My granddaughter Skye, who likes to bake when she is at our house, told me she wanted to make French Macaroons. I agreed with not a little trepidation, because I know that even professional pastry chefs label this little cookie “tricky.” The following account of our adventures and first attempt may have you wondering if this was wise, but I assure you we had fun and finished by saying “Next time, we will know…” And there will be a next time soon! There are so many recipes and methods for making these little meringue based confections. Skye likes Rosanna Pansino, a YouTube chef who details her baking videos clearly and always decorates her finished results cleverly. I like to have a printed ingredient list and directions in front of me. So we combined efforts. Skye wrote down directions from her video and we used her handwritten recipe. Recipe for Raspberry Buttercream follows below. Both recipes are adapted from Rosanna Pansino’s Nerdy Nummies video titled Kirby Macarons!
Macaron is the French word for macaroon, but not to be confused with the cookie we know as coconut macaroons. Macarons are one of the most amazing pastries, with hundreds of flavors and fillings. Macarons are made from almond flour and meringue, with even the pros admitting to failure on a regular basis. Knowing this, we followed instructions closely!
3 egg whites
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 cup almond flour
pinch of salt
After assembling the ingredients,
1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set eggs out to come to room temperature. Egg whites must be room temperature, so if you have not set the eggs out earlier, put them in a bowl of warm water for at least 10 minutes before separating.
2. Separate eggs, reserving yolks for later use. Beat egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until whites are foamy; beat in white sugar and continue beating until egg whites are glossy, fluffy, and hold soft peaks. Add salt. If colored macarons are desired, add food coloring. They will bake into a lighter color, so remember this when adding.
3. Sift confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a separate bowl, whisk together, and quickly fold the almond mixture into the egg whites, about 50 strokes.
4. When batter is mixed enough to flatten immediately into an even disk, spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip. If you do not have a pastry bag, use a ZipLoc bag with one corner cut. Pipe the batter onto the baking sheet in 1 to 1/2 inch rounds, leaving space between the disks because they will spread. When baking tray is full, lift it and tap on counter to release bubbles. Let the piped cookies stand out at room temperature until they form a skin on top, about 30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (140 degrees C).
6. Bake cookies until set but not browned, 25 to 20 minutes; let cookies cool completely before filling.
Cooks’ Note: We thought we could grind sliced almonds in the food processor to avoid buying almond flour. Wrong! Two batches of almond slices turned into nut butter later, we made a trip to Whole Foods, where we bought almond flour in their bulk grains and flours section. The second hitch came when we used the wrong kind of ZipLoc bag. Ours was one of the standup bags, which had an altered corner that did not work well to cut for use as a pastry bag. Skye did her best, but the mixture did not pipe out smoothly. Next time we will use a different plastic bag or a pastry bag, and we will pipe smaller flatter discs.
Raspberry Buttercream Frosting
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
Beat butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Mash raspberries through sieve so that you have juice (no seeds). Add 2 or 3 Tablespoons and mix into butter and sugar mixture. Place into pastry bag or Ziploc to pipe onto the flat side of one macaron and place another macaron on top.
Caution: We did clean up our cooking aftermath, but what a mess we made!