Last week I posted an article on the finer points of macarons and it got quite a bit of traction on Facebook and Twitter. Since then I've gotten over a dozen emails from people who have posted their own macaron recipes on their blogs. It's obvious people are still chomping at the bit for these colorful French sweets!
This week I've also gotten many emails from people asking for advice on how to craft flawless macarons. While they are not difficult to make, macarons require a watchful eye and a careful hand to turn out consistently good results; just a few too many folds after you add the wet ingredients to the dry and you'll flatten the life out of your meringue, and all bets are off if it happens to be raining the day you decide to bake. It helps to have a visual guide, like this one from Tartelette creator Helene Dujardin.
But there is a silver lining to every little gray cloud that hovers over your kitchen: even if you macarons don't turn out, don't send them to the trash compactor. Macaron rejects are still a delicious snack.
If you're interested in improving the quality of your macarons, the only way to work the bugs out of your technique is to get bake more of them. The more practice you have under your belt, the better each batch will be. To stoke your macaron-baking fire, I've included another simple recipe. Enjoy, and leave a comment with how your experience went.
Macarons are a perfect accompaniment to your late-morning tea or afternoon espresso. Fluffy coffee-flavored cookies are paired with a rich ganache filling, then dusted gently with cocoa powder. The ultimate bittersweet combination.
Makes 20 macarons
100 grams almond powder
200 grams powdered sugar
3 tablespoon instant espresso mix
3 egg whites (should be about 90-100 grams)
40 grams granulated sugar
For ganache filling:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon pre-made strong black coffee
To make shells:
- Stack two cookie sheets one inside the other (for insulation) and line the top sheet with parchment paper. Fit a large, round piping tip into a pastry bag and tuck the bag into the tip so that the batter does not spill out when you fill it.
- Grind almond flour in a food processor for 30 seconds, then add in powdered sugar and grind for another minute. Sift or push almond sugar powder through a sieve to remove all large pieces. Add espresso mix and stir well to combine.
- With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until you have soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until the eggs form stiff peaks and do not slide around in the bowl.
- Gently, and with a wide spatula, fold almond flour and sugar into the egg whites, making sure not to beat more than 50 times. Stop as soon as your meringue reaches a glossy consistency.
- Scoop batter into the prepared pastry bag, and using a steady hand, pipe your macarons onto the parchment covered baking sheet. You will want them to be about 1 1/2 inches across, with at least an inch in between the cookies. Once your cookies have been piped, slam the cookie sheet evenly on the counter a few times to knock out any bubbles.
- Set your macarons aside in a dry place for 30 minutes. While your cookies are drying, preheat your oven to 350F and place your rack in the middle of the oven.
- After 30 minutes, once your cookies are a somewhat dry to the touch, place them in the oven and bake them for about 15 minutes. You do not want them to brown, so be sure to watch them carefully.
- Once the macarons are done, allow them to cool completely before removing from parchment. Use a pastry bag to pipe a small amount of ganache filling onto the undersides of half the cookies, then sandwich each with another unfrosted cookie. Store macarons overnight in the refrigerator to allow the meringues to settle. Serve at room temperature.
To make ganache filling:
- Fill the bottom of a double boiler with a few inches of water and bring it to a boil. Have the chopped chocolate waiting in the top of your double boiler but not yet set over the heat.
- In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream, vanilla, and coffee just to a boil, then pour it over your chocolate. Gently mix together and set over the double boiler, stirring until the chocolate is completely melted. Let cool before piping into macarons.