I consider the macaron to be the supermodel of cookies. The first time I had one was at Miette Pâtisserie, in San Francisco. We were staying right across the street and happened to discover Miette while walking through SF’s Ferry Building. I ended up eating an obscene amount of macarons on that trip. Although delightful to eat, these little devil cookies took a lot of effort to prepare at home. At one point we were ready to throw in the towel, thinking the cookies were going to be horribly disfigured. Luckily, it all seemed to work itself out through the baking process.
Making macarons seemed like a two person job. Dustin made the frosting while I worked on the cookies. This was our first time making frosting with raw eggs, so we really didn’t want to mess that up. Watching the eggs and sugar thicken in our mixer was amazing. They changed from an odd light brown translucent color to a fluffy white bowl of delightfulness.
Everything is so precise with baking. I used the imprints of a miniature cup dipped in flour for a size reference when squeezing the batter out of a pastry bag.
We learned a lot about what not to do while making macarons, but even after our two mini-meltdowns, and almost starting over, they ultimately looked pretty good. The texture seems more fluffy than store bought macarons, and they just melt in your mouth. Next time we’ll be a little more generous with our all-natural food coloring in the hopes that we can get the cake and frosting colors to match. Even though the recipe isn’t easy, I think most people would have a good chance of coming out with a delicious product that doesn’t look half bad.
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 4 large egg whites
- 3 sticks (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
- 1-1/4 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1-3/4 cup confectioner
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- all-purpose flour, for dipping
- 1-1/2 cups (4 ounces) sliced almonds, finely ground, or almond flour
- 3 large eggs
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 recipe Swiss Meringue Buttercream (increase vanilla to 2-1/2 teaspoons)
French Almond Macaroons
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Sift confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Whisk in ground almonds; set aside. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats (such as Silpats), and mark circles using a 1-1/2-inch cookie cutter dipped in flour.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy; add salt. Gradually add granulated sugar 1 teaspoon at a time, until the whites reach medium-soft peaks. Transfer to a large bowl.
Sprinkle half of the sugar-almond mixture over the egg-white mixture. Using a large rubber spatula fold until just incorporated. Add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and remaining sugar-almond mixture, folding until just incorporated. Firmly tap the bottom of the bowl on a counter or work surface to eliminate any air pockets.
Transfer mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (such as an Ateco #806). Pipe mixture into marked circles on prepared baking sheet.
Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until macaroons feel slightly firm to the touch and can be gently lifted off the parchment (the bottoms will be dry), 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer parchment and macaroons to a wire rack to cool completely. Using a small offset spatula, carefully remove macaroons from parchment. Spread 2 teaspoons buttercream on the flat sides of the half of macaroons; sandwich with the other halves, keeping flat sides down. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes, before serving. Filled cookies can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Strawberry Macaroons Variation
Follow instructions for French Almond Macaroons, adding 4 drops of red food coloring to the egg whites just before you add the sugar-almond mixture (batter will be pink). For the filling, do not increase vanilla, and fold 1/3 cup strained strawberry preserves (3-1/2 ounces) into Swiss Meringue Buttercream after butter has been incorporated. Proceed with the recipe.
Chocolate Macaroons Variation
Follow instructions for French Almond Macaroons, sifting 2 tablespoons Dutch-process coca powder with the confectioners’ sugar. For the filling, place 5 ounces finely chopped semisweet chocolate in a bowl. In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup heavy cream until it just starts to simmer; pour over chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute; stir until melted. Let ganache stand at room temperature until thick enough to spread. Proceed with the recipe.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch (about 160ºF).
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If the frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Beat in vanilla. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth.
The Recipe is all Martha