French macarons are everywhere.
They are here. Here. Here. And here. As well as about a bajillion other places on the internet. Or, the site I found the most helpful/straight-forward: http://www.mytartelette.com/. It’s a craze, somewhat similar to the cupcake frenzy, or the more recent cakeball phenomonon. (I realize, however, that macarons have been around since at least the 1700s.) See more, including the recipe, after the jump!
So, I had to give the macarons a go. I’ve been contemplating them for months now, but every time I set out in search of a recipe, I would become daunted by the “do’s” and “don’t's” of french macaron making. Every recipe warned against the pitfalls of failed french macarons. It seemed that at each step along the way to macaron-dom, danger lurked. If you don’t let the egg whites dry out enough, if you don’t grind the almonds just right, if you don’t whip the egg whites perfectly, if you over-mix the batter after you add the dry ingredients, if you don’t pipe the batter quickly enough, if you don’t rest the batter long enough, if your cookie sheet isn’t thick enough, if your oven isn’t hot enough, if you bake them too long, if you bake them too short, if you don’t scrape them off the parchment at exactly the right moment…..ahhh! I’m out of breath! Macarons seem exhausting and treacherous!
But I tried to bake them anyway. I’m funny like that.
In fact, the many pitfalls involved probably pushed me over the line into needing to bake them up, if for no other reason than to prove to myself that I am good enough. I am smart enough. And gosh darnit, these macarons are gonna like me!
And they did.
I was timid as I worked my way through the steps, but there were no major slip-ups (that I’m aware of). I’m no macaron expert, but they seemed to turn out pretty textbook. The colors are a little whacky – I was test-driving some greens and blues for an upcoming wedding for which I’m doing the dessert bar. Navy and kelly green don’t translate very well to this sugary concoction. I’ll keep trying.
Next time? I’ll daunt myself less and just go ahead and bake a little more. And maybe play around with the flavors a bit. These in particular sound pretty good: Pistachio Pumpkin Macarons. The recipe, you ask? I haven’t thought it up yet. Stay tuned.
90 gr egg whites (use eggs whites that have been preferably left 3-5 days in the fridge)
25 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar (I used 180g, because that’s all I had!)
110 gr almonds (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like) (I used almond flour)
1/2 tablespoon (-ish) green liquid food coloring
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry.
- Place the powdered sugar and almonds and powdered color 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 falls back on itself after counting to 10. 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 (I wish I’d piped them even smaller)) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280F. When ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. 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. Spread filling (below) over half of batch and top with the other half.
For the filling – 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 (I just used a couple tsp vanilla extract)
Prepare the filling:
- 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. Divide the buttercream in two portions and color as you see fit (I kept 1/2 white, the other half a light blue).
Good luck to you! Just go for it!