I love macarons. They are so perfect. The sandwiching of two amazingly crisp, crunchy cookies on the outside with a chewy inside, and a filling, oh the filling. Whether it be ganache or buttercream or whatever you like, they are just amazing! For those of you who are not familiar, they are a French cookie made with almond flour and whipped egg whites, light and crisp, sandwiched with some sort of decadent filling. If you aren’t familiar with them…you need to be!
While I have loved the macaron for a while, I haven’t attempted to make them until recently. They seemed incredibly intimidating, but after spending an afternoon with a friend of mine, learning her tricks, I realized that they really aren’t that difficult if you know the tricks. And, as with anything, sometimes they turn out perfect, and sometimes they don’t. But no matter what, they’ll be delicious.
My friend Estelle has been to classes, read books, and has made macarons many times. She also used them to completely show me up at a cook-off contest at work. I don’t blame her, I was the reigning champion, and it seemed I couldn’t be beat. I had won so many times…my caramel walnut tart took home first place, as did my sausage stuffing, and my chocolate cannoli cookies. You get the picture…and she was determined to win. And then, she brought her macarons, and, well, I didn’t stand a chance. She very quickly dethroned me (and rightfully so, they were SO GOOD), but I knew I needed to get that recipe. Thankfully, a few weeks ago, she taught me her tricks! And now, I’m sharing them with you!
The recipe we made was for chocolate macarons with chocolate ganache. She explained that she has had best luck with chocolate macarons because you can see the color change and know when everything is properly mixed. Also, they are her favorite. We also used weighted measures for the dry ingredients. The important thing for macarons is to have them dry, so the weight helps adjust for dampness in the flour. And, her advice, don’t ever make them on a humid day…you will be doomed!
To start, beat 100 milliliters egg whites in a mixer with a pinch of salt. We used 3 eggs to get to 100 milliliters. Also, she left the eggs out so they were room temperature. Beat those until they start to foam, then add 75 grams sugar. Beat until soft peaks form.
In a food processor, mix 120 grams almond flour, 200 grams powdered sugar, and 14 grams cocoa. You want to be sure you’re getting rid of any lumps and getting the mixture consistent. If you don’t want to make chocolate macarons, you can substitute almond flour for the cocoa.
Fold the flour mixture into the egg white mixture. You want to continue to fold until it is a consistent color, so you know everything is mixed. But you also want to mix it until it is pretty smooth and runs off the spoon in ribbons. It took more folding than I thought it would, but it was a pretty smooth mixture, with just some small specks from the almond flour.
Make a template for the macarons on parchment paper. Trace 3 centimeter circles onto the parchment, about 1 inch apart. Then put the template in a cookie sheet and cover the template with another sheet of parchment. Pipe the macaron mixture into the circles. We used a plain 804 piping tip. Try to stay within the circles. Then, let them rest at room temperature for about 30-60 minutes. This helps to dry out the macarons. Bake at 325 for about 10-12 minutes, but, leave a wooden spoon in the door of the oven so it’s opened a bit. This lets the steam escape, again helping to dry out the cookies. When they are done, they should be crisp on top and pretty easily peel off of the parchment. And, hopefully, you’ll have those great “feet”, knowing that they rose up. If they don’t peel off easily, they may need more time.
Meanwhile, you can make the ganache. You want equal parts cream and chocolate. For this recipe, we used 200 grams heavy cream and 200 grams chopped chocolate, half dark and half milk. Heat the cream until boiling, then pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a few minutes to melt the chocolate then stir until combined and smooth. Let that sit for a while so that it cools and becomes spreadable. Once it’s ready, and the macarons are cool, just pipe some ganache on the bottom of one and sandwich two together…that’s it!
Oh, and a side note, you’ll notice I keep saying macarons, not macaroons. From what I’ve read, it seems more and more people are using the French spelling to distinguish from the also delicious coconut confections, macaroons. But, they’re pretty much interchangeable.