I haven’t reviewed a recipe in quite some time, and it’s really ‘cause I haven’t cooked much lately. What have I been eating then?! Well… After the New Year, my husband decided he would finally start dieting (again). He went on this low-carb/no-carb diet and for roughly three months, all he wanted for lunch and dinner was spicy turkey meatloaf (which I have already written about) with broccoli. It was easy enough to prepare (I was making the same thing every two days or so; believe it) so I wasn’t going to complain. I actually got pretty bored of making it at some point. After three months, he decided that while the meatloaf was very flavorful and he still liked it, he wasn’t losing weight as quickly as desired. So then he went on a rotisserie chicken and broccoli diet. Even easier: now I just buy a rotisserie chicken twice a week and all I really do in the kitchen is peel, chop, and wash broccoli. People think I’m joking when I tell them he can eat the same thing for lunch and dinner for months and months.
So I haven’t been cooking too much, but I started baking French macarons again! (And yes, it’s “macaron” and not “macaroon.”) I first attempted these famously finicky cookies back in 2014, just to see if they were really that difficult to make (since I would hear all about “feet,” “hollows,” and “nipples”). I remember the first time I tried one from a fancy restaurant in California. I wasn’t impressed because for the expensive price tag ($3-$4 for a 2-inch cookie), it was so sickly sweet that my teeth actually hurt afterward. I figured that if I made them at home, I could reduce the amount of sugar or something. After a lot of reading/research, it appears that while you can reduce the sugar somewhat, it is supposed to be a sweet cookie overall and if you reduce the sugar too much, the cookies might not turn out right. Thus, you should try to play with the filling and make a filling that isn’t too sweet.
A lot of sites tend to focus on the “feet,” the ruffly, bumpy-looking ring around the bottom of the macaron shell. Most people think that is the ultimate sign of a successful batch. However, through lots of reading, research, and baking, I have found that there are “good” feet and “bad” feet. Too tall, too flat, spreading too much outward or having no air spaces between the feet and the shell can all mean the second worst thing: hollow shells. You can’t hide the fact that your macaron shells have failed to develop feet, but it’s easy to hide a hollow shell (by not taking a picture of the inside!). In fact, I have even paid for macarons from bakeries that ended up being hollow inside (which is a ripoff because they sold “failed” macarons and you’re just eating a puff of air). A well-made macaron should be nice and fluffy inside (with good feet on the outside).
Finally, there are two methods for making macarons: the French method and the Italian method. So far I have had more success with the French method, though I have read that the Italian method gives fluffier macarons. My first attempt with the Italian method was a fail (I got hollow shells), but I’m about to give it a second try someday soon.
In the meantime, because I have been posting a lot of macaron pictures, several friends have requested the recipe that I use. To be honest, most recipes are very similar. There aren’t that many ingredients. I think the technique (proper “macaronage,” as they say) is more important than the recipe, and for me, recognizing when to stop folding took practice. You will read all about “lava,” “ribbons,” and making a “figure 8,” but it’s really something that you have to get a feel for after several attempts.
Here is the link to recipe I’ve been using. I have had good success following the blogger’s instructions:
After researching many recipes, I found that a lot of them call for an equal amount of almond flour to powdered sugar, and then at least 100 grams of white sugar! I went with the given recipe because it uses a lot less sugar compared to other recipes, and I’ve adjusted the ingredients a bit as follows:
130 grams VERY FINE* almond flour
180 grams powdered Sugar
100 grams egg whites**
30 grams white (granulated) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
* If the almond flour you buy is not super, SUPER fine (like sand!), I suggest pulsing it a bit in a coffee grinder or food processor. While not necessary, the finer the almond flour, the smoother your macaron shells will be – and they look a LOT better when they’re smooth. When you make different flavors, you can use ground hazelnut or ground pistachios instead of ground almond.
** My kitchen scale tells me 100 grams of egg whites is about 3 large eggs (minus the yolks). With 3 eggs, sometimes I get 93 or 95 grams, but that’s close enough (that I wouldn’t crack open a 4th egg).
Now, just follow the instructions at the link! The filling can be anything you want and no one messes up the filling (so most recipes only post instructions for shell-making). In general, people try to make the macaron color match the macaron flavor, but I say go crazy and play with your favorite colors.
Which reminds me: I just scored an awesome deal at Michaels with some color gels. They were $5.99 marked on clearance for $0.74, but rang up for $0.59 (before tax) at check-out! I wish there were more colors, but I was still quite happy with the deal I got.