Macarons (French meringue method)

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Even if macarons are not forgiving when you want to get them perfect, they’re delicious even when they look kind of wonky.  The last time I attempted them, I used the Italian meringue method.  This time, I used the French meringue method, which I’m more familiar with from baking lemon meringue pie.

Baking notes:

  • I used the ingredient amounts from Sally’s Baking Addiction because I wanted to measure them by weight for greater accuracy, but I used the batter-making process from Tasty.co because it has a great video tutorial.
  • I really liked Dorie Greenspan’s cream-cheese macaron filling, so I made that.
  • Don’t forget to age your egg whites!  You should separate the eggs a few days before you make the macarons and let the egg whites sit in the fridge.  I recommend making lemon creme brulee, crystallized ginger creme brulee, or cinnamon creme brulee with the yolks and eating that while the egg whites age.
  • This is a finicky recipe.  I am normally someone who likes to change ingredient amounts and skip steps, but that really isn’t something you can do with macarons.
  • If you have cream cheese filling left, you can use it to frost chocolate cake or cupcakes.

Tasty.co recipe
Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe

 

Macarons
Adapted from Tasty.co, Sally’s Baking Addiction, and Dorie Greenspan’s Dorie’s Cookies

Yield: 30 macarons

For the cookies:

  • 200 g (close to 2 cups) powdered sugar
  • 100 g (close to 1 cup) almond flour (ideally Bob’s Red Mill almond flour)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 120 g (around 3 large egg whites) aged egg whites, at room temperature (you should separate the eggs a few days before you use them and let them sit in the fridge)
  • 40 g (3 tablespoons) granulated sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract OR other extract of your choice
  • 2 drops food coloring

For the filling:

  • 8 oz full-fat cream cheese, cut into chunks, at room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) powdered sugar, sifted if you have the patience (it’s fine if you don’t)
  • 2 tablespoons thick preserves OR jam (without chunky fruit)

 

Make the cookies:

  1. Take out 2 baking sheets.  If you plan to line them with parchment paper, it’s best to make a template.  Using a cookie cutter as your guide, trace circles about 1 1/2 inches in diameter on each sheet of paper, leaving about 2 inches between them, then flip the papers over on the baking sheets so pencil marks face down.  You should also trim the paper to fit in the bottom of the baking sheet so it will lie flat. If you’re using silicone mats, just line the baking sheets with them.
  2. Fit a large pastry bag with a plain 1/2-inch tip. (Alternatively, you can use a zipper-lock bag: Fill the bag, seal it, and snip off a corner.)
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the powdered sugar, almond flour, and salt.  Process on low speed, until extra fine.
  4. Sift the almond flour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
  5. In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  6. Gradually add the granulated sugar until fully incorporated.
  7. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form (you should be able to turn the bowl upside down without anything falling out).
  8. Add the vanilla OR other flavoring and beat until incorporated.
  9. Add the food coloring and beat until just combined.
  10. Add about ⅓ of the sifted almond flour mixture at a time to the beaten egg whites.  Use a spatula to gently fold until combined.
  11. After the last addition of almond flour, continue to fold slowly until the batter falls into ribbons and you can make a figure 8 while holding the spatula up.
  12. Transfer the macaron batter into the piping bag.
  13. Place 4 dots of the batter in each corner of a rimmed baking sheet, and place a piece of parchment paper over it, using the batter to help adhere the parchment to the baking sheet.
  14. Holding the piping bag vertically with the tip close to the baking sheet, pipe the macarons onto the parchment paper in 1½-inch circles, spacing at least 1 inch apart, because the batter will spread.
  15. Tap the baking sheet on a flat surface 5 times to release any air bubbles.
  16. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the surface is dry to the touch.
  17. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325˚F.
  18. Bake the macarons for 10 minutes, one baking sheet at a time.  Rotate the pan at the 5 minute mark.  If the tops of your first batch crack, the oven temperature is too high.  Lower it a little before you bake your next batch.  When the macarons are done, the tops should be crisp and the macarons should have formed their signature crinkly “feet.”  They should not stick to the parchment paper.
  19. Allow the macarons to cool for several minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.

Make the filling:

  1. Either in the clean bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat until it is incorporated and the filling is smooth.
  3. Mix in preserves, jam, OR curd.  (The filling will keep for up to 5 days tightly covered in the refrigerator.  Stir before using to bring it back to its creamy consistency.)

Sandwich the macarons:

  1. When macarons are cool, peel them off the silicone or parchment and match them up for sandwiching.
  2. Work on a baking sheet lined with fresh parchment paper, or on the sheet of parchment paper on which you baked macarons.  You can use a teaspoon or a piping bag to fill the macarons; it’s up to you to decide how much filling you want to use.  (You can save the leftover filling to frost anything that goes well with cream cheese frosting.)  Spoon or pipe some filling onto the flat side of a macaron and sandwich it with its mate, gently twisting the top macaron to spread filling to the edges.  Don’t press down on the top of the cookie, because it might crack.  Piping leads to cleaner edges.
  3. Place sandwiched macaron on parchment paper and repeat with remaining macarons and filling.  Cover with plastic film or pack them into a container.  Be careful not to squish the tops.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.  While chilling, moisture from the filling will soften the macaron cookies and allow them to develop their characteristic texture.
  5. Macarons can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.  They can also be frozen, packed airtight, for up to 2 months; defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

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