Saturday, December 11, 2010

French Macarons

So this week, I attempted French Macarons.  I have always thought they were gorgeous because you can make them any color and any flavor you can imagine.  I still need to work on my technique, but overall I think they came out okay.  And they tasted really good.  So good, I am trying them again this weekend.

The recipe I found came from
What you will need:
110 grams Almond Flour
80 grams of fresh egg whites (left out so they can get to room temp)
200 grams of icing or confectioner's sugar
50 grams of caster or granulated sugar
pinch of salt (optional)
pinch of cream of tartar (optional)

Have I mentioned how much I love my digital scale?  The first step is to mix together your powdered sugar and almond flour.  If you want to add any dry flavorings, now is the time to do it.  For this recipe, I mixed in some cocoa powder.  Set the bowl aside.

Now let's focus on the eggs.  You need a mixer for this....unless you have a lot of time and a really strong mixing arm.  You are going to whisk the eggs and salt in a really really (Have I said really enough times?) clean bowl.  Anything in there can cause the eggs not to whip up properly.  Once the eggs start to get a little foamy, add the cream of tartar if you are using it.  Slowly add the caster (or granulated) sugar in a little at a time. Oh, and if you want to add any liquid flavorings or colors, then do it now.  You are going to whip the eggs to a medium peak.  That means, if you can pull your whisk out of the batter, the eggs should hold their shape for just a bit before it starts to soften again. If the eggs don't hold a shape at all, they are too soft...keep whisking.   If the whites keep their shape, then you have over mixed.  Time to start over.

Now gently fold the egg whites into your almond flour in 3 parts.  Don't worry.  It will come together.  Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a medium sized tip. You are going to pipe out the mixture into small circles that are about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  If any of the cookies have a little tip to them, dip your finger in water and smooth it out.  You want the cookies to bake with a smooth texture.  So ignore my mini chocolate chips I threw on there.  You can actually add those into your almond flour instead.  Oh, the lessons I learn in my kitchen.

Once the cookies are piped out, leave them out on the counter (uncovered).  Depending on your kitchen, this can be anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours.  You want the cookies to develop a "skin".  So when you see that your cookies are no longer "wet", then you can put them in the oven.  What this does is help prevent the cookie from cracking and it will help develop the macaron "foot".  Bake at 315 degrees from 12 to 15 minutes.  The foot will start to develop after a few minutes.  When done, pull the cookies out of the oven and let them cool completely.  Fill with anything you would like. I have seen buttercream frosting, ganache, fruit preserves.....the list can go on and on.

I chose to make a peanut butter marshmallow filling.  Match up your cookies before you start to fill them.  It makes life a little easier.  Once done, especially if you use buttercream, refrigerate till time to eat.  Let them sit out at room temp for about 20 minutes and enjoy.

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