For those of you who don’t know me (or know me well), you might not know that I am a francophile. It actually pains me that I haven’t made a visit to Paris in 5 years (esp given my other recent travels). But hopefully that will be reconciled in the near future. Until then, these delicious macarons have helped transport me to my favorite Parisienne bakeries and cafes.
A couple years ago, I gave my mom the cookbook i ❤ macarons by Hisako Ogita as a thank you for everything that she does for me. (She loves macarons as much as I do.) So I borrowed (or potentially stole) the cookbook from her to make the macarons this past weekend. Macarons are sandwich type cookies with a light and airy cookie with a jam, chocolate, or cream/custard center. There are hundreds of options for macarons in terms of color and flavor, but I opted for a cinnamon cookie with bittersweet ganache. I used the bittersweet ganache recipe that I learned in my Chocolate Truffle class.
NOTE: The cookies are actually pretty easy to make, you just HAVE to follow the directions as written.
Ingredients (for cookies)
- 2/3 cup ground almonds (or almond flour…I used Red Mill)
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 large egg whites (at room temp.)
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
Cut a sheet of parchment paper (or other nonstick liner) to fit your baking sheet. Draw 1-inch circles on the paper (use the wide end of a 0.4 in metal pastry tip), spacing them about 1/2 in apart. This pattern will be your guide for squeezing out the macaron batter. In a food processor, grind almonds and powdered sugar together to a fine powder. Sift the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve twice. Set aside.
In a stainless-steel mixing bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until they are foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar to the egg whites. (NOTE: Before beating the mixture with a hand mixture, scrape the remaining meringue from the bowl’s sides with a spatula. Do this each time you start the mixer. After the sugar has been added, beat egg whites on high speed until they reach stiff, glossy peaks, about one minute. You can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer.) Add vanilla and stir lightly. When the meringue is stiff, firm, and has a glossy texture, it is done.
Add half of the sifted flour mixture earlier. Stir it with a spatula while scooping it up from the bottom of the bowl. Add the rest of the flour and mix it lightly in a circular motion. This step is called macaronnage (mixing the flour and meringue). When you run out of flour, press and spread out the batter against the bowl’s sides. Scoop the batter from the bottom and turn it upside down. Repeat this process about 15 times. NOTE: If the macaronnage step is repeated less than 10 times, the baked macarons will lack luster. However, if it is repeated more than 20 times, oil stains may remain on the pastry’s surface when the macarons are baked. When the batter becomes nicely firm and drips slowly as you scoop it with a spatula, the mixture is done.
Attach a 0.4 in tip to the pastry bag. Twist the bag to hold the tip tightly. This prevents the batter from leaking out. Place the pastry bag, tip down, inside a deep measuring cup and pour the batter into it. Helpful hint: Fold the sides of the bag down on the outside to prevent batter from getting on the outside of the bag (where you will hold it later).
After pouring the batter into the bag, clip the top of the bag to prevent the batter from leaking out. You can use a string or rubber band (or try twisting it). Place the parchment paper with sketched circles on the baking sheet and squeeze out the batter onto the center of the circles. Make small circles since the batter tends to spread out after being squeezed, as you can see in the picture :(.
Rap the baking sheet firmly against the counter or other flat surface. This helps the macarons hold their rounded shape and helps the pied (foot in French) to form. (It is an important step!)
Dry the batter at room temperature, uncovered, for 15 minutes. A slight crust should form on the top of the macarons. On rainy days, it helps to dehumidify the room. If the batter circles do not stick to your finger when you touch them, the drying process is complete. On a dry and sunny day, the drying process takes approximately 30 minutes. Mine were done in about 20 minutes. (The batter is settled when no tips can be seen in the circles.)
Place the oven racks in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. As I mentioned earlier, my oven is very difficult and while it was set to approximately 345, I will probably make it a little cooler next time. It will take a couple times to figure out the best temperature.
Stack the baking sheet with the batter into an EMPTY baking sheet and slide both into the oven. This is an important step as it prevents the bottom of the macarons from overbaking and prevents them from puffing up or cracking.
Bake for 15-18 minutes until slightly crisp and crackled on the top. Rotate the tray half-way through baking to ensure even cooking. If the insides of the macarons are still soft after 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 300, cover the tray with aluminum foil and bake for another 3-5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Remove from baking sheet once completely cooled.
Ingredients (for ganache)
- 2 heaping cups of bittersweet chocolate (I used Baker’s Chocolate which is 64% cacao)
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping cream
Grind the chocolate in a food processor or chop it (with a serrated blade…trust me!) until it’s the consistency of coarse meal. Bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. (Don’t scald). Add the cream to the chocolate in the food processor or a stainless steel metal bowl and mix until smooth and shiny. Let the ganache cool until room temperature, or a little cooler
Sandwiching the cookies
To combine the cookies, add the ganache to a pastry bag as you did with the macaron batter. Pipe ganache onto the bottom of a cookie. Add another cookie on top and lightly press, but don’t let the ganache spill out the sides.
ENJOY! They are magnificent!