Ah...French Macarons (not to be confused with macaroons). I fell in love with these delicate pastries years ago when my husband and I vacationed in... not France, but Seattle of all places. There is a wonderful French bakery in Pike's Place Market called Le Panier. I was lured in by the aroma of fresh baked bread, but once I entered, I naturally made a bee line for the pastry case. There they were, all lined up like little soldiers. Since I couldn't decide on which flavor to indulge in, I chose one of each. What was the first bite like? Hmmm-- bliss, love, and all was good in the world. The outside was crunchy, the inside a gooey marshmallow heaven. It was from that moment that I was bitten by the macaron bug.
Many people seem to get overwhelmed while making or even considering making these pastries. I can understand why. I have had a few trials and errors. They are a bit fussy, mainly due to measuring and humidity. And unless you are baking in a controlled environment, do not even attempt making these on a hot and humid day. The batter is a meringue and meringues don't like moisture. I think the most important information I can give you about making your own macarons is that it takes patience and practice.
There seems to be hundreds of different recipes for macarons, but I have honed in on the one that works for me and my kitchen and I hope it works for you. I have included some step-by-steps to help you and I will discuss some pointers to help you along the way. I will start by saying that a kitchen scale is key. You need to weigh your ingredients.
I use extra-large eggs (as I do in all my cooking) in my macarons and they usually weigh in at 99 grams, but as you can see in this picture, a chicken cut me short, but that little bit didn't make a difference in the end result. I also age the egg whites in the refrigerator to draw out a bit of moisture.
Up next-- 200 grams of confectioners' sugar. Then--
110 grams of almonds. They can be blanched, sliced, slivered, or ground. You also need 35 grams of granulated sugar, but I forgot to take a picture of that alone on the scale. ☺.
Blend the almonds and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of a food processor until finely ground. This will take a few minutes. Use your fingers to make sure there are no big lumps. If you use finely ground almonds and confectioners' sugar, a food processor is not necessary, but you do need to make sure they are thoroughly blended. (Note--if you are using powdered food coloring, add it at this time)
Using a stand mixer or a hand-held whisk, beat the egg whites on medium until foamy. With the motor running, gradually add the granulated sugar a little at a time.
Then continue to beat until fluffy white peaks form. You do not want dry, over beaten whites. (Note--if you are using gel food coloring, add it at this time)
Now comes the scary part. Add the ground almond mixture all at once to the egg whites. Using a rubber spatula, fold the almond mixture into the whites. At first, you will think-- "there is no way this is going to work", but keep on going. The mixture will become thick and sticky and the whites will deflate. This will take about 1 minute or about 50 strokes.
You want the mixture to fall off the spatula in a molten mass, but not be runny like soup.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a wide, round tip ( I use Ateco #808) with the meringue batter. I place mine in a wide mouth jar or glass with the tip pointing up to keep the batter from oozing out.
Pipe circles about 1 1/2 inches wide (I count to three when I pipe each cookie) onto a silicone mat or...
silcone coated parchment paper that is unbleached and chlorine free. Using regular parchment paper will warp the bottom of your cookies. Once piped, give the cookie sheet a good smack on the counter top to release any large air bubbles.
This next step is critical for the purpose of giving your macaron a smooth, shiny top and those signature feet on the bottom. Let the macarons age for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour. They should not be sticky or tacky.
When it comes to oven temperature, this is where it might take practice if you don't know your oven. Some ovens are hotter than others and will brown them before they have dried out. I have good results when my oven is preheated to 295° F, but a range from 280° F - 300° can be used. I bake them for 16 minutes and they come out...
with pretty little footsies! Now let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets. Don't even try to pick one up. Go out, run an errand, or read a magazine from front to back, just don't touch the cookies!
Once cooled, they release easily from the sheets. This is the bottom of one from the silicone mat (my personal preference) and
this is the bottom of one from the parchment. See? Still good.
Macarons come in all flavors and are filled with an assortment of fillings. I am sharing a raspberry chocolate ganache today. Flip the macarons over and match them up with a similarly sized partner.
