In a survey of a few of my favorite French cookbooks, I notice a trend with macaroon recipes. None of them are the same. Some recipes call to grind almonds with flour, others insist on two-day old eggs (this is to concentrate the liquid a bit — and older egg whites whip better). Some swear by letting the batter stand several hours before going in to the oven. Others insist this will cause cracking.
Part of the customization a macaroon can take on is either in variation in the batter or in the filling. Famous pastry shops in Paris, Ladurée and Pierre Hermé to name two of the most famous, list exotic flavors such as Rose Petal with Lychee Paste and Blackcurrant Violet.
At the end of it, the development of a macaroon recipe is a highly personal process.
- ¾ cup almond flour
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature (older rather than fresh if possible)
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¾ cup berry jam, for filling
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pulse the almond flour and the confectioners’ sugar together in the bowl of a food processor until they are well combined. Sift the mixture to make sure there are no lumps remaining.
- Whip the egg whites with a mixer on medium speed until they are foamy. Add in the cream of tartar (This helps to keep the whites from re-liquefying. You can use vinegar or lemon juice just as well) and continue to whip until soft peaks form. Reduce the speed to low, and then add in the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to high, and whip until stiff peaks form, about 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle the flour mixture over whites, and fold the mixture gently until the batter is smooth and shiny. You can add different food colorings and different flavorings to the batter at this point. I added a bit of pistachio paste to one batch and vanilla bean to another.
- Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain round tip or into a sealable quart-sized plastic bag with one end snipped. Pipe 1-inch rounds an inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. (In my lesson, Mandy had me draw circles onto the parchment paper so each macaroon would be the same size. She taught me to pipe the batter in a circle from the outside to the inside and smooth over the top of the batter so there was no tail sticking up like a “kiss”). Lightly tap the bottom of each sheet onto the work surface to release any trapped air. If you have very thin baking sheets, use two sheets, one on top of the other, to insulate the heat a bit. Let the uncooked macaroons stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before placing them into the oven.
- Bake until the macaroons are crisp and firm, about 8-10 minutes. When removing the macaroons, place the baking sheet at a slight angle onto the work surface. Spray or drizzle a bit of water underneath the parchment. The steam created helps to release the macaroons from sticking to the parchment. It isn’t critical to do this, but you don’t want to damage any of those little “bellies.”
- Match up macaroons to be the same size. It happens that some spread a bit. Fill them with any desired filling. Mandy and I used a berry jam and some chocolate ganache (basically chocolate and cream melted together).