French MacaronsPosted: June 9, 2012
Our recent trip to Paris introduced me to one of the sweetest delicacies I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating – French macarons. These are not to be mistaken with (coconut based) macaroons, which too are delicious but a completely different beast.
I didn’t actually come across these ornate treats until our second day in the City of Lights when we walked up Champs Elysees and discovered a cool boutique Parisian cafe called Laduree (which, as I quickly realized, is world renown).
The irony in my latest food obsession is the fact that I didn’t even care to try them at first. Tania was hungry and got herself a croissant at Laduree. I was in the mood for something different and opted for a box of 8 macarons (which are NOT cheap!). Expecting a stale shelled pastry, I was pleasantly surprised by the complexion and texture of these macarons. A firm outer shell followed by a smooth and sweet interior and cool and firm filling…mmmmmmm.
Upon landing back in the US, the challenge was on – I was determined to replicate the Laduree’s Parisian macarons! Worst case, if my attempts failed, I had an alternate plan of buying them at the recently opened Laduree store on the Upper East Side (for $3 per piece!).
After days of research and a few attempts, I am here to share the best technique for macaron making. As it turned out, macarons are difficult to make and temperamental if you don’t follow the right directions. One wrong move and you’re done.
The internet is an amazing resource but also filled with ALOT of information. In all of my research, I found the following three sites to be the best resources in macaron making: FoodNouveau, Tartlette, and Not So Humble Pie.
Serving Size (40-50 cookies)
Estimated time: 1 hours
- 100g egg whites (aged 24 hours) – this measurement comes out to 2-3 eggs
- 30g sugar
- 5g dehydrated egg white powder
- 125g almond meal/flour
- 220g powdered sugar (high quality)
What You’ll Need:
- baking sheet
- parchment paper
- hand or stand mixer
- mixing bowls
- sifter / mesh sieve
- pastry piping bag and round tip
- divide eggs, cover in plastic wrap and leave out at room temperature overnight
- next day, measure out all ingredients using a scale
- prepare 2 baking sheets covered in parchment paper
- sift almond meal and powdered sugar into a new bowl
- combine granulated sugar with dehydrated egg whites into one bowl
- begin preparing merengue: on medium speed, mix (using mixer) egg whites until foamy
- begin to add granulated sugar/dehydrated egg mixture to the egg whites
- once mixture is fully integrated, turn up the speed to high and whip until soft peaks are achieved. this will take 3-5 minutes. don’t over mix…you don’t want the peaks to become too firm. your base / meringue is ready
- if you plan on adding liquid food coloring, this is the time to do it – drop a few drops into meringue (whipped egg whites) and fold to incorporate
- now it’s time to make the batter – pour 1/4 of almond/sugar mixture into the meringue and fold to incorporate using a rubber spatula. the motion should be gentle enough not to deflate the whipped egg whites
- continue folding in the rest of the almond / sugar mixture until complete. fold until everything is fully incorporated but do not over mix
- pre-heat oven to 290 F
- prepare a pastry piping bag with a standard large/round tip and pour batter into the bag
- pipe 1-2″ rounds onto pre-lined baking sheets. keep in mind that macarons will expand as the settle
- when done, bang sheets flat against counter a few times to help aerate the macarons
- let sit for 20-30 minutes. you will know they are ready when they are dry to a gentle touch of your finger
- bake in oven for 14-16 minutes. at 14 minutes, monitor closely to make sure they don’t start getting brown edges
- once cooked, the macarons should peel off easily in one piece. if they do not, try cooking them for an extra minute at a time
- cool macarons on a cooling rack
- fill with your favorite filling – i like to use nutella (when lazy) or vanilla buttercream (when motivated). store overnight in fridge in an airtight ziplock bag to allow flavors to marry before serving
- use a scale and make sure to have everything measured out before you start working
- whipping the merengue is a delicate art – you don’t want the egg whites runny but you also don’t want to over beat. this will take practice…worst case you over whip and the macarons may become slightly hollow
- food coloring: macarons are known for their exotic colors. i’ve yet to really experiment with color, mainly because of its toxic and artificial nature. macarons’ natural color is off-white. in the images above, i dropped (only a few drops) of liquid chlorophyll into the meringue to make it green. all natural coloring, you can get chlorophyll at Whole Foods or a healthy foods store.
- folding dry ingredients into merengue is also a delicate balance. see this video on how to fold properly
- once batter is ready, you need to move very quickly with the piping process before it dries out
- to get perfectly round macarons, you can print out templates and place beneath the parchment paper. make sure you remove them before baking!
- when piping macarons, the trick i find is to apply downward pressure (straight down at 90 degrees) to release batter, make a circle, and then simultaneously release pressure and quickly yank the tip away
- the perfect macaron will have the following properties: flat outer surface, well-defined feet and a dense (not hollow) inner layer