you say macaroons…

March 21st, 2013

Passover’s approaching, and I’m on my annual hunt for a few yummy, flourless desserts.

And I decided that this year it was finally time to tackle the one.

The one I’ve been avoiding for too long now.

The one I even TOOK A CLASS FOR. And had yet to make.

Yes, it was time.

I am in love with French macaroons (a.k.a. “macarons”) – as my Instagram will verify:

French macaroons

But they’ve always been somewhat of a mystery to me. I was convinced that I could never execute “the perfect” macaroon, and even after taking a great class (which helped, for sure), I’ve avoided making them. Fear of failure and all.

And I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone here – most people I know are intimidated by these little confections, and I totally get it. There are so many books, videos and blog posts out there, promising the “perfect” recipe. It can be overwhelming. And, depending on the recipe, often really complicated.

So here’s the thing – I decided that it would be better to sacrifice a little perfection to create a recipe that was delicious, of course – but ultimately doable. If there were too many complicated steps I knew that I would be unlikely to ever make them a second time – and you might not make them at all.

Which would be a shame. Because they’re so damn good. So I took a deep breath, dug out the recipe and began.

All told I wound up making three – yes, three – batches. For the first batch I faithfully adhered to the recipe I received at the Dessert Truck class.

I piped the cookies way too big (and subsequently under baked them), so I “had” to make a second batch. This time I simplified the process slightly, as I was now a bit more confident. Great results, but still a bit too fussy for my liking. So I took a chance on a third batch and streamlined it even further.

Bam!

french macaroons

french macaroons

french macaroons

I’m sure that these are not “perfect-perfect”. They browned a little at the edges and there were (gasp!) air pockets across the tops. But they were absolutely delicious.

Even better, they can be made and filled way in advance, making them a great do-ahead dessert for your Passover meal.

Or a Wednesday.

Or right now.

Bon appetit!

french macaroons

on weighing ingredients
my favorite baking tips and tricks

French Macarons
heavily adapted from The Dessert Truck (see Notes, below)

1 c. (125 g.) almond flour
1 c. (125 g.) confectioner’s sugar
2 large egg whites (50 g.), at room temperature
1/2 c. (110 g.) granulated sugar

2 large egg whites (50 g.), at room temperature

Filling: the sky’s the limit  here. I used my fave vanilla buttercream, but you can fill with whatever your heart desires – raspberry jam, lemon curd, dulche de leche and of course ganache.

Pre-heat your oven to 325. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

In your food processor, blend the almond flour and confectioner’s sugar for one minute. Pour mixture into a large bowl.

Place 2 egg whites in the bowl of your mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the whites at low speed till the surface is covered in uniform tiny bubbles; there should be no “hole” in the center (read more here on how to properly beat egg whites). Increase speed to medium and slowly add the granulated sugar. Once all of the sugar has been added increase the speed to medium-high. When you start to see “tracks”, bump up the speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form.

Using a rubber spatula mix the remaining 2 egg whites into the almond-flour mixture. Once well mixed, fold in the meringue. The mixture will be very thick and viscous.

Transfer the mixture to a large piping bag fitted with a plain tip – I used an Ateco #5, which has a 1/2″ opening.

Pipe 1 1/2″ discs, spaced about 1″ apart, onto your prepared sheets. Rap the bottoms of the sheets against your counter to release any trapped air and let the macaroons sit out to dry (this will take anywhere from 30-60 minutes, depending on the humidity).

Bake the macaroons (one sheet at a time) until the tops are very firm and dry, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Using a small spatula, carefully remove the macaroons from your baking sheets. Pair them up by size and turn half of them upside down. Using a pastry bag fitted with the same tip, pipe a little filling onto the flat sides of the cookies and sandwich them with their “mates”.

Store in an airtight container for one day, in the refrigerator for one week or in the freezer for up to a month.

Notes:
1. The Dessert Truck recipe instructs you to whisk the egg whites and sugar over a pan of simmering water. This is because the whites whip up best when warm. I’ve found that as long as the egg whites are brought completely to room temperature they whip up beautifully.
2. Do not skip the “drying’” phase once you pipe out the macaroons. This forms a skin over the tops of the cookies – the batter puffs up beneath the skin while baking, resulting in that signature “foot” at the base. When the tops and sides are firm and dry (and the surface of the macaroon is no longer shiny), they’re ready to bake.
3. Once you’re confident in your macaroon skills, you can experiment with tinting and flavoring the batter. Dry ingredients (such as cocoa powder) should be added to the flour/sugar mixture, while liquids (such as food coloring or flavorings such as rose water) should be added toward the end of the final mixing process.
4. For piping the macaroon batter as well as the filling, you can use a heavy-duty gallon-size ziploc bag instead of a pastry bag. Simply fill  the bag and snip a 1/2″ opening in one corner (read here on how to fill a ziploc bag).

(print this recipe)


This delicious recipe brought to you by Donuts, Dresses and Dirt
http://sherisilver.com/2013/03/21/you-say-macarons/

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