Oh, sweet macaron!
There isn’t much say about these sweet sandwiches that hasn’t already been said. I love them and fully admit that I have fallen for their cute, round shape and rainbow of color and flavor options. Despite their famed trickiness, I have made many batches of macarons over the years. Some were a great success and some were epic fails, ending with me flinging sheets of imperfect macarons into the trash between fits of tears and foot stomping. Glamorous…I know. I also know that with things like this, practice makes perfect and technique can make or break your efforts. That being said, I have learned a few things about macaron baking.
“Liquify” or “Age” your egg whites. If I plan on making macarons the next day, I will leave the whites in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, on the counter overnight. If this grosses you out and you fear contamination, go ahead and put them in the refrigerator for a while…like a week…in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap.
Food coloring. Powdered food coloring is preferable, as it doesn’t add moisture, but liquid or gel color can be mixed into the granulated sugar if that is what you have. I usually only have gel color on hand, and I have had good results using this method.
Allow your piped, unbaked shells to dry at room temp for a bit, allowing them to create a little crust, which encourages the much coveted foot to form.
Also, use 2 baking sheets in the oven…again, gentle encouragement of the foot.
Oven temp. I have a crazy oven that runs about 30 degrees hotter than the dial suggests. Your oven may be weird too, so I suggest purchasing an inexpensive oven thermometer so you can be sure what your oven temperature really is.
My favorite macaron making resources are the blogs, Cannelle et Vanille and Tartlette, as well as the book I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita.
Hopefully none of this scares you and discourages you from making macarons. I’m simply a home baker and I’ve managed to pull it off a few times. I think the most important thing is probably just trying it out. And then, trying again.
adapted from I Love Macarons
Almond meal can be found in the baking section or natural foods section of many grocery stores. You can also make your by grinding blanched almonds with the powdered sugar. I filled these with cream cheese frosting and jam. I used store bought jam this time, I like Bon Maman.
3 oz. almond meal
5.25 oz. powdered sugar
3 large eggs white, brought to room temperature
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean seeded
food coloring, optional
Line a baking sheet with either a silicone baking sheet or parchment. If you are using parchment, you can trace 1-inch circles onto it and use that as a guide as you pipe the shells.
Mix granulated sugar w/ food coloring, if using, set aside.
Place almond meal and powdered sugar (and vanilla bean, if using) into the bowl of a food processor and grind into a fine powder. Sift the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Set aside.
Either with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or beater, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Gradually add granulated sugar to egg white with the mixer on medium speed. Stir in vanilla extract if using. Continue to beat on high speed until glossy and firm, but not dry.
Add half of the sifted flour mixture to egg whites. Stir with a spatula while scooping it up from the bottom of the bowl. Add the rest of the flour and mix lightly in a circular motion. Once the flour is incorporated, press the batter against the side of the bowl, spreading it out. Scoop the batter from the bottom and fold it over. Repeat this step 15 times. The batter should be thick and drip in a slow ribbon from your spatula.
Fit a pastry bag with a round tip and fill bag with batter. Pipe rounds onto baking sheets, leaving plenty of room between each. The batter will spread as you pipe, so pipe small circles. Rap the sheet against the counter to release any bubbles. Dry shells on the sheet pan until a crust forms, 15-30 minutes depending on the humidity in your area. If the batter doesn’t stick when you touch the shells, they are done.
Heat oven to 375 F. Stack the baking sheet on another, empty sheet. Place onto the middle rack in the oven. Bake 14-15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. If the insides are still too soft after 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 300 F and cover the tray with foil (so shells do not brown) and continue to bake for 2-3 minutes more. Cool completely on a wire rack before removing and filling.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese at room temp.
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine cream cheese and vanilla. With a stand mixer or electric beater, beat until light and creamy. Add powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Use immediately or refrigerate. If refrigerating, bring to room temp and beat again until it becomes light and spreadable.