I love macarons! I’m not talking about those coconut things people always make for Christmas either. Those are Macaroons, and they are okay, sure, but they don’t even hold a candle to the French Macaron! The french macaron is a dainty, chewy little piece of heaven. After one bite your life will be changed. You will never want another cookie again! You think I’m kidding, I’m sure, but I most definitely would not kid about Macarons! They are my favorite cookie because they taste so yummy but also because they are a pain the ass to make. Is that weird? I don’t know. I love the challenge.
So often when you make macarons something goes wrong. The tops crack and they look weird with no feet or the shells get a funny bump on the top of them. The shells might look grainy or maybe the cookie isn’t as chewy as it should be. I’ve tried so many ways to make macarons and I think I have finally found what works for me. I really liked BraveTart’s recipe. It works for me and even allows me to throw in extra ingredients too. I often forget to add the salt (oops) but I haven’t noticed that it affects the taste or the success of the macaron.
The Recipe: (adapted from BraveTart)
4 ounces (115g) blanched almonds or almond flour, or whatever nut you like
8 ounces (230g) powdered sugar
5 ounces egg whites (144g), temperature and age not important*!
2 1/2 ounce (72g) sugar
the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2g) salt
*I find that using egg whites that are a couple days old and brought to room-temperature give me the most consistent results. I’ve used fresh whites that were still chilled before too. Sometimes they work great, most of the time my shells crack. I also noticed that after I pipe the macarons,
letting them sit for about an hour really helps to prevent cracking. The meringue gets a little dry and this helps the macaron keep its beautiful smooth top (and bottom).
I bake them at 300 degrees and hope for the best. Usually I sit by the oven watching them for the first minute. I can usually tell if they’ll crack or grow little feet by then. This is what you want to see:
So the other day Piyush told me that he wanted some macarons. We made a deal. If he cleaned the cat litter box, I would make him any flavor macarons he wanted. He loves chocolate ganache so he chose for me to make him chocolate macarons with dark chocolate espresso ganache. They were delicious but the coffee flavor was way too strong for me.
I made the basic macaron recipe and added a couple spoonfuls of cocoa powder to the almond flour. I didn’t add any food coloring to the shells because I figured the cocoa would give it a decent tint—and I was out of brown food coloring. I made the ganache by melting chocolate with some espresso and heavy cream on a double boiler.
They didn’t turn out as smooth and pretty as I would like but right in the middle of mixing everything up I got some phone calls and had to figure out our home insurance stuff, so the macarons were neglected when they needed me the most.
Gosh, owning a home is a lot of work and it’s confusing too. We changed insurance companies and whoever I spoke with at the mortgage company last month gave me the wrong department and fax number to have the new binder sent to. We called a few times to verify everything was received and that our new insurance company was on file and we were assured it was all correct. WRONG! Although they received the binder and had it on file, the department that needed it never received it so our previous insurance company was paid a tremendous amount of money for a policy that didn’t even exist anymore. We had to get the refund and figure everything out. Annoying! It’s fixed now and I’m glad that we realized what happened before we leave the country next month!
Oh, the other thing about Macarons… even if the shell cracks and they don’t look as pretty as you’d like, they still taste better than anything you’ve ever tasted!