindee


  1. Ok, I have over a month. I can do this!

  2. I am sooooo signing up for this. Not only do I think making macarons is fun, now (thanks to Jamie), but I became totally and irreversibly addicted to them. Ahhhh. I hope I can hold off eating the finished product long enough to take photos (which was a real struggle last time!) (Plus, I already have this recipe printed out from your help with my Daring Bakers challenge.) See you all soon! :D


  3. After last months Daring Bakers and my less than successful attempts to make Macarons, I am definitely up for this! I need way more practice!

  4. I am in! I need to practice and I can not think of a better way than right alongside the masters :) Thanks... this is fun!

  5. Casey twisted my arm! I don't think I stand a chance. I am afraid mine will look like whoopie pies!

  6. I think I am in. Life gets calmer in a couple of weeks and would like to give it a shot!

  7. @Bethie: even Whoopie pie results are good! But we're here to see you and walk you through the process.

    Welcome aboard all! We gave you a bit extra time this Attack what with Daring Bakers due the 27th and the Food Blogger Conference the weekend of the 28th. So take your time and get your practice in because there will be less time for the next one :-)

  8. Fun fun fun...welcome on board you lovely macpassionates. Jamie is the MacQueen, and I am still struggling to get my act right! Together we can find our feet!

  9. This looks perfect, just the place for the macathons. Never thought it would get this big, when we started out wanting to make macs. :)

  10. Well count me in, i am glad there is time till 15th as i seems to bake these days less.
    I am sure looking forward to se all the wild colours and tastes.

  11. @Happy Cook: Be careful! that's NOT November 15 but December 15 - actually it must be on your blog on December 10.

  12. As the humidity promises to drop somewhat over the next several weeks, count me in, too! I'm still looking for my feet! :-)

  13. I was there for the first one...and I am not backing from the upcoming ones! COUNT ME IN!! :)

  14. Trying for the third time to post. I am happy to jump in with both feet! I have two flavors in mind and my egg whites are already drying. All I need to get started is my confidence!


  15. A virtual Mac Kitchen is a brilliant idea ladies! You know I'm in!

  16. I'm in! :) So, this month, any flavor is fine?

  17. I am definitely in! Can't wait to roll up my sleeves and test out this recipe.

  18. Thank you, all of you, wonderful macpassionate souls, for hopping on board. We're gonna have FUN!!

  19. I totally want to be part of this. I have yet to make a great macaroon, maybe this is what I need to give me a push.

  20. Great idea! I'll give it a try too :)

  21. This sounds amazing, I want to join too! Have a few other things to make before I go away on the 20th, but might try and make them early December and even think of a Christmas theme! :D

    Great idea!

  22. Thrilled to have so many participating this time around and as we've given extra time we hope to rope in a few more :-)

    Any flavor is fine this time. Want some feedback, too: should we impose a flavor combo and all do the same (next month) to compare? Maybe even one easy for the novice and one more difficult for who dare to make the attempt? Or to each his own with our just using this space to help each other along? Give us your opinion.

    And don't forget - you first timers and those who have yet to excel: we are here to help so ask questions...

  23. Hey all - count me in too! Exciting =)

  24. Barbara Bakes invited me to join this lovely Mac adventure. All this sounds amazing. Count me in too please. Have a great day.

  25. Count me in. As I have until December 10th I've got a month to "find my feet" so to speak!

    Re future months, I think maybe a recipe for those to follow who haven't made them before and more confident people to do their own thing to inspire us all for future months. Might be best for flexibility incase someone can't get an ingredient - I haven't a clue where to find violet sugar yet I can usually source most things.

  26. I cannot wait to play along this time - so fun!

  27. Ooooo how did I possible miss this new blog?? Good thing Jamie posted about it or I would have not know... Been a little occupied lately... :) Ok, almost a month left, so no panick yet... Can't wait to try this!!

  28. My mac post is going to be late. My sis, two of her friends and her hubby accidentally ate them when they stopped over (made them yesterday..spent the month doing quite a bit of 'catch up' baking - full plate) and accidentally ate them thinking they were there for the taking since they were plated for photos *pout*. I made Fleur de Sel Caramel Apple macs and a Roasted Pumpkin-Maple mac with Spicy, Toasted, Salted Pumpkin Seed Shells. I'll get to them later on today or tomrrow.

  29. I made macs a few days ago (well, tried to, anyways), but a lot of them came out hollow. Does any one know why? I keep on reading contradictory things; some people say it's because my heat is too low, others say it's because my heat is too high, yet others say it's because of insufficient macaronnage. Anyone have any experience with this problem??