December 14, 2016

Macarons



I have been in love with French macarons since my first bite at Laduree in Paris. It is the ultimate sandwich cookie, but made even more enchanting by the colorful and delicious possibilities ranging from creamy vanilla to pale green pistachio, red raspberry - to dark chocolate.   Since that first trip to Paris, I have been making macarons once a year, usually around the holidays and for special requests.

Mine aren't as picture perfect as a Parisian confection - yet they are devoured with no less gusto. 

Probably the best tip I can give you is to purchase a special macaron mat, like the one pictured here.  The mat has circles to help keep your cookie uniform, with raised edges to prevent the batter from spreading outward.  If using a silicon mat, the baking times will likely increase by up to 5 minutes. The mat pictured above is for mini macarons.

Otherwise, use parchment paper and draw circles to guide you.  

Some other tips:

The stated baking time is a guide - watch your macarons closely. The perfect cookie is crisp on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside.

Once you get the hang of making macarons, you're going to want to experiment with different fillings. Choose ingredients that will not be too moist. I once had the brilliant idea of doing an almond mascarpone filling which actually tasted great but it had so much water content that within an hour of assembling, my formerly crisp cookie turned soft.





Vanilla Buttercream Macarons

Cookie:

3 egg whites
3/4 cup almond flour (I use Trader Joe's)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 pinch of salt

1. Whisk the egg whites on medium speed in a stand mixer for about a minute then gradually increase the speed to high.  While beating, gradually add the sugar and salt. Beat until the whites are thick and stiff.
2. Run the almond flour through a sieve so that it is free of lumps.
3. Incorporate the almond flour 1/4 at a time to the egg whites by folding gently until blended.
4. Spoon the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large tip.  Start making circles either on a silicone macaron mat or baking sheet lined with parchment paper with circles drawn on it.  The batter should flow easily so be careful to space each circle so that there is room to spread as it bakes. Once the sheet has been filled, lift it and tap gently once or twice to make the batter even on top.
5. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
6. Bake between 25-30 minutes. The cookies must be firm to the touch.
7. Let cool for at least 1 hour before assembling by filling with vanilla buttercream between two cookies.

Vanilla Buttercream:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp heavy cream

1. Whisk together the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until smooth.
2. Add vanilla and cream and continued to whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. If too thick, add a bit more cream to the mix.



Chocolate Macarons

Cookie:

3 egg whites
1/2 cup almond flour (I use Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 pinch of salt

1. Whisk the egg whites on medium speed in a stand mixer for about a minute then gradually increase the speed to high.  While beating, gradually add the sugar and salt. Beat until the whites are thick and stiff.
2. Run the almond flour and cocoa powder through a sieve so that it is free of lumps.
3. Incorporate the almond flour/cocoa mixture 1/4 at a time to the egg whites by folding gently until blended.
4. Spoon the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large tip.  Start making circles either on a silicone macaron mat or baking sheet lined with parchment paper with circles drawn on it.  The batter should flow easily so be careful to space each circle so that there is room to spread as it bakes. Once the sheet has been filled, lift it and tap gently once or twice to make the batter even on top.
5. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
6. Bake between 30-35 minutes. The cookies must be firm to the touch.
7. Let cool for at least 1 hour before assembling by filling with chocolate ganache between two cookies.

Chocolate Ganache:

1 dark bittersweet chocolate Vahlrona bar (100 mg)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar

1. Break up the chocolate bar into small pieces and place in a bowl with the sugar.
2. Heat the cream until boiling then pour over the chocolate pieces. Mix with a wooden spoon until all the chocolate and sugar have melted and it is well blended with the cream and smooth.
3. Let rest until cool for at least 2 hours before using.

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