I admit it. I’m a macaron addict. Not macaroon, but macaron. BIG difference. Macaroons (double o’s) are coconut cookies. Macarons on the other hand are filled almond cookies with slightly crisp, chewy shells that come in many different colors and flavors. I immediately fell in love at first bite! A favorite sweet treat of mine, they are a pricey indulgence–usually between $1.50 to $3 per cookie and it’s so hard to eat just one! I usually pick up these gorgeous jewels at Bottega Louie or ‘Lette in Los Angeles when the macaron craving strikes but never in a million years did I consider even making them myself! I always thought you needed a Ph.D in order to make these cookies (or have French blood coursing through your veins).
Then I began seeing blog posts on the art of making macarons over the last few months. I couldn’t believe it only took four simple ingredients! The challenge, however, is in the execution that determines success or failure. It’s a trial and error process to be sure and after reading a few posts (and watching a number of YouTube videos), I decided to bite the bullet and attempt to make them myself. I had originally wanted to wait and take a class with The Ravenous Couple (and I still might do that since after all, practice makes perfect, right?) but I figured, why not?
I had to go out and buy a few cooking tools. I needed a new sifter (the dry ingredients have to be as lump free as possible), a kitchen scale (measurements are in grams and have to be precise) and piping bags. Macarons call for almond meal or flour, powdered sugar, granulated sugar and “aged” egg whites at room temperature. You can buy extracts and flavorings such as vanilla, rose water, matcha green tea powder, espresso or cocoa powder (to flavor your cookies) and food coloring (powders and gels work best). The fun part is deciding what to fill your macaron cookies with–lemon curd, chocolate ganache, nutella, flavored butter creams–the possibilities are endless!
After whipping the egg whites and granulated sugar together to achieve stiff, glossy peaks, I folded the meringue mixture into the sifted dry ingredients, dividing the batter halfway during the “macaronage” stage so that I can add the vanilla and food coloring in one half and matcha green tea powder in the other (the matcha green tea powder was a gift from my friend Lou who was recently in Tokyo on a business trip). I was achieving “lava flow” consistency and tried hard not to over mix (to pancake batter consistency). It was important to incorporate the meringue well; leaving traces can actually crack your cookies during the baking process.
Once the batter consistency was achieved, piping was next. Thank goodness for Annapet’s template through her blog, The Daily Palette, which I laid underneath the silpat on one baking pan and parchment in the other. I just had to remember to remove the template before popping the cookies in the oven! After the batter is piped onto the cookie sheets, I rapped the baking pans on the counter hard to remove any air bubbles and let the cookies sit for 15-18 minutes before baking in the oven. A few minutes later, voila! If the macaron gods are with you, hopefully you’ll have a batch of picture perfect cookies, complete with feet!
While the macarons were baking, I began making the chocolate ganache filling with E. Guittard Bittersweet Chocolate. It’s a simple recipe of chocolate pieces, heavy cream, pinch of salt and vanilla. Assembling the cookies was where I begin to see the fruits of my labor give birth to my very own homemade chocolate ganache-filled macarons!
Special thanks to Stella Park for her macaron recipe through her blog, BraveTart and to friend Remil for his tips and suggestions in helping me achieve success with my second batch of macarons (my first batch was not perfect but that did not stop my family and friends from devouring them)!