Spoon the filling onto the bottom of half the cookies or fill a pastry bag.
I fit my pastry bag with the Ateco #808 tip and pipe kisses of filling onto the bottom of half the macarons.
Sandwich the halves together and give a very gentle press to even out the filling. The cookies can be eaten now, but personally, I think they are better once the filling has softened the bottom of the cookie halves. They can also be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or even in the freezer (make-ahead!) for up to a month. Just let them come to room temperature before serving.
Et Voilà! Go ahead and pat yourself on the back. You saved yourself a trip to France...or Seattle☺.
Now here comes the fun part for me (and one of you). I couldn't post this recipe without giving away a vital component for macaron making to a lucky reader or follower. I am giving away an OXO Good Grips kitchen scale. This scale comes highly recommended by the testers at Cook's Illustrated. I could not agree more. I use it and I love it.
Photo from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.com
It has an 11-pound capacity. It features a zero-out function allowing you to measure multiple ingredients in the same bowl. It has an optional back light for those of you who bake in the dark☺, and it has a pull out display when you are measuring large, bulky items.
So, for a chance to win this super-duper piece of kitchen equipment, here are the rules---- Leave a comment with your name (anonymous comments will not be considered as part of the giveaway) on this post telling me what you would make first with your new kitchen scale. If you already have one, go ahead and enter anyway, then share it with a friend or loved one who enjoys creating yumminess in their kitchen. For a second chance to win, like or follow The Galley Gourmet on Facebook then come back here and leave me another comment telling me that you do or did. A winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator. This giveaway, sponsored by me, begins on Friday, May 11 and will be open until Tuesday, May 15 (open to U.S. and Canadian residents only). The winner will be announced next Thursday, May 17 and asked to contact me via e-mail so I can send the lucky winner their prize.
*This giveaway is now closed*
One last thing-- if you are a regular reader, you know that I share our Sunday dinner menus. Being that it is Mother's Day this Sunday, I am going to take the day off from blogging and be with my family, but we will still be having a delicious Sunday dinner☺.Printable Recipe
Raspberry Chocolate French Macarons
makes 2 dozen cookies
For the Meringue
200 grams confectioners' sugar
110 grams almonds, blanched, sliced, slivered or ground
3 extra large egg whites (90-100 grams total), left uncovered in the refrigerator for up to three days
Pinch of kosher salt
35 grams of granulated sugar
Pink food coloring, powdered or gel
For the Filling
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon raspberry extract
Line two large baking sheets with a silicone mat or silicone coated parchment paper; set aside
In the bowl of a food processor, process the almonds and confectioners' sugar together until finely ground, about 2-3 minutes. If using powdered food coloring, add it at this time; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the whites and salt on medium speed until foamy. With the motor running, gradually add the granulated sugar, then increase speed to high and continue to beat until the whites hold soft, glossy peaks. If using gel food coloring, fold it in at this time. Using a runner spatula, fold in the almond mixture until it is thick and sticky. When it is ready, the batter should drop from the spatula in a smooth molten mass. This will take about 1 minute or 50 strokes.
Spoon the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (Ateco #808), pressing out excess air. Twist the bag firmly just above the batter, then pipe 1 1/2-inch diameter rounds onto the prepared sheets, about 24 per sheet. Tap the bottom of the baking sheets sharply, once, on the work surface to release any large air bubbles. Let the cookies stand, uncovered, at room temperature until the tops are no longer sticky and a light crust has formed, at least 30 minutes and up to an hour.
Meanwhile, place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 295° F.
Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until the tops are crisp and the bottoms dry, about 16 minutes. Cool completely on racks.
For the Filling
Add the chocolate and butter to a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream just until it comes to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to rest for five minutes. Stir the chocolate until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the raspberry extract. Let stand at room temperature until cooled completely and thickened.
To Assemble Cookies
Carefully flip the cookies over on the baking sheets (they will be fragile) and partner them up in size. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a round tip with the ganache and pipe or spoon kisses of ganache onto half of the cookie bottoms. Sandwich the cookie halves together. Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to one month. Allow the cookies to come to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!