Elegant and sweet, homemade macaroons make a perfect spring treat

Elizabeth Duncan

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French macaroon cookies are delicate and elegant treats for springtime. Though baking French macaroons may seem daunting at first, any amateur baker can master this dessert with four simple ingredients. If a baker closely follows just a few critical steps, they can produce macaroons in a variety of different colors and flavors.

A french macaroon is composed of a flavored filling sandwiched between two light cookies. Every cookie starts with the same basic structure, but can easily be varied  with different colors and flavors.

The most difficult part of baking this treat is making the cookie shells. Begin by creating an almond sugar mixture, as almonds are the main base for the cookie.You can use almond flour or chop blanched almonds in a food processor until they are very fine, and then add them to the mixture.

Sift almond sugar mixture through a sifter. Take the almond pieces that do not go through and place them in the food processor to be chopped again.

Sift almond sugar mixture through a sifter. Take the almond pieces that do not go through and place them in the food processor to be chopped again.

When you sift the almonds with the powdered sugar, you will not be able to sift all the almonds through the metal sieve the first time.

Place the remaining bits back in the chopper and sift again. Continue with this process until you have about two tablespoons left and the mixture is fine and light.

Crack your warmed eggs into the mixer and add in the granulated sugar. The egg whites must be at room temperature.

This is critical! Slightly cold eggs will not form the proper peaks, so let the eggs sit out for 20-30 minutes. Then whip the ingredients together until peaks form and the mixture is stiff and fluffy. This may take five to seven minutes.

The next step is to add in the sugar almond mixture and flavoring. However, be careful when you fold in the dry mixture. Too much mixing will cause the cookie to become too liquidy, and the macaroons will not puff up. Undermixing the mixture will make the dough lumpy. The goal is to completely incorporate the dry mixture without overmixing.

Gently fold flavoring into the mixture.

Gently fold flavoring into the mixture.

At this point, you can begin flavoring your cookie. Cocoa powder, lemon zest, or crushed raspberries begin to differentiate the kind of cookie you are creating. Also, you can add a few drops of food coloring to create the pretty pastel colors that you see in France.

Next, place the cookie mixture in bags to pipe on to a cookie sheets, and pipe two-inch circles in rows.

Next comes the most important step: creating the classic macaroon shape. The goal is to create a smooth cookie on top with a ruffled rim around the bottom, called “feet” by professional bakers. These feet are visible evidence of the perfect crunch on the outside and lightness on the inside. To create these feet, let the cookies sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes before you place them in the oven.

After 10-13 minutes in the oven, take out the cookies and let them sit. While you are waiting for them to cool, prepare your fillings.

Pipe the cookies into rows. They do not spread out while baking, so you can put them close together. Let the cookies sit for 30 minutes before putting them in the oven.

Pipe the cookies into rows. They do not spread out while baking, so you can put them close together. Let the cookies sit for 30 minutes before putting them in the oven.

Nutella and jams make an easy, pre-made filling, or you can make your own flavored frostings.

The most simple and tasty flavors are chocolate cookies with Nutella filling, raspberry cookie with jam, and lemon cookie with a citrus buttercream frosting. However, once you have mastered these skills, you could even try fancier flavors like green tea, rose water, or lavender. The best part about making macaroons is that once you understand the basic steps, you can be creative with how you flavor them.

 

Recipe:

1 cup of powdered sugar

⅔ cup of finely sliced blanched almonds

2 large egg whites (room temperature)

¼ cup granulated sugar

Filling of your choice