Just in time for Valentine's day comes these special French Macarons with the same chocolate raspberry truffle filling we sold at the bakery. This deeply chocolate, deeply raspberry filling is sandwiched between two pink macaroons.
It is important to read this header because a lot of the information is here and only referred to in the actual recipe.
I have to tell the truth and let you know that I have always been intimidated by French Macarons. They look so perfect with their smooth tops perched on their little feet. I've been told they are easy, they are hard, they take practice, they don't take practice and on and on. So I stopped reading and listening to everyone and started testing.
The first attempt was way off. The recipe had far too much almond flour and powdered sugar for the two egg whites. No matter how much I mixed, it wouldn't flow which is essential to the outcome.
While the second attempt was better, I didn't beat the whites enough and the batter was rather runny. Not bad, but not as pretty as I would like.
So the photo above is number three. Really happy and proud of these. Just like the prettiest ones you've seen in magazines.
Truth to tell, with the right recipe (below) they aren't difficult. The discussion of the steps below, as well as the photos, will guide you to the perfect macarons – just like in the photo.
This recipe is best when measured by weight rather than volume. I am giving them in grams and ounces. If you haven't already, do get a scale. Walmart, Target and the internet have them for around $20.00 or less. Make sure they weigh in grams and ounces as well as go up to 5 pounds.
Combine the almond flour and powdered sugar in the bowl of a processor and process to make sure the almonds are completely powdered. Sieve this mixture and set aside. Throw away any little granules that won't go through the sieve.
If you are certain you can pipe consistently you don't need a template. However, I do. So make a template the size you want your macarons to be. I used a 1 ¾ inch round cookie cutter and drew around the inside of it. For a half sheet pan, I drew four across and six down. Consistent size is important so they pair up for filling. Save this template as it can be used over and over.
There are 3 methods of mixing. Any of these are correct. I used the French method as these are French Macarons, it is the least intimidating and works well.
The French are the fastest as you simply beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and then add the granulated sugar slowly to achieve stiff but not dry peaks.
Second is the Swiss method that requires the heating of the egg whites and sugar to a temperature of 130°F to dissolve the sugar. This mixture is beaten to stiff but not dry peaks.
Third, the Italian method requires heating sugar and water to about 234°F and pouring it over the beaten egg whites, beating to stiff but not dry peaks.
Color and any flavoring should be added to the meringue mixture just after the sugar has been added. Overcolor as some of it will be dimmed when the almond/sugar mixture is incorporated.
Fold in ⅓ of the almond/sugar mixture along with additional coloring to the meringue and stir it in to make a paste.
Fold in another ⅓ of the meringue.
Add the last ⅓. It will probably be too thick at this point. So stir the batter until it is shiny and forms a thick ribbon when done.
Place your template under another sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Tips for piping vary depending upon how large or small you want them. A ¼ to ½ inch plain tip is most used. For the size macarons I made, I used a ½ inch tip (Ateco #806). Pipe a mound in the center so it flows out to the edges of the template. The peak should disappear as it moves out.
Remove the template when done piping with a quick jerk. Repeat for any additional sheets or store for future use. Do not fold it when storing or it won't lay flat when you need it again. My preferred method is to store the sheets between two pieces of cardboard. It can also be rolled up loosely but may need to be flattened under a cookie sheet to make them lie flat. Be sure to mark the template if you have more than one so you know which one to use.
After piping the macarons, pick the tray up and hold it several inches above the surface and drop it to remove the air bubbles. Drop it several times. Any existing air bubbles should be pricked with a toothpick or cake tester. This also helps form the "pied" or foot on the bottom.
Resting or Drying
The Macarons should rest or dry between 15 minutes up to 60 minutes at room temperature so they form a shell on top. The time varies depending on the humidity. They have dried enough when you touch them and they feel dry to a light touch. Continue drying them until they are set on top. This is important so they have the de rigueur foot on the bottom. Some recipes say you don't need to do this, but I feel it is safer since it doesn't hurt anything.
