Love and Olive Oil - Eat to Live. Cook to Love.

April Kitchen Challenge Results: Macarons

Chocolate & Hibiscus Macarons with Hibiscus-Infused Ganache

April Kitchen Challenge - MacaronsYou guys.

I was seriously worried I was going to fail my own challenge.

Is that even allowed?

I’ve made 6 batches since I first announced this month’s kitchen challenge. Batch #1 (just a small test batch) was surprisingly successful. I’ll chalk it up to beginners luck.

Last weekend’s attempts, though, were disastrous. Frustrating. Infuriating.

Why did this happen? Who knows. I may have over-whipped my meringue. The few drops of gel food coloring could have destroyed them. I probably over-mixed and under-baked at least two of the three batches. My sour mood was mirrored in the cracks and hollows of the failed cookies.

In the end, after 3 miserable failures, I quit for the day, resigned to the fact that I might fail my own challenge. What kind of example would that set? But I was prepared to raise the white flag and declare defeat.

Massive Macaron Failure

But, here we are, the day before my (self-imposed) deadline, and I figured I’d give it one more try. I invited my good friend Tabitha over for expertise and moral support (I swear she’s my macaron lucky charm). And sure enough, two batches came out of the oven looking mighty fine and tasting even better.

I have a suspicious feeling that my debacle last weekend may have been caused by moist almond flour. It seemed like the only factor that had changed between the semi-successful batch the weekend before (when my flour was brand new and fresh) and the disasters the next (when my almond flour had been stored in the freezer, thus coming out with a bit of condensation).

Chocolate & Hibiscus Macarons with Hibiscus-Infused Ganache

So this time, I spread out the flour on a cookie sheet and baked it for about 30 minutes at 170 degrees. Just enough to dry it out but not so hot that it toasted or cooked the flour.

Was that the key? Was that the only reason I failed so miserably before? All I know is, this weekend, it worked. And I’m giddy with the results. Next weekend? Who knows.

I refused to give up on my hibiscus macarons, which incorporated some dried hibiscus flowers that had been finely ground in a coffee grinder. A similar method can be used to incorporate freeze-dried fruit, or any flavored powder, really. I will say that even the failures tasted incredible. Tart and fruity, the hibiscus flavor comes through loud and clear. It also gives the cookies a charming speckled purple shell without the need for any food coloring at all (although you can add a bit of pink or purple coloring if you want a more vibrant cookie).

Chocolate Cocoa Nib Macarons

I did the chocolate batch partly because Naomi told me that sometimes chocolate macarons are easier. Something about the extra fat in the cocoa powder, or something. But for those of you who may have had a bit of trouble with your macarons, give a chocolate batch a try; you may have better luck. They basically taste like bite-sized brownie clouds. I topped mine with some cocoa nibs for a bit of texture (and to hide some of the lumps).

For my filling, I went with a simple ganache, which I infused with more hibiscus flowers (yes, I admit I have a problem). The resulting ganache is rich and floral. I could definitely see myself using this infusion technique (basically steeping the dried flowers in the cream as it heats) to make a hibiscus-flavored version of just about any dessert that incorporates milk or cream in some way.

Click through to get my recipe and see the incredibly creative submissions from readers!

Chocolate & Hibiscus Macarons with Hibiscus-Infused Ganache

Yield: about 20 sandwhiches

Total Time: 3 hours

I had the most success with the French macaron recipe from I Love Macarons, but use whatever macaron recipe you like best. The instructions here are more for my own reference and helpful for adapting your own recipe.

Ingredients:

For Hibiscus Macarons:
15 grams (1/2 ounce or about 1/3 cup) dried hibiscus flowers
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
85 grams almond flour or finely ground almonds
150 grams powdered sugar
90 grams egg whites (from about 3 large eggs), room temperature
50 grams superfine or granulated sugar

For Chocolate Macarons:
60 grams almond flour or finely ground almonds
150 grams powdered sugar
25 grams (about 3 tablespoons) dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder
90 grams egg whites (from about 3 large eggs), room temperature
50 grams superfine or granulated sugar
cocoa nibs, for topping (optional)

For Hibiscus Ganache:
1 bar (3.5 ounces) dark or bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dried hibiscus flowers

Directions:

In a clean coffee grinder, grind hibiscus flowers with sugar until it forms a fine powder. You can also do this by hand with a mortar and pestle. Basically, you want the hibiscus as fine as possible. You can also use the (cleaned) coffee grinder to make superfine sugar, simply pulse granulated sugar until fine and powdery.

