French Macarons

This week was one of the craziest I've had in a long time. I pumped out a ton of baked goodies, worked a few shifts, and tried to still maintain my day-to-day life. When Saturday night came, I was in bed by 10:00. This is huge for me—because I’m a real night owl. If I could sleep from 4:00 AM until noon for the rest of my life, sign me up for that!

Due to the fact that I’ve been focusing on a ton of orders, I’ve decided to take a little break from sharing recipes on The Racket because I’m leading myself to burn out again. That being said, I really wanted my last recipe to be something different that not many people have attempted due to their delicate nature. These little guys certainly gave me one hell of a headache this week—but I think I have them mastered.

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French macarons—not to be confused with macaroons—are an almond-based cookie that sandwiches a particular filling, usually buttercream, and are an incredibly delicate and finicky treat. The first bite is a little crispy, while the inside is a little chewier. Macarons are known for their smooth tops and can be distinguished by their “feet” that they sit on top of. It’s certainly a unique treat—but it also demonstrates versatility! While most macarons use buttercream fillings, you can switch it up with chocolate ganache, cream cheese icings, jams, and I’ve even tried marshmallow and caramel.

I’ve attempted to make macarons countless times, but I’ve only had real success four times. There are so many variables that can go wrong, which I’d like to highlight in this article. These variables include temperature, quality of ingredients, and mixing techniques, primarily.

I’ve read a lot of articles on macaron troubleshooting before I even attempted to make these. There was a huge emphasis put on the quality of ingredients that you select for your macarons. I’ll admit that even I went a little overboard—I purchased a kitchen scale to measure my ingredients and surprise: you don’t need one to make successful macarons. The important things that I learned were to ensure your eggs are at room temperature because this allows the egg white to dilute to its full volume to create the perfect, stiff meringue. As well, I included the sifting technique in my description which does filter out the coarse pieces of almond in the almond flour, but this does not ruin your macarons. If you choose not to sift your ingredients, you may be left with a bumpy texture on top of the cookie, but they’ll still be just as delicious! I also recommend using gel food colouring instead of liquid to ensure that you don’t throw off the consistency of the cookie.

Mixing techniques are huge for French macarons. An under-beaten meringue adds too much liquid into the batter while an over-beaten meringue causes your cookies to become hollow and they’ll break easily. You need to get a stiff and glossy meringue for macarons, and you can test this by checking the peaks. If they stand on their own, stop here! If they fall over, keep beating the meringue. When you finally achieve the perfect meringue, you need to fold the dry ingredients to create the macaron batter. I’ve discovered that I’m less likely to over-mix if I add all of the ingredients in at once. The minute you can’t see any more dry ingredients, STOP FOLDING!!! Test the batter by dropping a spoonful back into the bowl. If it doesn’t reincorporate immediately, you may need to keep folding. The important thing is to work slowly—you can always fix under-mixed batter, but once you reach a point where you’ve gone too far, you, unfortunately, cannot fix this. Check out the photo below of the perfect consistency!

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So you’ve selected the top ingredients and you’re positive that you followed mixing techniques by the book, and you’ve even let the cookies sit and dry for half an hour before baking. Then you put them in the oven and you can see their feet starting to grow… and then they fail. This was the exact issue that I had this week! My feet started to grow within minutes and then when they reached their maximum height, they started to grow outwards! After many attempts, I learned that this was due to excessive heat in my oven. I played around a little and I found that 250F was the perfect temperature for my macarons to bake—but it really depends on your oven. I would suggest doing a test batch for different temperatures to ensure that yours don’t end up like my first batch of the week. It’s much better to cook these at a lower temperature for a longer period of time than to scorch them, but please remember that the oven does have to be hot enough to raise the macarons to create their distinct “feet”. Keep an eye on them and don’t be afraid to poke them in the oven! Once the macaron no longer slides around on its feet, they’re ready to come out.

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So, I leave you with one of the trickiest cookies to master but such a luxurious treat that’s certainly growing in popularity these days. I hope that my troubleshooting tips help you and allow you to avoid the same mistakes that I made. After many months with The Racket, my regular posts have come to a halt for now but I can assure you that it’s not goodbye forever! Follow me on Instagram where I’ll be sharing lots of treats—I’ve got a busy summer ahead of me!

FRENCH MACARONS

Yield: 24 cookies (12 sandwiches)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 egg whites, at room temperature

3/4 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup almond flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

 

DIRECTIONS:

1.      Preheat oven to 275F. If your oven has a convection feature, make sure you BAKE these. The convection fan will disrupt the baking process!

2.      In a stand mixer, beat egg whites with salt until foamy. Add granulated sugar in separate additions, allowing the mixer to run with each addition. Add in the vanilla extract and continue to beat until stiff peaks are reached. This would also be the time to add food colouring. Gel is preferred over liquid.

3.      In a separate bowl, sift almond flour with powdered sugar. You may need to run this through a food processor to sift it properly because the almond flour may be a little coarse.

4.      Dump the flour mixture into the meringue and fold the batter until it is just combined.

5.      Pipe 1 1/2 inch rounds onto parchment paper and set the cookies aside for 30-45 minutes before placing them in the oven to allow them to develop a skin.

6.      Bake for 20 minutes, or until the macaron top no longer shifts around on its feet. Allow them to cool completely on the parchment paper before attempting to lift them.

7.      Pipe your choice of filling onto a macaron and sandwich them together. These can be served immediately, but they do get better if you allow them to age for at least a day.