I’ve never been to France, nor am I certain that I’d ever even had a macaron before I made these. So what caused me to put these airy little cookie sandwiches on my Eleven in ’11 list (an item that squeaked in just time and a list that I failed miserably at)? To be honest, I’m not really sure, but once they started popping up all over the blogosphere, I had to see what all the fuss was about.
They’re an incredibly finicky cookie… If you overmix or undermix the batter, they won’t develop their infamous feet, which out of the four batches I made, only about 15 cookies actually developed. If the eggs haven’t been aged enough, they’ll be flat and they’ll crack. If you attempt to peel the fragile baked cookies from the parchment before they’re ready or touch them in the wrong place (as I did with over half of them), they’ll break into a million little pieces.
So were they worth all the trouble? Yes. They were pretty darn delicious. They were crunchy like a meringue on the outside and chewy like a marshmallow in the middle. Would I make them again? Maybe, if there was a special occasion or I had lots of extra time to kill. And they gave me an excuse to finally use the package of chocolate sea salt I had picked up at a spice boutique on a trip to Tampa last year. And the chocolate ganache filling? To. Die. For.
But really, don’t be intimidated by macarons. Yes, they were a pain in the ass but if you have the patience to be precise, it’s a rewarding experience with a tasty outcome.
- 7 Egg Whites, aged 2-3 days at room temperature, divided into 3 whites and 4 whites
- 1 3/4 Cups Almond Flour
- 3 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 1/3 Cup Water
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 Vanilla Bean, split and seeds scraped
- Chocolate Sea Salt, for garnish*
- 4 oz. Semi Sweet Baking Chocolate
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
Preheat oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Sift together the almond flour and powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Set aside. In a small saucepan, add the water and sugar and simmer until the sugar has dissolved and a syrup has formed. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place 3 egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk and whip at medium speed until medium peaks form. Slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl, then increase speed and whip until glossy, stiff peaks form.
Using a spatula, stir 4 egg whites and the vanilla seeds into the flour/sugar mixture until a smooth paste forms. Fold in one third of the whipped egg whites then gently fold in the rest. Be sure not to overwork the batter. It should be smooth and shiny.
Place batter into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip. Pipe batter into 3/4 inch rounds (about 3 swirls), one inch apart on the parchment paper. Lightly tap the baking sheet on the counter in order to settle the batter. Sprinkle the tops with chocolate sea salt. Allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
While the cookies are resting, combine chopped baking chocolate and heavy cream in a small bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes, in 1 minute increments, stirring after each minute. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
Place macarons into the oven and place the handle of a wooden spoon in the door in order to vent. Bake for 10-12 minutes, then allow to cool completely before removing cookies from the parchment, then transfer to a wire rack.
Match up similarly sized cookies and spread the bottom of each with chocolate ganache. Sandwich together and store in an airtight container or freeze for up to 3 months.
* To make your own chocolate sea salt, combine 1 Tbsp. coarse sea salt and 1 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder in a plastic sandwich bag. Rub the outside of the bag between your fingers to coat the salt with the cocoa.