Almond Macarons

Valentine's Day just passed, so you've probably had your fill of sweet treats. But if not, macarons might fit the bill. If you've ever had a macaron, you'll know that they are deceptively light French cookies. Crispy and slightly chewy meringues sandwich your filling concoction. They're surprisingly addictive, and I can't believe I had my first one just a couple years ago. 

My mom and I have been experimenting with Joanne Chang's recipe for almond macarons. Usually we make them too small (which you can probably see in the picture) and some of them are kind of pointy, but they're delicious all the same! Plus, having mini macarons means you can eat more, right? We've also tried it with several fillings. Pictured are vanilla buttercream, coffee buttercream, and some of my aunt's homemade lemon curd, but there are many combinations just waiting to be tried.

Almond Macarons
7 oz. confectioners’ sugar
4-3/8 oz. almond flour4 large egg whites, at room temperature1/4 cup granulated sugar

Oven at 325F

Line your baking sheets with parchment paper first, so you don't have to worry about doing it later.
Sift together the confectioners' sugar and almond flour and set aside. In your mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites for 1-2 minutes or until foamy and the whisk starts to leave trails. Add 1tbsp sugar and whip for another 30-45 seconds. Repeat another three times (so that you add all of the sugar), then continue to whip until the egg whites are glossy and stiff.

Fold half of the confectioners' sugar and almond flour mixture into the egg whites until incorporated. Add in the rest of the dry mixture until combined. Your batter should form ribbons when you pull the spatula out. Add to a pastry bag fit with a 1/2 to 3/4 inch round tip. I try to stand the pastry bag in the bowl that held the dry mix just so you don't get too much of your batter coming out as you're trying to fill.

Pipe your macarons with the tip of the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet, then try to flick as you are releasing the pressure. This is supposed to prevent peaks (though you can probably see that I haven't mastered this yet!). Try to make your rounds about 1 inch in diameter, 1.5 inches apart. Once you've piped a sheet, rap the sheet on the counter to flatten the mounds and get rid of air bubbles. I waited about 60 minutes for the macarons to completely dry out before baking, but Joanne Chang says 20-30 minutes should suffice.

Put the macarons in the oven, turn it down to 300F and then bake for about 15 minutes. Rotate the sheet about halfway through the baking time. They should be just golden around the edges.

Let cool completely before trying to take them off the sheet - it'll help you avoid breaking them (as I did the first time I tried this). One you've finished making your meringues, you can fill with something like this buttercream. I also tried the espresso variation on this page and it tastes delicious.

Can't wait to go back home and try mastering the art of the macaron!




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