Parisian Style Macarons. They are dainty little meringue cookies that are light, crisp, and filled with a variety of custards, ganache, or jam. When I first started making them, not many books were available on macarons. I learned with the help of many friends online, and from various websites. Things are changing however, and there are several books coming out with recipes for a variety of macarons
The first one that I purchased is I Love Macarons, by Hisako Ogita. This is a great book for someone who is wanting to learn the techniques involved in producing a great macaron. Hisako goes into great detail with every step of the process, and shows you how to add colors and flavors to make wonderful treats. At the time I purchased this book in late 2009, it was pretty much the only book available on macarons. Things have changed as macarons are becoming a popular and more familiar treat across the country. Both Mad About Macarons by Jill Colonna, and Macarons by Cecile Cannone, were just released in December 2010, and there are four more books on the topic of macarons on the horizon for this year.
This recipe and technique are from Hisako Ogita’s I Love Macarons. I chose to top them with cocoa nibs, and fill them with a very simple chocolate ganache. I hope you enjoy them.
3 Tablespoons (1 ounce/25 grams) Cocoa Powder (My preference is All Natural Cocoa Powder. I use Askinosie)
1/2 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) Almond Powder
1 cup (1.75 ounces/ 50 grams) Powdered Sugar
3 Large egg whites at room temperature
5 Tablespoons/65 grams Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup of cocoa nibs to garnish the tops
Cut a piece of parchment to fit your baking sheet. Draw 1 inch (2.5 centimeter) circles on the paper, spacing them at least a 1/2 inch (1.5 centimeters) apart. This pattern will be your guide for squeezing out the macaron batter.
In a food processor, grind cocoa powder, almond powder and powdered sugar. Set aside.
In a stainless steel mixing bowl, beat egg whites on high until they are foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar to the egg whites. Add vanilla and stir lightly. When the meringue is stiff, firm, and has a glossy texture it is done.
Add 1/2 of the sifted flour mixture and fold it in. Add remaining flour and mix it lightly in a circular motion. When you have run out of flour, press and spread out the batter against the bowl’s sides. Scoop the batter from the bottom and turn it upside down. Repeat this process about 15 times.
When the batter becomes nicely firm and drips slowly as you scoop it with a spatula, the mixture is done. Attach a .4 (1.01 centimeter) tip to a pastry bag. Twist the bag to hold the tip tightly. This prevents the batter from leaking out. Place the pastry bag, tip down, in a measuring cup and pour the batter made into it. Clip the bag top, to prevent batter from coming out. You can use a string or rubber band as well.
Line a cookie sheet with the parchment prepared in step 1 and squeeze batter onto the center of the circles. Make small circles since the batter tends to spread out. Rap the baking sheet firmly against counter. This helps the macarons retain their rounded shape and helps the pied, or little “foot” to form. Top each round with 3 cocoa nibs.
Dry the batter at room temperature for 15 minutes. A slight crust should form on top of the macarons. On rainy days it helps to dehumidify the room. If the batter doesn’t stick to your fingers when you touch them, the drying process is complete. On a dry sunny day, the drying process takes approximately 3o minutes.
Baking the Macarons
Place racks in the center of the oven and pre-heat to 375°.
Stack the baking sheet with the prepared circles into an empty baking sheet and slide both into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, if the macarons are still soft lower oven temp to 300° cover the tray with foil and bake for 2-3 minutes.
The macarons are done! Remove the baking sheets from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
For the Ganache
Dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) – 8 oz chopped
Heavy cream – 8oz
Place the chopped chocolate into a heat resistant bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, scald the cream. Let it come to a simmer with bubbles just forming around the edge of the pan (do not let it come to a full boil). Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute to allow the chocolate to melt. Stir the mixture until it is smooth and allow it to cool to room temperature. It should be thick and easy to spread.
Spread a teaspoonful of ganache on the flat side of one macaron shell, and place the flat side of another shell against it. Gently press together to allow the filling to bind them. Your macarons are now ready to enjoy.