Monday, April 13, 2015

French Macarons for Beginners


Ahh, the ever elusive french macaron. It's mysterious in its ways if you haven't attempted making them yourself, but once you do, you come to find out that they are actually quite simple in nature. I have been obsessed (just like 99.9% of all other 20-something girls out there) with these gems for a few years now, and anytime a local bakery offers them, I just have to order one....dozen. A few months back, we made dream boards at work for 2015, and the very first thing I cut out and put on my board was a stack of french macarons. I have been determined to try my hand at them for some time now, but to be quite honest I have been afraid. Until now. Except I may have backed myself into a corner that I can't bake my way out of, because now that I bragged about how easy they were, my fiance has already requested 2 new flavors, pistachio and dulce de leche. These macarons I am showing you how to make today are just a plain almond flavored cookie with a simple chocolate ganache. If I do have one suggestion, do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, make your own almond flour. Just fork up the extra few bucks and buy it pre-made at the store. You can thank me later. It took me 2 bags of slivered almonds to make a cup of almond flour, leaving me with 2 cups of almond chunks and aching hands from trying to sift through all of it for about 30 minutes. Other than that, I found the process to be quite therapeutic. Each step takes precision, and then you are rewarded with a little break time. Perfect recipe for a rainy day at home or when you really want to impress someone. Stay tuned, as I plan on trying my hand at an infinite amount of flavors in the near future!


French Macarons for Beginners

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • pinch of fine salt
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
Chocolate Ganache
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, chopped into cubes at room temperature
Prepare 2-3 baking sheets with silpat, parchment paper, or macaron specific baking liners. Also, place a piping bag or gallon ziplock bag in a large cup with the top folded over the outsides. This will make it easier when you transfer the batter.

Whisk the almond flour and powdered sugar together in a medium bowl. Run the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a larger bowl. You may have a little bit of almond flour that is too large to fit through the sieve. Discard. This is a very important step if you want the macarons to be smooth.

In a stand mixer or bowl with a hand mixer, whisk the egg whites and the cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to medium-high and add in the superfine sugar. Whisk until stiff peaks form and the mixture is glossy, about 5-8 minutes more. When you remove the whisk, the whipped mixture should stand up off of the whisk. 

Fold the egg white and sugar mixture into the almond flour mixture until well combined. The batter should be very fluid and when you lift the batter up with a spatula, it should fold back into itself within a matter of seconds. Lastly, add in the almond extract and mix until combined.

Place the batter into a piping bag or large ziplock bag that you prepared earlier. Cut the tip off, about 1/4-inch. Pipe 1-inch circles about an inch from each other. They should not spread too much, so you can pipe them fairly close together. Once all of the batter has been piped, tap each tray 2-3 times against the counter to release any air bubbles in the batter. Then let the macarons dry out at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour until they are set and firm to the touch. The length of drying time will vary depending on how humid it is where you are.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place the 1st tray in the oven on the middle to bottom part of the oven (farthest from the heat source) and cook for 10 minutes, rotating halfway through. The cookies will be just beginning to turn golden. Remove and set on the counter to cool for 2-3 minutes until transferring onto a wire cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining trays of cookies.



To make the ganache; heat the cream over medium-high heat until just barely beginning to bubble. Pour over the chocolate in a medium bowl, stirring until the chocolate is melted and creamy. Add in the butter and stir until combined. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes until set. Pour the ganache into a piping back or ziplock bag. Cut the end off of the bag and pipe a small amount of chocolate onto one cookie, then top with another cookie. Serve immediately, or place into an airtight container in the freezer. Remove from the freezer 30 minutes before serving. 

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