Making Macarons


It's a pretty egregious omission on my part that we find ourselves in the second month of Paris to Go's existence and I have yet to feature macarons. Maybe I've been intimidated by the sheer ubiquity of this lustrous cookie, the taste of which you can internally rhapsodize without ever being able to fully verbalize. Making macarons is no hassle-free experience. It requires nothing short of a two or three hour commitment, and will end up covering your hair, clothes and kitchen in pesky almond pulp. But when your teeth crack the polished surface of the macaron and sink into the fluffy amygdalin strata, you'll appreciate the care taken to transform a deceptively simple ingredient list into a triumph of dexterity and culinary know-how.

For a batch of 20 cookies, you'll need 70 grams almonds (pistachio or hazelnut may be substituted), 120 grams confectioner's sugar, two large egg whites, and 50 grams granulated sugar, plus whatever filling you choose. It can be ganache, buttercream frosting, jam, even foie gras- these are your macarons. Pipe macarons directly onto Silpat silicone mats or compostable culinary parchment.

Pulse almonds in a food processor until fine. Combine with confectioner's sugar and continue processing, two to three minutes. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve and pulse again, breaking up any clumps. Continue until you have 28 grams solids left. Whisk egg whites together with granulated sugar. Beat using a stand mixer, gradually increasing speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about ten minutes; the egg whites should be completely immovable. Add flavoring and food coloring now (optional, gel food coloring only). Beat on the highest setting, thirty seconds.

Fold in dry ingredients, scraping around the bowl towards the middle. Continue until batter takes on a custard-like consistency, about forty turns- there's no room for fudging here, you literally have to count each turn. Line a baking sheet with parchment and transfer batter to pastry bag. Using a round tip, pipe macarons onto parchment. It helps to pencil in three-centimeter rounds, four centimeters apart first. Firmly tap the sheet onto a counter to release any air bubbles. Let sit at room temperature thirty minutes before placing in the lower third of a preheated oven, 175 degrees celsius. Bake 10-12 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Allow to cool at least ten minutes before removing sheet and adding filling.

Store in a biodegradable wooden box or drawstring linen bag and enjoy your zero-waste treat, because French people probably won't (I have a core group of 20 French girlfriends- escargot-loving, Brouilly-blood type, Johnny Hallyday-posters-on-the-wall-French-girls- and only one actually likes macarons). A few flavor pairings:

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