The first time I had a macaron was in Paris, and I liked them so much I brought a box home to New York. Fast-forward to three years later and you can buy macarons as easily here as you could in Paris! We’re not talking about Passover macaroons here, which are gross when they come in a box, but I recently discovered are good if they’re homemade. These French macarons are popping up everywhere, but they’re expensive little cookies, some costing around $3 each. So I decided to make them myself.
It took me a few tries to get the hang of these; actually, my first two attempts were total failures, but don’t let that stop you from trying! They may be a little fussy, but they’re really not that hard. First, go out and get yourself a kitchen scale. Okay, are you back? Do you have batteries? Good, now we can begin.
I made the mistake of buying almond meal from Trader Joe’s. You see, it was cheap, and I was excited about that, but it wasn’t meant for macaron-baking. It wasn’t finely ground enough, and there were little flecks of almond skin in it, which wasn’t pretty. I did successfully use it eventually, but it wasn’t a good ingredient for a beginner. So splurge on the expensive stuff. You can keep it in the freezer, and one bag lasts quite a while.
There are plenty of resources online about macarons that helped me with my experiments. I made vanilla ones with chocolate, peanut butter, and homemade jam fillings. And then I finally got the hang of it and decided to make chocolate ones. The results were very rewarding, especially after my first failed attempts, and a great contrast of textures and flavors!
French Chocolate Macarons from David Lebovitz
For the Batter:
- 1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
- ½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces, 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
- 3 tablespoons (25 gr) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar
For the filling:
- 4 oz. pareve chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350º F (180º C).
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.
- Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn’t quite fine enough.
- In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.
- Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).
- Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.
- Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.
- Make the filling by melting the chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave.
- Spread a bit of batter on the inside of the macarons then sandwich them together. (You can pipe the filling too.)
- Let them stand at least one day before serving, to meld the flavors.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze. If you freeze them, defrost them in the unopened container, to avoid condensation which will make the macarons soggy.
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