Wednesday, April 26

HANDCRAFTED MACARON RECIPE

When I think of macarons, I think Ladurée. The French luxury bakery best-known for baking and selling the double-decker macaron, fifteen thousand of which are sold every day! However, the Macaron cookie was born in Italy. It was first introduced by the chef of Catherine de Medicis in 1533 at the time of her marriage to the Duc d'Orleans who became king of France in 1547. The term "macaron" has the same origin as that the word "macaroni" -- both mean "fine dough".

This is the quintessential macaron recipe and the technique was born out of much, trial and error. Isn't that the way we usually figure things out. The ideal macaron should be a perfect circle, achieved with using a piping bag with a round tip, and have solid smooth bases. They should have a ruffled “skirt” along the edges where it has risen in the oven. They should comfortably slip off your baking mat, begging to be paired with a delicious filling and another shell. They should be very slightly chewy, yet crunchy and they certainly should not crumble easily.

HANDCRAFTED MACARONS
These macarons are like cloud cookie sandwiches and are delicious if done correctly. ENJOY!
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INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 large Egg Whites
  • 1/4 cup Super-fine Granulated Sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups Confectioner's Sugar
  • 1 cup Finely Ground Almonds, extremely fine
  • Flavorings and Food Color or Gel, optional
  • Your choice of Filling - Buttercream, Ganache, or a Fruity Jam
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 285 degrees F (140 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Beat egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until whites are foamy; beat in white sugar, gel color, flavor and continue beating until egg whites are glossy, fluffy, and hold soft peaks. Sift confectioners' sugar and ground almonds in a separate bowl and quickly fold the almond mixture into the egg whites, about 30 strokes.
  3. Spoon a small amount of batter into a plastic bag with a small corner cut off and pipe a test disk of batter, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, onto prepared baking sheet. If the disk of batter holds a peak instead of flattening immediately, gently fold the batter a few more times and retest.
  4. When batter is mixed enough to flatten immediately into an even disk, spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip. Pipe the batter onto the baking sheet in rounds, leaving space between the disks. Let the piped cookies stand out at room temperature until they form a hard skin on top, about 1 hour.
  5. Bake cookies until set but not browned, about 10 minutes; let cookies cool completely before filling.
  6. Pipe your choice of filling, buttercream, ganache, or a fruity jam, on a cookie and sandwich another cookie on top.
TIPS:
  • For consistency in size, draw circles on your parchment paper. Piping the macaron dough inside these circles will ensure uniform cookies.
  • If you do not have a sifter, you can use a blender or food processor to thoroughly mix the almonds and confectioners' sugar. Just blend or pulse for thirty seconds.
  • Add the gel food coloring into the egg white mixture while beating. This will ensure proper distribution of the color. This works better than folding it in, since the electric beater does a better job. 
  • Food coloring can change the consistency of your macaron, therefore creating an inferior cookie. Use the gel color, you can buy it where cake decorating supplies are sold.
  • Remember that because the consistency of the mix is like cake batter, you're going to have to be quick about piping it onto the silicone mat. Hold the pastry bag sideways between piping so it doesn't spill.
  • Almond meal (finely ground almonds) will save you a lot of time, but you can also use regular almonds that you can grind yourself with a food processor. They do not have to be blanched.
  • For maximum flavor, store macarons in the fridge a day before eating. To preserve them longer, place them in sealed containers, lined with parchment paper, and freeze. 
  • Optional - To add flavor and color to your macaroons, in step 2, add around ½ tsp flavor extract, then add the appropriate color gel, one drop at a time, until you reach the desired intensity. Flavor and color the buttercream in the same way.
  • For chocolate macaroons, replace a quarter of the icing sugar with cocoa powder and use Nutella as the filling. For pistachio macaroons, replace half the ground almonds with ground pistachios (whizz in a blender or finely chop by hand), and use green food coloring to achieve a pastel green.

FUN FACT:
The sandwich-like French macaron is more of a meringue cookie, getting its light, airy texture from a combination of almond flour and egg whites that have been gently folded together. The Southern coconut macaroon, on the other hand, is a hearty lump of sweetness made of shredded coconut and condensed milk.

The Domestic Curator
Ronda

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