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Almond Macarons

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Yields about 30 sandwich cookies

  • by Joanne Chang from Fine Cooking
    Issue 110

The subtly sweet almond flavor of these meringue cookies makes them incredibly versatile: They serve as a blank canvas for different flavor variations.

Watch the video to see Joanne demonstrate how to make classic French macarons and their sweet fillings.

  • 7-3/8 oz. (1-3/4 cups plus 2 Tbs.) confectioners’ sugar
  • 4-3/8 oz. (1-1/4 cups plus 2 Tbs.) almond flour
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 recipe filling: either Lemon CurdButtercream, or Chocolate Ganache
Make the batter

Line 3 completely flat baking sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners and set aside.

Using a medium-mesh sieve, sift the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour into a large bowl and set aside. In a clean stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a large bowl and a hand mixer), whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy and the wires of the beater(s) leave a trail, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 Tbs. of the granulated sugar and continue to whip for another 30 to 45 seconds. Repeat 3 times with the remaining granulated sugar. Once all of the sugar is mixed in, continue whipping the whites until they turn glossy and stiff (when you lift the beater(s) from the bowl, the whites should hold a straight peak that doesn’t curl at the tip), 4 to 8 minutes more.

With a large rubber spatula, fold in half of the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once most of it has been incorporated, fold in the remaining mixture until just combined.

Pipe the cookies

Using a piping bag fitted with a 1/2- to 3/4-inch round tip (Ateco#806 to #809), pipe the batter onto the prepared sheets in rounds that are about 1 inch in diameter and 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, spaced about 1-1/2 inches apart. As you pipe, hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet and flick the tip of the bag as you finish each cookie to minimize the peaks. Rap the sheet against the counter several times to flatten the mounds and pop any large air bubbles. Let rest until the meringues no longer feel tacky, 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F.

Bake the cookies

Put 2 of the cookie sheets in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 300°F (let the third sheet sit at room temperature). Bake, rotating the sheets and swapping their positions after 8 minutes, until the meringues are very pale golden, 15 to 20 minutes total. Cool completely on the baking sheets on racks. Meanwhile, return the oven temperature to 325°F and then bake the third sheet as above.

Remove the meringues from the parchment and pair them by size.

Fill the cookies

Using a piping bag with the same tip used to pipe the cookies, pipe 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons of the filling onto half of the cookies—you want to use just enough filling that it spreads to the edge when topped but doesn’t squish out much when bitten. Top the filled halves with their partners. The cookies are best the day they’re made, but you can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Variations

Cinnamon Macarons: Add 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon to the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour while sifting; proceed as directed.

Black Pepper Macarons: Add 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper to the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour while sifting; proceed as directed. Sprinkle with a little black pepper as soon as you pipe them.

Sesame Macarons: Using a spice grinder, grind 2 Tbs. sesame seeds to a fine powder. Add the powder to the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour while sifting; proceed as directed. Sprinkle the meringues with a few sesame seeds as soon as you pipe them.

Vanilla Macarons: Scrape and add the seeds from one-quarter of a vanilla bean to the egg whites after they’ve formed glossy, stiff peaks. Distribute the seeds evenly throughout the batter by pressing the clumps of seeds against the edge of the bowl with a spatula. Proceed as directed.

Cocoa Macarons: Reduce the amount of almond flour by 7/8 oz. (1/4 cup) and substitute 1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) cocoa powder; proceed as directed.

Photo: Colin Clark

These were a big hit with family, friends, and my coworkers. They might not be "french" but they're delicious and pretty easy to make. I used a ziplock bag instead of a pastry bag because I couldn't find my 1/2 piping tip. The vanilla butter cream didn't turn out very well, so I just grabbed another basic recipe which worked wonderfully. Highly recommend.

What is it about those French macarons? Well, it's probably the ingredients. Having said that, my friend, Nancy and I made these and we enjoyed them too. Not as good as the ones in France but okay in my book. The first batch was interesting looking. The second batch was better looking. Takes practice. I like the chocolate much more than the lemon. But, hey, I'm a chocolatholic!!

Although I found the video useful in terms of technique for the feet of the macaroon, I found the recipe itself to be un-inspiring. The beauty of the French macaroon is the unique flavors that are produced. Both the butter cream and the lemon curd were unsuitable companions for the delicate macaroon cookie. The lemon curd over powered the cookie and the butter cream was dull. In addition, the lemon curd held too much moisture and compromised the cookie, after only 30 minutes I was left with a soggy mess that I was barely able to get from the plate to my mouth without the cookie disintegrating. I have had more inspired success from the bloggers out there, I wonder the amount of taste testing performed on this recipe. Disappointed. Un-noteworthy.

They're just ok - I'm french and they are nothing comparable to french laduree's macarons, like the author seems to say. They're more like regular US sandwich cookies. Not a lot of flavor,... and a buttercream filling?

Feet! Feet! My kingdom for some feet! I have made this recipe twice and I can't seem to get the feet. My daughter and husband like the cookies, but I like cookies that have more almond flavor. I am still looking for a good recipe for the Sicilian Macaroons that I had when I lived in the North End in Boston.

I made these twice now and the first batch came out great. I did half chocolate and half cappuccino. I bought almond flour but have ground up the almonds myself as well. They both turn out good. I also leave my egg whites out over night. Great flavor and they puffed up and had a nice "foot" to them. The second batch I don't think my egg whites were room temp and they did not form a crust before cooking. Easy to follow recipe and tasted great.

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