French Macarons

When I think chic and sophisticated bites, I think macarons. It’s pretty obvious by my Pinterest page-  Here. I have yet to go to Paris, but from what I can tell in America, these things are pretty darn cute! I never learned how to make them so I tried to teach myself. Click here to visit my last try. Not bad, but not perfect and yes, I am a perfectionist when it comes to food!

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After trying to bake perfect macarons 3 times in the span of one year, I achieved perfection! One of the best culinary feats of my career. It’s funny how a few meringue style cookies can have my smiling from ear to ear. I highly recommend giving these a try. I’ve given you some tips that I’ve learned along the way, and made it pretty simplistic. These really wow a crowd, make a great gift and are incredibly versatile. You can color them any color you’d like, flavor them with any extracts, think lemon, mint and chocolate, and fill them with white and dark chocolate ganache, peanut butter and jelly and all sorts of other jams. Have fun with it, get creative and believe in yourself. You can do it!

French Macarons- yield 30 macarons

Ingredients:

1 cup almond flour (I buy pre-ground)

1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 large egg whites from 3 eggs (at room temperature)

1/4 cup regular granulated sugar

7 drops of pink coloring and 1 tsp  chocolate extract (can use any color or flavoring)

Chocolate ganache filling:

4 oz bittersweet chocolate ( I used dairy but you can use non dairy)

1/2 cup heavy cream (can use non dairy too)

Directions:

For the macaroons-

Sift together the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar in a big  bowl- DON’T skip this step! Discard and lumps remaining in the sieve.  Mix ingredients well in the bowl until well combined.

Separate your egg whites making sure not to get any yolks in them!

In a bowl of a stand mixture fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until they form soft peaks- a few minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add your regular sugar. Increase speed back to high and beat until glossy stiff peaks are formed- about 2 minutes. Make sure not to over mix. Test to see if they’re stiff by removing the whisk and holding it right side up. If the egg white stay pointed without flopping over, you’ve done it!

Now you can add you food coloring and flavor extract mixing for a few seconds. Turn off the machine and add your almond flour mixture all at once. Mix only until well combined, about 10 seconds.

Here is the important test:

Don’t allow your mixture to get too thin. To test it, drop a little mixture onto a flat surface. The  mixture should spread slightly, but not thin out. Ripples on top should disappear within a few seconds. Finding the perfect batter is tough, but once you get a feel what you’re looking for it’s not too bad.If it doesn’t spread at all, mix the batter for a few more seconds.  Keep in mind, it took me 3 times to get these macarons perfect!

Cover three baking sheets with parchment paper, or use a Silpat, and set aside. I find that the parchment paper curls and ruins my macaroons, so I tape down my parchment paper with masking tape. Using a circular stencil that measures between 1 1/2 to 2 inches, trace circles on your paper. This ensure that the macarons are perfectly sized. Fill your piping bag or ziplock with mixture and let it fill to one corner. Twist the top to seal it, snip the end of your bag, and fill each circle holding the bag at 90 degrees and keeping the tip stationary as the mixture spreads. Careful not to overfill!

Let the macarons rest for one hour on the baking sheets- this creates an outer film and a dull surface.

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When the hour is up, preheat your oven to 325 degrees and make sure your racks are in the center and upper portion of the oven. Bake the macarons for about 15 minutes, until the tops are completely dry and they come off the paper easily. If you’re a macaron expert, you will see the famous macaron feet (more about this below). Once out of the oven, transfer the parchment paper with macarons onto a table and let cool. Twist each macaron lightly to remove from paper. You did it!!

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Now on to the ganache:

Heat heavy cream in the microwave for 1 minute. Pour chocolate into it and let sit for 3 minutes. Mix together well and set aside until ready to fill.

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To fill the macaroons:

Match up each macaron with its mate (look for uniformity and size). place 1 teaspoon of ganache on the bottom half of each pair, and cover with top half, making a sandwich. The filling should be visible. Repeat with remaining macarons and store them in an airtight container in the freezer. Well done my friend. It’s time for you to invite some friends over for a tea party with the oh so elegant macarons- enjoy!

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Some trouble shooting:

What are feet?

Feet are the airy ruffled parts on the bottom of the macaron. If the egg-whites are whipped perfectly, the macarons rise on these ‘feet’. Pretty darn cute huh?

What is the ideal consistency of a macaron?

Crispy and crackly on the exterior and soft like chewy cotton candy in the center.

Can I make macarons even if it’s raining/really hot/humid outside?

Humidity usually makes macaron making trickier because it prevents the shells to dry during the resting period. Many succeed in making macarons in these conditions anyway – but let’s just say the heart of summer isn’t the best time to make macarons, even if it’s just to avoid heating the oven.

Making macarons seems so time-consuming! How long does it really take to make them?

Macaron making is divided into four steps:

  1. Doing the prep work: Covering baking sheets with parchment paper, measuring the ingredients, grinding the nuts, mixing the nuts and sugar together, sifting the mixture (20 minutes)
  2. Making the batter: Beating egg whites, incorporating dry ingredients, piping the shells onto the baking sheets, resting the shells (20 minutes)
  3. Baking the shells (about 15 minutes for each batch)
  4. Cooling, filling and storing the macarons (30-40 minutes)

From start to finish, you should be finished within 2 hours. With experience you’ll get much faster to the point where you’re able to whip up a batch in no time. Practice, practice, practice!

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