I’m Mad for Macarons!

Delightful. Delectable. Dainty. Delicious.

French macarons are many things… but easy to describe is not one of them. They are the divine cookie that’s born from almond flour, sugar and egg whites. They have a thin shell-like exterior and a soft, chewy interior and are held together by some sort of scrumptious filling. They are legendary in France and can be found in markets, shops and fine restaurants all over Europe. But for some reason, they aren’t very well known here in the United States. When Americans hear the word macaron, they instantly think of the drop cookie which is a “macaroon” and nothing at all like a macaron. Maybe Stacey-Cakes can help change that, and at least in the Destin-area, the French macaron will get the attention it deserves!

From what I’ve read, the French macaron is difficult to master. There are several important steps where something can go wrong. I like to be prepared, so I did a fair amount of research before attempting these fragile treats. But even with all that research and preparation, I still learned a few things.

1. When the recipe says to grind the almond flour and the powdered sugar together in a food processor to get a nice, super-fine mixture, it really means it. I didn’t skip this step, but in the future, I’ll be sure to let it grind a little longer and hopefully it’ll get a little finer. They also suggest sifting it into the wet mixture, (which I didn’t do) and I fully understand that step now. If you don’t sift it into the egg white mixture, the almond flour gets a little clumpy and you have to fold it in longer to get it fully incorporated… which results in a “tougher” cookie.

2. When piping these cookies onto the parchment, understand that whatever shape you pipe them in, will be the shape they bake in. No, they don’t melt down at all so every little line or peak in your piping will show up in the end product. So be a careful piper!!!

3. LET THEM SIT 30 MINUTES BEFORE BAKING! I read a lot of different opinions on this, and since my Martha Stewart Macaron recipe only called for a 15 minute “time out” for my cookies, I only did 15. All the French chefs advised a minimum of 30, and they’re right on. The outer shell needs time to form a crust before you pop them into the oven, or else they’ll expand too much underneath. The perfect macaron has a nice rounded top and what they refer to as a slight little “foot” underneath. This “foot” is what happens when you bake the macarons. The still gooey dough from the inside begins to push it’s way out a little, from the underneath. If you allow the full 30 minutes before baking, then the outside gets a nice shell and the inside hardens enough so that when you bake it, you don’t get a huge “foot.” But if you don’t allow the full time, too much of the inside tries to escape and not only do you have a larger “foot”, but the macarons can SLIDE sideways a little on it… yes, a few of mine were slightly crooked.

4. Lastly, I attempted to use a swiss meringue lemon buttercream as my filling for the sandwich cookies, and in typical American fashion, I used too much. The cookie is the star of this show, and the filling needs to be light and complimentary. The lightness of swiss meringue was a good texture, but just use a very small amount.

Overall, I’m excited about the success of my first attempt at the French macaron, and will be working toward perfecting this craft. They’re such an experience for the taste buds, next time you happen to be in a cafe or bakery serving these little treasures, be sure to try one! You definitely won’t be disappointed. And maybe you’ll help start a new trend here in the States.

If you’ve attempted the French macaron and have thoughts or comments, please share them with everyone below!!!

Have a Sweet Sunday!

Stacey K.

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