One of the things that I absolutely love about macarons is how delicate and impressive they look. Do not confuse a macaron (single o) with a macaroon (double oo) because they are not the same cookie at all. One is a delicate sandwiched egg meringue based cookie baked to perfection and the other cookie is simply sweetened using coconut flakes. It seems like a daunting and difficult task to bake up these precious beauties and have been seen everywhere on the foodie-blog-o-sphere. I have had this on my to-do bake list for quite some time and finally set aside some time to mac(aron) it up.
I had been coveting macarons ever since the first moment I had a taste of them from Thomas Keller’s bakery at Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. I fell head over heels in love because the texture of the macaron is absolutely perfect: crispy on the outside, soft and light and chewy on the inside. I have never experienced a cookie quite like it. I had tasted the vanilla bean, dulce de leche, and pistachio macarons and they were all equally impressive and very indulgent cookies. Bites of sheer bliss.
The key to preparing these macarons is patience. Patience because it’s a waiting game, you prep them to bake and wait for an hour before they can be added to the oven. You could watch an episode of Top Chef or Real Housewives of BH, ATL, or NYC while you wait if you want, too. Then you wait some more until they have cooled down completely before adding the filling, watch more episodes of Top Chef and then you start counting down the clock to eat and enjoy them 24 hours later. After my extensive research from reading foodie blogs of Tartelette, David Lebovitz, and countless other blogs – they all recommend waiting 24 hours. Trust me, it’s macaron magic happening in your refrigerator. You’ll fall in macaron love and catch up on your TV time.
Another key to successfully baking macarons, is to have kitchen tools like a food scale to measure out the ingredients. When properly baked there's a nice "foot" on the macaron – it’s a shiny happy feeling when you see success baking in your oven. I could not help but squealing “yipee” as I saw the feet through the oven window. Then comes the vital part of the macaron…filling the yummy middle with something incredible. Most often they are filled with a flavored buttercream, fruit jam, or chocolate ganache. Either way you decide, go and bake forth yourself a batch of macarons…it is a beautifully crafted cookie.
Helpful Guides: Demystifying Macarons & Making French Macarons
Meyer Lemon Macarons
Adapted from Use Real Butter & Tartelette
110 grams almond meal/flour
200 grams powdered sugar
90 grams aged egg whites (about 3)
zest from 1 meyer lemon
yellow food coloring (powdered or gel)
Lemon Curd (about 3 heaping tablespoons)
1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese
About 24 hours before you plan to bake your macarons, separate your egg whites in a small bowl to age. Keep them covered with loosely covered with saran wrap at room temperature.
In the bowl of your food processor, give your almond meal and powdered sugar a quick pulse. It will help remove any large clumps of nuts and combine your almonds evenly. (Or sift the mixture as well). Add the almond mixture to a medium bowl and whisk in the lemon zest.
In the bowl of the stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk your aged egg whites until they get foamy. Once it has thickened, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. They should look cloud like and stiff. Add the food coloring to your desired color and mix until combined.
Add the almond mixture to the egg whites and gently fold in to incorporate the batter. Do not overbeat the batter, it should look like gooey pancake batter. Transfer your batter to a pastry bag filled with a plain tip (Ateco #7 worked best). Pipe 1.5 inch rounds onto parchment lined baking sheets or silpat.
Once the macarons have been piped, give your cookie sheets a good smack on the counter. This will scare the kids away or your husband in the next room, but it helps to pop any air bubbles. Let it sit at room temperature to dry for 60 minutes until the tops are no longer tacky to the touch.
Preheat the oven to 315 degrees (oven temps can vary especially if you have convection). Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, keeping an eye near the 15 minute mark.
Let the cookies cool completely, and do not remove from parchment paper until cooled.
Prepare the filling, in the bowl of the stand mixer combine the lemon curd and mascarpone cheese. Mix until fully combined. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.
When ready to fill the cookies, pair the macarons together finding the best size for each. Add a teaspoon of filling and lightly spread it across and lightly sandwich the cookies together. Arrange on the cookies on a serving platter, and lightly cover with saran wrap.
Place the finished macarons and let them set in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This is the hardest part to resist the urge to taste a finished cookie once decorated, but they will not taste correct until the next day. The flavors need to time to develop and macerate together. When ready to serve, bring cookies to room temperature and enjoy.
Review: Amazing and almost perfect and I had plenty of time to catch up with my dvr’d episodes. My husband jokingly told me to stop baking things that taste so good . His exact words and only because he couldn’t stop eating them for the rest of the week. LOL. My only critique was that they were slightly lumpy in size because I forgot to pulse or sift the almond meal and I need more practice in piping circles. Overall, they were very light and delicate and tasted exactly how I remembered Bouchon’s macarons. I almost thought the macarons were not edible until I bit into one the next day, and yes I did eat a finished one after decorating it. It was not the same texture I had enjoyed but the day after is truly worth waiting for. I might be a little obsessed with baking these now, and you might see a couple more recipes to follow later.