My First Macarons . . . and I hope they won’t be my last. 🙂
November 15, 2011
Who knew making French cookies could be so much fun? Marie Antoinette loved macaroons, and so do a lot of Americans, as the little cookie sandwiches are rapidly gaining in popularity. Haven’t you heard? Cupcakes are now passé, replaced by whoopee pies and/or macarons.
The little cookies are famous for being light, gluten-free, and delicious. They consist of two shells that have “feet” and a thin, delicate crust covering a chewy inside. They are a little labor-intensive, but I think they’re worth the work . . . plus, they’re fun to make.
My finished macarons. Aren’t they cute?
The chief ingredients: almond flour, sugar, egg whites
First step: mix sugar and almond flour in a food processor; sift onto waxed paper. You want a SMOOTH shell.
Next, you make a meringue by your chosen method. Then you fold the flour mixture into the meringue; add any food color.
Next, fill a pastry bag and pipe small circles onto a silicon sheet or parchment paper. I used a template beneath my silicone sheet. 🙂
I tried to get them all the same size . . .
After piping, you do the macaroni slam. You slam the trays to the counter several times so the little air bubbles (see them?) come to the surface. Then you bake–see recipe for times.
After baking, pull silicone sheets onto baking rack to cool. I made a mistake here–I should have pulled one off to see if it came off easily. If it didn’t, it needed more baking time.
See the little “feet”–the rough edge–around the bottom of each shell? Yea! They’re supposed to look like that!
Uh oh. The brownish ones (we’re looking at the bottoms) were done. The “torn” ones weren’t. Needed a few more minutes in the oven, but at least they’re not goopy.
I decided to fill these with a vanilla buttercream. Chief ingredients? Butter, egg whites, and the seeds from a vanilla bean. Cut in half lengthwise and scrape out all the teeny, tiny seeds.
Pipe your favorite filling onto one shell, then sandwich together. Ta da!
I was using the book LES PETITS MACARONS, by Kathryn Gordon and Anne E. McBride, but you can also find a section on macarons in MIETTE, another lovely new cookbook. Different books prescribe different methods, but I like Gordon’s and McBride’s method as it seems a little more time-efficient.
A macaron consists of four main ingredients: almond flour, powdered sugar, regular sugar, and egg whites. And the egg whites need to be “aged”–in other words, separate four of them three or four days before baking, keep them covered in the fridge, and set them out a couple of hours before you start the mixing so they can come to room temperature. It’s all about the meringue, and meringue, as you may know, can be tricky.
There is a basic macaron (what I made today), but macarons can be made in all sorts of flavors and colors, so they are truly beautiful little desserts. And then there are the fillings–sweet or savory, in dozens of varieties.
I bought some macarons on eBay so I could know what I was aiming for, and though my first batch didn’t come out picture-perfect (well, some of them did), they don’t look half bad, either.
In any case, I know I’ll be making these again. I’ve just spotted a “popcorn pastry cream” filling that’s made from real popped popcorn, and I can’t wait to try it!