It is said that Catherine de’Medici brought Macaroons to France in 1522 when she married Henry II. Now that might just be a myth, but what’s true is that these little colorful cookies are scrumptious. Macaroons are essentially made from a mixture of almond four, sugar and egg whites.
What do French macaroons taste like?
If you have never tried a macaroon before, you might be curious to know how it tastes. Much of the taste depends on the cream that’s sandwiched between the two shells. But the shells themselves are shiny, thin, and have a very slight crunch. The center of the shell is moist, soft and a little chewy (if it’s too chewy it means you have folded it too much).
The 4 essential ingredients of French macaroons
These ingredients are key to getting the macaroons to come outright. So make sure they are of good quality.
1. Almond flour– Use very fine almond flour or almond meal, and make sure that it’s dry and not oily. You can use either blanched or unblanched flour. Both taste equally good.
2. Confectioners’ sugar– This type of sugar is very fine, making it mix smoothly into ground almonds. Try to find a version that has no starch. But if you can’t, that’s fine too.
3. Granulated sugar– This sugar, when combined with egg whites, is what creates meringue.
4. Egg whites– The whites of the egg have proteins that give structure to the macaroons. When you beat air into egg whites, they become foamy, since the whites are 10% water. It is recommended that you leave the egg whites in the refrigerator for a few days before using them. If you can’t wait days, then let it at least sit on your counter for a few hours. Using fresh eggs can cause the shell of the macaroons to break too fast.
To make it easier, you can buy most of the ingredients here:
Gel Food Coloring
Ingredient list- This recipe makes about 50-60 shells:
2 ¾ cups of almond flour
2 ¾ cups of powdered sugar
1 cup of egg whites
A pinch of salt
¾ cup of granulated sugar
Gel food coloring of your choice- optional
1. Prepare your baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.
2. Bring your food processor out. Add your almond flour to the powdered sugar and blend it into a fine powder. If you don’t have a food processor, you can just sift the mixture together through a strainer.
3. Take your electric mixer out and beat your egg whites. Add a pinch of salt to them. Start at a slow pace and increase the speed slowly once the whites start to foam. Add the granulated sugar and food coloring and continue beating the eggs until they form stiff shiny peaks- meringue.
4. Incorporate the meringue into your almond flour mixture and start to fold them using a rubber spatula. To fold correctly, move your spatula from the bottom to the top of the bowl then back to the bottom in a circular manner. Lift the spatula a little against the edge of the bowl until the batter falls in a ribbon. Keep folding until you find the mixture shiny. It should take about 50 folds but keep an eye on it for the right consistency.
5. Attach the nozzle to your piping bag after filling it with the mixture. Then start squeezing about 2 ½ inch circles onto the parchment paper. Leave about a 1-inch space between the shells, so they don’t touch and stick together in the oven.
Once you are done piping, let it rest on the counter for about 15 minutes, or until the shell forms a thin film on top.
6. Preheat your oven to 300 F. Bake the macaroons for 10-14 minutes. The exact time it takes for the cookie to dry will depend on your oven, but you don’t want them to brown. You will know they are ready if the little feet have formed, or when you take one out with a spatula and it comes out easily without sticking.
7. Once ready, take them out and let them cool for about 10 minutes on the baking tray, and then put them on a cooling rack and let them continue cooling, while you make the filling.
You can fill them with a variety of options, like chocolate ganache, buttercream, lemon or pistachio.
Once you have the filling of your choice ready, pipe them onto the bottom of one shell and close it off with the other. Handle them with care because these shells are fragile and can break. Press them gently once you fill them. Do this for all the shells.
And there you have it. They are ready to eat! But know that letting them sit for a day will make them even sweeter. Eat them yourself or give them to your friends. Either way, they are a treat for both, the taste buds and the eyes!