Baking & Dessert

By Tara O'Keeffe | March 10, 2011

Photo: Tara O’Keeffe

This past weekend I was looking for a baking project that would not only challenge me, but that would incorporate inexpensive ingredients or items I already had on hand. The perfect opponent: Parisian macarons.

There is something so dainty and elegant about macarons. They come in beautiful colors, are filled with a wide variety of sweet flavors, and have that crunchy but soft texture that is so delicate. Oh, and I did I mention that they’re expensive? Walk into any patisserie or sweet shop and you’ll pay anywhere from $3 to $10 for a single macaron.

Photo: Tara O’Keeffe

The ingredients may be inexpensive, it’s only egg whites, sugar, and some almond flour after all, but the technique is tricky and they take time.

If you’re feeling daring and want to challenge yourself with a baking assignment that will test your skills and reward you with a delicious, lighter-than-air treat, then try this recipe for macarons this weekend. Don’t worry, if they don’t turn out perfect the first time, tweak your technique or even your oven temperature and try again. Even the crunchy ones are tasty.

To read more about my macaron experience, the difference between French and Italian meringue methods, and get the recipe for chocolate macarons with an orange/white chocolate/mascarpone filling, visit Fun Fearless Foodie

Recipe adapted from Danielle of BeyondthePlate

Measurements listed in grams to ensure accuracy, use a scale if possible.

Tara O’Keeffe is a food writer and author of FunFearlessFoodie.com

Parisian Macarons Recipe

Servings: Makes 28 medium sized macarons, or 14 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 90 grams (3/4 cup) almond flour
  • 120 grams (1 cup) powdered sugar
  • 2 grams (1/2 tsp) fine sea salt
  • 70 grams egg whites(about) 3 large eggs, aged overnight, uncovered, at room temperature
  • 3 grams (1 tsp) egg white powder(if using)
  • 40 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 4 to 5 drops red food coloring

Directions

1. Sift the almond flour, powdered sugar and sea salt over a large bowl. If any large clumps of almond flour remain in the sifter, discard. Set aside.

2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a hand mixer) whip the egg whites with the egg white powder (if using) in a large bowl until the mixture is foamy. Slowly add in the granulated sugar while the egg whites continue to whip until stiff peaks form and the meringue holds on the tip of the whisk (see picture). Carefully fold in the food coloring until it turns a vibrant pink.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the meringue and carefully fold them in with a rubber spatula until the mixture is just incorporated. It should look smooth and shiny and flow like lava when you tilt the bowl. This should take 25 to 35 strokes.

4. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip 1/4 of the way with the macaron batter and pipe one small round onto a baking sheet lined with parchment to test the batter. It helps to pipe them in a circular motion, like a Hershey Kiss, for about 10 seconds. If the tip is sticking up gently press it down with your finger. If it doesn't budge, the batter was over-beaten. If it runs all over the sheet, your whites likely didn't come to stiff peaks. Correct batter and continue piping.

5. Gently tap the tray on the counter 3 or 4 times to remove any air bubbles in the batter then leave the piped rounds out to dry for at least 30 minutes or until a 'skin' forms. To test whether the batter is ready for baking, gently touch the top of each shell - there should be a soft impression but your fingertip should remain clean. If you come away with batter stuck to your fingers, leave the shells out for longer.

6. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place pan on the top rack of the oven and bake for 12 minutes, rotating the pan and baking for an additional 8 to 10 minutes. The macaroons should be puffed, have little feet on the bottom and be firm to the touch when pressed lightly but give a little when you press harder. Remove the trays from the oven and let cool before detaching the shells.

7. Sandwich macarons with raspberry preserves or your favorite jam. Store any unused macarons in an airtight container in the fridge.

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