Monday, January 20, 2014

At Home: French Macarons

Who does not love a macaron? These chewy, delicious French cookies are truly a sweet treat. Filled with almonds, sugar, egg whites and a creamy ganache. They can be made into a variety of flavors like chocolate, vanilla, mint, orange, ginger; the list goes on and on.  Next on What Micky Eats...At Home, I share a recipe for basic French Macarons with a Vanilla-Ginger Buttercream filling.

French Macarons
  • 1¼ cup almond flour (blanched)
  • ¾ cups powdered sugar
  • ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice 
  • ½ cup aged egg whites (from 4 eggs, aged covered in the fridge for 1-2 days), at room temperature
  • 4 drops gel food color (optional)
  • 1½ teasp flavor extract (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Pulse almond flour and powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor 4 times for 4 seconds each time.
- Sift dry ingredients over a piece of parchment paper. Make sure the holes of your sifter are not too large or it will result in lumpy macaron tops! Repeat 4 times.
- Place lemon juice and aged egg whites in the bowl of your electric mixer. Whisk on medium-high speed until foamy.
- Gradually add the granulated sugar.
- Increase speed to high, whisking until glossy stiff peaks form (about 8-11 minutes).

- Adding food coloring and flavoring.  Be careful not to deflate the peaks.
- Note: A good test to check if your meringue is ready, is to hold the whisk upside-down. It should look like a Dairy Queen curly cone tip. You can also tell your meringue is ready when the whisk leaves deep tracks in the bowl when rotating.
- With a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the meringue until you reach the unique macaronnage stage. It is important to fold the different components just enough, but not too much or the macarons will crack. To make sure that you have reached the right point, once the ingredients appear combined, lift some of the mixture about 1 inch above the bowl with the spatula. If it retains a three dimensional shape, fold it again. When folded just enough, the mixture should fall right back into the bowl, with no stiffness, in one continuous drip.
- Pipe the macarons 1½ inches apart on a silicon baking sheet lined sheet pan.
- Slam the baking sheet down to remove excess air, about 4 times.
- Let macarons sit at room temp for 15 -20 minutes or until the skin forms, and then put in the oven.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes (time will vary depending on size), until the macarons just come off the baking sheet when you lift them (the centers will have risen, and will not have any dark indentations). If the macarons darken too quickly, put a wooden spoon in the door of the oven to prop it slightly open. Overcooked is better than undercooked -- undercooking leads to sunken tops.
- Cool completely before removing and filling.

Vanilla-Ginger Buttercream Filling
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • ¼ teasp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp ginger paste 

- In the  bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar and mix until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add the milk, extract, and ginger and mix until well combined.
- Now your buttercream is ready to go! Fill a piping bag (or a zippered plastic bag with one corner snipped off) and pipe your filling onto half of the finished macaron halves, then top with the other halves to make sandwiches.
- For a more rustic look, you can simply spread the buttercream on the cookie with a knife.

Check out my step-by-step photo recap of making macarons.

Also, here are tools that are highly recommended for making your own macarons at home:

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