Oh, baby! Here we go again!
I know you just love ‘em, in all their sweet, marshmallowy, melt-in-your-mouth glory:
I initially started experimenting with French Macarons as part of a series I created for YinMom YangMom on 2012 Food Trends for the Home Cook. French Macarons were predicted to be a huge trend this year, and if the search terms leading people to this blog are any indicator, then I’d say that prediction was right on the money!
For today’s macaron adventure, I’ve decided to show you a recipe that makes a perfect homemade gift. ‘Tis the season, right? We all want a little chocolate splurge at this time of year, and the addition of some warm spice makes these just perfect for the holidays!
Macarons are so special because they aren’t the sort of thing that everybody goes around making. Besides being trendy, they also have that little bit of European mystique surrounding them. They are adaptable to so many different flavors, (and colors, so they are also beautiful to look at!) but they can be a little tricky to make, so I’m here to make it super simple and foolproof for you. Why not let’s just make this an in-depth tutorial for all the macaron maniacs out there?
I’m also going to show you my measuring method, which results in the least possible amount of dirty bowls in your sink. With all the weighing, sifting, and mixing, macarons have the potential of leaving your kitchen looking like a hurricane just blew through if you aren’t judicious about your dishes (I swear I didn’t mean to do that!).
And finally, I’m including links to purchase all of the special equipment and ingredients you will need, so you can grow up to be just like me Just click the links and set yourself up for macaron success!
Step One: Measuring
The best way to measure your ingredients is by weight, so, get out your kitchen scale (if you have one), to get the most exact quantities possible. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can purchase one at my shop. Or, look at the bottom of this post for a rough conversion of quantities into standard (cups and teaspoons) measure.
The measuring process begins with weighing the egg whites, and then the quantities of all the other ingredients are determined by ratio.
Start by placing your large mixing bowl on the scale and pressing “tare” to zero it out. (You should be using the large bowl from your stand mixer, or the bowl you will be preparing the batter in.) Add in the egg whites, and write down the number. For this post, I’m using three egg whites, which weigh out to 93 grams, and will yield approximately sixteen 1 1/2 – 2″ diameter macarons (or 32 pre-sandwiched shells).
Set the whites aside. Now place your sifting apparatus on the scale, and zero it out. (Here is my favorite sifter.) Multiply that number by 1.1. This tells you how much almond flour to use. 93 grams x 1.1 = 102 grams almond flour.
Zero the scale again, with the sifter and almond flour still sitting on it. Now multiply your egg white number by 1.65. This tells you how much powdered sugar to use. 93 grams x 1.65 = 153 grams powdered sugar.
But since we are making chocolatey shells, we’ll want to scoop 2 tablespoons back out and replace it with a good quality cocoa powder, such as Scharffen Berger.
Sift everything together, and discard those big pieces that don’t go through the sifter. Set aside.
For the superfine sugar, multiply your egg white weight by 0.6. 93 grams egg white x 0.6 = 56 grams superfine sugar. Place a small bowl on the scale, zero it out, and measure.
Now for the fun part!
Step Two: Mixing
Whip the whites until foamy. Gradually add in the superfine sugar and continue to whip until glossy and stiff. (Don’t overbeat or they will get dry.)
Now dump the almond flour/powdered sugar/cocoa mixture into the meringue and fold it in. You will lose a little volume at first, but try not to smoosh too much of the air out of the whipped egg whites.
After around 40 strokes, it should be fully incorporated, kinda stretchy, and “gloopy.” Sort of the consistency of shower gel. Or really runny hair mousse, (if you are a child of the 80′s, such as myself).
Step 3: Piping and Baking
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and set your macaron shells out to dry. After about 20 minutes or so, they should have a thin, dry, papery membrane on top. (This time can vary based on humidity levels in the air.) Pop them into the oven and lower the temperature down to 325 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes, and let them cool on the baking sheet.
Step 4: The Filling
While that is going on, chop 4 ounces of good quality chocolate, such as Scharffen Berger, and bring 1/4 cup heavy cream to a simmer.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until combined. Add in 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper, to make it Mexican.
Once the macaron shells are cooled and peeled from the parchment, and the Mexican chocolate filling is completely cool and set up, pipe about a tablespoon of filling onto half the shells and sandwich.
(Optional) Step 5: Make it Pretty!
These are at their best after they’ve had a chance to “mature,” or when the crumbly-pillowy shells have married with the rich chocolate filling. This takes about a day. After that, they’ll keep in the fridge for three days or so.
Here’s that ratio one more time:
First weigh the egg whites, and write the number down.
Multiply that number by 1.1. This tells you how much almond flour to use.
Multiply egg white weight by 1.65. This is how much confectioners’ sugar to use. Multiply egg white weight by .6. This is how much superfine sugar to use.
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 3 egg whites
- 100 grams almond flour or almond meal (approx.1 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon)
- 155 grams (minus 2 tablespoons) powdered sugar or confectioners sugar (approx. 1¾ cup + 2 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 55 grams superfine sugar (approx. ¼ cup + 2 teaspoons)
- Chop the chocolate.
- Place the cream in a small saucepot and bring to a simmer.
- Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate. Add the cinnamon and cayenne.
- Stir to combine.
- Sift the almond flour, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder together.
- Whip the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the superfine sugar, while whipping. Continue to whip until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
- Fold the almond flour mixture into the meringue.
- Pipe 2-inch diameter rounds of the batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and let the piped shells sit out, uncovered, for approx. 30 minutes or until a thin, dry membrane has formed on the surface.
- Drop the oven temperature down to 325 degrees and bake for 15 minutes.
- Cool on the baking sheet.
- Pipe about a tablespoon of cooled ganache onto half of the shells, and sandwich.
- Makes about 16 pastries. Can keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.