French Macarons

I’ve gotten on the French macaron train very late; I suppose you could say I’m in the last seat on the caboose. But, late or not, I had to try my hand on these French delights. Most of my family and friends were not familiar with an almond-based macaroon; in fact, when I mentioned what I would be making, everyone assumed that it would be coconut variety. Nope, we have no coconuts, we have not coconuts today! Yep, my lame take on the banana song.

I have made the original type of macaroon, which is more cookie-like in appearance and similar to amaretti, the Italian version, and was of the opinion that the originals are the closest thing to heaven on a plate, so my expectations were high regarding the French macaron version. If you’ve made macarons before, you’ve likely gone on to the next blog in your reader, however, if you haven’t and are curious, here we go.

The recipe I used is very similar to all of the others floating about, but with a two changes. I added meringue powder to my egg whites, as it is supposed to increase the sturdiness of the meringue. Would sturdy meringue make a difference? I had no idea. But, hope springs eternal. Secondly, I did not use a pastry bag, as I am pastry bag impaired. Yes, I really, really am. There’s a weird transformation that occurs, and I suddenly lose control of my hand-eye dexterity. So, no pastry bag piping for me; instead, I used a small cookie scoop to portion the batter.

After the meringue reached the proper consistency (I hoped), I divided the mixture into thirds. Not evenly, which is desirable, but apparently my spatial IQ is non-existent. I added powdered food coloring to two of the batches, red and yellow, as well as dehydrated strawberry powder. Yes, dehydrated strawberry powder. Here’s the thing – it added absolutely no flavor. Zero. Nada. So, whether you go to the trouble of dehydrating strawberries is entirely optional. On three parchment-lined baking sheets, I portioned out the batter. As you can see, yellow was woefully short-changed.
Some of the recipes state that the macarons should sit for 30 minutes before baking to aid in the development of feet. I allowed the yellow pan to sit for 10 minutes (Pan 1), baking it at 300 degrees. The other two pans sat for 30 minutes, and I baked one pan at 300 degrees (Pan 2) and the other at 350 degrees (Pan 3).
Results? Pan 1 – feet, but very thin. Pan 2 – feet, not much taller than Pan 1. Pan 3 – feet and desirable height, best of the batch.

Taste? SWEET, as in, made my teeth hurt sweet. I used chocolate ganache as the filling, because at that point, I was just too tired to make more than one filling.
Did they meet my expectations? Uh, nope. I’m sorry to say, the flavor left much to be desired. None of the recipes I found added liquid extract; I’m sure I could tweak the recipe and add more flavoring, but really, who am I kidding? I’m not going to make them again. Yes, aesthetically they are very appealing. Well, maybe mine aren’t, but most of the others you’ll find out there are really very cute. Perhaps I’m not sophisticated enough to enjoy French macarons? Maybe. I am happy that I made them. Later this week I will post the other macaroon that I love, so be on the lookout!

Macarons Printable recipe
3 egg whites, aged 5 days in the refrigerator
½ teaspoon meringue powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups blanched almonds, finely ground
2 cups powdered sugar
Powdered food coloring, if desired

In a food processor, combine almonds and powdered sugar, grind until almonds are very fine. Set aside.
Whip the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add in the sugar and meringue powder, increasing the speed. Whip until meringue is stiff. Add the ground almond and powdered sugar mixture and food color, if using. Fold the mixture together somewhat vigorously. As you fold, hold up the spatula, allowing the mixture to fall onto itself. If it blends into itself with seconds, you’re good to go.
At this point, you can either fill a pastry bag and pipe out the circles onto the parchment, or you can use a small cookie scoop. Allow mixture to sit for 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Carefully peel parchment from macaron. Fill immediately, as desired.

Chocolate Ganache
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Measure chocolate chips into a heat-resistant bowl and set aside. Heat whipping cream on stove until boiling and pour over chocolate and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes. Stir mixture until chocolate has melted. Add vanilla and stir to incorporate. Allow mixture to cool until thickened. Using a small scoop or pastry bag, place a dollop of ganache onto flat side of macaron, cover with another macaron to make a very cute and colorful sandwich cookie.

Note: I used ¼ teaspoon of powdered food coloring to one third of the entire batch. If not dividing mixture, add more to reach the desired color.

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