This is a big big day today, people! French Macarons have been my all time favorite dessert for years. I used to work in a Tea Room and that is when I first tasted these lovelies. I couldn't get enough. I have never loved another baked good or dessert as much as I love French Macarons. Past attempts at making these have failed ( and I mean can't even get to make round-ish shapes, waste of expensive bag of almonds, burnt, stuck to the pan failed).
So today, the very first day that I have eaten these in years, is a big day in itself. But..for me to have made these is like the kind of joy that just fills up your entire body and makes you want to smile. This is one of those moments in my blogging career where I just sit back (eat a macaron) and realize that hey..I just reached a goal. I learned about baking enough to know what to fix when something goes wrong, and I have finally managed to create my own favorite dessert that I have been striving towards for a while now. Like I said, big day people.
I don't know if any of you have ever tried to make these precious, melt in your mouth, treats before or not but apparently its pretty difficult. I researched a little before I started and found pages upon pages of people showing pictures and giving tips and explaining textures simply for creating french macarons. Here is my own little version and it includes all that I needed to know to create them.
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup almond flour (ground up almonds)
2 large, room temperature, egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar, or a drop or two of lemon juice
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1. To make almond flour, pulse almonds in a food processor or blender until it is in very small pieces, like a flour. You can use any nut but, almonds are typically used. For a nut-free version, use pumpkin seeds.
2. Blend the confectioner's sugar and the almond flour until combined. You are supposed to sift these twice but, I don't have a sifter so I didn't and they turned out wonderfully.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk the egg whites with a mixer until foamy, then add the cream of tartar or lemon juice. Continue mixing until soft peaks form.
4. Now, add in the sugar ( I just used regular cane sugar) and mix on high until stiff peaks form. This should take about 8 minutes. I don't have a standing mixer and trust me, this 8 minutes feels like a trip to the gym. It is oh so worth it, though.
5. Fold in the almond and confectioner's sugar mixture into the egg whites. This is going to be a folding and pushing against the wall of the bowl sort of stirring, so that the two different textures combine. I started with a rubber spatula and switched to a wooden spoon. By the end, your mixture should be smooth and shiny. This step is also where you add in any food coloring or flavoring. Unfortunately, I was so excited that they were turning out okay that I forgot to add food coloring on mine.
6. Put the batter in a pastry bag with a regular round tip on it, or just put it into a plastic zip-lock bag and cut a hole in one corner. Pipe 3/4-inch circles or rounds an inch apart, on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
I found it was easier, and prettier, to just hold your bag in one place and pipe out your circle holding the tip close to the paper. This way, your macaron will expand to a larger circle on your own. Instead of leaving a peak in the middle just drag your point off to the side.
7. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F. and bake them for about 8-10 minutes. They will be done when you jiggle the pan a bit and the tops do not slide around separately from the feet. Remove from oven, let cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet and then put on a cooling rack.
8. Pipe a dab of ganache or frosting onto one macaron and top with another. You can really use tons and tons of fillings. Seriously, google some varieties. I wanted to do chocolate ganache but, I did not have any heavy cream. This chocolate buttercream frosting is great in it though. My mom asked if it was ice cream...that is how good it is.
(To Die For) Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1 stick, or 1/2 cup butter, softened
about 1.5 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
a pinch of salt
a splash of vanilla extract
a splash (around 2 Tablespoons) of milk
1. Mix the butter on medium until it is smooth, then add in the sugar and cocoa powder.
2. Mix until combined. It will start off really dry, and then turn really thick.
3. Add the vanilla and milk, mix until light and fluffy.
4. Taste test this beautiful frosting and fight the urge to eat it by the spoonful.
I hope everyone goes out and tries this recipe. It might be daunting but it is so worth it. If you do try it, please tell me how it went and I hope you enjoy every minute of it half as much as I did.