Mmmmm, macarons. I love them. Mostly, I'm in love with the way they look. It's one of those desserts you actually feel bad biting into because you don't want to destroy its beauty. That makes them perfect for Pinterest.
They're pricey, but after making them, I understand why. They're finicky little things. Everything has to be juuuuust right. That's why it's taken me so long to attempt them. I don't like failure, and I usually avoid anything I think I may fail at. It's a problem that goes way beyond the kitchen. But, it's time to tackle those fears! For me and for you. I made macarons, and you can, too!
There are many variables that compose a perfect macaron batch: They should be uniform in size and flat on the bottom and they should have "feet," no cracks on the shells, be chewy in the middle, and the filling must not be runny. So don't be discouraged if your first batch looks like crap, it's a lot to contend with. The first batch I attempted tasted great, but the "feet" stuck out beyond the shell. Unacceptable.
Like I said, my first attempt wasn't quite as successful as I would have liked, so I made the recipe twice. This is what I learned:
Tip one: The first hurdle in making macarons is having to plan ahead. I suck at planning ahead! I'm the worst. So again, I'm learning real-life lessons with these macarons. Plan ahead; it's critical.
Tip two: The very first part of the recipe involves aging three egg whites for 24 hours. Use real eggs, as in those found in shells, not boxes. Separate the whites from the yolks, place them in an airtight container and leave them on the counter overnight. Don't trip about leaving them out. It'll be fine. This reduces the moisture content in the egg, though I can't tell you why that's important. Just do it.
Tip three: After aging the egg whites, the recipe comes together rather quickly. Dry ingredients are run through a food processor and then sifted to be combined with a meringue made from the egg whites. The recipe says to fold the batter 10 times, but I found it took much more than that. Fold the batter until it's combined.
Tip four: Find a small, round object to use as a pattern and trace it onto the back side of a piece of parchment paper -- this will help you get uniform shapes. Parchment paper is a must. Turn the paper over before you pipe the batter onto it.
Tip five: Pipe the batter onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Put the pastry bag in a tall cup and fold the edges over. Then, you can spoon the batter into the bag without making a huge mess. The batter is super-sticky.
Tip six: Use two baking sheets. That is, place your sheet with the cookies on top of another sheet. This helps slow the baking so that they don't burn.
Tip seven: The recipe calls for 325 degrees but that actually is too hot, which is why my first batch spread out at the bottom -- they got too hot too fast. If you're not sure, know that it's better to cook them longer at a lower temperature. I went with 315 degrees for the second batch, and it was perfect!
The following recipe requires measurements by weight, so you'll need a kitchen scale. I tried to measure it out into cups for you, but it was impossible. You'll never regret owning a kitchen scale.
Also, the original recipe says to let the macarons sit for 24 hours in the fridge after assembling them "to mature." After all that work and waiting?!?! That's crazy talk. It's up to you.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Macarons adapted from mihaelapd.blogspot.com
For the shells: 3 egg whites, aged at room temperature for 24 hours 35 grams of granulated sugar pinch of salt 100 grams ground almonds 210 grams powdered sugar 2 tsp cinammon 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Prepare 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Remember to have a second one underneath.
Process the almonds, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne in a food processor until well blended. Scrape down the sides several times.
Whip the egg whites with the salt until they begin to foam, then slowly add the granulated sugar. Continue whipping until they form soft peaks.
Gradually fold in the almond flour mixture until it's thoroughly combined, but don't overmix.
Using a piping bag with a round tip, form mounds on the prepared baking sheets.
Allow them to dry at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until they are dry to the touch.
Bake at 315 degrees in a preheated oven for 12 minutes. Don't forget the double tray!
Let cool completely.
For the filling:
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate 1/3 cup heavy cream 3 tablespoons butter cut into chunks
Melt the chocolate and heavy cream in a double boiler. Remove from heat and add the butter. Mix until smooth.
Allow it to cool completely. Fill a pastry bag with the chocolate and pipe onto half of the macarons. Sandwich the macarons together.