I have made my first batch of French macarons.
…and it only took me 2 years to do it. The idea of making these innocent-looking meringue cookies has always daunted me. However, I feel that making a successful batch of macarons is a right of passage for pastry chefs everywhere.
Did I pass? Nope.
But I must say that my first batch of macarons came out much better than I had anticipated. So maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. They came out delicately crunchy on the outside and deliciously chewy-melty on the inside.
Through trial and error, here are the 4 basic lessons I learned:
1. Process the almond meal and sift at least 2 times.
I used the almond meal straight from the bag. It was a bit coarse, which resulted in lumpy macarons. And don’t forget to toast it!
2. Bang the crap out of the pan.
I mean it. I only lightly tapped the pan, as I was afraid that the batter would spread too much. However, this only resulted in cracked macarons from the trapped air escaping during baking.
3. Let the meringue dry until it appears matte.
I tried this at 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and 45 minutes. At 45 minutes, I found that the macarons developed a taller foot than the other ones.
4. Bake with the oven door open.
I have a tiny oven. It doesn’t even fit most conventional sheet pans. Therefore, it overheats very easily. So I baked these at 325F with the oven door slightly ajar by jamming a towel in the door. This maintained a consistent heat flow without burning the batter.
Even though my macarons did not come out perfect this time around, I thought I’d still share the recipe and hopefully you will make them better! If any of you have made successful macarons and can offer any tips or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you!
Raspberry Honey Macarons
Adapted from MarthaStewart.com
1 1/4 c + 1 tsp. confectioner’s sugar
1 cup finely ground almonds
3 extra-large egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/4 c granulated sugar
Red food coloring gel
2 Tbsp raspberry honey creme
1 c confectioner’s sugar
1/2 c butter (one stick), softened
Preheat oven to 350F. Spread almond meal out onto sheet pan and toast about 5 minutes. DO NOT BURN! Cool completely on rack. Meanwhile separate eggs, placing egg whites into large clean mixing bowl, rid of any grease. In a medium bowl, whisk together cooled almond meal with confectioner’s sugar and salt.
Meringue: Whip egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase to high speed and slowly stream in granulated sugar. Whip to medium peaks. Dip a toothpick (I used a chopstick) into red food coloring gel and place into the egg whites. Just a dab. Continue to whip until stiff and glossy. Swipe the meringue with your finger and turn it upside down. If the meringue forms a stiff peak that sticks straight up, then it is ready.
FOLD in almond-sugar mixture in two additions. Take rubber spatula and plunge straight down to the bottom of the bowl. Fold meringue up towards you over the almond-sugar mixture. Repeat, turning bowl 1/4 of the way as you go. Fold until fully incorporated, about 40 turns. Don’t be too afraid of deflating the egg whites, as some deflation is necessary.
Place batter into large piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip. Line sheet pan with parchment paper. Pipe batter into 2 inch circles, spaced approximately 1 inch apart. Tap pan hard on the counter 2-3 times. Macarons will spread a little, this is okay. Let dry at room temperature for about 45 minutes, or until a matte sheen appears over the surfaces. Bake at 325F with oven door ajar, about 8 minutes. Slide parchment with the meringues onto cooling rack.
Buttercream: Mix butter, confectioner’s sugar, and honey together until combined. Place into piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip.
Assembly: Couple up similar-sized macaron shells. Place one shell upside down and pipe buttercream into center until 1/4 inch away from the edge. Place other half on top and gently press down until buttercream squeezes out to the edges.