Monday, March 2, 2009

French Macarons

We agreed to have a low key, inexpensive Christmas last year. I wanted to make something nostalgic and special for my husband and his sister. I've often heard my husband talk about his grandmother's Anise cookies that were hard as a rock. (not exactly what I look for in a cookie...) When I questioned his sister about it, she too talked enthusiastic about those cookies. Aha! I can kill two birds with one rock cookie. :-) Now all I had to do is find a recipe.

After searching on the internet for an Anise cookie, I found the Caramel Cook's blog site with this Anise cookie (excuse me, Macaron)

Picture courtesy of Caramel Cook's website.
Anise & Fig Macarons

I had great success with his recipe and without realizing it, I had fallen under the spell of the French macaron.

Was the French macaron the rock hard cookie my husband and his sister remembered?
No, but they didn't care.... they really liked the macarons... and so did I.

When the Salvation Army W
omen's Auxiliary contacted me this month and asked me to contribute something for a coffee they were hosting on March 2, I thought, what could be better than a French macaron. (did I mention the coffee would host 150 people? Yikes!)

I decided on a chocolate macaron and started searching for a recipe so I could practice making them. I started with David Lebovitz recipe.

Picture courtesy of David Lebovitz's website.

I appreciate the fact that he gives weights on most of the ingredients, however, I wished he would have included the weights for the egg whites too
. (if you love to bake and you don't have a kitchen scale, buy one. You can find an inexpensive one at Bed, Bath and Beyond. I recommend one that has 1 gram increments. Read this article on scales that Rose Levy Beranbaum wrote for more information) I tried David's recipe using 50 grams, 62 grams and 68 grams of egg whites. I was successful at getting a foot on them each time and I loved the flavor but the batter seemed too thick each time.

Next I tried a recipe from Coco & Me

Picture courtesy of Coco & Me website.
handmade macarons made by Coco&Me - sold at Broadway Market, East London

She gives a lot of helpful insight into making macarons. The recipe's outcome was successful and tasty with a light chocolate flavo

"Warning From Coco & Me:
This dessert is very difficult to master.
A perfect Macaron MUST have ‘THE FOOT’. It mustn’t come out cracked or wrinkled or have a gap between the shell and the foot. It must be round and be of the same size. (but they still taste great even if you don't master it) it
’s all about trials & tribulations!"

Now, if like me, you become obsessed with Macarons, you need to visit Syrup & Tangs blog site. He wro
te 5 excellent articles on Macarons. With this type of detailed explanation into the world of Macarons, I believe he could work for Cook's Illustrated.

Are you ready to begin your obsession?

Equipment you will need:
3-4 cookie sheets (you will start with cookie sheets stack on top of each other for the first 5 mins)
piping bag (you could use a freezer ziplock ba
coupler or tip for piping bag that has a 1/2" opening

whisk (I use a hand mixer with a whisk attachment)

Final recipe I used:

90 grams powdered sugar
50 grams blanched almond flour
20 grams dutch processed Cocoa powder
68 grams egg whites, room temperature (old eggs, not fresh)**
65 grams fine grained sugar (caste

The day before making macarons, crack and separate 3 large eggs. (to store the yolks for use later, dissolve 1/2 tsp of castor sugar into the yolks and mix well. You can freeze them if you won't be using them right away)

On baking day, place a rack in the middle and top position of the oven and Preheat to 375 F /190 C

Place the powdered sugar, almond flour, and cocoa in a food processor and process for 1 minute. Place to the side for use later.

Stack two or three heavy baking trays on top of each other. Line the top tray with parchment paper or a silpat. (I use parchment paper and draw 1" circles on the back so I can achieve the same size)

This is what happened when I forgot to use the extra baking trays. :-(

Whisk egg whites starting on low speed for first minute, then increasing the speed a little bit at a time every 15 seconds until you are at a medium high to high speed) When the whisk starts to leaves a trail through the egg whites (soft peak stage), gradually add the 65 grams of sugar. (You can add the sugar after the egg whites are foamy but it'll take you longer to get to the firm, glossy, compact meringue you will need)

When the meringue is at the stiff peak stage, sift half the dry mixture over the meringue and fold in with a spatula using a circular motion around the bowl and under the batter. Repeat with the remaining dry mixture. (It's better to undermix than overmix) The final mixture should be smooth and thick but flowing. (A ribbon of batter dropped from a spoon on top of the remaining batter should take about 30 seconds to disappear)

To keep the baking paper from slipping, dab a little batter under each corner of the parchment paper to anchor it to the baking trays.

Spoon the batter into a piping bag (I use a Pringle can or tall glass to hold the piping bag)

Pipe evenly onto the parchment paper. Mild peaks should settle back into the batter eventually. If they don't disappear, tap the tray repeatedly on the counter top until the peaks have largely disappeared.

Place the tray in the oven on the middle shelf. Set timer for five minutes. (a foot should form at 5 or 6 minutes) When the timer goes off, remove the extra baking tray(s), place a piece of aluminum foil on the top shelf to protect the Macarons from browning, change the oven temperature to 340 degrees F / 170 C, and crack the oven open with a wooden spoon. Re-set the timer for 5 minutes.

Remove Macarons from the oven and leave on the tray for a minute or two. Gently try to lift one of the outermost shells. If the shells stick badly, but are firm, try spraying or brushing a little water under the baking paper. Don't use too much water or the shells may start to dissolve around the edges. Cool on a wire rack face up.

When completely cool, apply a small dab of ganache or buttercream to the underside of one shell and gently press another shell on top of it.

Refrigerate for 24-48 hours. They taste better on day 2. After three days, they become softer.
(You can freeze the shells without ganache & buttercream for a couple of weeks)

Eat macarons at room temperature.

*you can make your own caster sugar by processing granulated sugar in a food processor for 1 minute
**because of the protective nature of egg whites, you can leave them out on the counter top for 1 day

Other websites to check out on Macarons:
Here's a Video of a charming French chef demonstrating how to make them.
Serious Eats


  1. These look dangerous Tammy :). I love your Pringles can trick... and hey, your granite looks just like mine.... did you sneak into my kitchen and make macaroons without leaving any for me?

    Thanks for the excellent photos and links!

  2. That was rude of me not to leave you any macarons... but at least I did the dishes before I left. LOL.

  3. Those are beautiful! It makes me want to try them soon. Thanks for sharing!