Wednesday, July 18, 2012

French Macarons

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I spent my birthday back in April in Paris, where every day was one delicious food experience after another.  One of the most fun was eating these bite size bits of meringue!  They look so simple, so I was surprised when I did research when I got home about how difficult they are to make.  I think the research paid off, because using tips from other bakers, mine turned out pretty darn perfect.

I read My Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz and his blog for tips, but then I came across this blog that had very detailed instructions that were really helpful.

A few things before you begin:
Leave the egg whites out the night before.
Use a kitchen scale.
Use an oven thermometer (my oven was off 20 degrees)
Make the ganache filling before you make the cookies if you want to fill them right away.
Pick a day when it is not humid outside (not usually a problem in my home state).

4.5 oz powdered sugar
2.5 oz almond meal (I used Bob's Red Mill brand-expensive, wish I could have found it in bulk so I could just buy what I needed, about 3/4 of a cup)
2 lg egg whites, room temperature
pinch of cream of tarter
1.5 oz superfine sugar (baker's sugar)
Filling of your choice (jam, ganache, buttercream)

 In a food processor, blend the powdered sugar and almond meal.
 Sift the sugar/meal mixture 2 times.
 Whip the egg whites on medium until a soft foam and add the pinch of cream of tarter.
 Keep whipping  on med-high until soft peaks form, then slowly add the superfine sugar.
 Keep whipping until stiff peaks form (add the food coloring or flavoring just before finished).
 Sift the dry mix onto the meringue and fold gently.  I ended up using 70 folds to get the batter looking just right.  I tested it by dolloping a bit on a plate to see if the peak would melt back down and not stay upright.  Then I put the batter in a pastry bag with a #12 Wilton round tip. 
 Line the baking sheet with parchment and pipe a 3/4" cookie.  I held the tip perfectly vertical and then squeezed the bag, letting the batter poof up around the tip.  I swirled the tip a bit and pulled it off to the side.  Most of the time I got pretty perfect circles that flattened out pretty quickly.  Rap the sheet on the counter to get any extra air bubbles out, then do the other sheet of cookies. 
Let the cookies sit on the counter for about 30-40 minutes to develop a bit of a skin (preheat the oven during this time).  Preheat to 375.  Put cookies in oven and immediately turn down to 325.  Set timer for 5 minutes.  When timer goes off, quickly turn the sheet around and continue baking for another 5 minutes.  I might do it for only 4 minutes each time next time because mine got just a bit golden on a few cookies and you don't want that. Once you've pulled the first tray out, turn the oven back up to 375 and let the oven get hot again.  Put in your second tray of cookies and again, close the door and immediately turn the temperature down to 325 degrees. 

The cookies cooled for about 2 minutes, then I put them on cooling racks.  I had no trouble with sticking.

I filled mine with dark chocolate ganache.  Yummy.

1/2 c. cream
3.5 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 T. butter, softened

Bring the cream to a boil slowly, then pour over the chopped chocolate.  Let sit for a minute, then stir until combined.  Add the butter and keep stirring until mixed in.  Chill to stiffen before using as filling.

I ended up with 40 individual cookies, so enough for 20 sandwiches.  I filled some right away, the rest I froze without filling and will use later.

It took about 2 hours of hands-on time for these cookies, so they are more of a special occasion cookie-but they sure are tasty.  I had zero trouble with these cookies--there are lots of steps involved, but they weren't too terrible.


Sew Simple Life said...

Those look really good. Thanks for sharing the recipe, maybe I'll try making them next weekend :)

Shabby Marilyn said...

Interesting, My friend who also loves these and took a class in Seattle to learn the recipe. She made several flavors and they are fantastic!
Now, thanks to you, I have the know how too, thanks

The Daily Smash said...

Looks so good. What a great blog you have makes me hungry lol. If you have a min check out mine if you have not already :)

have a great day

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