Happy Fall Y’all! It’s now appropriate to start busting out all the pumpkin everything. Decorations, practice carving my pumpkins, and most importantly, baking pumpkin everything!
One of the most requested desserts I’m asked to make, hands down would be macarons (Don’t get this confused with the macaroons, two O’s relates to the coconut treat). This lovely French pastry represents two meringues sandwiched between an endless option of fillings.
I learned how to make these from a friend’s mom who ran a coffee shop in Portland. Back then of course when I had a small kitchen and no stand mixer, I was whipping egg whites with my immersion blender or by hand and it was downright exhausting and I would want to give up. I went through a few trials and errors with the cookies cracking, and with long, late-night sessions in my kitchen, I finally locked down the technique.
Macarons are made with almond flour, though any fine groundnut flour will work as well (doing research on a nut-free macaron for my poor boyfriend who can’t eat these!). Powdered sugar, and any flavors with spices or ground up freeze-dried fruit (Trader Joe’s is your best friend for this) will provide both flavor and a lovely natural coloring bonus. The most important rule with making macarons is to run all your dry ingredients through a fine-mesh sieve at least twice!! This helps to remove all the lumps and make sure they will properly rise and be the perfect texture. Sure you can pulse your dry ingredients through a food processor, but you will still have to sieve it, food processors won’t finely pulse everything in the container, so I skip the food processor in exchange for a medium to large fine-mesh sieve.
Next, you’ll want to whip your egg whites, preferably with something electric such as a stand mixer, or a handheld mixer. Doing this by hand if you’re not used to this takes SO…MUCH…TIME! The fresher your eggs, the better your meringue will be. You’ll add granulated sugar once it starts foaming and builds to a glossy stiff peak, becoming a meringue. You’ll want to shake the meringue from the whisk attachment if it jiggles, we call this soft peaks, and you should run it longer. If you shake it and it doesn’t move, you have arrived at stiff peaks.
Take your piping bags (I love the Fat Daddio’s pastry bags, stretchy silicone bags, easy to work with) or you can use Ziploc bags and toss when done. I like to wrap my pastry bag around a tall cup so I can fill it without making a buttercream mess. Secure the end by twisting closed the back of the pastry bag. Once you pipe, you’ll have a little peak tip, it should go down over time and be a flat surface. If you’re not comfortable about making even-sized macarons, I google search “macaron templates” and print a couple of copies to put underneath my parchment paper. I slide them out before I put them in the oven. You can use these many times.
The last most important step before baking your macarons, you have to let these rest. This is not straight to the oven after you pipe. These cookies need to develop hard skin on top. You want to lightly poke the top with your fingertip, it should leave no dent on top, and it’s ready to go into the oven!
- 7 oz powdered sugar
- 4 oz almond flour
- 4 oz egg whites
- 3 oz granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp ground clove
- Couple drops of orange food coloring
- 8 oz Butter, Softened (2 Sticks)
- 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 Cup Maple Syrup
- 2 tsp bourbon
- 1/4 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (if you are using templates, place underneath the parchment).
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, add egg whites and whip whites on medium speed until it starts to foam. Add granulated sugar, make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl if there's some on the sides not getting mixed in. Once all sugar is mixed in, continue medium speed until your meringue is glossy and at stiff peaks.
3. Sift together your almond flour, powdered sugar, and all spices through a fine mesh sieve.
4. I like to add my dry mixture in half, dividing the dry and folding it in with a spatula. Making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl and getting the particles at the very bottom of the bowl folded in. Add in food coloring for a final fold. When you raise your spatula with batter, it should be shiny and run a smooth, ribbon flow. If it's slow or clumpy, keep folding until it reaches the proper consistency.
5. Transfer batter to piping bag that has a pastry tip (I like to use a tip size 10 or 12). Following your templates or going on your own design, pipe about 1/2 above the parchment, holding the bag straight down, directly in the center of the stencil so it flows out into an even circle. Stop squeezing and pull the pastry bag straight up and sideways, move onto the next circle. Continue until templates have been covered.
6. Once baking sheets are filled, take each side and gently but firmly bang the baking sheet against the counter 3 times, this removes air bubbles. Let them sit at room temperature until a hard skin forms on the top of the macarons, about 40-50 minutes. Gently touch the top, no dents means it's ready to bake.
7. Bake macarons until firm, about 12-16 minutes. I rotate the pans halfway if I'm unsure about my oven temp. If you have an oven thermometer and it's spot on, I don't need to rotate them.
8. Slide the parchment with macarons onto a cooling rack. Let them sit for a few more minutes until cooled down before gently removing them.
9. For the buttercream, put butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Cream butter for two minutes.
10. Add rest of the ingredients, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat for another minute or two until shiny and whipped.
11. Transfer buttercream into a piping bag that has a small star tip. gently turn your cooled macarons over and pipe around the perimeter, and slowly into the center. Sandwich with another matching size macaron.