French Almond Macaroons
1 1/4 cups icing/powdered sugar
4 oz (1 cup) almond flour or finely ground almonds (if grinding yourself add some of the icing sugar to keep them from getting gummy)*
2 large egg whites**
pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon extract of choice: almond, vanilla, orange, lemon, pistachio... (optional)
few drops food coloring (optional)
* It is very important that the almonds are VERY finely ground. Almond flour is expensive and too course. the only method that worked for me was to grind slivered almonds batch by batch in a krups coffee bean grinder (grinds finer than a processor or blender) and to sift like crazy eliminating all the chunks)
** 2 egg whites are not enough!! and they work much better at room temp, so i found that setting aside 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of egg whites a few hours before hand and letting get to room temp worked the best)
On three pieces of parchment (SILPATS work much better!!), trace 1-inch (2.5 cm) circles about 2 inches apart.
Flip each sheet over and place on baking sheets. (I didn't use the circles after doing them once, just did it by guesstimation... not necessary unless you are a perfectionist!)
Sift (and sift and sift again!) almond flour and icing sugar together into a bowl.
In a large clean, dry bowl whip the egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy.
Increase the speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar, extract and coloring (if using).
Continue to whip to stiff peaks Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the whites should be firm and shiny. (I also add a pinch of cream of tartar to make sure they don't droop or break when cooking)
With a rubber spatula, fold in the icing sugar mixture into the egg whites until completely incorporated. The mixture should be shiny and flow like magma. When small peaks dissolve to a flat surface, stop mixing. (you may not need to add all the flour, so pay attention at this point and give the mixture some time to incorporate itself... it may seem too dry, but after a couple of minutes, it usually soaks it all up (make sure the batter is like 'magma' otherwise, you are screwed!))
Fit a piping bag with a 3/8-inch (1 cm) round tip, or take a medium-sized plastic sandwich baggie and snip off one corner.
Fill the piping bag or baggie and pipe the batter onto the baking sheets, in the previously drawn circles (I found spiraling out from the center to work best).
Tap the underside of the baking sheet to remove air bubbles. (don't be afraid to tap hard, the air bubbles can KILL you beautiful creations!) Let dry at room temperature for 1 or 2 hours to allow skins to form. (one hour is enough, but no less)
Heat the oven to 160C/325F and bake for 10 to 11 minutes, or until set and firm on top.
Rotate the baking sheets after 5 minutes for even baking.
Remove macarons from oven and transfer parchment to a cooling rack.
When cool, slide a metal offset spatula or pairing knife underneath the macaron to remove from parchment. (make sure they cool all of the way before trying to remove, otherwise they are fragile)
Pair macarons of similar size, and pipe about ½ tsp of the filling onto one of the macarons. Sandwich macarons, and refrigerate to allow flavours to blend together. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
You can use just about anything you want for the filling... i like to use homemade jam or buttercream... let me know if you want the buttercream recipe :)
GOOD LUCK! you will need it!
Pairs Well With
If I wanted to learn how to make anything French, it was these. These little crunchy, but chewy bites are a piece of heaven and all of the best patissiers make them in a range of amazing flavors like pierre herme' caramel fleur de sel and campari. So it was an adventure finding a recipe that actually worked. It is not easy, but oh SO rewarding to finally produce a successful batch!!! After a dozen failed attempts this one worked the best plus a few additions from me...