The Simplified French Macaron
The French Macaron. One of the most delicious yet delicate and finicky cookies I have made. Ever. But oh it is so glorious when it comes out perfect. I’ve been asked by many people for the recipe. And here it is. Warning, this is a long post. Once you get the hang of it, it is pretty simple to create but after many attempts there are many tips to help perfect them. I have made all the mistakes so you don’t have to. So bare with me.
I remember when I first tasted one. It was the best cookie I had tasted. The textures, the flavors, they worked together in perfect harmony. But they were pricey. So, I decided to make my own. How hard could it be?
I started looking up recipes online and I started to panic. Every one would comment on how finicky this cookie was. How difficult it was to make and so many recommendations on how to perfect it. Some say you must weight the ingredients and not measure them. They talk about how you need to be so precise or it won’t work. Others left out key tips in their recipes. You were pretty much doomed to fail those ones.
Needless to say, I tried not one, not two but SIX times! SIX. But I refused to give up. I did find that the more I tried the closer I got to the proper end result. My sister and I were experimenting one night. I tried first and they almost looked like little meringues. Not what I was going for but still cute and tasty. My sister then looked up tips and tried them out. To our surprise they actually worked! It didn’t make a lot but she had a few perfect ones that we were so proud of.
Fast forward a few months and I was ready to try them again on my own. I couldn’t remember what she did differently so I looked up yet another recipe. This time I looked up Fool Proof Macaron Recipe. I found this one. It worked out so well!! I was beyond excited. I took to Facebook to declare my amazingness. I Ran up to our bedroom and proudly displayed it to my husband but he had no idea what I was going on about. But can ya feel me? That moment when you work so hard at something and it actually works out! It’s incredible.
Now I still found it wasn’t entirely consistent. Sometimes it would work perfectly and other times it didn’t. So, I made a few more tweaks and now it’s perfect every time!
Let’s start shall we?
First you are going to need almond flour, icing sugar, room temperature egg whites (this is a must!!), white sugar, cream of tartar, salt, flavoring and food colouring. The last two are totally optional but make for fun cookies.
Finally, you need time. Lots of time. You really want to go slow and take your time with these. Less distractions make it easier.
Let’s talk about your almond flour. I purchase mine from bulk barn. It’s just ground almonds. They have two options. Fine ground almonds and extra fine ground almonds. I buy the extra ground and still find I have to run it through the food processor a bit to get it to the right consistency.
First you are going to beat your egg whites in your mixer with the whisk attachment on high for a few minutes until it is foamy. Remember your egg whites must be room temperature or it won’t rise properly. You need these cookies to rise up and not out. If you're about to start and you realize you left you eggs in the fridge just put them in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes and that will do the trick.
Once they are foamy you will add your granulated sugar, salt, cream of tartar and flavoring (if you want). Note** with flavouring I use flavour oils from the bulk store. LorAnn Oils is that brand I use. You only need 2-3 drops. That’s it. If you use liquid flavours, use a small amount. You don't wanna water down your egg mixture.
You are going to mix it on high for about 8-10 minutes till it makes stiff peaks. Think meringue.
While that is mixing you can work on the almond and icing sugar mixture. I found that even the extra fine flour still needed a little bit of time in the food processor. To make sure it blended well with the icing sugar I mixed them together in the food processor. It helps break up any clumps or chunks. You need this to be so smooth or the cookies won’t do what they are suppose to. Once you are done mixing them you need to sift them. Do NOT skip this step. Even though the food processor broke up most the harder pieces, some may still remain. Again, you need this to be smooth. I still find there are is a small amount of thicker pieces that don’t make it through the sifter. I then just discard this small amount. (if its a large amount, try running it through the food processor again)
While your egg whites are mixing, add your gel food colouring. If you want a really bright vibrant color use a LOT! Baking them with dull the color a bit.