Oven temp varies – 300°F seems to be a good compromise. Bake one sheet at a time between about 10 to 25 minutes, depending upon the size. Rotate halfway through. Don't let them color but they should be set. To test for doneness, lightly touch one and move it from side to side. If it does not move, they are done. If there is any movement, return to the oven for a few minutes more.
They should come off the parchment paper easily, without sticking, when cooled.
Remove from the oven, let sit on trays for 5 minutes then transfer, while still on parchment, to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Handle the cookies by the bottom. Pair the cookies up by size and shape. Turn half of the cookies over and pipe the filling on the flat side. Top with the second cookie, right side up. Don't be too skimpy with the filling. It should show in the middle.
They can be filled with buttercreams, ganaches, jams, just about any filling.
The macarons can be placed in a cookie tin with paper between the layers. They should be refrigerated at least 24 to 48 hours before serving. This helps soften the very crispy shell on top I stuck my finger through 2 while filling them. They also freeze well.
Serving and Storing
Serve at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator or freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator if frozen.
140 grams almond flour or almond meal (5 ounces)
225 grams powdered sugar (8 ounces)
114 grams egg whites (4 ounces)
45 grams granulated sugar (1 ½ ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla, optional
Food coloring as needed
Before making the macarons, prepare a template if using one and line two half sheet pans with parchment. Place the template under one of the parchment papers. Prepare your piping bag with your pastry tip. Set aside.
Place the almond flour and powdered sugar in the bowl of a processor. Process for about 45 seconds, stopping and restarting several times. Strain the mixture to remove any pieces of nuts that won't go through.
Beat the egg whites to until really foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat to soft peaks. Add the vanilla if using and the coloring. Overcolor as it will dissipate when the almonds and powdered sugar are added.
Beat until stiff but not dry.
Stir ⅓ of the almond-powdered sugar mixture into the whites to soften them. Fold in the second ⅓. And last, fold in the remainder of the mixture. At this point, keep folding it to the point that it falls in thick ribbons from the spatula and flows but does not run.Fill the pastry bag and, holding the bag about ⅓ to ½ inch from the paper, pipe a blob in the middle of the circle on the template. Continue to fill the pan. Remove the template with a quick jerk and place it under the parchment on the other pan. Pipe to fill this pan.
Don't be concerned about the point when you pipe. It will disappear as the batter spreads out.
Let dry for about 30 minutes or until when touched lightly they are dry.
In the meantime place the oven rack on the middle rung and preheat the oven to 300°F.
Bake one pan at a time for 20 to 25 minutes. To test for doneness, touch the top of one of the macarons. If it wiggles it is not done.
Cool for about 5 minutes and remove the cookies, still on the parchment to cooling racks.
Here is a pan of unbaked macarons with one baked in the center.
Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Filling
¼ cup heavy or 40% cream
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons seedless red raspberry jam
2 ½ ounces semisweet chocolate (70 grams)
Heat the cream, butter, and jam just to boiling. Remove from the heat, submerge the chocolate and let it sit for a few minutes. Whisk smooth. To quick cool, spread thinly on a baking sheet or allow to set up and thicken at room temperature. The filling should be firm but pipeable.
Pair the macarons for size and shape. Turn the bottom of the pairs upside down so you are piping on the flat side. Starting just inside the edge, pipe from the outside in toward the middle. Place the top cookie on, right side up and press lightly to bring the filling to the edge of the cookie.
Place on a tray and refrigerate to firm the filling. When the filling is firm, place them in a tin and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.
Bring to room temperature to serve.
Store in the refrigerator or freeze for longer storage. Thaw in the refrigerator if frozen.
Yield: For the size I made 24 sandwiched together.
My friend Sally at httpss://bewitchingkitchen.com has a few more ideas on macaroons including those listed below.