Saturday, January 22, 2011

French Macarons


This was my mantra when attempting to make French Macarons for the first time. Everywhere in the blogging world I was seeing these beauties. But just as frequently, I was reading posts about how difficult, finicky, and troublesome these treats were. So....I was afraid....just a little.

My brother and sister-in-law were coming over for a special dinner and I really wanted to surprise them with macarons. They'd first had them in France and then found some at Trader Joe's....and they were also amazing. But, being as daring (foolish?) as I was, I was determined to make them from scratch....please pray for me.

As it turns out, they are truly not that difficult. If you read up, do your homework, and have a plan things will go just fine. Once you're comfortable with the process, the possibilities are truly endless. Exciting new color and flavor combinations abound on the internet. So read this post, read some other posts, and decide if you're ready to make some of the most rewarding treats of your life!

Good luck!

*You will find the the measurements for the macaron shells are in metric, not volume. A kitchen scale is a MUST for these, therefore, other measurements will not be given.

Chocolate Macarons with Espresso Ganache Filling

For the Macarons:
110 gm blanched slivered almonds
200 gm minus 2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp. cocoa powder (Dutch-process preferred)
100 gm egg whites (from about 3 eggs), aged at room temperature for 12-24 hours
50 gm granulated sugar

For the espresso ganache:
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
4 tbsp. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1½ tsp. espresso powder

To make the macaron shells: Pulse the almonds until finely ground in the bowl of a food processor. Add the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder until blended.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue beating until a smooth, shiny meringue (with stiff peaks) forms.

Add the ground almond mixture to the bowl with the meringues and gently fold together using a rubber spatula until all streaks are gone.

Line two baking sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain, wide round tip. Pipe into small rounds (1-1 1/2 inches) spaced about 1 inch apart. Let them sit at room temperature for 30 - 60 minutes or until a hard shell forms.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Bake 10 - 12 minutes (do not underbake! They will stick to the pan and "disembowel" themselves - although these still taste just as yummy!). Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow the shells to cool completely before moving the cookies.

While the cookies are cooling, make the ganache. Combine the cream, butter, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Place the chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl. Bring the cream mixture to a simmer, remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand 2 minutes, then whisk gently in a circular motion until the ganache forms. Blend in the espresso powder (if using). Let the mixture cool until it is thick enough to pipe. (To speed the chilling process, place the bowl in the freezer and let cool, stirring every 15 minutes, until thick.)

Once the cookies have totally cooled, match them up by size. Pipe a layer of ganche on one cookie and sandwich it with another. Store in an airtight container.

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Swiss Buttercream Filling

Yield: about 20 macarons

For the macaron shells:
200 grams confectioners’ sugar
110 grams almonds (blanched, slivered, or sliced)
90 grams egg whites (aged at room temperature for 1 day or 3-5 days in the fridge)
25 grams granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise with the seeds removed

For the filling:
½ cup sugar
2 large egg whites
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp. vanilla extract

To make the macaron shells, combine the confectioners’ sugar and almonds in a food processor. Pulse until the almonds are finely ground and the mixture is well blended. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat, gradually adding the granulated sugar. Beat until a stiff, glossy meringue forms (do not over-beat). Add the ground nut mixture to the bowl with the egg whites. Add the vanilla beans. Fold together with a spatula until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated and the batter is thick and smooth.

Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a plain round tip and pipe small rounds onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1½ inches in diameter. Let the piped rounds sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes to harden their shells.

Preheat the oven to 280˚ F. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Let cool 15-20 minutes before removing from the baking sheet. Let cool completely before filling or storing.

To make the frosting, combine the sugar and egg whites in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar is completely dissolved. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until a thick and shiny meringue has formed and the bowl is cool to the touch. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low. Add in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting until each is incorporated before adding more. Once all the butter is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until thick and smooth. Blend in the vanilla.

To assemble the macarons, pair up the shells by size. Add the finished frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip. Pipe a small round of frosting onto the flat side of one shell from each pair. Sandwich together with the other shell and push gently together so that the frosting reaches the edges of the cookies. Place the crushed candy canes in a shallow dish. Gently roll the assembled macarons in the crushed candy canes so they adhere to the frosting.

1 comment:

  1. you're so brave for trying them and it looks like it's do-able. But every time I try to make macaroons, I end up with soft puddles of meringue. Must try it again. I'll try your recipe soon.