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French Macarons

French Macarons

Macarons have a reputation of being incredibly complex, and downright difficult to make. Being that I love a challenge, I decided to find out just how accurate that reputation is.

I found out two things. One, macarons are deceptively simple. Two, despite this they can be fairly fool proof IF you can follow a recipe.

Well, let it be known, I hate following recipes!! I made these little guys a total of 6 times in the span of 3 days before I finally gave up and looked for a recipe. Many of the methods I found had different measurements of dry ingredients to egg whites. This confused me. Shouldn’t it be the same proportion no matter what?

That’s when I realized that when measuring powdered sugar and almond flour, the measurements can vary drastically depending on whether you sift before or after! When I measured my almond flour before sifting, 3/4 cup was nearly 5oz, when I measured after, it was just slightly over 2. That’s a big difference!

French Macarons 3

So that’s where I got the idea to do it with weight instead of cups. A 1/4 cup of superfine sugar is pretty standard no matter how you measure it, but the powdered sugar and almond flour I got different enough weights on that it made it worth it. If you don’t have a scale your best bet is to do 3/4 cup of sifted almond flour, and 1 1/2 cups of slightly packed powdered sugar.

When you’re beating the eggs make sure to not OVER beat them, if you use a stand up mixer this can happen faster than you’d think. If too much air is incorporated they become almost brittle and won’t properly absorb the dry ingredients. Look at the pic for what I did with my soft peaks. Just when they start to hold their own, stop beating.

You can use whatever kind of filling you want for these. A chocolate butter-cream is always good. I added some toffee bits to a standard butter-cream and that was delicious too! A simple fruit jam works great also, just make sure it’s thick enough that it doesn’t run out of the cookie! The optional ingredients above are all mix in’s that you can add to the meringue right before putting it in the piping bag. Pick one, and then stir it in until just combined. Remember, when working with meringue, less is more!

Macarons are actually better the next day, refrigerate them over night and the flavors of the filling mingle with the cookie to make them absolutely delicious!

French Macarons 2

You CAN skip aging the egg whites if you really need to, but I’ve found that they beat up better, and hold their shape best if you separate the egg whites, cover them and stick them in the fridge over night. Make sure to bring them back to room temp before beating!

So I think that’s it. Age the egg whites. Measure the dry ingredients by weight. Use double thickness sheet pans. Don’t over-beat the egg whites. Let them sit on the pan until they’ve formed a ‘skin’ before baking. I know it sounds like a lot to think about, but trust me it is SO WORTH IT!!! I’ve made them several times now with the below recipe and every time they turn out perfect! It’s possible! Just be patient, and don’t get creative till you’ve mastered the basics!! (My biggest challenge haha!!!)

 

French Macarons
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Servings: 2 Dozen
Ingredients
  • 3 aged egg whites room temp
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 oz finely gr. almonds
  • 6 oz powdered sugar
  • pinch cream of tarter
Optional:
  • 1/2 tsp extract
  • 2 tbsp dutch cocoa
  • 2-4 drops food color
Instructions
  1. Crack and separate three eggs, reserving the egg whites. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. About one hour before you want to start baking, take the egg whites out of the fridge and bring to room temp.
  3. Line two sheet trays with silicone mats. Set the sheet trays inside another sheet try so that they are a double thickness. (This prevents the macarons from rising too quickly and cracking).
  4. Beat the egg whites until foamy, slowly incorporate the superfine sugar and pinch of tarter. Continue beating until soft peaks form. (Whites should be very glossy, and have peaks that only curve a very little bit when mixer is taken out of bowl.)
  5. Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar over the egg whites, and then quickly incorporate, using a spatula to fold them together. Egg whites will deflate a bit but should not become runny, they will SLOWLY run off the spatula in a thick, glossy stream when they are the proper consistency.
  6. At this point you can add a 1/2 tsp of any extract you'd like to flavor with, and either a few drops of food coloring, or two sifted tbsps of cocoa. Fold your mix ins into the egg whites until just combined.
  7. Scoop the meringue mixture into a piping bag fitting with a round tip.
  8. Pipe 1/2 dollar size circles onto the sheet trays. The circles will get a bit larger as the settle. Once all the meringue is piped let your cookies rest for about an hour, or until they are no longer tacky when touched lightly. You want them to form a 'skin' so that they do not crack while being baked.
  9. Bake your cookies for 12 minutes at 285F. Rotate the pans and bake another 12 minutes. Let cookies cool for 10mn on tray and then remove to wire rack to finish cooling. (If the cookies don't come off the matt cleanly, they aren't done! Stick them back in the oven for another 5 minutes and then try again). Fill cookies once they are COMPLETELY cooled. Refrigerate until ready to eat.


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