French macarons are these beautifully delicate cookie sandwiches that seem to melt in your mouth with each bite. These confections are almost too pretty to eat and have a super complex anatomy. In the past, I carelessly glanced over the pastel-colored macarons that occasionally popped up in cookbooks and magazines (big mistake).
About two years ago when visiting a local café, I was drawn to a display of vibrantly colored and pretentiously flavored macarons. Flavors like earl grey, black currant, lemon poppy, café au lait and rose water beckoned me to buy and eat, all of them. Eager to know more and recreate my own flavor combinations, I reviewed books specializing in macaron making and chose a foolproof recipe...
I will not detail my macaron breakdown caused by flat crispy almond disks. Macarons are not one of those recipes that you nail on the first try (and probably not on the second or third tries either). I did attempt to bake macarons two additional times with the same crispy outcome. Unaware of what was causing these baking catastrophes, I enrolled in a French Macaron class at a restaurant school in Philly.
Below I’ll share the basic techniques that I learned for a successful outcome. I’m still experimenting with food color (gel v. powder) and recommend starting with a basic almond shell (no color). Bake these confections with confidence to achieve paper-thin shells and soft cakey interiors.
Measuring the ingredients by weight is key in this recipe. Macaron recipes are written in weight or volume. I have tried measuring by volume but found that using a kitchen scale and weighing the ingredients works best.
I used emerald green powder food color to get the minty colored result. You can add the powder directly to the sifted almond mixture or try adding liquid/gel color to the egg whites. Either way, the initial brilliance of the color will lighten with the addition of ingredients.
Some bakers suggest lining the piping bag with colored gel to get a tie-dyed macaron shell. I was not extremely happy with the outcome of the powder as it seemed to dry out the shells (I used 3 Tbsp. of powder).
Creating a circle template has helped me to pipe evenly sized shells which cook consistently. I allow the shells to sit out for at least 30 minutes to form a matte skin. When shells are piped, they have a glossy look - once that sheen disappears, pop them in the oven! Be sure to bang the cookie trays after piping to release any air bubbles.
250 grams almond flour
350 grams powdered sugar
1 cup egg whites
pinch of salt
150 grams superfine sugar
emerald green powder or gel coloring (optional)
Sift together almond flour and powdered sugar. This can be done by hand using a sieve or food processor (few pulses). In this recipe, I sifted 3 tablespoons of green powder food coloring with the almond flour and powdered sugar. Feel free to omit the food color. Set aside the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture in a large bowl.
Place the egg whites and pinch of salt into a clean heavy mixing bowl. Whip until the whites form medium peaks (KitchenAid Mixer speed 8, 1-2 minutes). Once medium peaks are achieved, gradually add in the superfine sugar on low speed (gradual is key in this process – do not pour it all in at once).
Turn the mixer up to maximum speed and continue whipping the whites until stiff peaks form. This process could take anywhere between 2-5 minutes until the egg whites hold their shape and resemble the consistency of meringue.
Make a well in the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture. Fold in 2/3 of the whipped egg whites. Using a figure eight motion, fold the batter onto itself to flatten. Once slightly incorporated, fold in the remaining egg whites. Batter should be shiny (similar thickness to pancake batter).
Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a straight tip and pastry bag, pipe macarons to desired size. It is best to pipe the macarons on a 90° angle and pull the tip away quickly. If points are formed after pulling away, use water to lightly wet your finger and dab each point. Bang each baking sheet to remove air bubbles.
Allow piped macarons to rest for 20-30 minutes to develop a matte skin.
While resting, preheat the oven to 325° using convection (or 350° using conventional). Bake for 7-9 minutes until the shells peel off of the parchment. Watch the shells closely around 7 minutes as oven temperatures vary. Break a shell in half to determine cooking time. The interior should be slightly moist. Overcooked shells will be dry and crispy.
Allow macarons to cool completely before removing from tray. Sandwich with your choice of filling. I used a few drops of peppermint oil to flavor buttercream.
Recipe from Macaron Café.