French Macarons

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French Macarons might be the best dessert to ever emerge from Crowded Earth Kitchen. How’s that for an endorsement to try this recipe?

A Google search for “French Macarons” will turn up… wait for it… 630,000 hits. Does the world really need 630,001? Yes. Here’s why! You see, here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we sorted through a good long many of those 630,000 links, picking up tips and ideas along the way. The end result is based heavily upon the wisdom of Elle at allrecipes.com, with adjustments for convenient batch size and a few simplified techniques.

Contrary to popular kitchen lore, making French Macarons isn’t all that complicated. BUT…

WIN_20160222_155240There’s always a “but,” isn’t there? First, you need a silicon macaron mat. Seriously. You can try using parchment paper, or the back of an unedged silicon sheet, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. For $5, a macaron mat will help you create uniform size macaron shells AND will allow those shells to be removed without breaking apart. Here’s what I recommend: Silicone Macaron macaroon Baking Sheet Mat Muffin DIY Chocolate Cookie Mould Mode – 30 Capacity (round)

Second, you need a kitchen scale. Seriously. The weird American habit of measuring by volume instead of mass works most of the time. It doesn’t work for French Macarons. Here’s what I recommend: AmazonBasics Digital Kitchen Scale with LCD Display

Third, have fun with macarons! Don’t rush this! Pop in some French music, pour yourself a glass of French wine, tie on a silly apron, and have yourself an awesome afternoon. Let’s get started! [My music of choice: Amelie: Original Soundtrack Recording]

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Powdered Sugar and Almond Flour

Ingredients (Makes about 30 macarons)

2 egg whites from “Grade A Large” eggs

33 grams of white sugar

73 grams of very finely ground almonds (I buy ground almonds or “almond flour” at Whole Foods)

133 grams of powdered sugar

2 or 3 drops of food coloring, optional

1 cup of filling (any flavor of frosting, fruit jam, or chocolate hazelnut spread works well!)

Directions

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Soft Peaks

Step 1) Combine powdered sugar and almond flour in a blender or food processor. Pulse for just a few seconds to thoroughly blend sugar and almonds together. Set aside.

Step 2) Beat egg whites with an electric mixer for about 30 seconds until frothy. Add white sugar and food coloring (optional), and beat until soft peaks form.

Step 3) Fold powdered sugar and almond mixture into egg white mixture. I used a rubber scraper (not a spoon) for this. I simply slid the rubber scraper down the side of the bowl and “lifted up” to turn over the egg whites onto the sugar and almond mixture. I did this about 35 times (yes, I actually counted), and the ingredients seemed well mixed. As SOON as the ingredients are well mixed, STOP. You don’t want to remove all of the air that you beat into the egg whites!

WIN_20160222_172210Step 4) Place about 1/2 teaspoon of batter in the center of one of the circles on your macaron mat (make sure your mat is resting on a metal baking sheet before you begin!). Take a sip of wine, dance a step or two with your French music, and use a butter knife to nudge the batter all the way around the circular edge to shape one macaron shell. The top should be flat, or close to flat (see green batter, above). If you can’t avoid lumpy and bumpy, fold the remaining batter in the bowl a few more times. It took me about 20 minutes to shape the batter seen above. Approximately 5 of those minutes were spent drinking and dancing. Don’t judge.

Step 5) You now have a whole hour to drink and dance! Your shells need to rest on the counter top for ONE HOUR. Don’t cheat, and try to move on to Step 6 early. Magic is happening in this hour! The tops of the shells need to dry before the shells are baked, so that the shells puff up from the BOTTOM when they go into the oven. This is what allows the tops of your French Macarons to stay flat and smooth, while creating an air-filled meringue pocket between the top and the “foot.”

Step 6) After you’ve really waited an hour, carefully place your baking sheet in a preheated 285 degree oven. Bake your macaron shells for 10 – 12 minutes, or until completely set but not browned. To test, try jiggling the top of one shell. If it doesn’t move, your shells are done.

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These macaron shells were baked on parchment, as an experiment. They look beautiful, but took FOREVER to spread into circles, and were difficult to remove after baking. I really recommend the silicon macaron mat!

 

Step 7) Allow your macaron shells to cool completely on the silicon macaron mat before gently removing. If your macaron shells stick (they shouldn’t if you baked them long enough), just place the whole sheet in the freezer for a few minutes. They’ll pop right off.

Step 8) Carefully assemble your macarons by placing a bit of filling between two shells. While your French Macarons will be tasty right away, they will actually be even better tomorrow. Traditionally, macarons are allowed to “cure” at room temperature for about 24 hours before enjoying. They will only last at room temperature for 2 or 3 days, though. If you wish to enjoy them later, don’t worry – macarons freeze well!

Tips and Techniques

  • I found that there was no need to use a kitchen scale for egg whites, as Grade A Large eggs are all close enough to the same size. Two egg whites worked fine in this recipe, every time.
  • Don’t make French Macarons on a rainy or very humid day. Meringues and humidity are not friends.
  • (If freezing) Macaron shells should be frozen prior to being filled, if you are using jam as a filling. If you are using a filling with a lower water content, such as buttercream frosting, you can assemble the macarons before freezing. French Macarons will come “back to life” about an hour after removing them from the freezer. You’ll never be able to tell the difference between a fresh macaron and one that has been frozen for a week or two.
  • Overbaked shells will brown slightly, and are a bit more prone to cracking during assembly. HOWEVER, underbaked shells won’t come off of the silicon mat without separating. When in doubt, it is my opinion that overbaking is less problematic than underbaking.

Have a question? Post a comment below and I’ll be happy to help!

 

 

4 thoughts on “French Macarons

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