If nothing else I like a challenge. That is to say, I like to challenge myself… against myself. So when I was in high-school all I wanted to do was be able to make a what I deemed a perfect Frosted Sugar cookie. I wanted something buttery, flaky, but substantial enough to hold it’s own against a smooth glossy flavorful frosting that could harden up for stacking but not have the texture of cement. Eventually, I got there….. which was when everyone started expecting me to make them for everything. I loved that they made people happy, and that they were pretty but I didn’t love how they took about two days of work to get them to where I wanted them and I have a tendency to stress when cooking for everyone versus cooking for myself. (I want perfection for others but fun for me.) Which resulted in stress and me starting to hate those cookies. (Which is a shame because when I occasionally do make them I fall in love all over again.)
Fast Forward many years later and I decide ok, no more of those let’s try something new and slightly scary to me! Enter cupcakes. There’s something about cake batter (from scratch) that is magical to me…. I learned that and so much more from challenging myself with different flavors of cupcakes… heck the techniques alone was worth the experiment before I wound up experiencing burn out again. I loved making other’s happy with them, just it began to feel stifling as though I as being pigeon-holed in an existence full of cupcakes and nothing else….. which meant….
TIME FOR A NEW CHALLENGE! I’ve been seeing Macarons on the web for a while, but was always intimidated by how perfectly adorable and delicate they look. Could I make them? Would they be difficult? What techniques would I need? Would I even like how they tasted, or were they all looks and no flavor?
I was pleasantly surprised by the taste, texture, and that I was able to produce a decent Macaron the first time. The second and third test batches had even better results, and I’m sure if I keep tweaking and playing with the piping and flavors of fillings I’ll only get happier. This is an experiment in progress and I’m loving the results! If you ever wanted to take the plunge, you should, there’s no better time than to try something new!
(They are naturally Gluten Free (no chemical stabilizers) for those of you who are GF. )
3 Egg Whites (Room Temperature)
1/4 cup White Sugar
1 2/3 cup Powdered Sugar
1 cup finely ground Almond Flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill, it’s not too hard to find)
-For Chocolate Macarons use 1/4 cups Cocoa Powder, and only 3/4 cup Almond Flour
-Flavor and color your macrons by using an Extract (such as Vanilla) of your choice about a teaspoon should do it but experiment if you’d like a stronger flavor. The same teaspoon goes for gel food coloring (or less if you want a lighter color).
-Use your favorite frosting recipe, jam, or spread to make a delicious filling for your Macarons.
-I used Nutella to make a quick buttercream frosting (added about a half stick of butter to a cup of Nutella) and enough powdered sugar to bind it into a fluffy frosting (guessing about 4 cups of powdered sugar). Which I used on the chocolate and pink vanilla macarons.
-The orange (vanilla flavored) macarons got their own orange cream filling because it made me think of a dreamsicle. I made a quick frosting flavored with vanilla and a couple tablespoons of orange juice, which turned out great! (I may make a recipe for it later -if people are intersted- but it was pretty much composed on the fly.)
1. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper, then spray with Pam. This may sound crazy, but you want to make sure your macarons do not stick to the pan.
2. In a Very clean bowl, with egg whites that have no trace of yolk (it won’t work if the whites have contact with any fat from the yolk or residue from work surfaces), beat your eggs with a whisk attachment until foamy. Slowly (in a constant stream) pour in the white sugar while the mixer is going, and when you’re out of sugar stop your machine to scrape down the sides before continuing to mix until your mixture is thick, glossy, and holds soft peaks. Now is where you add your food coloring and flavoring, beat to combine until incorporated.
3. In a separate bowl sift together the powdered sugar and almond flour. Rub ingredients through the sifter to encourage it through. If there are lumps too big to pass at the end of forcing what you can through, dump them.
4. Gently fold the almond mixture into the egg mixture, combining completely but quickly. Some people say only use 30 or so strokes. If you can do it in less, yay, if it takes you a little more don’t sweat it. You want a smooth batter that spreads slightly.
5. Put mixture into a piping bag or large freezer bag and cut off the tip. Pipe into small rounds (with a finger’s width of space in between each cookie), keeping in mind you want them to be matching halves, and you should make an even number of shells so they all have a mate. They should flatten slightly, if they have peaks you make use a bowl of water to wet your finger tips to smooth it down. (Or drop the pan against the counter to make them all sink at once.)
6. Let rest at room temperature for a whole hour this will allow the macaron to form a hard shell on top, and help make the cute little foot at the bottom while baking.. Preheat he oven to 285°, and if you’re preparing filling now’s a great time to make it happen.
7. After your macaron’s have rested, you need to pick up the pan a couple inches from your counter and drop it. Yup make that clangy noise, and know it’s going to help those little things cook! If you’re not sure about your first pan drop give it another, and send that pan into the oven to bake till set but not browned, about ten minutes. You should be able to see your cookies puff up from a disk into a disk with a cute little foot at the bottom.
8. Remove from oven and cool at room temperature. Carefully remove from the pan, and fill as you like!
I hope this recipe works for you, and inspires you to try new things in your kitchen!
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