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I honestly don’t know who is in charge of picking all of these national food holidays or who gets a say on when they fall, but I found it pretty appropriate that national French Macaron Day falls on the first day of Spring. These delicate cookie sandwiches are lighter than air and all the fun colors remind me of the beautiful flowers that are starting to appear everywhere I look this time of year.
But, these are tricky little sweets. They require ingredients that you probably don’t have on hand, equipment that you might need to buy, a nice chunk of time to dedicate to them and a whole lot of patience in case they don’t work the first time (or the second or third, if I’m being honest). So with all that said, why would anyone even bother making a French macaron? Have you eaten one? They’re like magical little clouds of sweetness.
They’re worth it. And worse case, an ugly macaron is usually still pretty tasty.
4 oz almond flour
8 oz powdered sugar
5 oz egg whites
2.5 oz granulated sugar
Powdered food color
The first thing you need to do is measure out all the ingredients. When I first started making macarons, I used a standard volume measurement, and my macarons were hit or miss. I eventually found a nice recipe that required weighing all of the ingredients. Since starting to use that, I have had much better results. Don’t skip this step, weigh out everything.
Place bowl on the scale and clear it out to zero. Add 4 oz of almond flour.
Add 8 oz of powdered sugar, bringing the total to 12 oz. Pulverize all of this in a food processor. It’s important that there are no large clumps.
Using the bowl from your mixer, place it on the scale and measure out 5 oz of egg whites. Add 2.5 oz of granulated sugar.
This is going to mix for 9 minutes total. Start by mixing on low speed for 3 minutes. This may not look like it’s doing much, but there’s science involved. Basically it’s unraveling the proteins in the egg whites so that during later steps, they will get very fluffy. Mix on medium for 3 minutes and finally high for 3 minutes. The result should be a big bowl of fluffy, sturdy meringue.
From here, you want to work fairly quickly. Scrape any extra meringue off the beater into the bowl. Sift the almond flour/sugar mixture into the bowl. If there are some bigger bits that didn’t get ground enough to go through, you can just add them to the bowl. The sifting is to prevent any large clumps from getting into the batter.
I usually dump all of mine in at once, but if you like, do 2 or 3 smaller portions. As you begin to mix, it might look like you’ve done something wrong. Don’t worry, you haven’t.
If you plan on coloring or flavoring the macarons, now is the time. A few drops of oil flavoring does the trick. And I like to use powdered color as it doesn’t disrupt the liquid balance the way gel or liquid can.
Continue folding the almond mixture into the meringue by scraping around the sides and folding through the middle of the bowl. You’re looking for a consistency that pools back into itself. If the batter holds a peak, keep folding a few more times.
Transfer the batter to a piping bag with a tip. I like to use a 2A but a 12 would work as well.
Pipe circles onto a silicon mat. Typically I pipe 1 1/2 circles about 1 inch apart. If the batter is runny, pipe circles further apart.
If you want sprinkles on top, do that now. Let macaron shells dry about 30 minutes. This will help pieds to form (those are the cute ruffly feet that are characteristic of French macarons).
Bake for 16-18 minutes at 300 degrees. When macaron peels off the mat, they are done. Typically a batch makes around 80-90 shells, giving you about 4 dozen finished sandwiches.
Once shells are cooked, finish them with your choice of filling. I use buttercreams of different flavors, ganache, or in this case, Quince & Apple preserves.
Store assembled sandwich cookies in the freezer up to two weeks, allow to come to room temperature before enjoying.