Bonjour! Today the Spot86 Chix are taking you on a trip to France where we will be making the classic French macarons! The macaron dates as far back as the 16th century when Catherine di Medici and her pastry chefs brought these delicacies to France. They didn’t gain their fame until the 18th century during the French Revolution. They started out as a simple cookie with no filling or assorted flavors. Two Carmelite nuns, also known as ‘the macaron sisters,” sold them in order to support themselves. Macarons were actually the favorite treat to King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the famous little pastry shop and cafe, Ladurée decided to take two cookies and fill therewith ganache and give them an array of different flavors. Thank you Pierre Desfontaines!
Here is how you can make your very own French macaron. Warning: this will be quite a process and should not be taken on by the impatient.
- 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 cup almond flour
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup superfine sugar
- 2 to 3 drops gel food coloring
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, almond or mint extract
- Oven with convection setting
- 4 baking sheets
- 3 silicone baking mats
- Fine-mesh sieve
- Pastry bag with 1/4-inch round tip
First things first, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Make sure you use the convection setting. Line 3 baking sheets with silicone mats. Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour. Whisk. Sift the mixture, a little at a time, through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Use rubber spatula to pass through as much as possible. Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt with a mixer until frothy. Start at medium speed and then speed up as you gradually add the superfine sugar. Beat until stiff and shiny. Should take about five minutes. Transfer the beaten egg whites to the bowl with the almond flour mixture. Draw a spatula halfway through the mixture and fold until incorporated, giving the bowl a quarter turn with each fold. Add the food coloring and extract. Continue folding and turning, scraping down the bowl, until the batter is smooth and falls off the spatula in a thin flat ribbon, 2 to 3 extra minutes. Put the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip. Holding the bag vertically and close to the baking sheet, pipe 1 1/4-inch circles. Do not over fill the sheet. Allow space for the cookies to grow. Firmly tap the baking sheets twice against the counter to release any air bubbles. Let the cookies sit at room temperature until the tops are no longer sticky to the touch (15 minutes to 1 hour depending on the humidity). Slip another baking sheet under the first batch to protect the cookies from the heat. Bake the first batch until the cookies are shiny and rise 1/8 inch. This should take about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Repeat, using a double sheet for each batch. Peel the cookies off the mats and sandwich with a thin layer of filling. See below a few varieties of filling recipes, courtesy of foodnetwork.com.
Tint the batter with 2 drops neon pink gel food coloring; flavor with almond extract. Fill with seedless raspberry jam (you’ll need about 3/4 cup).
Tint the batter with 2 drops mint green gel food coloring; flavor with mint extract. For the filling, microwave 3 ounces chopped white chocolate, 2 tablespoons heavy cream and 1 tablespoon butter in 30-second intervals, stirring, until smooth. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon mint extract and 1 drop mint green gel food coloring.
Tint the batter with 3 drops royal blue gel food coloring; flavor with vanilla extract. For the filling, mix 4 ounces softened cream cheese and 3 tablespoons blueberry jam.
Tint the batter with 2 drops violet gel food coloring; flavor with almond or vanilla extract. For the filling, mix 3/4 cup mascarpone cheese, 2 tablespoons honey and 1 teaspoon ground dried lavender.
Tint the batter with 2 drops lemon yellow gel food coloring; flavor with vanilla extract. For the filling, press 3/4 cup pineapple jam through a sieve, discarding any large pieces.
And there you go. You’re now a pâtissier!
Have a wonderful week!