In a food processor, combine almond flour, powdered sugar, and hibiscus or cocoa powder; pulse for 20 to 30 seconds until evenly distributed. Sift at least once through a fine mesh sieve, discarding any larger particles.

Place egg whites in a clean metal mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until frothy, then slowly add superfine sugar, a little bit at a time with the mixer on medium speed, scraping down the side of the bowl periodically. When all the sugar has been added, increase speed to medium high and whip until meringue is firm and glossy and forms medium-stiff peaks.

Pour half of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and stir, folding and scraping a few times until no dry flour remains. Add the remaining flour and mix, folding and spreading the batter against the sides of the bowl about 15 to 20 times or just until the meringue and flour are incorporated and the batter falls off the spatula in thick ribbons. Do not overmix.

Transfer the batter to a large piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch-round tip, twisting the end of the bag to prevent the batter from leaking. Pipe small circles onto a parchment or silicone-mat-lined baking sheet, leaving about 1-inch of space between them.

Rap the baking sheet firmly on the counter, then smack the bottom of the baking sheet multiple times with your hand to remove any remaining air bubbles. If any pointy 'tips' still remain, you can gently press them down with a lightly moistened fingertip. Sprinkle with cocoa nibs (if using), and set aside to dry.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. When macarons are dry (you should be able to just barely touch the surface of the cookies with a dry finger without them sticking), stack the baking sheet on top of another empty baking sheet (this will help them bake more evenly). Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. With the hibiscus macarons especially, keep an eye on them to make sure they do not brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack, then remove from baking sheets.

For ganache filling, place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and set aside. Heat cream and hibiscus flowers in a small saucepan over medium heat until it starts to steam. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain cream through a fine mesh sieve, pressing out as much leftover cream as you can. Discard flowers. Return hot pink cream to medium heat until it just starts to steam. Pour over chopped chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds, then stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, then refrigerate until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. If the ganache has hardened too much you can re-warm it gently in a double boiler or in the microwave on half power.

Transfer ganache to a piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe dollops of ganache onto half of cookies, then top with remaining cookies and press to spread ganache to edges.

Macarons will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to a week. They can also be frozen (filled or unfilled) for up to 1 month.

And now, for your lovely creations!

The thing I loved most about this challenge was the room for creativity. The basic cookie was just a starting point, and the flavor possibilities are truly endless. You made tiramisu, malted chocolate, and funfetti macarons. Raspberry and lemon and chocolate and more chocolate. This must be why we get along so well.

I’m seriously impressed and y’all deserve a major round of applause!

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Clarisse

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Zainab

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Susan

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Shannon

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Odette

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Nick

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Michelle

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: MeLisa

april13KCKitchen Challenge, Macarons: Mardi-mardi

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Kristen

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Kara

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Irina

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Gina

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Gerry

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Erin

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Erin

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Elena

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Cat

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Cassie

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Carolyn

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Bridget

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Becky

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Heather

Kitchen Challenge, Macarons: Sandra

March Kitchen Challenge - Audra

Although it seems there were varying levels of success with these finicky cookies (much like my own experience), the good news is, I don’t think anyone made a bad tasting macaron. And isn’t that the true measure of success?

Bravo!

And stay tuned… I’ll be announcing next month’s Kitchen Challenge on May 1st!

Share this Post:

You may also like...

52 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Congrats! I am terrified to make macarons, but I’m dying to try because they are so good! I’ll have to take your advice when I do.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  2. 2
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 8:52 am

    So happy you finally had success with another batch! They look lovely. Though the picture of the failed shells is gorgeous. Those colors! Sigh…

    Reply

  3. 3
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 8:58 am

    glad you had success!! it’s totally true, even when i’ve had batches that “failed”, they still tasted delicious :) so many great ideas!

    Reply

  4. 4
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 9:04 am

    So glad you go it! Totally inspiring me to give them a go.

