Consisting of colorful cream filling between two delicate cookies, le macaron is to Paris as the cupcake is to New York: the ultimate in trendy, sweet goodness. And the ultimate place to get them is at Ladurée, a super-chic chain of boutiques that draws in the masses much like Magnolia Bakery does in the West Village. But if your budget doesn’t allow for a pilgrimage to Paris, you can simply make your own macarons at home. Seriously!
I used to think homemade macarons would take too much effort and be too complicated, but fellow Francophile (and Minnesotan) Karen, who also reads Parisian Spring (merci!) was kind enough to share her recipe for French macarons and assured me it was easy. Armed with this knowledge, I still wanted back-up, so I called my friend the expert baking blogger to help me in the kitchen. Turns out, making macarons was one of her baking New Year’s resolutions – bonus! We gathered the materials and the ingredients and got down to business.
The first thing that tells you making macarons might be easier than you think is the ingredients list. According to Karen’s recipe, there are only three ingredients: egg whites, powdered sugar, and almond flour. Aside from the sticker shock of buying almond flour ($14/pound at Whole Foods), there’s nothing difficult about that. You sift the flour and sugar, beat the eggs, fold it all together, add food coloring if you’d like, then start piping quarter-sized dollops onto parchment paper. Let those dry for 15 minutes, and then bake for 15 minutes. Aforementioned blogger and I could barely contain ourselves when those little cookies started rising in the oven. After letting them cool we filled our creations with a drool-worthy almond cream, et voilà! Macarons.
Karen was right – making macarons is easy, making them the perfect treat to bring to your next birthday party, baby shower, brunch, or any event where you’d like to garner a steady round of oohs and ahhs.
1-3/4 cups of confectioners (powdered) sugar
1-1/4 cups of almond flour or ground almonds
The whites of 3 eggs
1. Bring the eggs to room temperature
2. Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper
3. Preheat oven to 315 Fahrenheit
4. Combine the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar, and sift it together into a bowl.
5. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks – don’t over beat them, because they’ll fall apart.
6. When the egg whites are at stiff peaks, gently add the sugar/flour and blend in with a rubber spatula – you want it combined, but not beat.
7. When all the dry ingredients are mixed with the egg whites, spoon it into a pastry bag fitted with a round pastry tube. A second pair of hands will help greatly with this!
8. Pipe small mounds of the mixture, maybe the size of a quarter, onto the lined cookie sheets. Try and get them near the same size, and leave room between them, because they will spread out, and you don’t want them running into each other. Let them dry for about 15 or 20 minutes on the cookie sheet (they will spread out some as they sit there).
9. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Watch them turn into perfect little cookies!
10. When they come out, let the pan cool on a cooling rack for maybe 15 minutes, and then gently lift and peel the parchment paper away from them. They’ll be a little fragile.
You can fill macarons with any number of creamy fillings. I beat one cup of heavy cream flavored with almond extract to a buttery texture, then folded in ½ cup of sugar. Heaven. The flavor and coloring possibilities for the filling and the cookies is only limited by your imagination.