I don’t have any one person or place to credit this post to. Just a Pinterest board full of French Macarons so lovely I couldn’t help but try a version of my own for Valentine’s Day.
Why I love this Valentine Macarons project
I’ve made French Macarons before and I got pretty lucky. I didn’t experience any of the horrors often associated with these tricky little cookies. I had good “feet” so I figured I did everything right. But after closer examination and some market research [aka: eating macarons from every bakery in town] it became obvious I had some things yet to learn. So, here is my second go: Valentine macarons. This time it took seven batches before I understood which parts of the process need to be executed flawlessly and I’ve gained a ton of confidence in my macaron making skills. I shouldn’t have to rely on luck for my next batch and I’m feeling pretty good about that!
Tips, techniques & takeaways
My key takeaways:
- Master Macaronage.
- Age your egg whites if you can [separate from yolks, cover with saran and let stand in a cool dry place for 24 hours] Aged egg whites have a lower water content. Which means less elasticity and a stiffer meringue. This is helpful when using the Italian [sugar syrup] meringue method.
- Bring all ingredients to room temperature before you begin.
- The pros use the Italian [sugar syrup] meringue method.
To make these Valentine macarons I added a little pink gel food coloring to the meringue and give it a few whisks until color is even. Using a stencil and pink AmeriMist coloring, I airbrushed a solitary heart on each cookie [tip: do this before assembly]
Tools for success
Silpat Macaron mat
Silicone bowl scraper
Nature’s Eats Blanched Almond Flour [I found this value size at my local Walmart]
Ateco #805 tip [macarons]
Ateco #802 tip [ganache]
Ghirardelli Chocolate Baking Chips
Special thanks to my friend Christopher for bringing some sweet inspiration from Patisserie 46 and spending the day in the kitchen with me.
Jes Best French Macarons
This is a large batch and yields about 100 macaron shells!
- 300 g icing sugar, ideally without corn starch
- 300 g almond flour
- 110 g egg whites, ideally aged 1-2 days
- 110 g egg whites, ideally aged 1-2 days
- 100 g water
- 300 g granulated sugar, ideally caster sugar
- gel food coloring
- Prepare 4 half sheet baking pans by lining them with Silpat macaron mats. I prefer the Silpat mats to parchment. They provide good "grip" so the macaron batter maintains a perfect circle shape. The Silpat mats also aid in an even release whereas parchment can often stick to macarons.
- Using a food processor, pulse icing sugar and almond flour until well blended and very fine. Alternatively, sift icing sugar and almond flour together 2-3 times. Ideally using a fine mesh sieve.
- Add 110g egg whites to sugar/almond mixture. Using a silicone bowl scraper, combine to form a firm paste. Cover with saran wrap and set aside.
- Put 110g egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Combine granulated sugar and water in a small sauce pan fitted with a candy thermometer. To avoid crystallization, brush water droplets down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush. Place on medium-high heat. Do not stir.
- When sugar mixture reaches 110ºC, start mixing egg whites on medium-high speed.
- When sugar mixture reaches 118ºC, remove from heat and add to egg whites slowly. Increase mixer speed to high and whisk until mixture is a glossy meringue and forms stiff peaks.
- Add coloring and/or dry flavorings at this time. Whisk a bit until color is even.
- Add egg white meringue to sugar/almond mixture about 1/3 at a time. Using a silicone bowl scraper, fold and push the mixture until the ingredients are well combined. This technique is called Macaronage.
- After all of the egg white meringue has been added. Keep folding until the batter runs off your scraper in ribbons. If it falls off in a clump the batter is still too thick.
- Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip. I use Ateco #805. Don't forget to twist the bag near the nozzle so batter doesn't drip out before you're ready.
- Holding piping tip absolutely perpendicular to baking sheet, pipe rounds using the Silpat Macaron mat as a guide, stopping about 1/4" short of the template (batter will spread). Reduce pressure and jerk nozzle away and to the side quickly to avoid a peak. Or try piping from the side to ensure a smooth macaron shell.
- Drop each sheet on work surface a few times to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 40-50 minutes (depending on humidity). Macarons should "set" and be dry to the touch before baking.
- Preheat oven to 300º
- Bake one sheet at a time for about 11 minutes. Watch carefully and remove from oven when fully cooked but before edges start to brown. To test for doneness, press lightly on a macaron. It should be firm on it's "feet" and not fall or slide.
- Let cool for a few minutes on baking sheets. Then transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.
- Once completely cool, sandwich two same-size macarons with a dollop of desired filling. Serve immediately. Or store in a cool dry place for a few days. Avoid storing in an airtight container. Macaron shells will absorb moisture from the filling causing a soggy cookie.
*Most liquified egg whites [in the carton] are not recommended for meringue.
Flavorings: Add flavorings like fruit zest, extracts, matcha powder, cocoa or coffee to the egg whites before adding them to icing sugar/almond mixture. This technique will ensure even distribution of flavor [as it does with color].
- 283 g Bittersweet chocolate chips
- 400 ml Heavy whipping cream
- Place chocolate chips in a glass bowl.
- Gently heat whipping cream in a small sauce pan on medium heat until small bubbles start to appear on the surface.
- Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and let stand for one minute.
- Stir gently until smooth.
- Set aside at room temperature to cool. About an hour or until the ganache is a smooth spreadable consistency.
- If it's still a little loose, refrigerate for 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so until it's just right.