As my second warm-up entry to this weekends chocolate festival, I have chosen to make french macaroons. The choice fell on these fabulous and irresistible petit fours for three reasons; 1) I had all ingredients in my pantry, 2) I am going to a dear friends 30s birthday tomorrow night, and these are a lovely gift for the hostess and 3) the are to expensive to buy when you can make then yourself!
There are many way to make macaroons and I have tried several of them. Some are very time consuming while others are are quite fast to make. This recipe is in the time consuming category, but I am always going back to this one, as to my opinion this is the one that gives the best result – which of cause is the most important thing 😉
The basic ingredients in macaroons are blended almonds, confectioners sugar, granulated sugar and egg whites. Then you can add flavors and colors to match whatever theme you have in mind.
When making this recipe you will need a few basic tools:
A digital thermometer
An electric mixer
A rubber spatula
A pastry bag and
A 1/2-inch plain round tip
Without these, I doubt that you will succeed (but that shouldn’t keep you from trying if you have the drive) 🙂
What differs between this and other methods is the meringue. I prefer to work with Italian meringue when making macaroons, as I think that gives the prettiest surface and the best texture. Further more the baked (but not filled) macaroons can be stored in airtight containers for several months. For me, this is a huge plus as I can make a whole portion, store them and make a quick filling if I get unexpected guests for coffee.
Another reason for me to make a large portion is, that I suffer from a severe whiplash, which gives quite a lot of trouble some days. This means, I have bad days where need help to get out of bed, while other day are good (thank god for that!). Then when having guest on an ‘in-between day’, I can still look energetic serving great coffee and home baked macaroons.
As I make these large portions, I rarely use any coloring or flavors in the macaroon. Then when deciding on the filling, I sprinkle some freeze dried berries or colorful glitter on top and make sure that the color of the filling makes a good contrast to the neutral macaroon.
Below you will find a how-to-make-macaroons guide. Don’t give up if you fail the first time – the more you make, the better you get. If it can be of any comfort, I still fail once in a while ;-). An most often it is only 90% of my macaroon that gets perfect – a friend of mine has named the failed once ‘taste samples’. If you, like me, have trouble throwing away food that looks wrong but tastes fabulous, you can store the failed macaroon till the next time you are going to make a layered cake – they goes very well crushed between the layers.
Ingredients (60 macaroons)
200 gram almonds, blanched
200 gram confectioners sugar
200 gram granulated sugar
2 x 80 gram egg whites
80 ml water
Blend the almonds into fine almond flour in a hand blender or food processor. Then add confections sugar and blend again for at least 20-30 seconds. Shift into a mixing bowl. If there are anything left in the strainer, blend it further and shift again.
Take half of the egg whites and mix them into the blended almonds. mix until well combined and even.
In another bowl whisk the other half of the egg whites until they make soft peaks. Find a saucepan and add granulated sugar and water. Heat until the syrup reaches 230F, stir once in a while (use a digital thermometer). Pour the heated syrup slowly into the egg whites while whisking on medium-low speed. Be careful not to get burned on the sugar – it hurts like hell! When all the syrup has been added, turn up the volume of you mixer and whisk until the meringue has reached room temperature. It take about 10 minutes.
When your meringue has reached room temperature, add half to the almond mixture and mix well until combined. Then add the rest of the meringue and fold around – do not whisk, as this will ruin the batter! Fold until the batter is evenly combined and smooth.
Now it gets a bit tricky – the texture of the batter needs to soft, but not to soft. It still needs to keep the round shape when added to the baking paper, but it should be soft enough to prevent the macaroons from getting small tops. Did that make sense?
Transfer the batter to a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on a baking tray with baking paper. Turn the baking tray into the table top 8-10 times, to remove air bubbles from the macaroons.
Let the macaroons dry at room temperature for an hour. Bake at 300F for 13 minutes. Transfer the baking paper with the baked macaroons to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling or storing them.
Voilá – you have now made french macaroons 🙂