Have you ever wanted to try creating a dessert that was a little more complex, or maybe even fancy? Maybe macarons are for you! These little French cookie sandwiches are a trending item now in the US and internationally. First, there was the cupcake craze in which family owned shops popped up around towns and malls. We even saw the large scale sale of cupcakes and the franchising of them through Sprinkles Cupcakes and Georgetown Cupcake. Next, was the frozen yogurt trend with popular chains such as 21 Handles and Tutti Frutti spreading. Finally, we are at the point of macaron domination. Most notable for the treats is Bottega Louie.
Of course I caught onto the trend and found a recipe that works for me just about every time (macarons are a finicky dessert that can be easily ruined). Yet, they are gluten-free by nature so there is no difference between the real thing and a substituted version like cakes or cookies! Here’s the recipe. I found that after tasting it is nice to offset the ultra sweet shell with a only subtly sweet, tart, or possible bitter filling.
The main dry ingredients are almond flour, confectioners sugar, and granulated sugar (plus cocoa powder if you are making chocolate shells).
Sift. Sift. Sift. Honestly, no less than three sifts is acceptable to get nice feet (the small crusty edge) on your macarons. The whole concept of the cookie is to have an airy, light quality. The initial part of the process in making a meringue. When it is a little bit foamy, as shown above, add in the cream of tartar.
Add the sugar slowly and take your time. You might need headphones to block out the sound of the mixer when it’s on high 🙂 I always check the doneness of the meringue by swirling the attachment into the bowl and testing to see if the peak is stiff enough to stand. Adding the dry ingredients to the meringue is the trickiest part of the process. Fold in small portions and repeat. The batter should be shiny and flow off of your spatula like lava. Almost done! Pipe the macarons to whatever size you choose. You can wet your finger to get rid of lumps on the top of your circles. Let these sit for about 15 minutes, depending on when they form a “skin”. Bake at a low temperature for a relatively short amount of time and voila!
Fill them with anything you like. Since they are very labor intensive even using a store bought jam is nice. My favorite combo is a chocolate shell with semi-sweet chocolate ganache (also in the Martha Stewart Recipe). These weren’t the best macarons I have made–they don’t have very smooth tops and the feet are a bit small, but they are divine tasting and the recipe is very reliable. I would say among the cupcake, frozen yogurt, and macaron fads, the macarons hold a special place in my heart.