Recipes

Parisian Macarons

by Beaming with Health on July 16, 2012

Have you ever tasted a Parisian macaron? A well-prepared macaron will melt in your mouth. One bite and the macaron owns you. You realize that no cookie will ever be as good as your precious macaron. Ok, slight exaggeration there, but this is no ordinary cookie.

Now, have you ever tried to purchase said macaron? You are looking at about $2-3 dollars a pop.  Why do these cookies cost a small fortune you ask yourself? It is not because of the ingredients.  These cookies are only made from eggs, sugar, and almonds. What you are paying for is the technique behind these cookies.  After reading this post, you will understand.

This is one very high-maintenance, sometimes temperamental, definitely snooty cookie (and it would scoff at being called a cookie). Anyway, do not be afraid. With a little careful preparation and a bit of mindfulness, you will soon be preparing these delicate little treats. Your friends will “ooh” and “ahh” at the site of these beautiful macarons. Let’s get started!

Parisian Macarons
Recipe modified from giverslog.com

Ingredients:

• ¾ cup finely ground almond meal (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
• 1 cup powdered sugar (for the chocolate variety use ¾ cup powdered sugar and ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder)
• 2 egg whites
• 2 pinches of cream of tartar
• ¼ cup granulated sugar (fine granulated sugar or baker’s sugar is best)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Start by sifting your almond meal and powdered sugar into a bowl. For this step you can use a sifter or simply use a spoon and a mesh strainer. This will ensure that your batter is not lumpy. Discard any remaining lumps that will not push through the strainer/sifter.

In a separate bowl, add your egg whites. To separate the egg whites from the yolk, gently crack the egg on the side of a can (to get that sharp edge). Then, poor the yolks back and forth between the shells, letting the egg white fall into the bowl. Be very careful to not let any of the yolk land in the bowl, as this will inhibit your egg whites from whipping up properly. Also, try not to touch the egg white with your hand during the process, as the oils from your hand can affect the results of your egg whites.

Once your egg whites are safely in the bowl, begin to whip them using a hand mixer at medium speed. Once the egg whites are frothy, add the cream of tartar. Then, return the speed to medium until soft peaks form. At that point, turn your speed down to low, and gently pour in the granulated sugar. Increase the speed up to high until hard peaks form. This will probably take about 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to over whip your egg whites. If you would like to add food coloring, add it once your egg whites are almost done.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the almond meal/sugar mixture into the egg whites. Be careful not to stir in this step, but use a very gentle folding motion. I like to count the folds here, and 55-65 folds usually works best. You want a batter that is not too stiff, but not too loose either. You will recognize the best consistency over time.

You are now ready to add your batter to a piping bag or plastic bag. If you have a piping bag with a plastic tip, that will allow you the most control. However, if you do not have this around the house, simply use a plastic bag. Cut a small hole in the tip of the bag to use as a piping bag.

Take your piping bag or plastic bag, turn back the edge over a large cup, and gently scoop about half of the batter into the bag. Twist the top of the bag to close and place the tip of the bag over a cookie sheet covered with a sheet of parchment paper (best to use a very thick cookie sheet or stack 2 thin ones). Gently squeeze the bag holding the tip in the center of the area you would like the cookie to be. Allow the batter to come out without moving the tip of the bag. Make sure to leave a little space between the cookies as they will expand a bit. Once all cookies are on the tray, gently drop the top tray on the counter to ensure there is no trapped air.

Now set your cookie sheet aside for at least 20 minutes. This step with help ensure that you get the coveted “feet” (sort of a rough edge around the bottom of the cookie) to form. This will also improve the texture creating a melt-in-your-mouth consistency.

Place the macarons in the oven at 325 degrees. It may be a good idea to check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer. If it is not the right temperature, your macarons may not turn out properly. Bake macarons for about 10 minutes, rotating the tray 180 degrees halfway through. Carefully monitor your macaroons by turning your oven light on. If they start to crack, you may need to open the oven door and wedge a wooden spoon in the door to create some ventilation and cool down the temperature. To test if the macaroons are done, touch the top to see if they have formed a shell. 

Allow macarons to cool for a couple of minutes, then gently remove them from the parchment paper. You may need to hold the macaron steady in one hand while peeling back the paper carefully. Set aside and allow to cool before filling. Your macaroons can be kept in the freezer for 30 days before filling.

Recommended Fillings:

Jams: raspberry, strawberry, orange marmalade, basically any flavor your like!

Butter creams: I like to make a basic butter cream with butter (duh), powdered sugar, and a splash of milk or cream (I usually use coconut milk). I then add my favorite flavors. I usually use an extract like lemon, vanilla, or mint. There are several butter cream recipes available, but I generally create mine to taste.

Chocolate Ganache:  For this bring coconut milk or heavy cream just to a boil (being careful to stir the whole time). I then pour it carefully over chopped chocolate, pouring a little at a time while stirring until I get the right consistency. You can add flavors in at this point. A chocolate mint ganache is about as delicious as it gets! If your ganache is too liquidy, place it in the refrigerator to cool a bit.

To fill your macarons, either use a piping bag, or gently frost one macaron with a knife and sandwich the other one on top.

Enjoy your beautiful spread of macarons with friends over a cup of your favorite tea. These little treats make wonderful birthday presents or the perfect pick-me-up to a grumpy cab driver (I experienced this first hand). Bon Appetit!

If this all just seems a little too overwhemling/confusing, sign up for my upcoming Parisian macaron class with Lifecrowd!

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