A few years ago I fell in love with French macarOns (quite different from American macarOOns). They’re composed of two delicate cookies (or shells) sandwiching a soft filling. When you take a bite, the eggshell-thin outside of the shell gives way to a gooey soft inside. I discovered that making macarons was a bit more complicated than making an average cookie, but the results make it all worth it. I will give you the gist below, but for more details, you can check out this post on my blog.
|After quite a lot of experimentation, I have found that the recipes on Tartelette give me the best results. Helene’s recipes and tutorials are easy to follow, clear and concise, and her photography is exquisite. I highly recommend reading this article if you’re going to give this a shot.|
Disclaimer: I am NO pastry chef. I had no experience with pastry bags, baking fickle cookies, or even food scales before I figured out this Macaron thing. If you do have experience, you may be laughing at the way I do things. But, it works for me, and would probably work for other novices.
Now we’re ready to start baking! (The full recipe is at the bottom of the post.) So, toss powdered sugar and ground almonds in a big bowl and whisk it up to combine:
In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on high and pour the granulated sugar in while they’re whipping. Here’s what the egg whites should look like when done. Stiff peaks, but don’t over whip!
Now, scoop that egg white mixture into the bowl with the powdered sugar and ground almonds (1). Here’s where you want to be careful. At first, just stir to combine (2). Stir a bit more, so it becomes more incorporated and smooth (3). Stop when it looks like the third pic.
Get your pastry bag ready to pipe the cookies. I like to twist the bag at the tip, then drop it into a large cup, and fold the bag over the edge of the cup so it’s easy to fill. That way the batter won’t ooze out until I’m ready. See what I mean:
Pipe those suckers out:
I made several batches, and just piped most onto sheets of parchment paper that I later transferred to cookie sheets. I just eyeball the size of the cookies and try to keep them consistent. FYI, one batch will make about 18 finished cookies (36 shells).
Leave them to sit for a half hour or so. This causes the outside to harden up a bit and helps to form the feet while they bake. Bake at 280 or so, for 15-20 minutes, watching them carefully. Once they’re done, let them cool. Then I like to pair them up by size, and flip one of the pair over, so it’s ready to be filled with butter cream.
Now, to make the butter cream filling. Whisk the egg whites and granulated sugar over a double boiler (1). I know you love my “vintage” kitchen appliances! Then transfer to a stand mixer bowl (2) and whisk for a while to cool (3). It’ll look like marshmallow cream. Now, change to the paddle attachment and add in the butter (4), a little at a time, then mix for about 7 minutes.
Here I added in a little peppermint extract for extra flavor.
Now you’re ready to scoop the butter cream into your pastry bag and fill those shells:
Pop the tops on:
Crush up some candy canes:
Pour that in a bowl, and roll the edges of the filled cookies. Here’s what you’ll get:
See that smooth outer shell and the gooey inside? Divine! I boxed them up in these little candy boxes. They’re such a special little treat, just a couple per person is what I give.
We Americans tend to think more is better, but the French would just eat one cookie at a time.
Then I made up some candy cane striped paper, printed some labels, and wrapped them up for gifts.
Here’s Helene’s recipe:
For the shells:
90 gr egg
whites (use eggs whites that have been preferably left 3-5 days in the
25 gr granulated sugar [her other recipes call for 50 gr, so that's what I
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like)
Prepare the macarons:
a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a
foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain
a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue
or it will be too dry. Place the powdered sugar and almonds in a food
processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground.
Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air
and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls
back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to
break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more
than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on
its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a
couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco
#807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in
diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let
the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a
bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280F. When ready, bake for 15
to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble
removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment
paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up
more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long
or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them
right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a
couple of days or in the freezer.
For the buttercream:
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 sticks (180gr)(6
ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
crushed candy canes
the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of
simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat,
until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be
dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream. Pour the
mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment
and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick
shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add
the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all
the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it
is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. Roll the plain
filled shells in to the crushed candy canes. Eat!
I hope y’all will give this a shot. Come on over to my blog and
have a look around. You’ll find more details there. Oh,
and please email me if you have any questions: domestiCate dot
blog at gmail dot com. Thanks a million for letting me share, Kate!