Sunday, January 1, 2012

French Macarons - 1 recipe; 4 variations

Happy 2012!!! May this year bring you much happiness and good times in the kitchen challenging yourself to new recipes and techniques. I spent the day learning to snowboard. This is something I have wanted to do for over 5 years and today I finally did it! I think my arms, legs, butt, shoulders will be sore for the next few days. Judging by the way the year has started, it's going to be a good one.

As for new recipes in the kitchen, macarons intrigue me. Like cupcakes, their popularity seems to have skyrocketed in the past few years. I have always enjoyed Martha Stewart's Recipes and used to watch her home/cooking/gardening show on TV before the whole jail thing happened. After that, she lost a lot of fans but she didn't lose me! I was thrilled when I found out that we had to do a case study on Martha Stewart Omnimedia (MSO) as an assignment for my accounting designation.

This macaron recipe has flavor variations - both for the cookie itself and for the filling. With one batch you can get a variety of cookies that makes it look like you put in so much more work than you actually did!

French Macarons with Flavor Variations
Makes 16 filled macarons | Martha Stewart

1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon confectioners sugar
1 cup (4 ounces) finely ground sliced, blanched almonds
6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar

1. Macarons: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners sugar and ground almonds. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners sugar mixture until completely incorporated.

2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8" #4 round tip, and fill with batter. Pipe 1-inch disks onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little. Let stand at room temperature until dry, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macarons and the shiny surface turns dull, about 15 minutes.

3. Bake, with the door of the oven slightly ajar, until the surface of the macarons is completely dry, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the parchment. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macarons from the parchment. Use immediately or store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

4. To fill the macarons: Fill a pastry bag with the filling. Turn macarons so their flat bottoms face up. On half of them, pipe about 1 teaspoon filling. Sandwich these with the remaining macarons, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

*Coffee-flavored macarons: In step 1, add 2 drops brown food coloring to the egg whites after they are whipped. In step 4, blend 1/2 cup macaron filling with 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder dissolved in 1/2 teaspoon warm water for the filling.
*Cassis-flavored macarons: In step 1, add 2 drops purple food coloring to the egg whites after they are whipped. In step 4, use 1/3 cup good-quality cassis jam for the filling.
*Pistachio-flavored macarons: In step 1, add 2 drops green food coloring to the egg whites after they are whipped. In step 4, combine 1/2 cup macaron filling with 1 tablespoon pistachio paste for the filling.

Macaron Filling
Makes filling for 16 macarons

3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature, cut into pieces

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk egg whites and sugar. Set mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and heat mixture, whisking often, until it feels warm to the touch and sugar is dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Transfer bowl to the mixer, and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until mixture is stiff and shiny, 3 to 5 minutes. Add butter, one piece at a time, and continue mixing until butter is thoroughly incorporated. The filling can be kept, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before stirring.

*Hazelnut-honey filling: In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of macaron filling with 1/3 cup finely ground hazelnuts and 2 tablespoons good-quality honey.


I'm At Home Baking said...

They look yummy! I plan on tackling Macarons at some point this year, just hoping to not have issues,lol.

Anonymous said...

I love all these variations! That's a whole lotta yum in one blog post :) I'm so glad that you posted volumetric measurements for the ingredients! I've tried to approximate weight-measurements, but every single batch of macarons i've tried (7 in all) have failed quite miserably. Good thing this recipe is the ticket to success!

Bergamot said...

The macarons look lovely. I have read so many posts but each one make it sounds really difficult. You have provided simple and easy steps to follow, tempts me to try them.

grace said...

what a truly excellent way to kick off the new year! i definitely think that if one can master macarons, one can master anything. :)

Cindy said...

Congrats on learning to snow board and making macarons! Your year is off to a great start.
I have yet to make macarons and my body is too broke to snow board. I made some muffins that failed but I have great plans for 2012!

Tia the Baker said...

i used to be afraid of macarons too, but they are sooo cute and not as difficult as i expected.

Restaurant Brugge said...

great post

Anonymous said...

Wow this looks like a simpler recipe than some I've seen. I too have a serious cupcake/macaron obsession and am always on the lookout for an easier macaron recipe. I will try these out, thanks! :)