Monday, December 6, 2010

Macaron Heaven

Paris... capital of the macaron. Ever since my first macaron, two summers ago immediately upon the arrival of my friend Kate, who was horrified (rightly) that I was living in Paris and had never heard of macarons, let alone tasted one. Ever since that first bite, I've been perhaps a bit maracon-obsessed. I've tasted them all over Paris - at little out of the way bakeries, at Café Angelina, at Ladurée, stale from a bakery in New York City (where under-appreciated, they were languishing on the shelves) and most recently back in Paris at Pierre Hermé. An even more recent discovery has been Del Montel on the rue de Martyrs for perhaps the best caramel au beurre sallé macarons ever!


I've also scoured the web for sites which explain how to make these delicious and fragile delicacies. I've since had some triumphant successes, and some tragic failures. Here I combine everything I know about macarons together into one place. 


Some from my most recent batch:


What you need:
egg whites from 2-3 eggs (depending on the size - you should end up with about 1/3 cup)
a pinch of salt
1/3 cup white granulated sugar (once I used brown granulated sugar - like sugar in the raw - and the recipe failed, so be sure to use white)
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup almond flour/ground almonds (this is sadly super expensive in American supermarkets, so make your own at home by putting whole almonds in your food processor until fine - if you do this, however, you might want to use a sieve to get out any remaining large pieces)
food coloring if you like
Non-food tools needed - parchment paper, baking sheet, electric mixer, spatula


Instructions


1. Leave the egg whites out over night at room temperature, or at least for a few hours before you start.
2. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until foamy. 
3. Slowly add the granulated sugar to the mixture, and increase the speed to high. Keep beating to stiff peaks, which will take at least a few minutes.
4. In another bowl, sift together the powdered sugar and the almond flour.
5. Gently fold the dry mixture into the egg whites with a spatula. 
6. Add food coloring to match your flavor of choice.
7. Using teaspoons (or if you want to aim for perfection and exact consistency in size, use a pastry bag), spoon out small circles of batter onto parchment paper on a baking sheet. One website has suggested using a stencil to make penciled circles on the parchment paper as a guide. I find that the batter tends to spread itself into a nice little circle on its own.
8. Slightly weird, I know, but once you've got the macaron batter placed on a baking sheet, take a minute or so to bang the sheet up and down and smack it on the counter repeatedly. This releases the air bubbles inside which will result in flatter macarons (important because you will want to put them together in sandwiches). It also helps the batter to settle onto the parchment paper.
9. Leave the baking sheets out to try for about 1-2 hours. You will see a little film form over the surface of the batter. 
10. Preheat the oven to 325, and put a wooden spoon to keep the door of the oven slightly ajar. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after five minutes.
11. After baking, gently remove the parchment paper with the macarons off the baking sheet and set aside to cool. Do not try to remove the macarons from the paper until they are completely cool.
12. When cool, use a small pearing knife to loosen the macarons from the parchment paper. Take your time with this - this is the moment when they are most likely to break.
13. Once all the macarons have been removed from the parchment, match like-sized cookies together and put in the filling to make sandwiches. Take care not to squeeze the halves together, as they can break.
14. Store in an airtight container.


Some ideas for fillings:
jam of any flavor (just a thin layer between the macaron halves) - my favorites are apricot and raspberry
white chocolate
white chocolate + banana puree (my friend Jacinthe also recommends vanilla, which sounds great! btw, if you do make this filling, make sure to consume shortly thereafter, or keep in the fridge for no more than 24 hours)
I also just made white chocolate strawberry macarons (photographed here) - just mix 1/2 cup strawberry jam with about half of a large bar of white chocolate over a low flame until combined. Let cool to thicken and then put inside the macarons. Delicious!


Other sources for fillings:




For caramel beurre sale, my favorite, try this recipe (this sauce is also delicious on crepes): http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Fleur-de-Sel-Caramels-230778.

For chocolate ganache, also amazing, but intense, add some cocoa powder to the almond-icing sugar mixture, and then here's a recipe for the filling: http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/chocolate-ganache/Detail.aspx

Or you could use buttercream icing, http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Buttercream-Icing

Also, check out this blog which talks about a recipe found from 1776:
http://www.sucrissime.com/2008/01/macarons-une-recette-de-1776.html

Let me know if you give it a try and how it comes out for you! Bon Appetit!

More photos of me and macarons :-)

Cafe Angelina Macarons

Macarons with raspberries added at edges and top!



3 comments:

  1. um, I have to admit that I've never had a macaroon (!). But now, obviously, I'll be trying one from this recipe- yay!

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  2. Please come back and bake for me. That is all.

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  3. OMG those were soooo yummy! Thanks again! I will test out your blogging recipes any time :D

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