Until I went to Paris this past June, I only liked to look at macaron cookies. But, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity (or many opportunities) to taste the cookie where it was perfected. I fell in love with these tiny delights after my first bite and have not had anything back in the States that has even remotely compared to the Parisian ones I tasted. But, when I saw that Sur la Table was offering a macaron class, I knew I had to learn the technique so I could create this little treat on my own.
Chef Colette Christian taught the class and told us that the recipe was brought over from France on a napkin, but now it is an art form, so much so that it has its own language, such as the below terms!
Macroannage: the technique of mixing flour and meringue to make macarons
Macronner: the technique of mixing the batter until it is firm and drops slowly when scooped
Pied: the “foot” or small frills that form along the bottom edge of a macaron that makes the cookie distinctive and authentic. Forming the pied depends on several factors including proper macronnage, oven temperature and rapping the baking sheet on the counter before placing it in the oven
Here are a few tips that Chef Collete gave the class to ensure a perfect macaron.
-To ensure consistent results, weigh all ingredients with a digital scale (convert measured units to weight)
-Make sure to sift your ingredients multiple times if necessary. Dry ingredients should have a powdery texture with no lumps. The almond and powdered sugar mixture may be pulsed in a food processor to make the texture finer.
-Fold dry ingredients in 3 additions to avoid making the batter runny
-The final macaron batter should be firm and drip slowly when scooped with a silicone spatual
-To keep macarons consistent in size and shape, make a circle template by drawing 1 1/3 inch circles spaced at least 1/2 inch apart on the page. Place under parchment paper before piping macaron onto paper
-After piping, rap (bang) the baking sheet firmly on the counter to release any trapped air and to help form the pied
Dry the piped macarons for 15-20 minutes before baking. The drying process is complete when the macarons no longer stick to your finger when touched
-Rotate the baking sheet in the oven to promote even baking (only flip the baking sheet once and do not open the oven door at any other time)
-If macarons stick to the parchment paper after baking, take a spray bottle filled with water and spray bder parchment paper. This will create steam to loosen the macarons
-Macarons can be kept sealed in an airtight container for up to 4 days in fridge and up to 1 month in freezer. To defrost, take out of freezer and leave on counter until completely defrosted. Do not open until defrosted!
We made 4 types of macarons during the class, lavender macaron with white chocolate ganache, lemon macaron with lemon butter cream, hazelnut with fruit preserve butter cream, and vanilla with fruit preserve butter cream. They were all so good, but I will give you the recipes to my favorite!
7 Ounces powdered sugar
4 ounces almond flour or meal
1 TBSP dried lavender, finely chopped
4 large (4 ounces) egg whites at room temperature
3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
2 finger pinch of cream of tarter (or salt)
Purple food coloring (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper over macaron template
Combine powdered sugar, almond flour or meal, and lavender and pulse together in food processor
Pass this mix through sift one to two times (note: the finer this mixture is, the smoother the cookie)
To make meringue:
In the stainless steel bowl of a stand mixer fitted with stainless steel whisk, whisk whites and tartar on medium speed until foamy (around speed 4)
Gradually add in granulated sugar, at medium-high speed
Once all sugar is incorporated and the mixture is thick, scrape down the sides of bowl to make sure all sugar is incorporated
Add food coloring (note: if you are making vanilla or lemon macarons, you will add the vanilla and the lemon this stage. Dry ingredients are added with the almond flour/meal and powdered sugar mixture, and wet ingredients are added at this time)
Increase speed to high
Whisk until your mixture is glossy and forms an arc at 11 o’clock (to do this clean off whisk, dip in mixture, and flip upside-down. an arc should form at 11 o’clock)
Transfer the mixture to a stainless steel bowl
To complete the macronnage step:
Sift almond flour or meal mixture 1/3 at a time over the egg white mixture and fold using a large spatula using the technique:
1. Slice through the iddle
2. Lift the mixture while turning the bowl
3. Drop the spatula
Repeat this process until the almond mixture is absorbed, add another 1/3, repeat, and add final 1/3 mixture
Once all the almond flour/meal is incorporated, “paint” the sides of the bowl in a flower petal shape with spatula 4-8 times
The correct consistency will be when the batter is nicely firm, has a glossy shine, and drops slowly down the sides of the bowl (like a volcano)
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain round tip and pipe 1 1/3 inch rounds onto parchment paper that is over macaron template (do not pipe entire circle, leave some border)
Once all macaron mixture is piped, rap (bang) the baking sheet on the counter 4-5 times to release trapped airLet stand at room temperature for 15-30 minutes, or until a slight crust forms on macaron
Bake one sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm (about 10-15 minutes) (Remember, do not open oven unless you are rotating pan!!!)If macarons are still soft inside, lower oven to 300, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for a few more minutes(note: if the top of your macaron looks crinkled, your oven temperature is too hot)Let macarons cool on sheets for 2-3 minutes and transfer to wire rack to cool completelyWhite Chocolate Ganache:1/2 cup heavy cream1 pound white chocolate, finely chopped1 ounce (2 TBSP) unsalted butter, softened1 TBSP cognac or brandy (optional)In a small saucepan, heat cream over medium-high head to a simmerPlace chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and pour hot cream over chocolateLet stand for 1 minute Slowly stir chocolate mixture with a silicone spatula to combineAdd butter and whisk mixture until smoothAdd cognac or brandy, if usingLet cool, stirring every 10 minutesOnce ganache cools, transfer ganache to a piping bag To complete macarons:Pipe ganache onto one macaron
Top ganache with another macaron and lightly squish together
Here are a few other images from the class:
If this post scares you away from baking macarons and live in the LA area, there are only 2 places Chef Colette recommends purchasing macarons. They are Jin Patisserie in Culver City and Lette in Beverly Hills (Lette also ships!)
If you would like the other recipes or have questions about macaron making, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave in the comments below!