I see macacrons everywhere. Top Chef Just Desserts, the David Lebovitz and Tartelette blogs, the cookbook section of my local Barnes and Noble. Everywhere. These are going to be the whoopie pies of last year and the cake pops of the year before, which means it’s only a matter of time until Starbucks carries them.
And they are just so darn cute with their diminutive size and perfect shape and palette of colors. Also, macarons are packed with crispy, crunchy, chewy, creamy goodness. Here’s the thing: I have never had one. Correction: I had never had one. Because I have now and wow, let me tell you, get your hands on some of these babies, stat. Better yet, make them yourself.
I know, I know, you’re thinking macarons are hard to make, really time-consuming, finicky. Well, I hate to say it, but you’re right. To a point. Macarons are entirely doable for a home cook, you just need a plan and a good recipe to start. A little research also won’t hurt; I would recommend Helene Dujardin’s Demystifying Macarons (she’s the amazing food photographer behind Tartelette and Plate to Pixel) or Hisako Ogita’s I (heart) Macarons.
I found this recipe in the December 2011 Bon Appetit and there is a relatively short set of instructions and none of the myriad tips I’ve seen other places, so I was pretty sure I was going to have a major fail. But I really wanted to give macarons a try soooooo I figured this would be an easy place to start. Boy, were they ever. With only a few extra tweaks, they came out perfect and delicious.
(While you’re at it, try the “Forked Oven-Roasted Potatoes,” from that same issue, they are delicious. You can see a post from Bon Appetempt about them here.)
Notes: You really do need to chill overnight for maximum crunchy/chewy/flavor development, at least with the ganache. I didn’t like the ganache as much when it was not chilled, so if you want to eat them right away, use a buttercream instead. Unless you’re very unsure, only draw circles on one parchment; you’ll get the hang of how much batter to pipe.
Chocolate Macarons with Ganache Filling
For the Cookie Shells:
- 2 cups powdered sugar, divided (240 grams)
- 1 1/4 cups slivered almonds (5 ounces slivered almonds or 3.75 ounces sliced almonds)
- 3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons egg whites (from about 3 large eggs), room temperature, divided
- 1/4 cup sugar
For the Ganache
- 3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- Gold dust (optional), found at lusterdust.com or craft stores
For the Cookie Shells:
- Arrange racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 325°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and prepare two extra pieces of parchment. Stack baking sheets inside another baking sheet—you will need four baking sheets total. If desired, pre-trace ¾ to 1 inch circles on parchment and place ink side down on baking sheets.
- Pulse one cup powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor until nuts are very finely ground, stop before a paste forms. Add cocoa powder and remaining one cup powdered sugar; process to blend well. Sift mixture through a medium-mesh strainer into a large bowl; discard larger almond pieces remaining in strainer (if more than a spoonful remains, pulse nuts again in processor and re-sift).
- Using an electric mixer, beat 1/3 cup egg whites in a medium bowl on medium speed until white and frothy, about one minute. With mixer on medium-low speed, gradually add sugar by in four additions. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until firm peaks form.
- Stir in remaining 3 tablespoons egg whites to lighten. Fold meringue into dry ingredients in two additions, mixing well between additions. Spread batter around walls of bowl and turn from the bottom with a spatula back into the middle. Repeat ten times.
- Spoon meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4" tip or into a zip top bag, then cut 1/4" off a corner of bag Twist top of bag and pipe quarter-size rounds onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 1" apart. Rap the baking sheet soundly on the counter once before letting stand until a crust forms over the top of the cookies, about 15-30 minutes. Once the batter does not stick to your finger when touched, they are ready to be baked.
- Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through baking, until puffed and dry, about 16 minutes. Slide cookies on parchment onto a wire rack. Let cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter. If you have enough baking sheets, pipe the second batch of cookies as soon as you put the first batch in the oven.
For the Ganache:
- Place chocolate and butter in a medium bowl. Bring cream just to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat (or in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes) Remove from heat; stir in orange zest and salt. Pour hot cream mixture over chocolate and butter; whisk until smooth. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.
- Spoon ganache into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4" tip or spoon into a plastic freezer bag, then cut 1/4" off a corner of bag. Twist top of bag and pipe about 1 teaspoon ganache onto flat side of one cookie, leaving 1/4"–1/8" plain border. Top with a second cookie, flat side down. Repeat with the remaining cookies and ganache. Brush tops with gold dust, if desired. Layer in an airtight container between sheets of parchment paper and refrigerator overnight. Cookies will keep well if stored chilled and in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.
Adapted from Bon Appetit December 2011, Chocolate Macarons with Orange Ganache
Here are my tips for making great macarons at home:
- Get everything measured before you start (you should really do this all the time).
- Follow the instructions, this is no time to play fast and loose with baking.
- Start with low expectations so you’ll be pleasantly surprised with your awesomeness.
My question to you: what thing have you put off making because it seems too hard?
Want the hobby room diaries right in your inbox? You betcha.