Well my friends, it seems I have met my match at last.
Really, I should have known these wouldn’t be that easy. From the verb “avoir” to the Eiffel Tower, the French never make anything easy. I was lured into a false sense of security by those deceivingly light-hearted and encouraging tutorial videos and blog entries I’ve been stalking on Pinterest (like this video from Martha Stewart that I adapted the recipe from. ‘Easy’ indeed.)
It wasn’t until I was standing in the middle of the kitchen, covered in green, sticky glop, fingers welded together by eggs and sugar, that it occurred to me I might have gotten in over my head. Those little, squashed round things did not match the pictures of tall, smooth-topped cookies with crinkled bases that look like they could melt in your mouth.
Oh these melt in your mouth all right. Because they didn’t cook all the way through.
If anyone ever tells you that making macarons is easy, THEY ARE NOT TO BE TRUSTED.
Today was a real lesson in Macaron 101.
A delicious, delicious lesson. Some of them were indeed very salvageable. OHHHHHHH man, were they ever salvageable. They were freaking DELICIOUS. The ideal balance of chocolate and mint… chewy, sweet, delicate… there were absolutely no exaggerations on that front from the videos and posts!
Were they perfect? No, no they were not. But you can’t win ‘em all. It gives me an excuse to make them many many more times until I have perfected them. Aw shucks, that’s so sad…
It starts innocently enough. Whisking together almond flour and powdered sugar. Oh yes.
But then you must pass them through the sieve with the tiniest holes that you’ve got.
Troubleshooting Lesson #1: a simple sieve is not enough. I suggest actually mixing them in a food processor to get all the particles as tiny as is possible, pulsing until the mixture is very fine before you pass it through a sieve.
Get those egg whites nice and foamy in your (very clean!) mixer, and then add your sugar and mint and vanilla extracts.
Troubleshooting Lesson #2: Wait for a sunny day! I make meringues! I should know better! As always, my enthusiasm drowned out my common sense in a chorus of “you can do this!” Yeah, in the future it’s probably best to wait until the weather is a little less…um… down-poury.
Annnnd TSL #3: DO NOT OVERBEAT! Beat on medium-low just until stiff peaks form.
Add your egg white mixture to your flour mixture, and fold it in very very gently until it becomes almost soupy. Then add 1 drop of green food colouring.
TSL #4: BE VERY GENTLE. I was not, because I followed the lady in the video who suggested elbow grease. It did not work for me.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, or use a silicone baking mat.
Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag with a small round circle tip (I used the Wilton Tip 12). These kind of smooth out on their own, so as long as you try to make a circle it will be pretty close. They should be about 2 inches (~5 cm) in diameter.
Annnnd wait. Seriously. Wait for about 30 minutes to an hour, until the tops get a little hard and dried out. That will make them have that beautiful, domed cap.
TSL#5: Seriously. wait. Mine could have waited even longer considering how humid and damp it was. I thought they were hard enough. They were not.
Pop in the oven and bake!
Let them cool completely before you try to remove them or fill them.
In a small pot on the stove, heat ¼ cup of heavy cream with 1 oz. (4 squares) of chocolate (dark or semi-sweet is best) at a low temperature, stirring frequently. Make sure that the chocolate melts but doesn’t burn.
As soon as the chocolate ganache is smooth and mixed, remove from the heat and let cool completely before you use it to fill the macarons.
Once everything is completely cold, carefully remove the macarons from their baking tray with a thin spatula, and make little sandwiches with them, filling the centres with that delicious chocolate ganache.
And there you have it! MACARONS!
You can bet I’ll be making these again. They’re not perfect, but I learned a lot from them!
AND THEY’RE SO DELICIOUS. Seriously, if prettier cookies don’t taste as good as these did, I’m going to take back all of my trouble-shooting solutions and stick to these babies. They were crackly on the top, chewy in the middle, and that mixture of mint and chocolate was TO. DIE. FOR.
They are glorious.
A perfect side for a cup of mint tea…
Or just by themselves.
There’s a reason they’re often left to the professionals, but don’t be intimidated, get in there and give it a shot. I promise you the results will be tasty no matter what!
(And my recipe instructions are the corrected versions of this adapted recipe!)
- 1 1/4 cups almond flour
- 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp fine salt
- 4 large room temperature egg whites
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp mint extract
- OPTIONAL: 1 drop green food colouring
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 oz . (4 squares) baking chocolate, dark or semi-sweet
Whisk together the almond flour, confectioners sugar and salt.
Add to a food processor and pulse until very fine, and then pass through your finest sieve into a bowl. The finer the mixture, the smoother your cookies will be!
In a very clean mixing bowl, whisk egg whites until they are foamy.
Add granulated sugar and the almond extract, beating on medium-low just until stiff peaks form and the mixture is glossy. DO NOT OVERBEAT!
Gently fold the egg mixture and green food colouring in with the flour mixture until smooth.
Cover baking trays with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small, round tip (I used a Wilton size 12) with the batter. Carefully pipe circles with the batter on the baking sheet. These will smooth out a bit, so don't worry if they aren't perfect.
Wait for 30 minutes to an hour (depending on the humidity), until the tops of the piped macarons are hard to the touch and they've dried out a bit.
Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them! You may have to change the temperature or time to suit your oven, depending on your results.
Let cool completely before gently removing them from the baking sheets with a thin spatula.
In a small pot on the stove, pour your cream and add the chocolate.
Heat on a low temperature until the chocolate is melted, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to let it burn!
Remove from the heat once it is completely mixed and smooth.
Let cool completely.
Once everything is completely cool, gently spoon some of the ganache onto the bottom of one of your cookies. Add another on top to make a sweet sandwich!