Livin' in the Kitchen

Fighting Macaron Fears

In Cookies, Macaroons, Nutella on June 10, 2013 at 7:21 pm

macarons

I’ve successfully avoided the french macaron for as long as humanly possible. Working in an Italian restaurant has lent itself well to my fear. I don’t think about macarons. I don’t look at them. And I don’t stress about them.

I’ve heard horror stories of macarons measured to the gram, made to perfection only to be slaughtered by humidity. If you’re starting to think this is sounding like a realism story, you’re right. It is one. You’re constantly at the mercy of outside forces. However, unlike realism stories some days you’re allowed to be the hero.

And, oh! did I feel like one.

I conquered my macaron-fear, made a fun filling, and felt like a winner bringing them in to work the next day.
Simple Macarons
{makes about 40-ish shells for 20 cookies}

Recipe directly from Bake at 350

3/4 cup ground almond flour/meal
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 large egg whites
3 & 1/2 TBSP granulated sugar
food color (optional)
buttercream, ganache, or Nutella for filling

Stack 2 cookie sheets, one top of the other, unless you are starting with very thick, insulated sheets. Use a 1 & 1/2″ cookie cutter to trace guidelines for piping the macarons on a piece of parchment. Leave about 1 inch between each circle. Flip the parchment over, and place on the top cookie sheet.
Combine the almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor. Process for about 30-seconds to 1 minutes, until combined. Sift the mixture or shake through a fine sieve into a bowl. (About 2 tablespoons of larger pieces are ok, just stir them into the rest.) Set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium-low, until frothy. Increase the speed to medium, and continue whisking until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually add in the granulated sugar. Scrape down the side of the bowl if needed.

Increase the speed to medium-high, beating until the eggs are glossy and come to a stiff peak. Add food coloring, if using, note that more food coloring may affect the baking time. (I used just a bit of AmeriColor Deep Pink.) Beat until the egg whites form a clump in the whisk attachment and are stiff.

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and sift about half of the almond flour mixture over the meringue. Use a silicone spatula to fold into the meringue, using about 10 strokes; don’t expect it to come together completely. Sift the remaining almond flour mixture into the bowl, (it’s ok to add in the 2 TBSP or so of larger pieces that won’t go through the sifter), and continue to fold into the meringue.

Don’t worry about being gentle; you want to deflate the egg whites. Fold until the mixture comes together, but avoid overmixing. Be sure to scrape the bowl to avoid stray bits of meringue remaining unincorporated. The batter will loosen and start to fall in the “ribbon” off of the spatula. A ribbon or dollop of batter dropped back into the bowl, should reincorporate into the rest of the batter in 20-30 seconds. This should take no more than 50 strokes total.

Spoon the 1/2 the batter into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2″ tip (I found that just using the coupler without a tip worked great for this). Pipe the batter onto the parchment, using the circles as a guide, staying just inside the lines (the batter will spread a bit). Repeat with the remaining batter.

Let the piped batter to dry for about 15 minutes-30 minutes while the oven preheats to 350.

Bake for 11-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The tops should be firm and glossy and the bottoms of the shells should have formed “feet” or frills at the bottom. When done, the cookies will lift fairly easily from the parchment.

Once cool, remove the cookies from the parchment and fill. Lightly press the cookies together.

Macarons taste best after 24 hours, so place in a container between layers of wax paper and be patient. 🙂 After 24 hours, remove from the refrigerator and let the cookies come to room temperature, or close to it, before serving.

Nutella Filling

1 1/2 cups nutella

1 cup powdered sugar

12 tablespoons softened butter

pinch of salt

Whip the butter and nutella together on medium-high, add powdered sugar and continue to whip until fluffy.

Stay Sweet!

jess

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