Let’s talk about macarons.
I was introduced to these highfalutin cookies by way of my good friend, SeAnne. We then set out to learn how to bake these treats ourselves by attending a french cooking/baking at our local Publix. After we had the basics, we were obsessed. Every Wednesday for the better part of two months we would meet up, drink wine, and bake macarons. We came up with interesting flavors–like earl grey with vanilla buttercream–and just baked the sh*t out of those things. Macarons caused us grief, but mostly joy. If you’ve ever endeavored to make macarons, then you may understand that they are a fickle bitch. Too humid, dead. Whipped too hard, done. Not whipped enough, throw them out. Over-baked? Garbage. Under-baked? Goo.
So with this in mind, when we had a good batch, we made sure to capture the accomplishment.
Once SeAnne got pregnant with her first child, our wine nights (understandably) died down a little. I then decided I’d try baking a batch myself. The first one came out fine; I was filled with pride. I tried another batch, and they were poop. There are life lessons in baking macarons, I’ll tell you what.
Fast forward to last year: I found the perfect, fool-proof, holy grail of macaron recipes from Lindsay (what a beautiful name!) from Sprinkles for Breakfast. I have doubled this recipe and it works amazingly. It’s simple, it’s in cups which is hard to find usually for macaron recipes, and it’s just perfect. I won’t use any other recipe unless I work up the nerve to try to make my own.
With this recipe for perfection, I marched into my kitchen with renewed will. And I haven’t had a bad batch yet. My arsenal now includes half sheet pans, Silpats, airbrushing kit, sprinkles of all kinds, food coloring, flavorings, etc.
Here’s a confession: I’m arrogant. And maybe not in an in-your-face type of way, but in a “I made this and it was hard AF but I did that sh*t” type of way. Macarons feed this side of me like I never thought they would. I’ve heard people say that they didn’t know these could be made at home, and figured they were made in a Parisian factory or something. Welp, they can be!
Also, I know these macarons are not the stuff of Ladurée caliber, or many of the bakers on Instagram (indulgewithmimi, sweetsbyjewel, sweethouston, macaronsbytiffany, to name a few). So my arrogance is not without bounds. But I am damn proud of myself.
So, that brings us to this recipe (again, please visit Sprinkles for Breakfast, as this is only slightly modified from her vanilla macaron recipe)
Here’s what you’ll need!
1/2 cp. powdered sugar
1 cp. + 2 tbsps. blanched almond flour (get it at Trader Joe’s or amazon for best value)
3 eggs, whites only
1/2 cp. granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 325.
- Prepare two half-sheet pans with either parchment paper or a Silpat. Do not use wax paper, do not use a greased pan. Butter is the absolute enemy of macarons, that and any other fat or oil. If you bake cookies often, I suggest investing in a Silpat. These things are bomb and save the annoyance of making sure I have parchment paper on hand.
- In a sifter, combine almond flour and powdered sugar. Sift into a medium size bowl. Depending on your almond flour, you may have some chunks that won’t pass through the sifter. Press with the backside of a spoon and whatever you may be left with, discard as long as it’s less than a tablespoon.
- Take one tablespoon of dry ingredients out of the bowl and discard. Replace with one tablespoon of instant espresso, such as Bustelo. Mix with a fork to distribute.
- Prepare a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. For ease, I usually twist the tip-end of the bag and put in a large plastic cup so I can pour the batter in easily.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, start whipping the egg whites until the whites start to get nice and frothy. Add in the granulated sugar with the mixer running, and turn mixer up to medium-high.
- Keep an eye on your mixer, because this is where things can go sideways kinda fast. You need stiff peaks, and I usually watch for streaks to appear in the egg whites from the whisk. It’s ok to stop your mixer and check how stiff the whites are getting. I do this because it’s still hard for me to just eye it while the whisk is moving. Pull the whisk up, and see how your peaks are. If you think you have stiff peaks, stop! Trust your gut.
- Take the bowl off the stand mixer and add in the sifted dry ingredients.
- Here, again, is where things can turn to sh*t. Using a rubber spatula, start combining the egg whites and dry ingredients vigorously using the folding method. I used to think a light hand was key, but it’s not at the beginning. Just beat the f*ck out of the batter until everything is combined. The egg whites will deflate, this is good. Start slowing down once things are nicely combined and check how the batter is falling from your spatula. If it’s clumping off, you need to keep going. But take it easy for God’s sake because if you overdo it, I can’t help you! The batter needs to come off the spatula in a continuous ribbon, with the thickness of lava.
- Once you achieve the right consistency, pour batter into the prepared piping bag.
- Find a macaron template online if you can. If not, you can make your own template using blank paper and the bottom of a shot glass to create circles. Or do it by sight if you’re pretty precise.
- Pipe those babies out. Once you’ve filled up the pan, slam the trays on a hard surface to encourage the air to escape. Otherwise, you’re inviting hollow shells which is not the worst thing, but not ideal.
- Set your macarons to dry. Depending on how humid it is (I live in Florida so…) you may need to leave them for an hour. Or you can use my hack of putting your trays in front of a fan of some sort. When I do this, I only have to wait ten minutes or so. The macs need to dry until you can touch them and nothing appears on your finger. Why? So they can have those cute widdle feet!
- Once the shells are dry to the touch, put them in the oven. I recommend doing one tray at a time the first time around so you can gauge how your oven treats your macs.
- They’ll likely need about 20 mins. But check them. Macs are done when you can gently touch (warning, hot!) the tops and the cookies don’t shimmy, and you can easily lift the cookie off the pan without much effort. Repeat with the remaining trays.
Chocolate ganache is easy-peasy: for the perfect filling-macaron consistency, heat up one part heavy cream to one part chocolate. I used 4 oz. heavy cream and 4 oz. of chopped Ghirardelli dark chocolate.
Put chopped chocolate in a heat-safe bowl. Heat heavy cream but careful not to scald. I put cream on very low heat and waited until I saw steam escaping. Once heated, pour warmed cream over chopped chocolate and allow to sit for a minute. Stir after waiting until smooth. Add about half a tablespoon of instant espresso to the chocolate (this is something you should do regardless of the type of macarons you’re making. Espresso is a great flavor enhancer to chocolate). Chill for 45 mins to an hour so it is stiff for piping.
Pipe that filling on one half of your macs after you’ve paired up macaron buddies.
Here’s the completed look! I used edible lustre dust for some panache.
Thanks for hanging in there with me!
Have you tried macarons? What are some of your favorite flavor combinations?