For years I have been obsessed with the way they look. They are colorful and perfect and come from fancy bakeries and call places like Paris home. And it's said that they are almost impossible to make right in your own kitchen which makes them even more sexy to me.
They are French Macaroons.
These sandwich cookies are made of egg whites and almond powder and are crispy on the outside and extraordinarily chewy on the inside. These days flavors range from chocolate & raspberry to pistachio, fig and lemon. Their signature is the "foot" that forms under each cookie while in the oven. Without this foot, macaroons just don't look like macaroons.
Before today I've never attempted to make them in my own kitchen. Everyone I've ever talked to threw their hand in the air and scoffed when talking about their first experience with these delightful cookies making me shy away from trying my own hand at them. For over a year I have been reading and researching different techniques and finally decided to see what all the fuss is about.
I am in love.
The recipe I tried was one for Raspberry & Chocolate Macaroons. Below you fill find the recipe (courtesy Epicurious.com) and the tips that I applied to said recipe. My macaroons came out just the way they should have-crispy, chewy and yes, they had feet. And soon, they will be gone.
Things to know before starting:
1. Use room temperature egg whites. Once they are room temperature, microwave them in a glass bowl for 10 seconds.
2. Use a template to draw circles on the parchment paper so that each cookie is the same size.
3. I allowed the cookies to air dry for 45 minutes prior to baking to form a crust.
4. The cookies that came out the best were the ones that I did not allow to crack like it says in the recipe. Total cooking time was about 14 minutes.
5. Once the cookies are out of the oven, place them (parchment paper and all) on a slightly damp cloth. This will help them come off the parchment easier. Peel them off and cool completely.
Raspberry Chocolate French Macaroons
6 oz sliced blanched almonds (not slivered; 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 large egg whites
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Red or pink food coloring
For chocolate raspberry ganache
3 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (60 to 64% cacao), finely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/16 teaspoon raspberry extract (preferably McCormick brand)
Special equipment: parchment paper; a gallon-size sealable plastic bag (not pleated)
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Pulse almonds with 1/2 cup confectioners sugar in a food processor until very finely ground, 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Sift in remaining cup confectioners sugar, stirring to combine.
Beat egg whites with salt in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Add granulated sugar, a little at a time, beating, then increase speed to high and continue to beat until whites just hold stiff, glossy peaks. Add drops of food coloring to reach desired shade and mix at low speed until evenly combined. Stir almond mixture into meringue with a rubber spatula until completely incorporated. (Meringue will deflate.)
Spoon batter into bag, pressing out excess air, and snip off 1 corner of plastic bag to create a 1/4-inch opening. Twist bag firmly just above batter, then pipe peaked mounds of batter (the size of a chocolate kiss) onto lined sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Let cookies stand, uncovered, at room temperature until tops are no longer sticky and a light crust forms, 20 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 300°F.
Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until crisp and edges are just slightly darker, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely on sheets on racks, about 30 minutes.
Make ganache while macaroons bake:
Melt chocolate with cream in a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water or in top of a double boiler, stirring until smooth. (Bowl should not touch water.) Remove bowl from heat, then add butter and raspberry extract, stirring until butter is melted. Let stand at room temperature until cooled completely and slightly thickened.
Carefully peel cookies from parchment (they will be fragile). Sandwich a thin layer of ganache (about 1/2 teaspoon) between flat sides of cookies.
Filled macaroons keep in an airtight container at room temperature 3 days.