I am, by no means whatsoever, an expert on macaroons.
In fact, I’m still convinced that the production of these delicate cookies in my kitchen is a combination of dumb luck and voodoo magic, followed by a traditional oven mitt dance around the kitchen.
Macaroons are also known as macarons, a name used to distinguish between the delicate French pastry and the abysmal over-coconutted macaroons from the USA. (Sorry. Coconut isn’t my thing)
The problem is, they are very finnicky little darlings, and their method is highly disputed.
French meringue! Italian meringue!
Pop the macaroons in the oven straight away. Leave them on the counter for 20 minutes to form a skin.
Bake at a lower temperature. Bake at a high temperature, and decrease it after 8 minutes.
Beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Beat egg whites to soft peaks.
Use granulated sugar. Use caster sugar. Use powdered sugar – No! Icing sugar!
Three batches later, I’ve found a recipe and method that works for me, and here I am crossing my fingers, hoping it’ll work for you.
And don’t be afraid, I’ll hold your hand.
Most of all, don’t forget that macaroons, just like any other cookie, are for eating.
If they’re cracked, don’t have a foot, are the wrong thickness or are hollow, they’ll still be delicious. And that’s what’s important, right?
But first, a couple of points.
- The Italian meringue method preferred by Pierre Hermé is supposed to be very reliable. But I’m lazy, and I don’t have a candy thermometer. Do you?
- Don’t baby the ingredients. Sure, a lot of recipes ask you to gradually add the ingredients, but I pop the sugar and egg whites in at the same time and have no problems achieving very stiff peaks. I hand whip my egg whites, so by the time I’m done with that, I can’t be bothered to gradually add the dry ingredients. The point of the macronage process is to deflate the egg whites.
- I’ve used both icing sugar and powdered sugar. Personally, I prefer powdered sugar. I’m not sure if it’s the cause, but my batches using icing sugar cracked, but it might have just been my inexperience. If you can’t be bothered to go out and buy icing sugar, food process some granulated sugar into powdered sugar. Kapow!
- Almond flour is fine, but not super fine. Food process those suckers.
- I usually like to provide cup and spoon measurements for my recipes, but this is one of those cases where I would very, very strongly advise baking by weight. But, I digress, this is a discussion for another time.
- You can pipe freehand, if you are so inclined, but I’m not so good at that. I use a cookie cutter to trace 3cm circles on the back of a piece of baking paper for a guideline.
Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz
For the Cookies
- 100g powdered sugar
- 55g almond flour or sliced blanched almonds
- 25g unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 2 large egg whites (approx. 75g)
- 65g granulated sugar
- a pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 180 C. Line two baking sheets with baking paper, and prep a pastry bag with a round tip.
- Pulverise together salt, powdered sugar, almonds and cocoa powder in a food processor until superfine and powdery. Sift into a bowl.
- Beat egg whites and granulated sugar into very stiff peaks. Be careful not to overbeat.
- Add all dry ingredients in at once, and fold into egg whites with a flexible spatula – approximately 35 strokes, and definitely no more than 50. The batter should resemble magma, and reincorporate when spooned back onto itself in about 20 seconds. There’s no rush, so feel free to take your time to evaluate the batter stroke by stroke. Make sure the batter is smooth, and there are no streaks of egg white left.
- Scrape batter into pastry bag and pipe into 3cm circles, about 3cm apart. Hit baking sheet hard on the counter twice, rotate ninety degrees and repeat.
- Bake at 180 degrees for 8 minutes, decrease to 150 degrees and slide a wooden spoon into the opening of the oven to allow extra steam to escape (prevents cracking). Total baking time should be 13-18 min, and macaroons should feel slightly firm. Mine were done at exactly 15, but my oven is horribly calibrated.
- Cool completely before removing from baking paper.
For the Filling
- 50g 85% dark chocolate, chopped
- 40g cream
- 1 tbsp butter, unsalted
- two dashes of Port wine, or a liqueur of choice
- Scald cream and butter in a small saucepan and pour over chocolate. Let sit for 2 minutes, and then stir until a glossy ganache forms.
- Add a dash of Port, and mix until combined. Add more as required for a reasonably thick ganache.
Assembling the Macaroons
Match macaroon shells by size.
Pipe, or spread a small amount of filling (about 1/2 to 1 tsp) onto one shell, and quickly sandwich with another
Mature in an airtight box in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before eating.