    Reply

  5. 5
    Kristen Paige Gathany
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 9:05 am

    When I saw your “fail” pic on FB last weekend, I was so worried!! I’m really glad that you got a successful batch to happen in the end – way to get back on that horse!! There’s a pate a choux horse that I still refuse to go near after my first attempt at eclairs haha. I was planning to contribute to the gallery this month, but had too much come up in the way of work and other things #unfun. I’m so happy to see everyone’s creations, though, and can I also just take a moment to say AMAZEBALLS to your current hibiscus kick?! I love it. I’m still going to make macarons next on my baking list, but somehow April disappeared…funny. Thanks for the great challenge, I really like this new feature on the blog!!

    Reply

  6. 6
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Good job with the macarons. It took me 20-ish different recipes and countless failed attempts to finally find a recipe that works for me. So I understand your frustration. But once you see those pretty “feets”, you will fall in love, and want to make macarons over and over again!

    Reply

  7. 7
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 9:21 am

    I tried macarons for the first time two weeks ago – for my birthday. of course, i’m obsessed with them now and i’ve been dying to try and make them at home. thanks for sharing your recipe!

    Reply

  8. 8
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I’m so glad you got these to work! I’ve been tracking your progress on instagram and I’m so glad you had a success! They look incredible!

    Reply

  9. 9
    Helen
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I was wondering of MICHELLE would share the source of her recipe (or the recipe itself). Her macarons look very nice.

    Thanks

    Reply

    • Posted On April 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      I’m not sure of the recipe but she says the flavor is “chocolate pecan shells with fig, cherry, and caramel buttercreams.” Wow!

  10. 10
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 9:24 am

    wow! I was bummed I didn’t end up having time to participate in this challenge but I admit I was intimidated from when you announced it. I’m definitely still planning on trying it out – hoping I’ll get some of that beginners luck ;)

    Reply

  11. 11
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 9:34 am

    It’s so satisfying when you finally triumph! Your perseverance paid off!
    Side note, I attended a two-day macaron class at the Cacao-Barry chocolate academy last fall and one tip they gave us for moist conditions is to add some dried egg white powder because it helps absorb some of the excess moisture. Haven’t tried this out, but I figured I’d pass on the info ;)

    Reply

  12. 12
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Yours came out so pretty! I should’ve retried mine, but it rained the next couple days. I’ll retry eventually, but everyone else’s look great too.

    Reply

  13. 13
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Wow – yours came out so beautiful! I love the addition of hibiscus. How unusual. My second attempt was more successful – and I am excited to keep trying macarons until I have them down. I can’t wait for the next challenge.

    Reply

  14. 14
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Your macarons looks so perfect! They really are so tricky to get right, I’ve had so many macaron disasters! These looks absolutely gorgeous, I love the combination of the chocolate brown and the purple hibiscus shells.

    Reply

  15. 15
    Marcie@flavorthemoments
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Sounds like you went through a lot, but the end result is amazing. Your macarons look beautiful!

    Reply

  16. 16
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 10:18 am

    I am SO impressed!!! with all the people who’ve participated. I’ll be honest, with everything I’ve got going on right now, recipe fails just aren’t allowed :) And to fail batch after batch, oh, I’d be ticked! You got back up on the macaron horse though and pulled out some really gorgeous macs! I also love the color palate of your fails. Good for you for sticking thru this!

    Reply

  17. 17
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Congratulations to everyone who participated. This was not an easy challenge. I had so hoped to participate, because I haven’t made macarons in a while, but life got in the way. Still, your success (and perseverance) is inspiring me to make some soon.

    Reply

  18. 18
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Glad you stuck to your guns and made another batch! Great results and thanks for linking me up :)

    Reply

  19. 19
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 11:15 am

    yours look perfect!!! they’re the most frustrating yet most rewarding little treats, ever. Tabitha is definitely a macaron lucky charm – I wish she were near me…the least we can do is email. She even offered FaceTime the next time I try to tackle these!! :)

    Reply

  20. 20
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 11:25 am

    I’m so impressed! I failed at 5-6 batches back in college and haven’t tried them since! I think I’ll give myself another chance soon! Love how pretty yours turned out :)

    Reply

  21. 21
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Well, I must say, your macarons look so perfect that its hard to imagine you had such failures at first! They’re gorgeous! Had to post on our “Devine Dessert” Pinterest board (http://pinterest.com/deliciouskarma/divine-desserts). I SOOOO meant to get to this challenge (have always wanted to try macarons! However, alas, work kept me just a tad too busy!!! Loooking forward to the next challenge. Perhaps I’ll get to that one!

