Just in time for Easter, I made these tiny little bite sized French Macarons (alternate spelling macaroons - both are used). These are not the coconut macaroons, but a little crisp, light meringue bite with a bit of filling in the center. Although many people find these difficult to make, and bakeries charge $2 per cookie, I am not sure why. I currently live in the deep south where humidity levels are high, we had a rain storm the morning I made these and yet, they turned out perfectly for me. In addition to that, I found they baked up perfectly (if not a little bit too high actually, as my batter was quite thick - I'll add a bit of liquid next time to flatten them out), but I had no sticking problems either - using just a basic non-stick parchment paper.
Because of our high humidity levels, I filled them and froze them until this Sunday. They froze beautifully and my husband and I took a few out last night to enjoy - they were perfect in every way and thawed quickly, not losing any of their taste or texture.
1 c confectioner's sugar
3/4 c almond flour
2 egg whites, room temperature
pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 c superfine granulated sugar
optional: 1-2 drops food color and 1/4 t flavor extract
Mix the confectioner's sugar and almond flour very well either by pulsing in a food processor until combined or using an electric stick blender or electric whisk, etc. It should be mixed very well and quite fine.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add a drop or two of food color if you are using it, a drop or two of flavor extracts if you are using them, and the superfine white sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip if you have one, or if not, leave the round 1/2 inch opening of the bag or the white plastic piece you would normally put a tip on, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Drag the pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks.
Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Option one: Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees.
Option two: If you bake a constant 300 or 325 without adjusting the temperatures, it takes about 17 minutes to bake crisp. I tested both ways and found both to work for me.
Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. (If macarons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macarons.)
Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 teaspoon filling of your choice. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.
- I use Honeyville Blanched Almond Meal Flour - which is incredibly expensive and has gone up $10 per 5 lb. bag in the last 1 1/2 years alone as they get to be more popular in gluten free baking. I hate having to purchase it, but for baking flour-free cakes, cookies, pastries and more, it's the best quality I've found. I use other brands or non-blanched for quick breads and recipes where the white color or the fine texture isn't as important to the finished product. Sometimes I order direct from their site, other times I order through Amazon with other products I need.
- I put the eggs and the almond flour out on the counter the night before so both would be room temperature when I made them.
- I never use 'fresh' eggs for anything as I've found eggs that are 1-2 weeks old work best in almost all recipes and are the 'secret' to perfect hard boiled eggs every time.
- My oven is conventional and/or convection. I use the convection setting for them although I'm not sure if it's necessary. Because I used the convection setting, I didn't have to rotate my baking sheets while baking.
- I baked one batch following the above directions and a second batch at a constant 300 degrees for 17-18 minutes. Both turned out equally well.
- I rarely buy or use white sugar and I did not have superfine sugar on hand so I used my stick blender (like a mini food processor) to grind up regular white sugar a bit. You can use your mini food processor for that. Don't over blend or you'll get powdered sugar.
|Sifting the confectioner's sugar and almond flour (I used a whisk)|
|Separating the eggs|
|A nice stiff peak|
|My least favorite part: folding in!|
|I did not use a tip but left the hole open|
|Tiny little thumbnail sized meringues|
|A nice dry crisp bite|
|A nice shell with a chewy center - perfect!|
|The batter was a bit thick so they puffed up more than I expected|
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Non Stick Parchment Paper
Blanched Almond Meal Flour, 5 lbs.
KitchenAid 5-Speed Hand Blender
Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender with Whisk and Chopper Attachments