Category Archives: Macarons

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Making Macarons: Can it be truly easy?

At last, we’ve gathered up the courage to make macarons, these delightful little meringue-based almond cookies that are currently extremely de rigeur in the classiest of places. Reading up on them, however, may made you a little daunted because of the aura of finickiness that seems to be placed around their construction.

Fear not, for there are a few things you can learn that will make creating macarons much simpler than is usually shown.

This is the third part of a series showing how I made my very first batch of Macarons. Previous entries were:

Making Swiss Meringue Buttercream (great for cookies or cake)
Making Almond Flour

The following pictorial step-by-step is based on the macaron recipe found on the awesome blog BraveTart.com where pastry chef Stella Parks guides you through the process, eliminating much of the hocus-pocus typically associated with making these cookies. Her view, basically, is this: They’re just cookies. Yes, there are steps peculiar to this style of cookies, but there are specific steps for many other cookies too and this doesn’t elevate them to near-ritualistic requirements.

As noted in a prior post, two things you will want to read – and possibly print out – before we get too far ahead are:

  1. The Ten Macaron Commandments
  2. Ten Macaron Myths Busted

Some of the things we’re told we can be less fussy about: perfectly aged egg whites and their temperature, drying the piped cookies, drying the almond flour, using cornstarch-free powdered sugar, being super-duper careful with the meringue. Let’s just follow Stella’s simple recipe and get us some nice macarons, shall we?

You may also want to print out this template I made for piping out macarons in either PDF format or as a PNG image. It will fit a typical (US) home sized baking pan of 16″ x 10″ under a silpat type silicone liner or parchment paper.

Simply print out TWO copies at full (US 8.5″ x 11″) page size, tape the open ends together and trim. Each baking sheet will then give you a total of 32 circles (for 16 finished cookies), optimized for the standard macaron size of 3.5 cm with 2 cm space between each. Just remember to pull it out from under your parchment or silpat before putting your piped macarons in the oven!

Alright, let’s gather our ingredients and make some macarons!

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Make Your Own Almond Flour

In this second phase of our Macaron process, we pick up a neat little money saving tip (who doesn’t like to save a little money, raise your hand… and send it to me). You have an urge to make macarons but have no ready source for almond flour or you’ve seen it on the store shelf and the price made you swoon.

Not to fear, you can make your own almond flour and be whipping out macarons in no time at all.

Here’s what you’ll need to make almond flour:

Almond Flour mise en place

  • 115g blanched almonds (whole, slices or slivers, doesn’t matter)
  • 230g powdered sugar (confectioner’s)
  • A food processor and a sieve.

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Intro to Macarons (for me, anyway)

Macarons. Little almond/meringue based cookies with creamy fillings that seem to be all the rage these days or for the past several years at least. There are elite shops set up that sell just macarons in all varieties of flavours and colours, the most famous of these being Pierre Hermé (left and center pics below) and Ladurée, both out of Paris, natch.

  

Researching these cookies, one is left with the distinct impression that they require not only skill of the highest degree but intricate steps and rituals known only to the anointed.  Mere mortals can expect endless failure, best to leave it to the pros, kids.

And at prices tipping the $2 – $2.50 mark per cookie, it’s understandable that those who make them want to keep them pretty exclusive. It would, for example, cost you about $700 for the cookies visible in the photo of the display case seen above. Of course, you’re also paying for the high-brow location, the perfectly appointed stylish shop (yes, it is lovely), extra fancy packaging and a fairly large dose of lah-dee-dah.

Inspiration for Macarons

Enter Stella Parks of BraveTart.com and pastry chef at Table 310 in Lexington, KY. Her viewpoint: They’re just cookies, people! There’s nothing magical about them (although they are pretty damn tasty) and you don’t need to set up a sacrificial altar to the macaron gods to make them successfully.

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