    Reply

  22. 22
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I am absolutely terrified to try theses haha. I have a feeling my efforts would definitely be disastrous. But you’re look amazing :)

    Reply

  23. 23
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    I love the look of macarons but have never gotten around to giving them a go. I should of taken part of this month’s challenge. I think I’ll give may’s challenge a go though, can’t wait to see what it’ll be. Your macarons look lovely Lindsey.

    Reply

  24. 24
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Gosh, I have been spurred on by colleagues to a ‘macaron making challenge’ for weeks! If only I’d have seen this post sooner. I haven’t given up yet. Thank you for sharing so generously about the failed attempts. Its those that make the successes all the sweeter :)

    Reply

  25. 25
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    These are so lovely, Lindsay! The successes and not-so-successful attempts are all a treat to look through.. some kind of funny, to be honest. ;). So glad you found yourself a reliable recipe to share with us. Thanks!

    Reply

  26. 26
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    hooray for everyone who tried! These have been on my “to bake” list for some time now and I’m glad to have your guidance when I do attempt them : )

    Reply

  27. 27
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Look at all of the feet! Yay!! I love the beauties you made and the ones in the gallery too!

    Reply

  28. 28
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    As a kid I loved macarons but I didn’t know that was what they were called. I used to always beg my mom to make them, which she did spending hours in the kitchen. I haven’t ever tried them myself, because once I found out that my “favs” were actually macarons I felt bad for forcing my mom to work so hard. Great work making them turnout!

    Reply

  29. 29
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    I love the little speckled shells of your hibiscus macaroons! I have to admit, I’ve been petrified to try making them. BUT! I am moving in July to a hopefully less humid/hot/weird kitchen, at which point I am definitely going to man up and give them a try. It’s going to happen!

    Reply

  30. 30
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Your macarons are gorgeous, Lindsay! They look absolutely perfect, and I love, love, love the hibiscus flavor! Can’t wait to see next month’s challenge! :)

    Reply

  31. 31
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    They are so pretty! Wow. I need to make some. You have inspired me!

    Reply

  32. 32
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    Glad you got at least some macarons to turn out! There are yummy, delicate, and finicky little cookies. Fun to experiment with but frustrating when they don’t behave.

    Reply

  33. 33
    Posted On April 23, 2013 at 12:37 am

    I was following along with your failed attempts on Instagram and I kept thinking that there is no way I could ever make them! lol These look just perfect!

    Reply

  34. 34
    Posted On April 23, 2013 at 4:20 am

    Yay thank you for including my submission! I’ve made two different macaron flavours using another recipe since making the ones I submitted. I think I’m obsessed! So cool to see everyone else’s macarons too! Can’t wait for next month’s challenge. :D

    Reply

  35. 35
    Posted On April 23, 2013 at 6:17 am

    I have always wanted to make these, but was scarred it wouldn’t turn out. You have inspired me to try and to have patients!

    Reply

  36. 36
    Posted On April 23, 2013 at 7:38 am

    These look great!! I baked macarons for the first time last year, and after about 10 failed attempts, I finally got a decent batch. They still weren’t perfect, and it’s taken me a year to recover, but your post has inspired me to try again!! In case you’re curious, I made Vanilla Rose Macarons: http://www.girlyobsessions.com/2012/03/baking/for-the-love-of-macarons/

    Reply

  37. 37
    Posted On April 23, 2013 at 8:37 am

    I’ve been watching your series of photos on instagram through your challenges, and have enjoyed them! The final result is beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  38. 38
    Alexandra
    Posted On April 23, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    Hello,

