It’s been a while since I’ve made some french macarons and I haven’t really missed them. For such a small baked item it carries a whole lot of baggage and can be stressful for some who attempts these.
But…when I’m challenged to do something, especially in the kitchen I like to oblige. So when Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil announced her April challenge was to make french macarons, I stretched, scratched my head, pondered, scratched again, and then decided it was ON like a macaron KONG! I must add at this point I have had my fair share of cracked, hollow and every other fail that goes with a macaron. But looking back at the successful batches I’ve noticed a few recurring themes:
Go into the recipe with a whatever attitude. This doesn’t mean willy-nilly style, but plan on making a small batch which can be prepped quickly and won’t cause a giant mess. If they fail, no biggie…try again or move on to something else. But macarons are like tattoos: once you make them correctly, you’ll want more and more. Oh, and don’t promise your best friend you’ll deliver 400 macs to her shower until you’re a macaron hall-of-famer.
Don’t think that your meringue has to stay all fluffy and full of air. Unlike a traditional meringue batter which you treat with kid gloves, mixing the macaron batter involves turning it about 50 times. As you do this, gently squash it against the side of the bowl with a spatula. I read that a lava-like consistency is needed, but since I’ve never been to any volcanic eruptions and hopefully never will be, I’d say consistency should be like a thick pancake batter. It should fall of the spatula with a slow “plop.”
The weather can be a factor. I wouldn’t attempt making macs on a wet day; sugar and humidity just don’t get along. I remember when I worked as a pastry chef we would make buckets of spun sugar – which is a really loose caramel- vigorously drizzled over two wooden spoons using a small toast rack. (Don’t mock the kitchen tools – they worked.) You’re left with a super-fine golden “hair” which we used to garnish the dessert plates. We would make it in the morning and on a dry day, it would last all day until the last service at night. On a damp day, it would last about 10 minutes. I have seen similar issues with my caramels which have to be cooked to a higher temperature on a damp day than on a dry, sunny day.
It’s cliche but practice makes perfect. So if you screw up don’t worry (except that the almond flour is $10 per bag – zoikes!!) There’s some great resources available – check out The Bravetart and Mad About Macarons where you’ll get some more tips and mac-worthy tricks!
My other macaron recipes:
Double Chocolate Salted Macarons
For The Macaron
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 2 large egg whites at room temperature
- A pinch cream of tartar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
For The Filling
- 100 milliliters heavy cream 3.4 ounces
- 3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
Making the filling
- Place the cream into a small pot and heat over a medium flame until you start to see bubbles form around the sides of the pot.
- Add the chocolate and stir gently until it's completely melted and combined.
- Let it cool and firm up before using to fill the macarons. Placing it in the fridge will help.
Making The Macarons
- Place a cookie sheet inside another cookie sheet, creating a barrier. Line the top sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Sieve the confectioners sugar into a bowl. Next sieve the almond flour on top of it. Make sure to push all of the flour through the sieve. Finally sieve the cocoa powder int o the bowl.
- Mix all these dry ingredients with a whisk.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer whisk the egg whites until foamy, about 3 minutes. Add the cream of tartar and combine.
- With the mixer on high, slowly add the sugar until stiff peaks are formed.
- Add half of the dry ingredients to the egg whites. Using a strong spatula, fold the mixture until it starts to come together.
- Add the rest of the flour mixture and continue to fold about 50 times making sure to gently squash the folds against the sides of the bowl.
- Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and pipe 1 1/2-2 inch circles onto the parchment paper.
- Let the macarons air dry for at least 20 minutes. They should feel dry and not sticky when you touch them.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once the macarons are dry, place them in the oven remembering to use the other cookie sheet as insulation.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool before filling.
To Fill The Macarons
- Use a piping bag or a spoon and place a blob of ganache onto an up-turned macaron shell. Sprinkle some sea salt onto the ganache and top with another shell, creating a sandwich.
Store in a sealed container in the fridge