By: Caroline Drake
French Macarons are such beautiful cookies, and can make a huge impression. Macarons, however, can also be so expensive for just one little cookie! With a little practice, you can make your own for a fraction of the cost of buying them! They are a perfect parting gift at a wedding, or a beautiful centerpiece at a bridal shower.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Measure and pulse almond flour, salt, and confectioner's sugar in the bowl of a food processor 4 times for 4 seconds each time. Next, sift the same ingredients onto some wax paper. This will help the macaron have a nice smooth top.
Place egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in a stand mixer with a wire whisk attachment. Begin to whisk the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form.
Meanwhile, heat the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup (57 grams) of water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook without stirring until the sugar reaches a soft ball stage 235 degrees F.
Once the sugar water mixture has reached the soft ball stage immediately pour it slowly down the side of the mixer bowl into the egg whites, at a medium speed.
Continue whisking until the meringue forms medium peaks and is lukewarm and glossy, about 4 minutes. Be sure not to over mix, as it causes cracking later.
Fold the meringue into the dry ingredients until you reach the unique macaronage stage. When the ingredients almost seem incorporated, add the food coloring if you wish to use it.
Fold the components just enough, but not too much or the macarons will crack. Once the ingredients are combined, lift some of the mixture about 1 inch above the bowl with the spatula. If it retains a three-dimensional shape, fold it again. When folded just enough, the mixture should fall right back into the bowl, with no stiffness, in one continuous, lava-like drip.
Pipe the macarons using a piping bag, and a 1/2 inch (2A) tip. Pipe them into 1 1/2 inch circles onto a silicon or parchment lined baking sheet.
Once the macarons are piped, slam the baking sheet down to remove excess air (slam 6 times from 6 inches above the table).
Bake the macarons for 15 minutes (until the skin forms at 200 degrees F), and then raise the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees for an additional 10-11 minutes, until the macarons just come off the baking sheet when you lift them from both ends (the centers will have risen, and will not have any dark indentations). If the macarons darken too quickly, place a wooden spoon in the door of the oven to prop it slightly open.
Place on a cooling rack, and cool completely before filling.
Place the macarons out by two half shells roughly the same size and shape.
Pipe your favorite filling (simple buttercream shown here) in the center of the flat side of the cookie. Don't pipe the frosting all the way to the outer edge, stop just before so it won't flow over the edge.
Place the top of the cookie over the filling, then give it a little half twist. Allow the filling to set.