Friday, June 10, 2011
Macarons Take One.
Ever since I tasted my first macaron three months ago, I couldn't stop thinking about them. A month later in New York I couldn't resist my cravings and indulged in a variety of flavors. They are such a delicate, delicious, and delightful cookie! I wanted to try and bake them and couldn't have thought of a better time than during my visit with my aunt in Charleston. My cousin gave me the recipe and after reading some tips online I was ready to embark on what I expected to be a tricky baking experience. And tricky it was! While they were by no means perfect, it was a great first attempt and they still turned out to be delicious. I have no doubt that I'll be able to improve on my second try!
French Almond Macarons
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1½ cups (4 ounces) sliced almonds, finely ground, or almond flour
3 large egg whites (let sit covered 2-3 days before using)
Pinch of salt
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ recipe Swiss Meringue Buttercream (increase vanilla to 2 ½ teaspoons)
Preheat oven to 300˚F. Sift confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Whisk in ground almonds; set aside. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats, and mark circles using a 1-½ inch cookie cutter dipped in flour.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy; add salt. Gradually add granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the whites reach medium-soft peaks. Transfer to a large bowl.
Sprinkle half of the sugar-almond mixture over the egg-white mixture. Using a large rubber spatula, fold until just incorporated. Add ¼ teaspoon vanilla and remaining sugar-almond mixture, folding until just incorporated. Firmly tap the bottom of the bowl on a counter or work surface to eliminate any air pockets.
Transfer mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch plain tip. Pipe mixture into marked circles on prepared baking sheet. Let sit out for about 20-30 minutes prior to baking.
Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until macaroons feel slightly firm to the touch and can be gently lifted off the parchment (the bottoms will be dry), 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer parchment and macaroons to a wire rack to cool completely. Using a small offset spatula, carefully remove macaroons from parchment. Spread 2 teaspoons buttercream on the flat sides of half the macaroons; sandwich with the other halves, keeping flat sides down. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes, before serving. Filled cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Yield: About 30 sandwich cookies
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 large egg whites
1¼ cups sugar
3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1 teaspoon vanilla
In the heatproof bowl on an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch (about 160˚F).
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-whit mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixture on medium-low speed, add the butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If the frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Beat in vanilla. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth.