Originally published in The Northern Light
Sweet Caribou’s executive pastry chef, Sam Wagner, shows me the art of making macarons.
An Anchorage market favorite, Sweet Caribou’s macarons are a small and flavorful dessert straight from the streets of France. One of the trickiest desserts to make, owner James Strong brings the city of Anchorage the tasty treats through his brand new store in midtown.
Executive pastry chef Sam Wagner, well-versed in the tricks of the trade and a graduate of UAA’s own culinary program, has been working with Sweet Caribou for a little over a year.
In addition to making macarons and other sweet treats, Wagner also designed many of the salads and lunch boxes Sweet Caribou offers for delivery.
“We could deliver to UAA very easily if people were hungry,” Wagner said.
Using a basic recipe for macarons, Wagner deviates from the wild and powerful flavors Sweet Caribou is known for.
“We are known for having big flavors. We play around with new stuff fairly often. Trying to find new stuff that our customers like,” Wagner said.
The recipe is a sweet and subtle vanilla and can pair well with most fill-ins. Recreate the Anchorage’s favorite macaron with this recipe.
4 ounces of almond flour
8 ounces of powdered sugar
4 ounces egg whites
1 and 1/2 ounces of fine granulated sugar
4 drops of vanilla extract
1. Scale out all of your ingredients.
2. Gather the egg whites and place in a medium size bowl. It is best to use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Add sugar and whip on a medium setting.
3. While the sugar and egg whites are being whipped sift and incorporate the powered sugar and almond flour into a medium sized bowl.
4. Make sure to frequently check the ‘peaks’ of the meringue. Stop whipping when hard peaks are achieved. Over whipping will cause the macarons to lose shape in the oven and prevent ‘feet’ from forming on the cookie.
5. Once the meringue is complete add in your vanilla. Take a third of your dry ingredients in the medium bowl and add it to the meringue mixture. Fold evenly adding a third at a time until a consistent batter is reached. The batter should move like magma and ribbon when it falls off the spatula.
6. Once the batter is complete line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Either with stencils or by drawing them out, create small circles to guide the piping process.
7. Funnel the batter into pastry bags that have a regular tip for piping. Carefully, pipe the batter out, starting with your tip close to the baking sheet and then once the space is filled, move your pipe to the side, trying to avoid pulling up.
8. Once all your cookies are piped out. Slam your baking sheet roughly ten times on the surface you’re working on. This can be done by holding the baking sheet above the table and dropping it, or by forcefully hitting the sheet against the table, keeping it even with the surface. This relieves air bubbles in the batter and helps the cookies take shape.
7. Let the cookies sit for about 10 – 15 minutes. They are ready for the oven when lightly touched and your finger doesn’t stick. Look for tackiness.
8. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown and well-risen. Let the cookies cool completely before removing them from the tray.
9. Sandwich the cookies with your favorite buttercream, ganaches, or ice cream. Note that the cookies are sensitive to moisture and will disintegrate.