Paris is always a good idea. – Audrey Hepburn
One day. One day I will stand at the base of the Eiffel Tower, wander the museums, be awed by the architecture, explore the cafés and restaurants, and lavish on macarons, MACARONS, M.A.C.A.R.O.N.S!!!
I have had a
slight major obsession with macarons for the last few years. My first attempt at making them was as a favor/takeaway for my nephew’s Baptism. Quite brave aren’t I? Fortunately, those were a success and since, I’ve continued to experiment with techniques and flavor combinations. This will surely not be my only post on the topic!
Sadly, I cannot take a leisurely stroll to my neighbourhood pâtisserie to indulge in this sweet treat. The few times I do stumble on a bakeshop that makes or sells these tiny gems, I cannot resist but buy a few to sample. I mean, HELLO!, that totally counts as research right? While some have hit the spot of what I imagine and believe a true French macaron should be, some leave much to be desired.
To me, a macaron must have a crisp and crunchy exterior that gives way to a chewy and sweet interior. As you bite into the delicate cookie, it should feel like the cookie is literally melting in your mouth, like a cloud, as it then combines with the delightful filling. Sounds simple enough right?
You may have noticed, the macaron has sort of TOTALLY exploded in popularity and the internet is filled with stunning photos and beautiful creations. With just 3-4 simple ingredients, how hard could it be? To date, I have probably made HUNDREDS of macarons and I still feel I have so much to learn. R-E-S-P-E-C-T…that’s all I gotta say to the macaron-pros out there.
But fear not! While slightly intimidating and not quite foolproof, the macaron is not something to be afraid of my friends. Even a seemingly “bad” macaron still tastes pretty darn delicious! 🙂
There are a few things I’ve learned that might be worth sharing that go beyond the recipe below. Most important…the macaron can smell fear…and stress…and time-constraints. Best advice – don’t allow any of those into your kitchen.
Second, best to avoid making macarons on an overly humid or rainy day as macarons are notoriously sensitive to moisture in the air.
Third, use gel or powdered colourings to achieve the desired colour in your macarons. Even a little bit of extra liquid from food colouring can throw of the consistency of your batter.
A traditional macaron should be a circle and have a solid, smooth base. They should have ruffled “feet” along the edges where it has risen in the oven. They should easily slip off your baking sheet, ready to be paired with a delicious filling and another similar-shaped shell.
Macarons may seem like finicky cookies at first…and they absolutely are. BUT…with a little patience and care, you can enjoy these delicate treats in your own kitchen. Once you’ve mastered macarons, the flavor possibilities are endless! In the meantime, I’ll continue dreaming about stepping into a Parisian sidewalk café, sipping my coffee while taking in the French atmosphere. Bon appétit!
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar (also known as icing or powdered)
- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- 1/4 cup superfine sugar
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Pulse confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a food processor until well combined.
- Using a mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue to whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8-10 minutes.
- Gradually add flour mixture over whites. Using a flexible rubber spatula, fold until mixture is smooth and shiny. If adding colour, add it here.
- Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip (or just snip off the end to create a sufficient opening). Pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, dragging the pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks (this takes a little practice).
- Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15-30 minutes*. The batter should settle and create a nice rounded "dot". You also want to wait until a "skin" has formed on top. The macaron surface should be dry to a gentle touch.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325F. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons have formed a crisp coating, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375F, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325F.
- Let macarons cool on sheets for 2-3 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack.
- Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 tsp of desired filling. Serve immediately.
- *The time required to let your macarons stand before placing in the oven will vary on the air conditions of your home and time of year.
- If not serving immediately, you can store the shells and fill as needed. Once filled, the macarons will begin to absorb moisture from the filling so best to serve within 1 day of filling.