Classic French almond macarons — there is nothing to fear!
If you’ve ever been on my most favorite site ever, FoodGawker, you have undoubtedly come across macarons. There are over 1,300 recipes for these light french sandwich cookies on the site to date. And that’s not counting all the other recipes available elsewhere on the internet.
The first time I tried a macaron was last year. I was studying abroad and I had a friend who knew how to make macarons. We both lived in studio apartments pre-furnished with the basics. However, one day she decided she wanted to make macarons and she went out to buy a mixer in order to beat the egg whites. I visited her later that evening, while she was in the process of baking, and tried a macaron for the first time. Yum! Thank you, Sophia, for introducing macarons to me. And explaining feet. Feet are the little ruffle-y bits on the bottom of macarons that form while baking. My friend was very excited when her macarons had feet.
The next day my friend brought in macarons to class, and we learned that our teacher was also really into making macarons and had even taken a class once while on vacation on how to make them. So a few days later, she made macarons and brought them to class. More yum!
Even before trying a macaron, I had decided I wanted to try making them. Someday. The little meringues seemed awfully complicated to me. It took me a while to get up the courage to attempt to make them on my own. But I finally did! And they are really not all that difficult to make–there are only a few ingredients–you just have to watch how you treat the eggs.
With so many macaron recipes available on the internet, I went through many, many recipes before deciding one to use. I finally decided on one from CakeJournal, and I’ve used it a few times now. The instructions they give are great, and I highly suggest reading through the tutorial they give if you are attempting to make macarons for the first time. I changed very little from the original recipe, but since I think it’s unfair when people post photos of delicious food but no recipe, I’ve posted my version below. These are basic almond flavored macarons. They are super light, sweet, and have a little crunch when you take a bite. CakeJournal has many suggestions for flavors, should you choose to be more adventurous.
One thing I want to note is that I used store-bought almond meal which was not made from blanched almonds. You can make your own by grinding up either blanched or regular almonds, though I’ve never done this.
Makes: about 24 whole macarons (48 shells)
3/4 cup almond meal
2 egg whites from large eggs
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Sift almond meal and powdered sugar into a bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites. Add one tablespoon of sugar at a time as the eggs start to foam and stiffen. You want to reach the stiff peaks stage (see photos below). This means you can turn the bowl of egg whites upside-down and have the egg whites stay in place. Yes, I tried this. You can also scoop some of the beaten egg whites up with a beater and turn that upside-down and, again, if the egg whites hold their shape you have reached stiff peaks!
Using a rubber spatula, fold the almond meal and powdered sugar mixture into the egg whites. Mix until completely combined and the batter flows ribbon-like when you lift the spatula out of the bowl.
Using a zip-top bag or a piping bag, pipe the macarons in circles slightly larger than quarters onto baking sheets lined with parchment or silpats. Let sit at room temperature for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees (Fahrenheit). Bake for 10-12 minutes. The macarons are done if you touch one and the top does not move or slide backwards. Remove from the oven and cool before filling with your favorite buttercream or chocolate ganache. Store in an airtight container the refrigerator.
Basic Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from Martha Stewart
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. dark chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli)
1 tablespoon butter
Bring heavy cream to a boil in a saucepan. Once at a boil, remove from heat and add chocolate and butter. Stir until chocolate and butter are melted. Set aside at room temperature until it has reached the desired consistency. For macarons, the consistency should be like that of peanut butter. If you let the ganache sit too long, it will harden past this stage.