Instructions for making French macarons are notoriously fussy. And for good reason: such beauty comes at a price. To get that gorgeous look requires a lot of tedious work, including accurately weighing out the ingredients on a kitchen scale and sifting the nuts and confectioner's sugar. This is one of those recipes that really should be followed to the letter. Your macaron will probably turn out quite tasty even if you are not as precise as instructed, but most likely, it won't be as pretty. So the choice is yours.
Makes about 8 servings
from Jayne Cohen
Here are some other flavoring and filling ideas:
Apricot-Rosemary Macarons: For shell, use all almonds, eliminate coffee and substitute 1 tablespoon rosemary, grinding as directed, and substitute almond extract for vanilla; for filling, combine apricot jam with a little finely crushed pistachios, adding a bit of lemon juice if jam is too sweet.
Lavender-Berry Macarons: For shell, substitute 1 tablespoon dried lavender for coffee powder, use all almonds, and grind as directed; for filling, strawberry or raspberry jam flavored with a bit of rosewater or, for a tarter flavor, with fresh passion fruit juice. Or mix a smidgen of pomegranate molasses into jam for a tangier taste.
Dairy Fillings: Try ganache (especially chocolate), flavored buttercream, salted caramel or dulce de leche, mascarpone flavored with raspberries, lemon or passion fruit curd, or even flavored freshly whipped cream
- 55 grams (weigh for best results) finely ground almonds (about ½ cup)
- 55 grams (weigh for best results) finely ground hazelnuts (about ½ cup)
- 200 grams (weigh for best results) kosher-for-Passover confectioner's sugar (about 1 ⅔ cups)
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 35 grams (weigh for best results) granulated white sugar (about 2 ½ tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon kosher-for-Passover vanilla extract
- Your choice of filling – some suggestions: kosher-for-Passover chocolate spread; prune jam (lekvar) spiked, perhaps, with cinnamon; sour cherry preserves (purée until smooth); date syrup (silan), cooked down a bit if too thin
- Line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.
- Combine the ground almonds and hazelnuts, confectioner's sugar, and espresso powder in a food processor and pulse until powdery. Sift the ingredients through a sieve into a large bowl. If necessary, regrind ingredients remaining in the sieve until almost all are fine enough to pass through. (If there is still a small amount remaining that can't be sieved, discard it.)
- In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt on low speed until foamy. Increase speed and gradually beat in the granulated sugar, continuing until whites form medium peaks (stop before you reach the stiff peak stage). Whisk in vanilla.
- Fold the nut mixture, one-third at a time, into the egg whites, working gently but quickly to incorporate them. When you're finished, the batter should flow slowly from a spatula, neither too runny nor too thick. This consistency has been compared by some cooks to molten lava. To test a sample, pipe out a small amount. It should not hold a peak; it should flatten out soon after piping. If not, gently fold the batter some more.
- Spoon the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip. Pipe the batter into circles about 1½ inches in diameter onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving room between each one. Rap the baking sheets firmly against the counter a few times to eliminate air pockets and smooth out the tops.
- Let rest at room temperature until a skin forms on top. They should feel dry to the touch, no longer sticky. This may take 45 to 60 minutes, depending on the humidity of your kitchen.
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Bake for about 15 to 25 minutes, until macarons are set and lightly crisp, but not browned, reversing position of the pans halfway through. Exact time will vary according to your oven.
- Transfer to racks to cool for about 30 minutes. When completely cooled, spread a thin layer of filling over the flat side (bottom half) of macaron, top with another macaron, flat side down, and twist slightly to secure. Continue making macaron sandwiches with remaining shells and filling.
- Let the filled macarons stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours to soften before serving. Or store wrapped in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. Macarons can also be frozen for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before serving.