What the Fuss is All About…

This, I had to know. I’ve been seeing them on every blog from here to Mongolia…French Macarons. Or Macaroons. Or French Fussy Cookies. Not a macaroon like we Americans are used to – no – these are not coconut cookies. These cookies are fancy little bites of almond powdered meringue, baked, then sandwiched together with a yummy filling.

Everyone keeps saying how impossible these cookies are to make. Apparantly, they are touchy, easy to destroy, and a bear to bake. And the key to success? Feet. That’s what they call the bubbly little bottoms of the cookie. If you’ve got feet, you’ve got a pretty successful macaron.

I see on so many of the foodie blogs that there are gourmet shops out there that sell these little things for $3.50 EACH. EACH?? Do these buyers not have an oven?? Are they really that good? What’s the big deal? Sure, they are cute, but….geez that seems like a lot.

So I did a little research. I studied this article. I scoped out lots of recipes. What I finally decided on was this recipe by David Lebovitz. I knew it was risky, but I had to make a substitution. No Dutch process cocoa. I did have Ghiradelli sweetened cocoa, so I used that. I just used less of it than he called for. I also split the batter, adding a little splash of raspberry extract to it. That being said, here is a look at his recipe, with my changes in red. I kind of winged the ganache fillings. Some had a White Chocolate Coconut Ganache, some had a Dark Chocolate Raspberry Filling. Both are excellent. Really, truly, excellent. And look, ya’ll…they have feet. Lots and lots of little feet.
I made these with approximately $2.80 in materials, including the fillings. It turned out making about 30 sandwiched macarons. Hmmm. That’s around a hundred bucks I saved, right?

I will definitely be making these again. Lemon, Strawberry, Coconut. Oohhh. Orange. Pineapple. So many choices. Chocolate and Peanut Butter…yummmmmm.

French Chocolate Macarons
by David Lebovitz
Macaron 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 (I used 1 Tbsp. Sweetened Cocoa)

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar (I used superfine sugar)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (180 degrees 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 countertop to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

Fill with ganache.

Let me now tell you what worked for me. I used a small package of slivered almonds, 2 oz. I added it and the confectioners sugar to the food processor and pulsed then added the chocolate and pulsed and pulsed. In a separate mixing bowl, I whipped the egg whites as he said, then while whipping I added the sugar a little at a time. When I could turn the mixing bowl upside down and the meringue stayed put, I stopped whipping. Then I folded in about half of the almond mixture, then the rest, only until there were no streaks left. Using a smallish round tip (about 1/4 inch) I piped half of the batter onto the parchment, making quarter sized “kisses”. For the remaining batter I added just a couple of drops of raspberry extract, lightly stirred, and then piped those the same way. I smacked the pans onto the counter. Now, this part I swear by…I baked the cookies in the top third of the oven with an empty pan on the bottom rack. This kept them from burning on the bottom. It also didn’t seem to matter if the batter waited on the oven or if they were the first pan in, they both developed little feet. Oh, and no matter what – use PARCHMENT, not wax paper. Trust me on that.

I hope this will work for you if you try them!
Good luck!

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