My niece has been wanting to make French macaroons, or macarons all summer. My first reaction was “no way” because of the intimidation factor. On a recent episode of Master Chef, contestants had one hour to make macaroons. I finally agreed to help her after finding a recipe in my Thomas Keller cookbook. My favorite macaroons are not the ones from Pierre Herme’ in Paris, but the ones from Keller’s Bouchon Bakery.
Macaroons come in all sorts of exciting colors and flavors. The recipe in my cookbook was for vanilla macaroons. I figured that since it was going to be my first attempt at making macaroons, sticking with a basic flavor was probably a good idea.
There are two separate preparations for a macaroon, there are the cookies and the filling. I didn’t have a candy thermometer which was required for the vanilla butter cream filling in TK’s cookbook, so I found a quick vanilla buttercream recipe courtesy of the Food Network.
We mixed 3 cups of confectioners sugar with 1 cup of softened unsalted butter. We then added 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract and 2 tbsp of whipping cream and continued mixing to blend all ingredients. The buttercream was complete and we put it aside.
For the cookie, we prepared a dry mix consisting of 2 1/2 cups of almond flour and slightly less than 3 cups of confectioner’s sugar.
In a separate bowl, we beat the whites of four eggs (must be at room temperature). When it held its form, we added 1 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp of granulated sugar. We continued beating until the whites became fluffy and then added a pinch of tar tar. The mixing continued until the whites held stiff peaks. My hand mixer was MIA so when I say “we,” I mean that my niece and I took turns mixing, as it became quite tiring. At this point, we slowly added the dry mix a quarter at a time. I scraped the seeds of a Tahitian vanilla bean into the final mixture.
I put the mix into a plastic Ziploc bag and cut the tip. Earlier my niece traced 2 inch circles on parchment paper. The paper was turned over and placed on a cookie sheet where we piped the mix within the circles. We let the dough sit in room temperature for an hour before baking.
In a 325 degree oven, we baked the cookies for less than twenty minutes, turning the sheet around halfway through. The cookies should be lightly brown. We pulled them off the parchment paper and let them rest on a cooling rack. Once cooled, we piped the bottom of one cookie and matched it with another of similar size and sandwiched them together.
Our macaroons really turned out looking like macaroons. To be honest, they were a little crunchier than we wanted. We did however put them in a sealed Tupperware which changed the texture the next day. There was a slight crunch and a chewy interior to the cookie. For a first attempt, we did great and I was really impressed. I think I would prefer to drive to Napa and buy my macaroons than to make these again. I did enjoy the experience and can check this off my bucket list.