Fail-proof French Macarons
French macarons have a an infamous reputation for being impossible to perfect. No, I am not talking about the coconut treat, macaroons. I am talking about the sweet almond desserts that come in colors galore.
The problem with macarons is that every step of the recipe must be extremely precise. If you over-fold the batter, your cookies will spread like pancakes. If you under-whip your batter, the cookies will crack and won't cook properly. If you don't pop the air bubbles in the cookies, the smooth shell of the macaron will crack in the oven.
However, today, I present to you a fail-proof recipe for French macarons, along with a few tips and tricks of my own
Macarons are one of the more beautiful desserts, traditionally from a beautiful country. The cookies can be customized with different colors, fillings, flavors, and more. The one thing all macarons have in common is their signature hard shell top and "feet" that form in the oven.
Before I reveal the recipe for this indulgent French dessert, here is some advice from someone who has learned the ropes of macarons and... failed a few times:
1) Here is a tip from today! Use a super-fine almond flour. I used a more naturally ground kind, and as you can see, my macarons do have little specks of almond skin in them. However, they taste just as delicious.
2) Let your eggs sit in a bowl of warm water so that when you make your meringue, they whip more easily.
3) Sift pretty much everything that is dry. If the almond flour and the powdered sugar have lumps in the batter, your cookies will also be lumpy and may crack on top.
4) If you choose to dye your batter a color, use gel food coloring. Liquid coloring actually effects the consistency of the batter and therefore can cause your cookies to spread out in the oven.
5) After piping out your cookies on a cooking tray, tap the tray a few times on a surface to get rid of air bubbles. Air bubbles will ruin the smooth top of the macaron cookies. You can also take a tooth pick to pop any other bubbles you see.
6) Don't take your cookies out of the oven early, even if they look done. Looks can be deceiving for macarons in the oven - they may look done at the 10 minute mark, but leave them in. They won't come off the tray otherwise.
7) Wait until the cookies are completely cooled down before filling. The filling will melt on the cookie if your cookies are too hot.
As long as you follow those tips, you will have smooth sailing. Now, finally, here is the recipe!
Fail-Proof French Macarons
Prep time: 60 min
Cook time: 20 min
Yields: 12-16 cookie sandwiches
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup almond flour (I used Bob's Red Mill natural almond flour, but I actually recommend purchasing the super-fine version)
3 egg whites (after soaking eggs in warm water)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1) Sift together the almond flour and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2) Separate the eggs and beat (I used a hand-mixer) the egg whites until they look like a thick white foam.
3) Add the granulated sugar, cream of tartar, and salt to the whipped egg whites. Beat together until a meringue forms. When you can take the whisk attachments out of the meringue and a peak forms on the whisk, you are done.
4) Fold in the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture into the meringue with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Fold until a paste-like batter forms that is still somewhat viscous, but do not whip to the point where the mixture is runny.
5) Using a piping bag, pipe out one inch circles of batter on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
6) Tap each tray a few times on a hard surface to eliminate air bubbles. Let sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the outer shell to form.
7) Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
8) Once you can touch a cookie and the top feels tacky but not sticky, put the tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
9) Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes and then fill (I used a vanilla buttercream)
10) Enjoy - best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.