Hi Everyone! After much encouragement from family and friends I decided to start a Blog to chronicle my food-related adventures! Please join me as I share my experiences (successful and not-so-successful), recipes, and food photos.
I named the Blog “The Macaronista” because I have a slight obsession with baking macarons. Not only are these French confections cute, they taste divine. Not to be confused with coconut macaroons, French macarons are a cookie-like sandwich which crunch on your first bite and then melt in your mouth. The shells are made of only four ingredients – icing sugar, almond flour, granulated sugar, egg whites. They can be filled with jams, fruit compotes, chocolate ganaches, buttercream, and anything your imagination can create. They are known to be finicky to make so I will be sharing all my tips for success.
Here is my first original creation – Black Forest Cake Macarons (or Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte). The recipe is an adaptation from macarons books and a cooking class I took in Paris at La Cuisine.
Macarons Cookies (French meringue method)
(makes enough cookies for 40 macarons)
(adapted from Les Petits Macarons: Colorful French Confections to Make at Home by Kathryn Gordon & Anne E. McBride)
- 150 g almond flour or ground almonds
- 150 g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 120 g egg whites (aged and at room temperature)
- 1 tsp powdered egg whites or meringue powder, optional (this will help in humid weather)
- 70 g white granulated or castor sugar
- brown food gel colouring (4-5 drops)
Special equipment required:
- food processor
- food scale
- rubber spatula
- metal sieve (for sifting)
- piping bags with tip (I use #12 Wilton tip with a 12-inch piping bag)
- dark aluminum cookie sheets lined with parchment paper
- macarons pattern to put between parchment paper and cookie sheet (print two copies per sheet and tape together)
(*I prepared my chocolate ganache first so it could harden in the fridge as well as the brandy-soaked cherries)
- Preheat your oven to the lowest temperature available.
- Weigh all ingredients first. Combine almond flour and icing sugar together and pulse for a few minutes in your food processor. This will make sure your ingredients are fine (and you will have shiny and not lumpy macarons). After pulsing in the food processor, pass the ingredients through a metal sieve. Mix in your cocoa powder and set aside
- Mix granulated sugar with powdered egg whites and set aside. Start whipping your egg whites until they are foamy (like bubble bath). Add granulated and powdered egg whites to the mixture and whip until soft peaks are forming. Add food colouring until you get a slightly darker colour that you desire (since you will add the almond flour and icing sugar mix to this). Continue beating meringue until stiff peaks form (I tip my bowl upside down, if the meringue stays you’re good, if it starts to slide out, keep whipping).
- Once your meringue has reached stiff peakes, incorporate your dry mix in thirds. Use a J-stirring technique with your rubber spatula. To do this, put your spatula in the middle of the bowl and gently lift and move in a clockwise direction with the bowl (making a “J” with your bowl). Continue adding the dry ingredients to the meringue until you have a lava-like consistency that ribbons when you lift the batter up and let it drop back into the bowl. Be careful not to overmix your batter, you want it to be slightly grainy. (Skip to Troubleshooting #2 on this link for an example)
- Fill your piping bag. I use a twist-tie to seal off the bottom and put my bag in a big mason jar. Once your piping bag is full, start piping them out onto your parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Don’t forget to put your pattern under the parchment paper! To pipe keep your dominant hand at the top of the bag applying pressure and use your non-dominant hand to guide the bag. Pipe in a blob until it fills the circle pattern. Don’t swirl! Continue until you have all your macarons piped out. (You may have extra batter). Don’t forget to take out your template paper. (I’ve forgotten it before and your macarons are a fail)
- Give your cookie sheet a good bang on the counter – this will make all the air bubbles escape! Bang a few times for good measure if you’re unsure if you got them all.
- Put the cookie sheets in the pre-heated oven at a low temperature to dry the macarons. If you have time, you can leave them out for 30-45 minutes on the countertop and skip the low-temperature oven. You want a soft crust to form on the macarons cookies. Check the cookies after 7-10 minutes and if you can touch the cookies without getting sticky, take them out. Be careful not to leave them in too long because they will get too dry.
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Once temperature is reached, put macarons back into the oven for 10-15 minutes. If the air is humid, I will sometimes cook them with a wooden spoon in the door to let humidity escape the oven.
- Macarons need constant baby-sitting – don’t attempt anything else while they are cooking. Check on them frequently and when they start to look glossy and forming frilly feet, start checking to see if they will wiggle on the parchment paper. Once you can get a good wiggle (without it sticking completely to the paper) take them out of the oven and remove the parchment paper and move it to a cooler surface. You don’t want to leave your macarons on a hot cookie sheet. Let the cookies cool and take them off with a metal spatula. Match them up by size to be ready to be filled!
Dark Chocolate Ganache
(from La Cuisine “Macarons Noël” class)
- 150 g whipping cream
- 150 g dark chocolate (64 % cocoa minmum)
- 53 g unsalted butter, at room temperature and cubed
- Weigh chocolate in a medium sized, heat proof bowl. Cut chocolate into small pieces if necessary. Weigh whipping cream in a small saucepan and weigh butter in a separate bowl.
- Bring whipping cream to a boil and pour over chocolate in several batches, making sure the ingredients are smooth and well incorporated each time. If you’re having trouble melting your chocolate, create a double boiler by boiling water in your saucepan and setting your heat proof bowl on top. Make sure to stir well. Never put chocolate on direct heat.
- Let the mixture cool a bit, and mix in butter until smooth and shiny.
- Fill a piping bag with ganache and refrigerate for about 40 minutes, or until the texture is workable.
(from Macarons: Chic & Delicious French Treats by: Annie Rigg)
- 75 g dried sour cherries
- 1-2 tbsp cherry brandy
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- Put the dried cherries in a small saucepan with the brandy, sugar, and water. Set over low heat and bring to just below boiling point. Remove from the heat and leave cherries to soak for at least two hours. They will absorb all the liquid and become plump and juicy.
- I kept my cherries for up to a week in a sealed container on the counter.
- 110 g whipping cream
- 90 g icing sugar
- Whip cream and icing sugar together until mixture is firm enough to pipe and hold its shape on the macaron.
To assemble, I piped the dark chocolate ganache on one half, put a cherry in the middle and topped it off with whipped cream. Pair with another cookie of the same size and slightly squish together.
Macarons are tastier the next day since all the flavours have been able to melt together. If you can be disciplined, put them in the fridge for 24 hours and then enjoy!
Please feel free to ask me any questions or leave feedback!