    I only discovered your website recently and I must say that I love it!!!
    I then follow you through RSS and saw the macaron challenge. I would have love to do that but here in Tokyo I tried several times and it was always a failure (I don’t have a real oven, the flat is humid….) though in Europe (I’m French) it was always a success so I just gave up here really.
    Your Macarons are great and indeed you do love Hibiscus!! I am though a bit puzzled with your recipe for the macarons themselves (not the ganache or flavor) and as well as the oven t°. Here is what I do (same ingredients but not same amount and not in the same way) then you are up to try or not ;-) (but let me know if it worked fine for you as it always did to me):
    For about 36 macarons (depend the size of them):
    Egg whites : 3 (separate them few days before and do not store them at ro°but in the fridge)
    Icing sugar: 210 g sifted (really important)
    Almond powder : 125 g (sifted)
    Sugar: 30 g

    Then as you mentionned, let the macaron ‘croûter’ (kind of ‘dry’ them) about 20min but a night is also ok (this helps them create the famous “collar” around them)
    Then, it’s here I do it differently as well: I bake them at 150°C which must be about 300°F for 12 min (if big batches about 15 to 20 min) and I bake them not on one tray but 2 orlayers of tray (it’s important as it helps the macaron to rise and create the collar also).

    It’s a long comment sorry and I’m not saying my way is better than yours but maybe it can help you who knows ^^ Please let me know whether you tried it and whether you succeed!

    Have a nice day,

    Alexandra

    Reply

  39. 39
    Posted On April 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I love making macarons, they’re so fun, even if a bit frustrating. I love the hibiscus idea!

    Reply

  40. 40
    Posted On April 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    flippin’ love macarons. My uncle is a trained pastry chef (only found this out a few weeks ago) and he says he makes some pretty great salted caramel ones…def gonna go hunt him down and make him teach me!!!

    Reply

  41. 41
    Posted On April 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Hi Lindsay, your Macarons looks scrumptious!!! And it is so inspiring to see everyone else’s Macarons too! Thank you for including my picture and happy baking! :-)

    Reply

  42. 42
    Posted On April 24, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Lindsay, your macarons are magnificent! I can’t believe these came after so many batches failed. They truly are exceptionally perfect, chocolate nibs, hibiscus flowers and all! You certainly beat that challenge! Not sure when I will feel up to such a challenge but I will think of this post when I do. :)

    Reply

  43. 43
    Posted On April 25, 2013 at 5:07 am

    This is awesome.. I wanted to take part in this challenge but never found the time to make them. I have attempted to make them once before, it was a fail.. an expensive fail!

    Reply

  44. 44
    Posted On April 25, 2013 at 6:34 am

    I’m quite scared of attempting macarons even though I’ve wanted to for a long time. This post has inspired me to try :)

    Reply

  45. 45
    Posted On April 25, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Oh goodness, you even made your mistake photo look lovely. Macarons are the ultimate fun treat, I’d love to try this recipe :) they look divine!

    Reply

  46. 46
    Posted On April 25, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Anytime you want another macaron playdate, I’m down. These are GORGEOUS. So are so many of the submissions you got!

    Reply

  47. 47
    Posted On April 27, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    But the better idea is to go to Dalloyau by the Jardin du Luxumbourgh in Paris and buy them buy the dozen!!!

    Reply

  48. 48
    Posted On May 17, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Bravo! These look great! I love the hibiscus idea. Beware of making macarons on rainy/humid days, as with all meringues, humidity is a no-no. I’ve also learned that the drying part is super essential, which an impatient cook (like myself) learns the hard way.

    Reply

  49. 49
    Hala
    Posted On May 22, 2013 at 3:34 am

    Thank u thank u thank u finally i got feet, glossy and wonderful macarons thanks to ur instructions and recipe..
    In the last 4 days i baked 10 patches of macarons all good tasting all no feet and various problems kept rising.
    i went mad and mostly it was my husband who was about to flip!! too many cookies and the potential my bum getting bigger all was causing stress lol.
    now i feel i owe my success to u ..
    Thank u again.
    ah i did the hibiscus ones now i will looking forward to making the chocolate one.

    Reply

  50. 50
    Posted On May 22, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Wow, they all look fantastic, especially yours. I’ve made these only once to satisfy my desire to try them and they turned out well. But they’re so fussy, as you know, so I won’t be baking them again anytime soon. I’ll be content to look at your beautiful creations.

    Reply

  51. 51
    S
    Posted On June 19, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I confess it’s a bit disappointing to see a McDonald’s ad on your lovely site…

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Current day month ye@r *