While I am still in the early learning phase of mastering the art of creating French Macarons, I want to say that to date I have tried about 8 different recipes, to this point, the one I am going to speak about has been the most consistent. Macarons are delectable cookies that make a statement in your table. Right now they are a hot commodity and you can purchase them almost anywhere. But what fun is that. I will say with any French Macaron recipe, including this one you will need patience and a sense of humor. Being a perfectionist is good but with this project it doesn’t come very easily, and you need to be willing to accept you not so perfect cookies in the beginning and work to perfection!! Below are a few of my earlier tries
There are so many questions and decisions. Do I use dried egg whites, do I use cream of tartar? Do you add the food coloring in the egg whites while whipping or to the batter after it is blended together? Regular vanilla or clear vanilla? What does ribbon effect really look like or for that matter what does Lava consistency look like? It’s been a long time since I have been face to face with lava. (Hawaii many years ago and I really didn’t take notice of the consistency of the lava on the Big Island. Who knew I would be asked year’s later to mix my batter to the consistency of lava.). Do I use parchment paper, silicone mats? I do know you have to have something down on the cookie sheet because one they stick and two they won’t get the proper feet if you grease the pan. Do you know what feet are on a macaron? I didn’t until I started down this path. The picture below is a good indication of what feet are on a French macaron .
So let me start my saying these are all good questions and there are a million answers out there. I don’t know the correct answers. I am not a trained chef. I will leave the answers to them. What I can do is tell you what I have found out about baking them to date. With this particular recipe you do not need Meringue powder some recipes tell you to add it to the egg whites. And you can add the food coloring in during either step. The last time I made them. I wanted to make 2 colors, I added the color in the whipped egg whites, (I read in one of the many recipes that this was much better) so I needed to divide the egg whites and then the dried ingredients, it worked but it was way more work. I liked adding the color to the whipped egg whites but if I am making to colors I am making 2 batters. Which ever method you decide on remember that it is important how much you mix the batter, to much and it deflates the batter and it will not make the oh so important pretty feet, to little and you will have cookies that puff up and then crack. If I can impart my 2 cents, when you take the utensil you are mixing with out of the batter the mixture should fall off the spoon in a stream and when it hits the rest of the batter it melts back into the rest of the mixture. This is important because when you pipe the cookies onto the pan the cookies need to blend together so you don’t have peaks in them. refer back to the 1st picture to see what they look like when you the batter is incorrect.
Now that we have established how to deal with the batter, let’s move on to how many amazing types of French Macarons there are. The limit is your imagination and how well you can search the Web. I have created my own recipes, but when I come up with an idea I usually look it up and see if there is anything out there that can help. There is no need to recreate the wheel. The cookies I created this week were coconut cream delights. The cookie is coconut flavored and I added Italian Butter cream as the filling. So I hope this has helped you to see past the fear of making French Macarons. And helps you enjoy the journey. I do like to give credit where credit is due and the original recipe that I have adapted is from Martha Stewart’s Easy French Macaron’s. and the icing is adapted from The Incredible Egg My recipe is below.
In a medium sized bowl sift Almond Meal and Confectioners sugar together removing any pieces that remain in the sieve.
You will need to separate the 4 egg whites and save the egg yokes for the icing. place the egg whites into your mixing bowl and turn on the mixer to medium high. when eggs whites start to froth add sugar slowly. whip the egg whites until you have firm peaks, add the food coloring finish mixing until color is even.
you will need to combine the egg whites and the dry ingredients together. You will need to fold in your ingredients. The idea here is not to deflate the egg whites completely (this is what helps form the feet, but you don't want to leave it with to much air then you get puff balls and cracks). this is where the ribbon effect or lava flow comes in. Best way to see if the batter is ready is to lift your spatula out of the batter and see if the batter flows evenly off your spatula and melts together once it hits the batter in the bowl. Once you have this consistency you are ready to pipe your cookies.
Follow the instructions on how to use the coupler and piping tip. place the decorating bag into a tall cup, it is much easier to put the batter in the bag this way. fill the bag up 2/3 of the way and then, fold top down and use a rubber band to secure (this keeps the batter from oozing out of the top of the bag.
This step needs a little practice, (to get the size even on each of them), you need to pipe them far enough apart so the don't grow together. Here is an example of one of my first tries at piping the cookies
Once you have piped the cookies you will need to let them sit for about 1/2 hour to a full 1 hour depending on the weather. The top of the cookie needs to be dry to the touch, not sticky at all (again this allows you to have those perfect feet)You will need to bake them at 350 degrees. Do not use convection the air doesn't lend itself to even cooking with Macarons. It takes about 14 minutes to cook them, again this is an art, too long and they get dried out and the top pops off and to little and they are sticky and don't come off the tray.
Now you need to make your filling. Take 3 TBSP of Confectioners Sugar, 2 TBSP of Water, and 1 egg yoke (I used 2 egg yokes), mix together and place in a small sauce pan, bring to a boil over medium heat and then remove from heat. This happens very quick so keep your eye on it. Let it cool. In your mixing bowl, mix butter til it is light and fluffy, add 1/2 of the remaining confectioners sugar with your vanilla, blend, add the egg mixture, blending on medium high. You will then adding the remaining confectioners sugar. You will have to decide if you need more water or less. I don't add water til the end so I can control the consistency. I also used 2 egg yokes instead of 1 so I didn't need any of the additional water.
At this point you are ready to put the cookie together. Match up the cookies, a top and bottom, you will again use the Decorating Bag with tip. (you can use a fancy tip that makes pretty edges) I just use the same tip #12. fill them and you are ready to go. With this filling you will need to refrigerate these due to the filling but if you use jams they can remain out.