The French Macaron
I’ve always loved coconut macaroons. The toasted, sweet coconut is the perfect GF dessert, especially when it’s dipped in chocolate. Then I was introduced to the French macaron.
These beautiful pillows of egg whites and almond flour with a tasty filling, come in every color and flavor combination imaginable. While in Paris, I vowed to eat one macaron a day….no problem! I never imagined that I would consider making them…..until last week;)
While picking up a few goodies at Sur la Table, I spotted this fantastic macaron kit:
The Lekue macaron kit!! It intrigued me. Could I make my own macarons!? I opened the kit, which simply contained a silicon mat, dough dispenser and small cookbook. I think that using a pastry bag has always intimidated me. Something about having a reusable, silicon ‘bag’ was appealing to me. So I bought it!
Before embarking on my macaron journey, I decided that I needed to do some research. I found a whole blog post dedicated to troubleshooting every macaron issue imaginable at Misohungry.
Could it really be this difficult? After about an hour of reading and researching, what I’ve come up with is that it’s not very difficult. There are a few important steps that you need to follow religiously. Other than that it is luck;)
What I read, over and over again was the need to cure the egg whites. Basically, you leave them out of the refrigerator over night. If you are like me and forget this important step, you can put them in the microwave at 5 second increments, for a total of 20 seconds.
Now you can proceed to whip the egg whites using a hand mixer or Kitchenaid at medium speed. Slowly add the granulated sugar. This process should take, roughly 4 minutes. Just whip until they form stiff peaks.
Now, you can carefully add about 1/2 of the rest of your dry ingredients, using a spatula to carefully fold the ingredients together. Use finely ground almond flour. If you feel extra efficient, you can sift your powdered sugar, but it didn’t seem to make a difference for me. Do not over mix (this is hard to do). The goal is to fold the ingredients no more than 10 times…..unrealistic for me, but it’s a good measure to keep in mind. Now add your food coloring (just a few drops to make your macarons into gorgeous pieces of art) and/or flavors. Go easy on these items. Too much liquid or additional flavoring will ruin the batter. A few drops or a scant teaspoon of coloring and or essences (rose water, vanilla, liquor, etc) or just 2 teaspoons of dry ingredients (chocolate powder, spices, etc). I opted to make a simple, chocolate macaron to start, so at this point, I added 2 teaspoons of raw cacao powder, then folded it into the batter a few times.
Now, add the rest of the dry ingredients and carefully fold into the batter. Quickly move on to the next step. You do not want your batter to sit!
Here’s where all of the fun starts! Place the batter into your pastry bag or dispensing tool of your choice. The kit that I purchased, has a silicon baking mat with circles outlined on it, for easy dispensing. I did not try to draw a circle with my batter. I simply pushed out enough batter to make a tear shaped, dollop. No worries, the batter will slowly flatten and spread out. I filled the entire pan and then, using a small spoon, I tidied up any stray or messy edges.
There was quite a bit of extra batter leftover, so I continued making more macarons on an extra silicon sheet. If you don’t have a silicon sheet, just use a cookie sheet with parchment paper;)
Now, let these beauties sit for 35-40 minutes. In this time, they should flatten out and form a shell.
I highly recommend baking these in a convection oven preheated to 300 degrees for 8-10 minutes. (If you don’t have a convection oven, try 325 degrees for 20 minutes.) Mine were done in 8 minutes. It was very difficult to let them sit and cool down! I was so excited to fill and eat them!
A few of them stuck a bit on the mat. No worries, they will be covered up with a tasty filling, soon enough! A few of them were slightly browned. Oh well, I ate those first. To simplify my macaron adventure, I decided to use some Alma lavender caramel sauce that I bought at The Meadow in Portland for the filling.
Once my macarons were cooled off and assembled, they looked perfect! But how did they taste!? Amazing! So unbelievably good…..so I made another batch;)
For the second batch, I decided to make balsamic and rosemary macaron with a fig jam filling. I added a scant teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary to the batter.
Next time, I think I’d actually cut the sugar down considerably, due to the high sugar content in the jam. These turned out beautiful, as well. Can’t wait to try some more variations! I think they’d be lovely as a housewarming gift:))
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 3/4 finely ground almond flour
- 3 egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tsp of dry flavoring of your choice (cacao, herbs, spices, flavored sugar, etc)
- 1 scant teaspoon of flavoring of your choice (vanilla, liquor, rose water, etc)
- Cure the egg whites, by leaving them out of the refrigerator over night. Or you can put them in the microwave at 5 second increments, for a total of 20 seconds.
- Whip the egg whites and a pinch of salt using a hand mixer or Kitchenaid at medium speed.
- Slowly add the granulated sugar. This process should take, roughly 4 minutes. Just whip until they form stiff peaks.
- Combine the powdered sugar and almond flour in a separate bowl.
- Carefully, add about 1/2 of this mixture to the egg whites, using a spatula to carefully fold the ingredients together.
- Add your food coloring and/or flavors. Go easy on these items.
- Now, add the rest of the powdered sugar and almond flour and carefully fold into the batter.
- Place the batter into your pastry bag or dispensing tool of your choice.
- The kit that I purchased, has a silicon baking mat with circles outlined on it, for easy dispensing.
- A regular sized cookie sheet should yield 48, to make 24 macarons.
- With the leftover batter make more macarons on an extra silicon sheet. If you don't have a silicon sheet, just use a cookie sheet with parchment paper;)
- Now, let them sit for 35-40 minutes.
- I highly recommend baking these in a convection oven preheated to 300 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
- If you don't have a convection oven, try 325 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Once cooled, you can fill with pre made chocolate or caramel sauce, preserves, buttercream, lemon curd, etc. There are tons of recipes for a variety of fillings. Once I sort through those, I'll post them here;)