You are now going to mix the flour and egg white mixtures together. I mentioned in a previous post how we never want to over mix our cake batter or else the cake becomes dense and falls flat. You also don’t want to undermix batter either. For obvious reasons. This is the same. You have to fold it for a specific time. Literally 65-75 times. I’m not sure what makes that the magical number but it works every time.
Once its mixed, add it to a piping bag and pip one inch circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Many different recipes will call for you to line the pan with Silpat or Teflon sheets. I don’t have either so I use parchment paper and it works just as well. I do find that I need a thicker pan. Double pan works as well.
Now you must give them a good whack on the counter. Tap the pan hard on the counter twice to help release any air bubbles.
I also have read that if you want a shinier vibrant color bake them right away once they have been piped on the baking sheet. This recipe suggests you wait for 20 min. It dries out the shell and helps it rise up and give you the little 'feet' that you are looking for. I have tried both ways. I find it is much more consistent when left out for a period of time.
Bake for 20 minutes. I then leave them to cool completely. At least an hour or more. Sometimes I do it overnight. They will seem hard but once the cream is in the center, and it has been refrigerated they will be softer and chewy. Perfection!
And don't forget the delicious center. Gnache, buttercream, the sky is the limit.
Here is the full recipe. This one makes my favourite flavour. Butterscotch with a cookie butter buttercream center!
Serves: 24 sandwiched cookies
3 Egg Whites (at room temperature)
¼ cup white sugar (50 g)
2 cups confectioners sugar (200 g)
1 cup almond flour (120 g)
pinch of salt
¼ tsp cream of tartar (2 ml)
2-3 drops of butterscotch flavour oil
Preheat oven to 300F degrees
Beat egg whites until foamy, then add salt, cream of tartar and white sugar for 8-10 mins. TIP: #1 egg whites should be room temp. To create room temp eggs, submerge in warm water for 5 mins.
Whip until they form a peak that stands upright. Think Seattle Space needle.
Then add the food coloring. TIP#2 Color does fade as it cooks, so do a shade or two darker than you want them to be.
TIP#3 Sift almond flour, and powdered sugar. What remains will be the larger lumps of almond pieces. Just discard those. You want a really fine powder mixture to create a smooth and pretty on top to your cookie.
Fold flour/sugar mixture into the egg white mixture. TIP#4 This is where all your hard work can really go wrong. Under mix and your macaroons will be lumpy and cracked when the bake with no feet, over mix and your macaroons will be flat and won't have feet, the mark of a well-made macaron. In my experience 65-75 turns of your spatula when folding is about the right amount of time.
Transfer batter to a pastry bag.
Pipe out 1 inch rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
TIP#5: tap the pan hard at least 2-3 times to release the air bubbles. This will prevent the tops of your macaroons from cracking.
TIP#6 Let them sit out for 20-30 mins, or up to an hour if you want. This will allow them time to dry out a bit before hitting the hot oven. They should be "tacky" to the touch, but not stick to your fingertips. This is another important step to assuring your macarons develop feet! When they dry out they can't spread out in the oven, and are forced to rise up. That's what creates the feet!
Bake for 20 mins. DO NOT UNDER BAKE, even if they look done! Otherwise they will stick to your tray.
Let cool completely.
Once cooled fill them with buttercream or gnache of your choice.
Cookie Butter Buttercream
1 cup of unsalted butter room temperature softened
1 cup of Cookie butter
3-4 cups of sifted icing sugar
A pinch of salt
3 TBSP of whole milk
Cream together butter and cookie butter and salt until combined and smooth.
Slowly add your sifted icing sugar a cup at a time. Alternating with the milk.
Keep mixing until you achieve the consistency you want.
Once finish, place into a pipping bag.
Pipe some buttercream between two cookies to make a sandwich. Be careful not to put too much pressure or the cookies will crack.
Viola! I hope you are daring and try these! Let me know below what you think and if you have any questions!
Recipe adapted from entertainingwithbeth.com
Good Luck! You CAN do this!